Dec 13, 2006

Huejuquilla and the Global Economy

A man comes to town from his ranch. He makes pottery and sells his work at the weekly market. Once or twice a year a Norteño couple comes down, a married couple, the woman with orders to fill Texas houses with his pottery. He makes good money off these orders alone. He talks about not having electricity a few years back, about his efforts to have electrical lines installed, as well as a road.

On one of our last days in Huejuquilla we meet a man who installs solar plates on homes outside of the electrical grids. These are largely for Huichol indians; he can’t quite install a system to power a refrigerator, but for a television, a computer, home appliances, it is possible. He talks about how much this benefits the people--Huicholes using the internet to connect to people in the US. I wonder how it’s possible to get internet where they live if there are no phone lines, much less fiber-optic cable.

The obvious benefits of solar electricity aside, there is a question here, a broader question. It's the question of progress--Is this it?—electricity, a telephone line, fiber-optic cable for the Huichol Indians? Not unlike the vision presented by Microsoft in their commercials, a diverse world, enacting their dreams, participating in the global economy, on their terms. Cut to a beautiful shot of a monk somewhere in China on a computer, a business transaction in the morning before getting down to the real work of being…spiritual. Is this the future, the indigenous people winning back autonomy by joining the global economy?