[Editor’s Note: I first met Iyra Zabarsky back in February of 2000 when I was publishing my monthly hard copy tabloid The Radical. It was then that I began supporting SAPED’s ongoing initiatives to work with the Guatemalan people. That said I would encourage anyone reading this article to help get the word out to folks in the Vancouver area that SAPED will be selling their fairtrade products at the Britannia Community Centre 55+ building. See map below for location. I have sold their products myself here in the Cariboo and can vouch for their organic high quality.]
News from SAPED Maya Altiplano
Received from Iyra Zabarsky
BC Society S0026402
Iyra writes: “As I await the final collapse and hyperinflating Canadian dollars….I plan to do a small fairtrade distribution at Britannia Centre 55+ building…Commercial Drive at Williams…so maybe you may wish to notify some friends still caught in the city? …fond regards…Iyra
• Nueva San Juan Chamula, Chiapas
• Caxlampon, Izabal, Guatemala
• Semuy 2, Izabal, Guatemala
• Chitanya, San Pedro Carcha, Guatemala
• Bola de Oro, Chimaltenango, Guatemala
• Chinavenque, Izabal, Guatemala
• San Andres Itzapa (our base of operations) Guatemala
• Barrio Corosa, El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala
• Evirilda Bol, El Estor
• Roberto Caal, Pocola, San Pedro Carcha
• Jose Xo, Caxlampon
• Romeo, Zona Sur, Izabal
• Evirilda Can, San Andres and Noela Socoy in Chimaltenango
Special Thanks to:
Carlos Teni, our computer technician based in El Estor and coordinating our computer academies in El Estor, Caxlampon, Semuy 2 and Manguitas and to Julio in El Estor, our machine fabricating tech.
OUR 2023 COFFEE HARVEST IN SAN ANDRES
This is our base of operations. We’re buyers for the towns organic coffee growers.
Thanks to Evirilda Can for the coordination, reception and fermentations of the fresh coffee in uva (cherry). Our fairtrtade price this year at 3 quetzal/pound is a 20% markup on the market price.
But due to the power of the elite coffee cartel (constitutionally illegal!) we try to restrict our purchases. We have stored for the 2021 and 2022, still some 1500 pounds, curing in its dried fruit.
So far this year we’ve bought some 2000 pounds of fresh coffee.
We work with a women’s group here managing a 40 foot greenhouse in these altitudes of some 6500 feet.
In Mexico we have 2 sets of laws, approved by National Congress and by our own Community General Assembly. Our laws and COCODE control the Territory. We decide who can live here, who can buy land.
We’ve decided; no exploitation of our mineral and petroleum resources.
For the present time, the Federal Government supports this 2 tier system.
Otherwise the Rebellion of ’94 would be reignited!
We feel badly for the people of Guatemala…they had their revolution in 1954, aborted by the CIA coup d’etat.
In our case throughout these rainforests of Chiapas, we’re descendants of revolutionaries. We won our struggle in the early 30’s. The Government gave us 3000 hectares, which we divided equally, each family receiving their equal share of the land.
The struggle now is not so much to plant their food and cash crops, but how and where to sell their surplus, given total control by the Mexican oligarchs over the shipping, brokering and trucking industries…this is our collective SAPED/rainforest community challenge!
We chose well with this community, with their good leadership, generous with their time and limited resources and hard working. So after a 3 hour workshop exploring our recipe for pineapple drying into fruit leather…and if the product stands up well…no mould, no fermentation…we’ll be into major production!
NOTES ON FAIRTRADE
You can say that the essence of our work is its support for the community groups with exemplary models of participatory democracy in productive sustainable horticulture and nursery projects.
Good non corruptible leadership is critical, their motivation springing from some form of higher and Maya cosmological belief. Admittedly we’ve likewise tried in rural BC, innumerable time, but without such idealistic attitude!
One of our pleasures continues here in Chitanya: It’s about an hour’s walk up and down these hillsides to the community’s base of operations, the homestead of their woman leader, who speaks only Maya Q’eqchi!
Except for our patch of recently purchased and planted mountain forests, these women have limited plots to grow their crops and our joint green housing operation.
Every available space is devoted to growing their cash crop medicines for our fairtrade distributions to BC. So we bring them seeds and plants and new varieties of trees to add to their collection…for propagating and harvesting. Money changes hands as just some 4 hours later I walk out of these mountains with quantities of orozus for our chai tea blend, insulina…all the rage here for curing diabetes.
(As Fairtrade buyers, we’ve had great opportunities to explore such alternatives to fiat currency exchange for product, such as work exchange, product exchange and gift exchange).
Emilio certainly has “earned” his right to gift exchanges. Standing up to the corporate net fishers, risking his life for his union membership, single handedly fighting to build their lake fishery providing work for the fishers during down season.
My surprise, returning to Caxlampon (our regional warehouse) to pick up a small quantity of roasted makuna for shipment to Canada (the high in L-Dopa neuro synapse hormone), that it had mostly been distributed, as gift exchange to Emilio’s wife and to Evirilda, our regional coordinator and Maya spirit guide. Clearly the herb is catching on as a roasted pinol, a tasty coffee like drink and brain tonic!
FAIRTRADE PRODUCTS AVAILABLE
(late March, early April)
Limited supplies of our rainforest honey vanilla chocolates…our natural sugar cardamom and vanilla chocolates, our fermented arabica coffee, our orozus (super aromatic lung tonic) chai tea blend, our spices; cinnamon, cardamom seed, turmeric, ginger, clove bud…and medicinals; makuna, insulina, moringa, sarsaparilla, passiflora (nerve medicine) and a first batch (still not perfected) of our pineapple fruit leather.