Betty Ramos Talking to the Class about Cultural Differences
The differences in perception were emphasized further on Sunday with a trip to a largely indigenous village in the municipality of Tepotzlan in Morelos. There we spoke with Benjamin, who serves as the secretary of commerce for the village and also works with members of other indigenous communities. Benjamin told us much of the history of the village, most of which is considered a story of conquest. This history began with the Aztecs, who brought the god of war, followed by the Spanish who brought disease and greed, and continues with U.S. corporations under the guise of NAFTA. Benjamin emphasized that though NAFTA is purported to be beneficial for everyone, he said Mexican farmers can’t compete with the U.S. “when we…don’t have access to education, a working health system and dignified housing and when some women and children only eat tortillas with salt.” Benjamin said that the people of the village have written to the state to ask for loans to buy a tractor, but the state insists on helping in other ways. For instance, the government wanted to start a fish farm in the village, a village that is largely without water for five months of the year. When the people in the village and other similar communities point out the impracticality of these projects, the government officials or businessmen claim they don’t want to develop. Where one group envisions development and progress, the other suffers the familiarity of imposition and conquest.
Walking to the base of a mountain as part of our introduction to the village and its cultural and spiritual history
It is hard to know how our presence in Cuernavaca and Mexico in general has been perceived. In some cases we are welcomed with open arms and tables laden with food. At other times we are told through words or actions that our presence is undesirable. We hope that our presence will be perceived as beneficial for all, rather than a repetition of the systemic inequality within Mexico.
by hugging each person around the circle
By Meg Hennessy
 Betty Ramos, experienced cultural intermediary and author of The Geo-Context; presentation on February 18, 2009 in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.
 Name was changed at speaker’s request.
 Benjamin, secretary of commerce for indigenous village, member of Nahuat people and defender of indigenous rights; conversation on February 22, 2009 in Morelos, Mexico.