mexico: focus on otros mundos
Otros Mundos Chiapas is an organization that has focused on providing education, awareness and support about capitalism in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico. Over the years, the many different members of the team of Otros Mundos contributed to different initiatives in Chiapas, but it was just in 2007 that they decided to unite their efforts in what they called Otros Mundos A.C, which translates to “Other Worlds” in English.
Otros Mundos became a member of the Friends of the Earth federation in 2008, though they had already been working with many FoEI groups for several years.
When asked about the meaning of his group’s name, Gustavo Castro answers, “Why Otros Mundos? Because we're convinced that we have to look for alternatives to capitalism, alternatives where all cultures are included, in a world where we are all included, a world of cultural diversity.”
Otros Mundos A.C. categorizes itself as a “small interdisciplinary group that addresses training, information, mobilization, education and the pursuit of alternatives.” The organization focuses on research, analysis and diagnosis about capitalism - issues that are mainly addressed to the indigenous and peasant communities through popular education workshops. They also provide educational materials about these matters.
Gustavo says the group understands that “mere awareness does not lead to immediate changes.” Because of this, they are also committed to supporting, strengthening and creating movements and social processes to deal with the problems of capitalism within indigenous and poor communities. They have been involved in the creation of networks and campaigns against neoliberalism, dams, mines, against the foreign debt, militarization, against GMOs, monoculture plantations (mainly eucalyptus and palm oil) and against TNCs, and FTAs and Climate Change.
“In Otros Mundos, A.C. we work locally thinking globally and we work globally thinking locally. We think locally but also at a national and international level with social networks and movements,” Gustavo says.
Gustavo says that as an organization, their goal has always been to “continue mobilizing, resisting and stopping the effects of wild capitalism.” But he says there is something missing in this approach: the ability to look for alternatives. That mindset, he says, is how "Alter-Natos" was created, “the pursuit of the peoples' own ways of building different worlds with justice, fairness, with respect to the environment.”
The Popular Water and Energy School was also formed due to this alternative approach, which Gustavo says is the organization’s proposal to help with the transformation and training of agrological, ecological and sustainable communities.
But Gustavo says that the transformation alternatives his organization is working hard to implement are not possible without happy people. “Hunger, poverty, the struggle to survive, migration, social and political struggle causes depression and all the efforts to transform our world end up breaking peoples' hearts.” This is why Otros Mundo, A.C. decided there was a need to implement a mental health program for the affected peoples, a project that the indigenous peoples call “healing the heart.”
on Gustavo Castro
Gustavo is a sociologist and the legal representative of Otros Mundos. He facilitates the Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas (COMPA), and is a member of the International Rivers Council and Other Worlds from the US. He is part of the coordination of the Mexican Movement of Those Affected by Dams and in Defence of Rivers (MAPDER), the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (Rema) and the Latin American Network Against Dams and for Rivers (REDLAR).
Gustavo majored in political economics but also studied philosophy. His current work also consists in organizing workshops for the indigenous and peasant communities and in supporting the process of the Popular Water and Energy School.