“De la trueque?…mm…pues, digamos que es una palabra pre-hispánica, porque en esa época se usó mucho. No había moneda entonces era de cambio. Eso es el trueque – cambiar una cosa por otra para cubrir sus necesidades. Y viene, pues, año atrás ano, se fue perdiendo, hasta la fecha, ya hoy no se usa igual como antes. Ya hay moneda, hay que comprar. Pero todavía en algunos pueblos muy alejados, digamos, de la ciudad, según la estructura de cada lugar, todavía [existe]. Pues usamos el trueque en la feria del pescado porque, la feria es realmente cultural, social a manera de, pues, dar a conocer a la gente la historia, la costumbre…la cultura propiamente de la época pre-hispánica, la cultura colonial y la cultura actual. Y pues, como usted, luego los jovencitos, las niñas, los niños, no saben que es trueque. Entonces darles a conocer. Pero todavía aquí se usa el trueque, ya no comúnmente, pero si una que otra persona…En mi época cuando yo era niña si todavía, a mi me tocó cuando me decía mi mamá, ‘toma un curatito de maíz pero me vas a cambiar con carne.’ O luego, pues, ‘agarra un litro de leche, y va comprar azúcar.’”
“On trueque?…mm…let’s say that it’s a pre-hispanic word, because in that time it was used a lot. There was not any currency so everything was a matter of exchange. That is the treque – changing one thing for another in order to attend to your needs. Year after year, the practice diminished and today it is not used like before. Now there is money and one has to buy. Nevertheless there are still some communities isolated, let’s say, from the city, and depending on the structure of each community, el trueque still exists. We use the trueque in the Feria del Pescado because the fair is cultural and social. It’s a way to spread awareness to the community about our history and our customs…our prehispanic, colonial and current culture. And so, like you, the young generations, boys and girls, do not know about the trueque. And so we are trying to teach them. But here people still use the trueque, not a lot, but it is still present. In my time, when I was a young girl, it was still widely practiced. My mom would ask me to exchange corn for meat, or barter milk for sugar.”
- Transcribed quote from an interview with the founder and director of La Feria del Pescado
On Saturday, July 14th I traveled with my host family to the small indigenous town Coatetelco. My host parents travel regularly to Coatetelco to meet with the women who plan and organize the annual Feria del Pescado Artesanal y Cultural, which I have mentioned in earlier blog posts. In the beginning of the meeting Humberto and Tonia (my host parents) reviewed the right to free determination with the group:
Derecho a la libre determinación: Disponer libremente nuestras riquezas y recursos naturales que priven de nuestros medios de subsistencia y controlar nuestro desarrollo económico, social y cultural.
The right to free determination: (1) to freely dispose of our natural resources that dictate our means of subsistence (2) to control our social, economic and cultural development.
Goals and purposes of the fair:
- Promote the culture and handicrafts of Coatetelco, Morelos and other states of the Republic of Mexico
- Improve the economy
- Promote bartering of goods
- Promote coexistence, respect and dignity between different communities
- Promote the right to organize
- Rescue and recover ancient culture/indigenous heritage
- Cultural expos
- Promotion of bartering
- Gastronomic expos
- Handicrafts from other communities
- Use of space free of charge
- Participating groups and organizations: fishermen, the church, the municipality
- Outside communities: traditional craftsmen from Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla
- Communities from Morelos: Cuentepec, Civac, Tlayacapan, Xoxocotla, Michapa
The following youtube clip provides a window into what the fair is like:
Important themes from the meeting:
- Funding. This issue came up frequently throughout the meeting and was a source of much anxiety. The fair receives little to no support from the local government and municipality. The group is responsible for fundraising its own initiative, and the individual organizers usually end up contributing their own funds to the implementation of the fair (the individual members each contribute more than governmental bodies).
- Trueque. The members of the group described el trueque as an exchange of material goods. When one of the organizers maestra María Luísa mentioned that she once offered her services for el trueque, I asked the group if they bartered services as well. Most responded that the exchange of services did happen on an informal basis in their communities, but that their idea of the trueque largely involved goods. Indeed, the “trueque of servicios” is more often described as ‘actos de solidaridad’ or ‘actividades comunitarias’ and the term ‘trueque’ is a term reserved specifically for the exchange of material goods. Nevertheless the group was excited about the possibility of using skills and talents for the trueque and not just goods, or even combining the bartering of goods with services.
- Conference. On August 18th Desarollo Integral Autogestionario will be hosting a day-long conference that will unite the three projects they are currently supporting. In this way, women from three different parts of Morelos (Tlayacapan, Coatetelco and Temixco) will be able to come together and learn from each other’s experiences. This conference will involve workshops, communal activities and el trueque! DIA’s intervention here presents an exciting example of economic solidarity: here a woman’s cooperative, a group of campesina women and the women organized the Fish Fair will be able to exchange goods, services, ideas, insights and feedback. As a reminder I have included the diagram indicating the three projects of DIA: