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Villarreal: Zapatista Health Care from Below

Villarreal: Zapatista Health Care from Below

January 13, 2007
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Dear Colleagues,

The Narco News Bulletin continues its coverage of the "Meeting of the Zapatista Peoples with the Peoples of the World" that took place in Oventic, the highlands of Chiapas. Narco News correspondent Ginna Villarreal attended and now reports on "Health Care Organized from Below." The Zapatista health care system has been able to bring treatment and medicine to very rural areas of Chiapas, yet they still suffer common setbacks such as monetary and supply issues.

Villarreal reports:

"...Health care in the indigenous communities of Chiapas has long been neglected by the Mexican government.. A shortage of medical supplies and transportation, the loss of traditional medical knowledge, barriers to sexual education and the hazards of dependence on foreign aid were some of the issues raised by the five participating councils of Good Government ('Juntas de Buen Gobierno') and visiting delegates at the December 31 session on health. The Zapatista communities have thus organized their own health care network, and called in help and resources from other organizations in solidarity throughout Mexico and the world.

"…It is exactly that traditional knowledge that is so important to the communities. In his address to the people of the world gathered at the four-day gathering at Oventic, Roel from the Caracol (municipal seat) situated in La Realidad, promotes traditional medical knowledge as a means for indigenous communities to recover control of their health care. He reminded that great wisdom is not learnt in schools or in books but 'is the inheritance that has been left to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers…' The recovery of such knowledge is a central aspect of the Other Health's emerging agenda. The use of traditional plants and practices avoids developing a culture of dependence on state or private clinics that discriminate and marginalize indigenous poor communities.

"…Representatives from the five Zapatista regions noted the importance of maintaining a continuing and open discourse on complex and sensitive subjects of sexual health. Health education, particularly sexual health, was a topic of particular interest among many of the national and international participants present. The discussions that took place, between Ingenious and non-indigenous participants, demonstrate that ideas (and not just funding and technology) flow in and out of Zapatista territory, and have influence on such issues as sexual education and women's rights to control their own bodies."

To read the rest of this article and more coverage on the Zapatista Encuentro in Oventic, visit The Narco News Bulletin:

From somewhere in a country called América,

David Briones
The Narco News Bulletin


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