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The Latin American Conference from the Mexican Point of View

This is a report on the Latin American Pre-World-Conference Conference, which was collectively prepared by the thirteen Mexicans who attended.

We had several meetings in Mexico before going to the conference. Leaders who were not going to be able to attend the conference also participated and supported those who were going. We worked on how we were feeling about going, on meeting Harvey Jackins (a long-time dream for many in the group), and on our expectations for the trip and the conference. We shared information about these kinds of conferences (unknown to most of the group), about finances, and about the organization for the trip. We thought about the goals of the conference and practiced how reports should be made. We stated two key points for us: closeness and leadership. We discussed the appropriate way of participating: mostly giving attention, as distinct from taking attention for us (the latter we could do in the regular sessions and support groups). We also worked on our internalized oppression as Mexicans (patterns of self-invalidation and disorganization) and on having pride in and respect for our own and each other's work. We each said what support we needed and asked an ally to help us with it. We wrote up most of what we did in our meetings for the benefit of the rest of the Mexican Community and also sent copies to the Co-Counselors in Central America and the Caribbean who were going to attend the conference.

We arrived in Ezeiza, the airport in Buenos Aires, after sessions on the plane on nervousness, tiredness, and fear of the unknown coming weekend. We were picked up, treated excellently, and taken to the workshop site which was located in a poor, marginal area of the residential zone of Buenos Aires. Even though we arrived late, we were given food and were able to start greeting the other participants.

Around 130 people participated in the conference. Most were Argentineans from the "interior" (that means cities and towns outside of Buenos Aires)-mainly working-class and religious women. There were eleven men, fifteen young people under twenty-one years of age, and around twenty-five elders. In addition to those from Argentina, people came from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and Chile. Eight RC International Liberation Reference Persons attended. Tim Jackins was overall leader, and Diane Shisk, Charlotte Lowrey, Barbara Love, Maria Franco, Nereida Morales, Joanne Bray, Cherie Brown, and Schere Villela led classes on different topics, including an introductory class for those totally new to RC.

Tim presented basic RC theory and talked about the goals of the Pre-World-Conference Conferences. He said how important it was that everybody get the chance to think about RC functioning well, and be listened to. He talked about the importance of leaders getting good support and of having inclusive Communities. He clarified how to build a strong and sound RC Community, which is essential as a permanent resource and base from which to go out and do wide-world work. He used lots of mini-sessions, which contributed to everybody being able to connect with many different people, from different places, with different experiences.

There were classes at seven a.m. before breakfast, support groups, sessions, topic tables at mealtimes, leaders' meetings, and at least one meeting for reports on the situations of the RC Communities in Central America and the Caribbean. These reports showed a great deal of clarity about the need for connection and support amongst the different Latin American Communities, about the importance of efficient translation and distribution of materials, about keeping the Communities growing and inclusive, about having a clear idea of RC policies and learning more of the theory and practice of RC. We all enjoyed the warmth, joy, and resourcefulness of Latino people.

For most of the participants, the conference opened up a great deal of interest, and requests for support, information, and clarification abounded.

For the Mexican group in particular, attending the conference meant a lot of growth and maturation. We gained a perspective on the other Latin American groups and saw that we are part of a large, International Community. Incorporating what we experienced at the conference brings the possibility of a new level of participation in and commitment to the practice of RC. We have more appreciation for inclusion; literature; RC policies and the Guidelines; thinking, acting, and taking leadership; and the importance of closeness. We also see more clearly what we have achieved, the challenges ahead, and the pleasure of making commitments to correct ourselves and help others. Since returning to Mexico we have already had two meetings to work on what we learned and what will follow. There will be a workshop here in January, with reports from the thirteen World Conference participants, at which the whole Mexican Community will have an opportunity to work on all the main issues brought out at the conference.

Those of us from Mexico got to travel a bit, enjoy the food, see or dance the tango, and get to know a part of Latin America that is very far from us and was mostly unknown to us. We had a great experience and appreciated most the hard-living, hard-working people from Argentina and all the other countries of our long-divided Latin America. Special appreciation goes to Ronnie Rafferty, who organized the workshop, for her tolerant, persevering, and serene way of dealing with everyone's needs, patterns, and expectations, and in particular for the warmth she showed to us Mexicans.

Laura Aguilar
Mexico City, Mexico

(Present Time No. 110, January 1998)

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00