[Payment-discuss] zapatistas & money

sheri@speakeasy.org sheri at speakeasy.net
Fri Feb 16 15:24:45 PST 2007


as i mentioned, i said i would follow up with folks i know from chiapas on this topic.  this is from a friend who has lived there for several decades, has a partner who is from there, and has worked in many different capacities over the years.  he's also connected as well with chiapas indymedia.  i believe his voice and words have integrity.  he mentions that they have been busy and have not yet discussed this topic with the local chiapas indymedia collective.  so that may come later.

i'm forwarding this without his personal name/email attached.

[begin letter]

Sorry that I haven't been back in touch with you. We have been slammed 
in details for a gathering that we are putting together at the end of 
the month in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala where we are bringing folks from 
the throughout the region to help set-up another 300 watt Radio Station 
Indigenous Radio Station and offering workshops on popular 
communications and radio. Anyway, it is looking good.

Unfortunately we haven't had a moment to get the Indymedia crew together 
here in order to have a more concrete discussion about topic mentioned. 
I can't really give an opinion on the part of Indy here nor will I make 
a personal opinion on the subject at the moment. I think that it is 
complicated as always. I will however explain in short that things are 
never cut and dry here or anywhere else in the region.

Sure it is fair to say that the Zaps are not paying people for 
solidarity. However there are systems in place for people from the 
communities themselves to receive some sort of support for the work that 
they invest into the organization. That is internal obviously to the 
Zaps. On the other side of that there are also hundreds of projects 
that solidarity groups and NGO's have been pumping into the communities 
for years. Let's just say it would be naive to believe that people do 
not charge at least some sort of nominal stipend for the work that they 
do. Obviously not everyone does but I would say that the vast majority 
of people that are long term, committed to being full time in the region 
do calculate survival stipends into the projects when searching for 
funding. Now the organizations that have survived and done good work in 
the Zap communities, maintained a good reputation etcetera are generally 
also the organizations that have made efforts to be more transparent 
with the Councils of Good Government (CGG) of the Zaps. What does that 
mean? It simply means that if a project is being submitted to a funder, 
then first that project and the budget is authorized by the CGG. If it 
has been authorized then the CGG is basically saying cool, we see that 
you have requested three stipends for three people from outside the 
communities in order to execute this project successfully, and that is 
fine with us. If the CGG is not fine with that then they will not 
approve the project and in theory the project can not be submitted to 
the funder or could not be executed in the proposed communities or 
region. That is basically how the compas are working right now. So in 
short, organizations are asking for money in the name of the compas and 
the compas are saying that some of the requested money is authorized to 
be payment to people from outside (and inside of the communities, 
sometimes) in order to assure the success of the project. 

Anyone that tells you differently does not have a solid grasp on how 
things work here. Meaning simply that it is easy to have a clouded 
perception of how things work if you do not know the internals. Like I 
said, there are also hundreds of solidarity projects that have come here 
and gone that are folks that are not long term on the ground people 
executing projects but rather short, one time, solidarity projects that 
people have independently raised funds for and executed. These projects 
for sure have not requested nor needed any sort of stipend. Loads of 
these projects have been done here and are being done here but there is 
a major distinction between long term process oriented projects and 
short term, one or two off punctual solidarity projects where folks come 
and then leave in a few months, using mainly personal money saved 
specifically to turn a vacation into a solidarity venture.

Now I don't know that I have really gotten to the essence of the debate 
and for sure there is an entirely other debate about the ethics of NGO's 
in most conflict zones. Now obviously, again as you know, there are 
varying levels of NGO's...

Anyway Sheri...I hope that this helps to put a tiny bit of light onto 
the Zap question and please if the info is shared, it is important not 
to over simplify it nor to take it out of context.

[end letter]


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