I am heartened to hear of the "fairly widespread popular education movement in
Oaxaca" and your involvement with it. I have for years agreed with those
people in Mexico, and especially Oaxaca, who see the most promising, albeit
demanding, route for young people to aspire to just what you suggest, "combine
scientific, technical knowledge and competence with a profound respect for the
indigenous culture of their village." The notion connects with Mexico's
social and political history in many ways. I am glad you encountered
friendship and hospitality in the village of Totontepec, and talked with a
person engaged in planning and envisioning possibilities there.
This is just a quick response. An enthusiastic group in the city of Oaxaca
that I recall from my visit there about six years ago, was working with
modern computers to put together an illustrated book about their history,
codices, and legends in the Mixtec language, and translate it into Spanish.
They also put together a book full of Zapotec tales, poetry, and drawings in
Zapotec, but also in Spanish, lest the tradition be lost and forgotten. The
Mixtec book was done by Ubaldo Lopez Garcia, while the Zapotec book was by
Justino Odilon Perez Ramirez. They gave me a copy of those books as a sample
of the kind of work they are doing. Their whole group, it seemed to me,
represented a good instance of people successfully spanning the two cultures.
The books also contain other names and addresses, sources of support, etc in
the acknowledgment section, some of whom might be helpful to the project you
and Juan Arel have in mind. The books are part of "Colleccion Oaxaca,"
sponsored by CIESAS (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en
Of course the tendency of people to leave their villages and move into the
city is a global phenomenon, and the slums at the outskirts of many large
cities testify to it. The university in the mountains sounds very
I would be glad to get together and talk with you about all this, and also
show you whatever literature I have that might be relevant.
With all best wishes. Steve Heims