in response to 'No one is immune" Development in La Barra

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Escrito por Laura desde ( el día lunes, 19 de marzo, 2007 a las 19:33:00 horas :

I agree that no place is immune to change! But, having lived in la Barra inside the village for nearly ten years, I must say I know a number (I might even venture to say most) of young people here in La Barra who wish with all their hearts that this place would not change in the way it is changing.

Many do wish they could continue the lifestyle of their parents of fishing, living close to nature in a family and child focused village, eat well, celebrate well and with plenty of time to enjoy a hammock, play with their kids and hang out with their grandparents.

Others wish they could expect a natural development with time to prepare themselves for other kinds of careers and businesses without having to leave - but they would hope for the chance (with hard work of course) to be owners of businesses, not employees who can barely entertain the dream of ever being able to own.

There is such a thing as a more natural development of an internal economy. What happens with tourism and gentrification is that an economy from a different place superimposes itself over a local one putting the locals at an extreme disadvantage (while feeling good about offering them 'jobs'). This is a kind of 'development' that more closely resembles an invasion imho. Everything gets twisted. There are wide gaps in understanding between the two groups and easily adopted negative attitudes grow - arrogant condescension on one end and impotent resentment on the other.

Along with some negative attitudes and feelings, the problems in infrastructure also reflect this twisting. Increases in property rates make for a problem in density among locals. The younger generations cannot even dream of owning their own place so they double up...sometimes five families living on a lot meant for one family and without changing the septic which was a type that worked fine for one family in a low density area. Their neighbors are also now multiple families instead of one. Increased density without municipal water treatment is obviously a problem. It's also obvious that the government is not attending to this (for complex reasons - some understandable, some the 'same old same old' of corruption).

So one might say... ‘well these people who are doing this should stop - before there is a cholera outbreak'. Agreed. But since the cost of living is higher for them and they are not earning more, relatively, in most cases (their economy has not had time to develop naturally) they have less money - not more - to accommodate putting in a 'state of the art' septic... nor is there space for it... nor do they have the money to buy a bigger property (which cost 10-15 times what it did even 8 years ago because of real estate speculation. So what are they left with? They should just leave and make room for those who can afford it? Or maybe they should just get up earlier ;)

There are solutions to these problems. The future of La Barra could be one that protects the cultural as well as the ecological treasure it holds. But to do this, it would be necessary 1. That that treasure be recognized, 2. Very strong protections would have to be instituted and enforced (and I'm referring to protections that will more likely anger those with money from outside than the poor locals) 3. The government would have to support this. This would mean changing entirely many attitudes and understandings and particularly the relationship toward presently incoming (and future promised) money. Chances of this happening are as slim as you can get to zero without being zero... probably it'd be a good bet you can forget that happening exactly as some (including myself) would wish.

Nevertheless it's worth doing the best you can in the best way talents and energy make possible, to help to alleviate this confusing impact. I agree with Dr. Zihua, that education is one of the most important factors. Perhaps most importantly focusing on the children, but it would also be important for adults (both those arriving from other areas to visit or to live here and those native to here) to access themselves as much as possible to studying many things... the history of this place (that would include oral history from locals) and its language, the nature of class relations in Mexico (and of colonization in general), issues of ecology and of architectural landscape and sustainability and more.

I realize that's a lot, but any effort, however small, will yield positive results. Each can help in some way that most reflects personal interests and many do. I know people both local and from elsewhere who devote themselves to helping one or some of various ways - animal protection, ecological protection, improved understanding between the various cultures, quality educational opportunities for children and adults, micro loan projects for local businesses... there is a lot going on and these things can be expanded.

Many things to think about. It is not my intention to offend anyone who may be arriving here with their dream not expecting to encounter all these polemic issues. I know that most arrive with the best intentions and joyous hearts. That's why I believe education and dialogue with the utmost respect are key.

OH... a thought for Dr. Zihua... If you are able to find your as yet pristine Shangri-La, enjoy it while you can, but prepare yourself! For ironically, even if you find it, you yourself, by virtue of finding it, will likely herald the arrival of just the same issues following close behind. There's really no getting away from it. We have the fortune to be living the reality of a worldwide population explosion combined with ease of travel for some and global access to communications and Internet. This is only likely to speed up!

I do understand your desire to leave us for awhile and go looking to see what else might be still out there though. Good luck! And come back for a visit when the time is right.

And to the poster who seems to think that issues of imperialistic oppression arrived here first with the Spanish... I just have to mention it appears to have been no picnic for those many indigenous nations living under the dominion of the Aztecs in the late stages of their imperialistic and highly class articulated reign.

In fact, enough of them yearned so to be freed of the Aztecs, that they allied themselves with Cortez making the Spanish conquest possible. At least the Spanish weren't likely to cut out the hearts of their slaves and eat them ritualistically. It might be up for debate about when the average Jose was better off. Just had to say that, not that I like being a Devil’s advocate…just for fun!

OK off to the lagoon... or at least a good hammock.

Thanks to you Dr. Zihua for inviting a thoughtful thread and extra thanks to those who had the patience to read this long post! I can't help it... a topic dear to my own heart.

Hasta pronto,

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