Actions to defend the health and rights of the least advantaged

As the health promoters and community looked deeper into the underlying causes of poor health, they began to look for ways in which, through collective action, they might break some of the links in the chain of events leading to sickness and death. They started with some of the links which they thought might be easier to do something about at the local level, and which carried less risk of violent response from the power structure. However, they soon discovered that any attempt by the poor to correct inequities of the status quo can precipitate a heavy-handed response from those in positions of privilege.

Early actions organized through the Piaxtla health program mostly related to the ways in which poor campesinos were systematically cheated, mistreated, or exploited. Some of the activities initiated to address these issues included:

  • Demanding the owner of the local bus route to lower fares to the legal rates;
  • Starting a farmworkers-run maize bank;
  • Initiating a cooperative fencing program;
  • Organizing, led by village women, to shut down the public bar in order to reduce drunkenness and violence; and
  • Organizing a protest to take control of the village water supply away from a wealthy man and to introduce a public water system controlled by the community.

We will briefly describe a few of these initiatives.


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