Barta, Armando, editor. Profound Rivers of Mesoamerica: Alternatives to Plan Puebla Panama. 3rd Edition. Mexican Solidarity Network.

This is a collection of essays, research and reports on ‘development’ as it affects the people who have to live with it and who had little to say about it. Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) is intended to be privatized, globalized economic development of a vast area from Mexico, through Central America to Panama that will only benefit capital and its collaborators. Many of the writers explain the details of this scheme and the anticipated social, economic and environmental results of such a neoliberal model – a plan that would among other effects, “administer poverty.” Other writers show that the flaws in the PPP are part of the flawed process of globalization, what Subcommandante Marcos calls, “ …A world of broken mirrors reflecting the ineffective global unity of the neoliberal jigsaw puzzle.” But fortunately many of the essays in this useful volume illustrate the wealth of ways in which peasants, indigenous peoples, cooperatives and workers are building different and sustainable models of self-directed development of all kinds – not just economic – building on community values and traditions.

Thus have been many setbacks to this PPP thanks to the resistance of indigenous cultures of Mexico from Chiapas and Guerrero to, most recently, Oaxaca. Worldwide the strength of resistance to neoliberalism reinforces Latin American resistance, as well as taking courage & strength from it. Trade agreements stall, dams are stopped, highway expansion is abandoned, mining companies face local opposition and many new forms of community and neighbourhood cooperation are forged. The profound rivers are the ever growing movements of peoples who have grasped their own future – perhaps for the first time in centuries and are overflowing with energy and ideas to create “another possible world” now.

In conclusion, Tom Hansen, Director of the Mexican Solidarity Network says, “ Since we are all literally immersed in the neoliberal model, it may be difficult to envision an alternative future based on values like equity and democracy, yet each of us has a small but important role. It begins with our daily decisions – what to buy, what to eat, how to live – and it extends to our collective and social responsibilities – how to organize, how to struggle, how to share…After all it’s our collective future.”

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