One of the three committees formed under the Casa’s Peace Programs is the Economic Justice Committee. Supporting solidarity economies is one of the main ways the Casa empowers local cooperatives and producers. The Casa forms part of the Red Tlaloc, which is a network of producers that exchange goods and services using an alternative currency called the Tlaloc. They host bartering-based markets (trueques), of which artensenal crafts and food products are sold based on an alternative system of exchange to the traditional monetary system. Below is an example of one of the currencies, the Mixhuca, which used in such exchanges.
Today, Mara, Carlos and I went to see and experience this type of commerce firsthand–at the Mixhuca Multitruque. The Mixhuca, like the Tlaloc, is an alternative currency. At this particular trueque, there were two types of currency, the Mixhuca and the Cacao. The Mixhuca is the currency used between producers, and it has no exchange value in pesos. Alternatively, the Cacao is the external currency, the way that people who have not accumulated Mixhucas can enter into the system of trade. Products are often set at a combination of Mixhucas and Cacaos, for example, 2 Mixhucas and 3 Cacaos, 4 Mixhucas and 1 Cacao, etc. Because the Casa accepts Mixhucas as a form of payment for Cinemoneda (our monthly film screenings on themes of economic justice), we arrived at the trueque with 4 Mixhucas already in hand. (The value of 1 Mixhuca is 5 pesos.)
For this trueque, we took about 10 bags of our earthworm-rich compost, some unwanted books, and fresh rosemary from the tree in our patio. We set the price of the compost at 2 Mixhucas a bag, and the rosemary at 1 Mixhuca for a small branch. The first trade I made, was with a vendor just to one side of our stand. It was with a man with a table full of old books. I approached him about a Juan Rulfo book I was interested in, and asked if there were any books we had that interested him. It turned out that he wanted an old Art History book, so I traded him our book for for El LLano en Llamas by Juan Rulfo, and Los funerales de la mamá grande by Gabriel García Márquez! With that preliminary success I felt invigorated to talk to more producers and see who would be interested in what we had to offer. We had great success with the compost as well–trading for some homemade soy veggie burgers, wholegrain bread and two cactuses. The experience altogether was exciting–we got to interact with all of the vendors, find out about their products and learn how to think in terms of trueque.
Overall it was an amazing experience, and got us thinking about all the products the Casa potentially has to offer, and the way that it feels to interact with others in the circle to create a sense of solidarity and community between us.