Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida
L^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ -- ^
Volume 24 Number 1
Marialisa Miller, Editor
Marta Bustillo, Copy Editor
HOME-BASED WORKERS IN THE GARMENT INDUSTRY
OF MERIDA, YUCATAN, MEXICO
by Florencia Pefia and Josd M. Gamboa
Florencia Pefia received her B.A. in Anthropology from the Escuela Nacional de Antropologfa e Historia in 1976, an MS. in Social Medicine from
the Universidad Aut6noma Metropolitana-Xochimilcoin 1984. She is currently working towards her Ph. D. in Anthropology at the University of Florida. Since
1976, Pefia has been a full-time researcher at Instituto Nacional de Antropologfa e Historia (INAH). Her studies are sponsored by INAH, Organization of
American States, the Ford Foundation and the Interamerican Foundation. Josd M. Gamboa is currently a researcher at the Centro Regional de Yucatan of the
Institute Nacional de Antropologfa e Historia. He received his B.A. from the Facultad de Ciencias Antropol6gicas de la Universidad Aut6noma de Yucatin
THE INFORMAL SECTOR IN GARMENT PRODUCTION IN YUCATAN
In the Mexican state of Yucatan, the garment industry
is characterized by structural links between the formal and
informal sectors of the economy. Different types of legal
factories modernr medium, small, and microenterprises) coex-
ist with illegal clandestine sweatshops, family-owned sweat-
shops, home-based urban and rural workers, and a network of
intermediaries. They all participate in close relationships in
the apparel industry in the state.
Infrastructural differences between these distinct types
of factories make them strongly interdependent. Some facto-
ries are totally integrated and are able to produce entire pieces
of garments, from the design to the packing. However, when
demand is greater than their capacity to produce, they arrange
with other factories to meet the orders. On the other hand,
businesses with regular integration do the sewing and have
only one other department such as cutting, design or finishing.
These factories have to associate with other firms to produce.
The non-integrated factories only participate in specific phases
or produce partial components of garments and usually work
full time for other firms. Industrial home-based production is
associated with all three types of factories.
In general terms, garment production involves six
phases: 1. fashion designing, that includes the elaboration of
patterns of different sizes; 2. cutting, which involves the
separation of piecesby design, and size; 3. embroidering, that
is only required with specific designs; 4. sewing, that includes
the so-called "pre-sewing" (the separate sewing of small pieces
that form part of a garment); 5. finishing, which includes
making button holes, sewing buttons, cutting threads, ironing
and cleaning; and 6. packing, where each garment is hung or
folded, and protected with a plastic bag.
Sewing is one of the most important components of
garment manufacturing, and can be done with a domestic
sewing machine. As a result, home-based laborers most fre-
quently work in this capacity.
As elsewhere in Mexico, garment manufacturing in
Yucatan is based on complicated networks of subcontracting
between large firms, small clandestine sweatshops and a large,
undetermined number of home-based workers. The connec-
tionsbetween these differententities aremaintained by jobbers,
intermediaries who distribute and collect the maquila (piece-
work) to be doneby small sweatshops or home-based workers
for a formal factory (Alonso 1985; Taller de Investigacion Obrera
etal. 1987). Clandestine sweatshops, jobbers, and home-based
workers constitute the informal garment manufacturing sec-
Continued on page 2
Lombardi Named President
The Center for Latin American Studies Is pleased to announce
the appointment of the new President of the University of Florida. On
November 15,1989, the Board of Regents chose Dr. John V. Lombardi,
a prominent historian and Latinamericanist, to head the University.
Lombardi earned a B.A. from Pomona College In 1963, an M.A.
and a Ph.D. In History from Columbia University In 1964 and 1968. He
is a specialist In Latin American colonial history, and began hisacademic
career as a Lecturer at the Escuela de Historla at the Central University
of Venezuela In Caracas. Just prior to joining the University of Florida,
Dr.Lombardiwas Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and
a Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. He Is the author of
numerous books on Venezuela, as well as computers. His most recent
publication is Venezuela: la bisqueda delorden, elsueflodelprogreso,
a translation of a book by the same title published by Oxford University
Press. He is currently working on two books dealing with the urban
areas of Venezuela during the colonial period.
Continued from page 1
In Yucatan, the informal and the formal sectors form
two parts of a single organization which manufactures gar-
ments. Given the current structure of the system, one cannot
produce without the participation of the other. The informal
sector significantly lowers the costs of garment production by
ignoring the worker's legal rights, while the formal sector has
legal connections that guarantee access to the market.
Table 1 shows that since the 1982 economic recession
in Mexico, the informal sector in apparel production has been
increasing rapidly in Yucatan. In 1983, 10,000 legal factory
workers were producing 12,000,000 garment pieces; in 1987
with the addition of 44 more apparel firms, 26,400,000 pieces
were produced, but only 3,675 workers were legally em-
GARMENT PRODUCTION IN YUCATAN BY YEAR
Year Number of
1987 149 3,675 26,400
Source: National Chamber of the Garment Industry, Yucatan.
*In thousands of garments.
Because of the clandestine nature of the informal
sector, it is difficult to investigate the economic behavior of the
apparel manufacturing sector. From the authors' point of
view, the switch that began in 1982 from producing primarily
guayaberas (embroidered dress shirts) to making less elaborate
casual clothes might have influenced the quantity of units
produced reported in 1987. However, the impressive reduc-
tion in the number of legally employed workers along with the
parallel increase in the number of registered factories can only
be explained by the substitution of home-based workers: the
cheapest, easiest to obtain, and least risky to employ. This
substitution significantly lowers the cost of production, and
maintains profits during the current economic crisis.
THE EXPANSION OF HOME-BASED LABOR
In 1985 the authors designed questionnaires and inter-
viewed 150 home-based workers as well as middlemen and
entrepreneurs. To locate the home-based workers, several
procedures were combined. First, we visited elementary schools
in the suburban area of Merida, and children were asked for
the addresses of relatives, neighbors or friends involved in
home-based manufacturing. While visiting these locations,
people on the streets and owners of small stores were asked for
the same information. The snowball procedure was also used
with workers who had already been contacted. In the end, we
obtained information from workers located in 36 different
Middlemen and entrepreneurs agreed that for each
factory worker there were roughly three home-based workers.
In 1985, approximately 36,000 garment laborers were working
in Yucatan: 9,000 registered legal factory workers and 27,000
home-based employees (calculated according to the 1:3 ratio
indicated by middlemen and entrepreneurs). These 36,000
garment workers made the 23,840,000 pieces of garments that
appear in the official statistics.
The local garment industry has not significantly im-
ported new technology, or reorganized factory production in
the State. Therefore, the worker/production ratio in apparel
manufacturing must have remained constant. In the factories,
the regular work day is 9 1/2 hours, and the workers cannot
interrupt their tasks because they are supervised. In home-
based labor, the productivity per worker is low. The home-
based workers are not supervised, and have to deal with time-
consuming domestic chores, significantly lowering their pro-
The ratio of the number of factory workers to the level
of production in 1985 is used as a crude, unbiased estimate of
the minimum number of home-based workers involved in the
manufacturing of the 26,400,000 garments that were suppos-
edly produced by only 3,675 legal factory workers in 1987.
36,000 X X
23,840 000 26,400,000
36,000 total number of garment workers in
23,840,000 garment units produced in 1985
X total number of workers needed to
26,400,000 garment units produced in 1987
If we subtract the number of legally registered factory
workers from this figure (i.e. 39,866 3,675 = 36,191), we have
to conclude that in two years the home-based workers in-
creased by at least 9,191. This represents a 34% increase from
27,000 to 36,191. Consequently, the current ratio between
factory-based:home-based laborers can be considered roughly
Because their work is clandestine, the precise number
of home-based workers is unknown. It has been calculated
that throughout Mexico close to one million women work in
their households manufacturing apparel (Paleta 1987). The
data gatheredby the National Chamber of the Garment Indus-
try points to the conclusion that home-based garment manu-
facturing is currently the primary source of women's employ-
From the point of view of the entrepreneurs, the
tremendous expansion of home-based workers increases lev-
els of production without requiring investment in infrastruc-
ture. Furthermore, factory owners do nothave to provide legal
salaries and benefits to workers. This cost savings sustains
profits during the recession, when raw materials and machin-
ery are consistently more expensive.
However, it is equally important to determine why
women as workers have incorporated themselves into home-
based manufacturing at such high rates despite poor economic
returns and lack of benefits. Answering this question provides
home-based workers with information that may aid them in
their struggle for legal recognition. To address this issue, we
explored the three following questions in socio-demographic
1. Who are the women entering the labor force as
home-based workers in Yucatan?
2. What are their working conditions? and,
3. Why are women entering the labor market as
home-based workers at such high rates?
SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HOME-BASED
The Consejo Nacional de Poblaci6n (1984) reported that the
female Economically Active Population (EAP) in Yucatan
mainly consists of women between 15-24 years old. In the
labor market, the number of womenbetween the ages of 25 and
44 drops significantly, although that of women over 45 in-
creases again. Our sample of 150 home-based workers shows
a very different trend: only 8.7% of the women were under 24
years old, 83.3% were between 25 and 44, and 7.3% were over
The above distribution relates significantly to the
marital status of women. In the general EAP, young women
reach the labor force mainly before they get married or before
the birth of their first child. Then they drop out of the labor
market to become housewives and to rear their children.
Typically they reenter the labor force when they separate,
divorce, or when their spouse dies, and occasionally after their
children grow up. This pattern explains thebehavior of the age
groups discussed above.
We found the marital status pattern according to age
within the sampled group of home-based workers deviates
totally from the one described in the general female EAP. Only
4.0% are single women; the others are married women without
children (4.0%) and heads of household (8.0%), mainly di-
vorced or separated women and widows. Clearly the great
majority (84.0%) are married women with children.
Most of the home-based workers were barely literate;
7.30% did not know how to read and write and had not gone
to school at all. Roughly half, 54.64%, went to grade school but
did not finish it; 24.65% finished elementary school; 4.7% went
to middle school without finishing it; and 4.0% finished
middle school. Only 4.7% studied beyond middle school.
Approximately three quarters (72%) of the home-
based workers lived in complete nuclear households; 4.7%
lived in incomplete nuclear households where the male "head"
of household was missing. The remainder of the households
were extended (23.3%).
Nearly half of the home-based workers were born in
Yucatan's countryside (54.7%); 36.7% wereborn in Merida, the
state capital; and 8.7% came from other Mexican states.
In socio-demographic terms, we conclude that in
Merida, home-based garment workers are primarily middle-
aged women, married, with children, having little education,
and living in nuclear households.
HOME-BASED LABORERS' WORKING CONDITIONS
The first question we asked was: How did they get
their jobs? It turned out that personal networks were the most
important source for this type of occupation. About half of the
workers, 56.0%, were introduced to jobbers or owners of the
factories by relatives, friends, or neighbors already engaged in
this type of economic activity. Yucatin's principal newspaper,
Diario de Yucatdn, carries requests for home-based workers on
a daily basis. Almost one third (29.3%) of our sample got their
employment using this source. Desperate women in need of
income sometimes request the sewing directly in the factories.
Only 8.7% of the women in the sample got their jobs through
this means. The remainder found their job in other ways.
The survey also clarified how women acquired their
sewing skills. Again, personal networks were the most impor-
tant source. Roughly half (52%) were taught by relatives,
friends or neighbors; 17.32% learned the task by observing
how other members of their families did it. A smaller number
(7.3%) paid relatives, friends or neighbors to teach them.
Overall, 76.6% learned to sew on a personal network basis,
while 10.7% went to private schools; 6.0% learned in garment
factories. The remainder (6.7%) did not follow a specific
Most of the women learned how to sew at a very early
age. For example, 64% of the home-based workers knew the
taskby the age of 19; and before 25,75% were skilled. It is very
likely that the ones who learned after the age of 25 learned in
order to work as home-based garment workers.
As stated before, the most common activity carried
out by home-based workers is sewing; in our sample, 59.3%
sewed. However, we found 22.7% embroidering, and 9.3%
tucking (which requires special machines). The remaining
8.7% were engaged in diverse activities, such as ironing, cut-
ting threads, packing, pre-sewing, etc.
Roughly half of the home-based laborers (44.6%) had
a work day of 4-5 hours. However, it is important to note that
12.6% sewed 8 hours a day, and 6.0% worked more than 8
hours a day. Table 2 shows the actual number of hours worked
by home-based workers.
WORK DAY OF THE HOME-BASED LABORERS
Hours No. %
Continued on page 4
Continued from page 3
It should be emphasized that most of these home-
based workers are housewives with children and are mainly
responsible for the domestic chores. In our sample, 61.3% of
the women were solely responsible for domestic chores; 30.0%
cooked and helped with domestic chores; 5.3% helped with
domestic chores but they were not solely responsible (the six
single women are included in this group). All the women
interviewed performed some sort of domestic labor.
Home-based workers are usually paid by the piece,
making it difficult to compare the wages of the women in our
sample. Payments vary for many reasons: the difficulty of the
task, the fabrics used, the employer, the quantity sewn, etc.
Since work is normally distributed and collected once a week,
the workers do not know whether they will receive more
sewing the following week, or what their rate of pay will be.
This situation creates considerable labor force insecurity, with
strong implications for the potential to protest against their
working conditions. The workers do not struggle for improve-
ments, knowing if they protest, chances are that they will
simply not be employed again.
As we indicated earlier, the time that women sewed
fluctuated greatly, affecting their average weekly salaries and
making any comparison difficult. In order to approximate the
home-based worker's wages, we adjusted their salaries to a
legal work day. An astonishingly small percentage, 11.24%,
were receiving the minimum professional legal salary for a
theoretical work day of 8 hours. This figure makes clear how
the informal sector lowers production costs of the formal
sector through underpayment of the labor force. In addition,
the industry generates savings by ignoring the worker's rights.
Some 94.66% of the laborers lacked any fringe benefits; 2.66%
received some money in the form of Christmas bonuses, al-
though not the legally required quantity and one worker
(0.66%) could ask for loans. Another worker (0.66%) had the
right to one week of unpaid vacation per year.
Closely related to the low salaries is the fact that
15.64% of the workers were sewing with manual sewing
machines, and 49.65% with a simple, domestic, electric ma-
chine. These machines demand greater physical efforts, reduc-
ing productivity. However, 32.58% had semi-industrial sew-
ing machines (Singer 20u) in their homes and can be consid-
ered "professional" home-based workers. Most of them pur-
chased the sewing machines personally, "in times when it was
economically feasible." Although the Federal Labor Law
clearly states that the employer should provide the necessary
tools to employees, only 5.44% of the 150 women interviewed
were sewing with machines from the factories. This type of
labor law violation typifies the informal sector in garment
Because of their low wages, 21.33% of the home-based
female garment workers increased their income by engaging
in additional activities, many of them related to their sewing
skills. Of these women, 28.12% were private seamstresses;
6.2% were private embroiderers; 3.12% repaired clothes; and
3.1% were giving sewing classes. Other important activities
included washing and ironing clothes (21.9%) and hammock
WOMEN'S REASONS FOR BECOMING HOME-BASED WORKERS
Without any doubt, the great majority of the 150
home-based workers interviewed belong to M6rida's poor
population. Women who are heads of household are in
extreme economic need. They are the sole economic providers
for the children, paying for their food, health costs and formal
education. As a survival strategy they live in extended fami-
lies, receiving some emotional support from relatives and
sharing household chores and expenses, as well as child rear-
ing responsibilities. However, the costs associated with the
children are covered exclusively by the mother, not the ex-
A crude idea of the economic conditions of the home-
based workers can be obtained from their husbands' occupa-
tions, fringe benefits, and salaries. Over one-third (38.6%) of
the wives did not know their husbands' wage and received the
gasto, (money given to cover the minimal costs associated with
the survival of the household such as rent and food) without
being aware of their spouses' overall income. Nevertheless, of
the 82 husbands whose wage could be determined, 35% were
receiving less than the minimum legal salary, 32% were getting
legal salary, and 33% were earning more than the minimum
salary, with 10% earning double. This suggests a completely
different economic situation, if compared with the home-
based workers' wages outlined before.
A small percentage of the husbands were profession-
als (1.5% ); 4.5% were employees of the public sector (em-
ployed by the government, policemen, night guards, etc.).
Other job categories represented included: employees of the
service sector (bricklayers, drivers, waiters, etc., 41%), and
factory workers (12.0%). Four of the latter group were also
involved with the garment industry. While 40.0% were self-
employed, one was a peasant, and another was handicapped
and unable to work.
Regarding fringe benefits (which usually protect a
worker's spouse and children), 41.0% of the husbands were
entitled to all the benefits under the labor law. This situation
contrasts significantly with the home-based worker's situ-
ation. Only 5.0% had only partial benefits, while 53.0% did not
have any. Self-employed workers and most of the service
sector's workers are not protected by contracts, so they often
do not receive fringe benefits.
The economic situation of the home-based workers'
households is constrained, but their everyday survival is
guaranteed in most of the cases and wives are not culturally
obligated to contribute to household expenses. Given the fact
that 85% of the married women had children between six and
twelve years old, we have hypothesized that their participa-
tion in the labor force may be directed towards covering the
costs of their children's education. The primary focus of this
initial study was to determine the socio-demographic charac-
teristics of these women. We suggest that women's home-
based labor represents what Schmink (1984) called "strategies
of mobility," rather than survival. However, this issue re-
quires further research as it was not the focus of our study.
During economic recession, it seems that households
absorb part of the costs of the reproduction of the labor force
which can no longer be covered with the male as sole bread-
winner. Overall, education is seen as a concrete, as well as an
ideal, means of increasing social mobility. In the current
context, women may be joining the labor force as home-based
workers in order to pay for their children's education and
allow them to attend school as long as possible. The six
married women without children, and the six single women
still living with their parents are special cases, rather than the
norm. The former were mainly working for a wage to save and
to be able to purchase their own home, while the single women
were still in school.
In garment and other home-based manufacturing
processes in Mexico, workers are mainly semi-literate, mar-
ried women, with children of school age living in nuclear
households (Alonso 1977; Beneria and Roldan 1987). These
women are socially vulnerable in the labor market because it is
assumed that they are principally housewives and mothers.
The notion that they are using their "free time" to "help" their
husband with the household expenses disguises the fact that
they are full- to part-time workers. This situation is the result
of the fact that women with children do not have the opportu-
nity to leave their homes and search freely for wage labor.
Married women' vulnerability is used to significantly
decrease the production costs of the garment manufacturing
industry by ignoring the female worker's rights (Safa 1981).
The low wages and lack of fringe benefits reinforce their social
vulnerability, trapping them in a vicious cycle. The extremely
low wages strengthen the belief that they are unable to be in
charge of the household economy. It also reinforces their
economic dependence on men.
Womens' participation in the work force is also used
by the factory owners to avoid "problems" with legal regular
workers. In interviews, it was clear that "problems" for the
entrepreneurs consisted mainly of complaints by workers
trying to obtain their legal rights. These rights are supposedly
guaranteed by law. Thus, married women with children in
apparel manufacturing in Yucatan are employed as a reserve
labor force. They are mainly hired during economic or political
crises and fired when the crisis has passed for the entrepre-
Fernandez-Kelly (1983) reports that offshore multina-
tional corporations, producing parts for electronic appliances,
purposely hire only single, young and educated women. In
this case, home-based workers' contractors do not necessarily
seek out married women with little education, with children,
living in nuclear families. However, given the extremely low
wages and the lack of fringe benefits offered, only women with
these characteristics accept thesejobs. The working conditions
themselves act as selective criteria and as an indirect hiring
policy that draws women with no other opportunities "com-
patible" with their domestic responsibilities. The socio-eco-
nomic situation of women who are primarily housewives and
mothers, and economically dependent on their husbands, has
a direct role in their extremely unfair working conditions.
Alonso, Jose Antonio
1977 Domestic Seamstresses of Nezahualc6yotl: A Case
Study of Feminine Overexploitation in a Marginal
Urban Area. New York: New York University.
Beneria, Lourdes and Martha Rolddn
1987 The Crossroads of Class and Gender: Industrial
Homework, Subcontracting, and Household
Dynamics in Mexico City. Chicago and London:
The University of Chicago Press.
1984 Yucatdn demogrdfico. Mexico, D.F.: Consejo
Nacional de Poblaci6n.
Fernmndez-Kelly, Maria Patricia
1983 For We Are Sold, I and My People. Women and
Industry in Mexico's Frontier. Albany: SUNY
1985 Leader of the National Textile Federation of the
Regional Mexican Worker Confederation
(Federaci6n Nacional Textil de la Confederaci6n
Regional Obrera Mexicana, CROM). Diario de
Yucatdn, May 23rd.
Safa, Helen I.
1981 Work and Women's Liberation: A Case Study
of Garment Workers. Florida Journal of
1984 Household Economic Strategies: Review and
Research Agenda. Latin American Research
Taller de Investigaci6n Obrera y Sindicato 19 de Septiembre
1987 La lucha de las costureras y el sindicato "19 de
Septiembre." Mexico, D.F.: Centro de
Documentaci6n y Estudios Sindicales y del
Trabajo. Colecci6n Cuadernos Obreros.
Coming Spring 1990
Africa's Contribution to the Music of the Americas
The Center for Latin American Studies, in collaboration
with the Center for African Studies, has received a
grant fom the Florida Endowment for the Humanities
to host a cycle of events in celebration of Africa's
Contributions to Afro-Caribbean music. Scheduled
events are as follow:
Musical Performances -
Carnival Dance with Miami-based Haitian dance
band, Topvice. February 17, St. Augustine Church
Performance/talk by Samite Milondo of Uganda.
March 4, Thomas Center 7:00 p.m.
Othello Molineaux and his Trinidadian Steel Drum
Ensemble. March 31, Florida Museum of Natural
History, 2 p.m.
March 1, "The Cultural contributions of the African
diaspora to the music of the Americas"by J.H.
Nketia, African ethnomusicologist from the
University of Pittsburgh.
March 29, "African elements in Trinidad's popular
music" by Maureen Warner-Lewis, Professor of
African Languages and Literatures, University of
West Indies, Jamaica.
,,, . 2 (a .-
The Latinamericanist is pleased to have the opportunity to present an excerpt from Dr. Emilio Bejel's most recent book
of poetry, Casas Deshabitadas. The collection presents a poetic view of the Cuban-American experience. The main voice of the
poems is a child who expresses the shock of the departure from his country, home and mother. Later, the child goes back and
forth to the "original" home, but finds that now no home is "home."
El ciego que mis veia
y los doce adolescentes
ascendiendo al lugar mis alto
Yo para enlonces me acordaba de la fiesta de disfraces
de la estatua
Pero todo aquello parecia una gran tramoya
y a mi madrina le sobraban las oracones
y se le llenaba la boca de palmas
cuando evocaba la casa prometida
Si se odia la sal se odian los barcos
pero lodavia quedaban deseos de ver las olras islas
y persisti6 en dispersar las hojas del libro
Las costureras volvian a pasearse por el balc6n
Los adolescents pasando de una sombra a una torre
(Deddimos mojamos las manos
Todos se habian escapado
Las frutas y el tiempo maduraban apresuradamente)
El ciego que mis veia
y los doce adolescents por el monte
Mami sabia leer el future
descifrar por las palmas de las manos
los signos mis oscuros
(Todos se habian escabullido
Era nuestra oportunidad de oro
Un nickel en el fondo)
Habia mercaderes por lodos los rincones de la casa
Las iglesias llenas de pobres
Y muchos seguian en la pesca del nickel
El ciego que m.is veia y adolescentes subiendo la monlaina
de irbol a bosque
de bosque a estrella
(habia que averiguarlo lodo)
La madre le estaba sollando los bajos de los pantalones
y mientras descifraba las palmas de la mano
una jerigonza en la casa de enfrente
PEASANT POLITICAL IDENTITY AND THE TUCURUI DAM :
A CASE STUDY OF THE ISLAND DWELLERS OF PARA, BRAZIL
by Pennie Magee
Pennie Magee is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida. She conducted her fieldwork in the state of
Pari in the Brazilian Amazon between July 1988 and June 1989. This article comes from part of her research with island dwellers of the Tocantins River in
Para. Support for the fieldwork was provided by the Amazon Research and Training Program, the Ford Foundation, and a Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral
Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship.
By the year 2010, the Brazilian government intends to
build some 80 dams throughout the Amazon river basin. The
projects will be constructed by the state-operated company,
Eletronorte. The dams are an integral part of the government's
overall goal of reducing the country's balance of payment
deficits by providing hydroelectric rather than petroleum
generated power to large scale enterprises in Amaz6nia.
Between July 1988 and June 1989, I carried out field
research on the Tocantins River. Ilived with a family on a small
island located about 200 kilometers downstream from the
multi-million dollar Tucuruf dam, the first of the many projects
planned for the northern region. In the course of my research,
I found that the closing of the Tucuruf floodgates four years
earlier profoundly undermined the traditional sustenance
strategies carried outby peasants who inhabit the entire length
of the river below the dam. In the face of the growing threat to
their resource base, people engaged in new types of political
mobilization to defend their livelihood. The Catholic Church
and the Rural Workers' Union played a key role in organizing
the mobilization. These events reflect the close connection
between the environmental consequences of development
projects, and the emergence of grassroots organizations that
are rapidly changing the face of Amazonian politics.
The Tucurui dam is the largest dam in the tropics, and
the fourth largest in the world. By the time the floodgates
closed in 1984, controversy surrounded the project. Critics
believed that environmental and social issues had not received
the consideration that they deserved (O Liberal 1984; Maltez
and Maltez 1984; Jornal do Brasil 1986).
There was ample room for concern. The area des-
ignated to be flooded by the 245,300-hectare reservoir was
densely forested, with an estimated 2.8 million trees and
shrubs. CAPEMI, the company awarded the contract to extract
the lumber from the area, failed to do so. The lumber left to
decompose under water threatened to damage the dam's
turbines and to pollute the waters of the Tocantins River
People living in the reservoir area were not allowed to
plant crops during the three years preceding the flooding
(Biery-Hamilton 1987). Without their crops, and unable to buy
food, many families endured extreme hardship. When
Eletronorte eventually indemnified them for their losses, the
calculations were based on the reduced value of the land
(Biery-Hamilton 1987)2 Relocated families had no reserves of
cash or food to help them through the transitional period
(Biery-Hamilton 1987; Mougeot 1987).
Approximately 40,000 peasants living on the hun-
dreds of islands scattered between the dam and the mouth of
the river have also suffered the effects of the Tucurui dam.
Although they continue to live on the islands, the closing of the
floodgates in 1984 fundamentally changed their relationship
to the environment around them. If peasants above the dam
"Dos patrias tengo o" decia
y la noche se extendia por todos los agujeros
"Dos patrias tengo yo" repetia
v la noche enredada en su misma madeja
Lleg6 pidindole perd6n a la madrina
Se accrc6 va sin miedo al mar
y disfrut6 el milagro de los peces
"Ya so} ellos" dijo el ciego
"Ya somos siempre" dijeron los adolescents
y se fueron todos mezclados con la luz del sol
Para mi todo aquello era un mislerio
y habia que averiguar de que se trataba
l Mami d6nde estl el ciego?
;Por qu, se internal en la montafia?
El ciego eia la luz
en medio de s s sueio mrs profundo
Descendia de la montafia todas las noches
y cuando amanecia en la cima
los adolescenles lo recibian con palmas
Mientras tanto una deslumbrante caceria de nickel y piedras
1 Quien se iba a resistir?
A pesar del miedo innato a la sal y a los barcos
se podia muy bien esperar a que se secara el mar
y entonces pasar corriendo a la otra orilla
El ciego podia ver la luz
en las noches mis oscuras
y su cara y el contorno de su cuerpo
estaban dentro de la luz de otro cuerpo
ms ciego mas grande mis luminoso
Todo eso es realmente incomprensible
lo mis facil es prepararse para cuando baje la marea
Nos dispusimos a flotar si era necesario
Habia abejas por todas las enredaderas de la casa
Una vez vi al ciego alejindose de mi
(me sospechaba que levaba la sonrisa del que lodo lo ve)
Ilevaba un fuego que prendia en todos los fuegos
cuando se alejaba mire al cielo
habia un eclipse en medio del dia
Me quede temblando
y me apresur6 a cruzar con el veloipedo
aprovechandouna momentanea sequoia del mar
Del otro lado me esperaban unos amigos trisles
y por un moment me sentaron en silla de oro a comer
have suffered the loss of their land, peasants below the dam
have suffered the equally damaging loss of their water.
Tucuruf Dam, Tocantins River, Para, Brazil
CABOCLOS OF THE TOCANTINS RIVER
Peasants who live in the Amazon are traditionally
known as caboclos. They speak Portuguese and practice the
Catholic religion, both with strong Indian overtones (Wagley
1985). They live along river banks, small streams or ox-bow
lakes, in isolated family groups. They do not have title to the
land they occupy. They plant a few crops such as maize, rice,
beans, bananas and manioc, and supplement their crops with
hunting and fishing. They produce export commodities such
as rubber, Brazil nuts, animal pelts, and lumber.
Caboclos along the main channel of the Tocantins
River live in an environment which differs from that inhabited
by upland peasants. Islands in the lower Tocantins are affected
by the daily ocean tides as well as the annual seasonal fluctua-
tions, so twice a day large portions of the land are underwater.
Crops are limited to either those which can withstand daily
flooding (such as cacao, Theobroma cacao) or to areas where the
land is slightly elevated so that it floods only seasonally (where
they can plant rice, manioc, squash, beans).
Because the island environment offers very few op-
portunities for agriculture, in the past people primarily relied
on the fish available in the river. Before the dam, there were
over 300 commercial species in the Tocantins River (INPA
1984).3 Of these, the most widely consumed was the mapard,
Hypophthalmus marginatus. Island dwellers were assured a
reliable source of food every day, either fish or shrimp depend-
ing on the time of year. They caught the fish by hook and line,
or by a variety of fish and shrimp traps. They report having
spentrelatively little time each day obtaining food, and enough
fish was usually left over to feed to the pigs and chickens. In
addition, people took fish to towns on the mainland to ex-
change for goods (such as manioc flour) which they could not
produce in their own land. The system assured families of a
steady supply of fish, manioc flour and agaf (Euterpe oleracea),
the traditional diet of island residents.'
On those occasions when cash was needed, perhaps
for medicine, or for a child's education, families could send a
household member to workbriefly for wages. The main source
of cash was seasonal wage labor in the mainland black pepper
fields or in lavoura branca (white harvest) of rice and manioc.
LOCAL IMPACTS OF THE TUCURUI DAM
Soon after the floodgates closed, island residents no-
ticed changes in the river. Normally a clear blue in the dry
season and light clear brown in the winter, the water took on
a greenish-brown color. Large sheets of green scum floated on
the surface of the water .5
People experienced severe gastrointestinal disorders;
several children died during this period. Skin rashes plagued
everyone, and women suffered from vaginal infections so
serious that many thought they had contracted a venereal
Continued on page 8
Continued from page 7
By the end of 1987, swarms of water-borne insects
clogged the river. In some areas, people could scoop entire
handfuls of theseout of thewaterata time. Drinking water had
to be strained repeatedly through several layers of cheesecloth
in order to rid it of insects. Since the insects concentrated
especially along the river banks, people had to paddle out to
the middle of the river to bathe. When the tides went out, a
dense layer of insects remained behind on the shore.
Crops suffered as well. Wherever water stood for
awhile during the daily tidal flooding, cacao trees lost their
bark from the ground up to the water level. By early 1988,
cacao production had plummeted; some cultivators reported
losing two thirds of their harvest to
pests and decreased fruiting. The
aqai palm was also affected. The
fruit frequently dried on the tree *
before it could be harvested. The
fruit which was salvaged produced
less pulp than was considered nor-
Island residents attribute
the decrease in production of cacao
and acai to two things. First, they
note that many poisonousvines and
trees were submerged by the reser-
voir. They contend that when the Caboclos House, Toca
vegetation was in the first stages of
decomposition, it was the poisons
from those trees and vines which .
were carried in the water and which
stripped the bark from the cacao
trees. Second, they observe that
they no longer see sediments de-
posited on the land as occurred
during the flooding cycles. Thus
both cacao and acaf are probably
suffering from nutrient deficien-
By far the most serious Paruru Residents
dam-related change was thevirtual
disappearance of fish and shrimp from the river, changing the
very fabric of daily existence.7 People spent increasing amounts
of time trying to catch enough to feed their families, to the
detriment of other activities. Before long, the small number of
family raised pigs and chickens were consumed. Finally,
island dwellers no longer had a medium of exchange for
mainland goods. As a result, they no longer had access to
staples such as manioc flour, constricting their diet even fur-
KEY CONTRINUTORS TO PEASANT MOBILIZATION
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Several years before peasants downstream suffered
any effects of the dam, people living around the projected
reservoir area were already engaged in a struggle to protect
their livelihood. Two key players emerged from the situation
at the reservoir who were to play a fundamental role in giving
a voice to island dwellers: the Catholic Church, and the Rural
The Catholic Church has long been actively involved
in peasant struggles for land in southern Pard state (see Main-
waring 1986 for a discussion of the Church's role in Brazil).
However, even by the late 1970s the Church was not aware,
except in the broadest sense, of the problems brewing in the
area of the reservoir. Until then, its involvement with those
riverine peasants was restricted to spiritual leadership. The
lack of attention to this area was the result of a shortage of
priests and Church agents rather than a deliberate Church
policy to withhold support.
In 1980, a chain of events served as a catalyst for the
Church's move to defend the peasants living in the area of the
future reservoir. A priest from the riverine town of Cametd,
vacationing in Bahia state, on im-
pulse attended a meeting there re-
garding problems stemming from the
Sobradinho dam in that state. A
woman who had been involved in
the questions surrounding So-
bradinho contacted the priest and
arranged to visit Tucuruf. She found
that people were not receiving in-
demnification for their land, and the
relocation process was in disarray.
She drafted letters to the president of
Eletronorte and the bishop outlining
ns River, Pard, Brazil the problems. She urged the Church
to send a lawyer and an agronomist
to the reservoir area to help peasants
Obtain adequate remuneration dur-
ing relocation. Eletronorte did not
respond to the letter.
By 1982, the situation was
explosive. The Church sent person-
nel to mediate the conflict between
Eletronorte and local peasants. The
struggle around the reservoir during
the next few years has been well-
documented by Biery-Hamilton
ding a Fish Trap (1987) and others. In the end, rela-
tively few people actually obtained
what they felt was fair recompense. However, the Church
agents carried the experience from those events to their work
with island dwellers.
THE RURAL WORKERS' UNION
In 1980 Church agents in Cameta began a movement
to transfer control of the CametA Rural Workers' Union to the
peasants. For years, the Union had been controlled by the local
elite, some members of which had strong ties to the state and
national governments. Following patron-client practice com-
mon to the region, leaders ensured the loyalty (and votes) of
peasants by providing them with medical and dental services.
At the time the Union changed hands, an estimated seventy
per cent of the eight thousand members were not rural workers
of any sort. Of the remaining thirty per cent, most had never
paid union dues. It had been expected practice for the union
leaders to automatically update all members' status at election
time, regardless of whether anyone paid dues.
In 1981, the peasants ran on the opposition ticket in the
Union elections. They lost the election because they had no
previous experience with political procedures, and were out-
maneuvered by the incumbent's invocation of quorum and
absolute majority rules. The next election took place in 1984.
Although the opposition ticket won, the election was nullified.
Finally, in 1985, the peasants won control of the Union.
By this time the Tucurui dam floodgates had been
closed, and people all along the margins of the river and on the
islands werebeginning to suffer the first of the many problems
to come. One of the foremost items on the new Union leaders'
agenda was to engage Eletronorte in a dialogue. In October
1986, they arranged a meeting with Eletronorte and its consult-
ing firms, Engevix and Themag, to define Eletronorte's re-
sponsibilities regarding the cfects of the dam (Eletronorte
At the first meeting, people complained about the
water color, skin and intestinal disorders, and the disappear-
ance of fish. Eletronorte consultants undertook some studies,
and in July 1987 concluded that the water should not be
consumed. They promised to arrange for wells and water
storage tanks for an initial group of 10,000 inhabitants, with
possibilities to expand the operation. They promised to install
health posts and to train lay health care agents (Comissao
Pastoral da Terra 1987).
Eletronorte also concluded that fish were scarce be-
cause riverside towns and islands were increasing in popula-
tion size. They explained that fish were spoiling quickly
because they were contaminated by fishermen's unsanitary
fishing practices and the increase in sewage in the river be-
cause of increasing urbanization along rivers .8
River peasants did not accept Eletronorte's explana-
tion for the scarcity of fish and for the decrease in quality of
those fish which remained. They were pleased, however, with
Eletronorte's promise to provide potable water and health
posts for river dwellers. They decided to wait and see what
Eletronorte would do (Comissao Pastoral da Terra 1987).
THE CHURCH AND THE UNION AS A COMMUNICATION NETWORK
At the local level, the Church and the Union havebeen
instrumental in disseminating information about the Tucurui
dam to the river residents. On a regional level, they provide a
powerful network of communication which connects events in
widely-scattered and isolated areas. Thus they play a key role
in consolidating a new political identity for Amazonian resi-
dents as a whole.
Tocantins islanders have recently become part of the
regional community of Amazonian peasants, in large measure
because of the information they receive through the Church
and Union network. Two recent events elsewhere in the
Amazon made islanders aware that their struggle is shared by
In December 1988 the president of the rubber tappers'
union from Acre state, Francisco "Chico" Mendes, was assas-
sinated (Campbell 1989). Before the assassination, islanders
were barely aware of the existence of Acre as a state, let alone
the plight of the rubber tappers there. In a matter of days after
the event, Chico's death was a common topic of conversation
in the Union Hall. Chico became a symbol for peasants
suffering the loss of their resource base.
In September 1988, Eletronorte announced a plan to
implant 79 dams in the Amazon river basin by the year 2010.
Several of these dams are to be located on the Xingu River,
which runs through Kayap6 Indian lands. In February 1989,
the Kayap6 organized a conference in Altamira, Para state
(Schmink 1989) to protest the government's announcement.
People from the Tocantins River attended this confer-
ence; some were sponsored by the Church and the Union.
Upon their return, they noted that if the Indians could win
concessions from the government, they as peasants certainly
ought tobe able to as well. For the first time, caboclos and Indian
groups are learning that they share a common cause.
By 1989, Eletronorte had kept none of its promises.
Fish continue to be scarce, there are no wells or water tanks,
and no health posts. It is beyond the scope of this paper to
discuss the role Eletronorte ought to take in attending to island
dwellers' needs. Eletronorte's mission is to supply hydroelec-
tric power to the rest of Brazil. Issues such as environmental
and social consequences of this task do not enter into the
equation, in their view.
Island peasants can no longer make their livelihood
because of a fundamental breakdown in their system of suste-
nance. Fish used to supply food for household consumption
and for livestock feed; it was also a medium of exchange. Now
families must spend most of their time obtaining food, either
by spending much more time catching far less fish than before,
or by working for wages which do not even come close to
feeding an average family. The margin of survival is increas-
ingly narrow. Clothing, health care and education no longer
enter the equation because people spend all their time, effort
and money to obtain food.
The trend in river peasants' thinking currently reflects
a certain bitter optimism. They realize that they are up against
forces far greater than themselves; regardless of the compel-
ling nature of their predicament, no help seems tobe forthcom-
ing from Eletronorte. With encouragement from the Church,
some island communities are searching for outside sources of
funding from the Canadian government and the Dutch Catho-
lic Church, to address the issues of health care and lack of fish.
This new strategy marks a new phase in peasant political
identity. It is the first time they have tried to seek a solution on
The Tucurui dam was begun in a decade of military
dictatorship and unprecedented economic growth, but com-
pleted in a decade of political abertura (opening) and an esca-
lating economic crisis. This political and economic context
presents islanders with a dilemma. They now need wage
income to sustain themselves but have few opportunities to
earn cash. Furthermore, in a cash economy they have to keep
up with spiraling national inflation.
At the same time, river peasants do have a voice
because of the recent political abertura. Their political identity
has come about because of the significant damage to their
source of livelihood, and because they can speak through the
Church and the Workers' Union.
A critical difference between the Tocantins islanders
on the one hand, and Chico Mendes and the Kayap6 on the
Continued on page 10
other, is that the latter two were far more sophisticated in their
strategies, garnering international support for their struggles.
Both Chico and the Kayap6 caught the attention of conserva-
tion agencies and the World Bank. Their statements made a
difference in policy for aid to Brazil's future energy sector
projects. In April of this year, the World Bank turned down the
request for a loan to Brazil's energy sector.
It remains to be seen whether the Tocantins islanders
muster the international support they may need to survive on
the islands, or whether they will join the ranks of the other
disfranchised groups competing for scarce land on the main-
SUnless otherwise noted, the data for this paper comes from questionnaires
applied in the community of Paruru, taped interviews with church and union
representatives in Cameta and taped interviews with riverine dwellers
distributed the length of the Tocantins River between the dams and the delta.
2The value of the land is calculated according to "improvement" the resident
has made to the parcel. These include buildings constructed and crops
planted. Eletronorte had to indemnify a large number of peasants who were
to lose their land in the reservoir areas. To reduce the amount spent on
indemnifications, Eletronorte forbade planting of crops so the value of the
land would decrease.
3 Commercial fish species are defined as those used for food or, in a few cases,
those caught for the tropical aquarium market in urban areas. Tocantins
islanders as a general rule limited their catches to what they needed for
SThe drink made from the fruit of the aaaf palm is a central component of the
river diet. During the harvest season from May to November, it is consumed
at least three times a day. It is present at every meal, and is frequently thebasis
for a snack of hot gruel mixed with rice or manioc flour. River residents do
not consider a meal complete without agaf.
5 The "green scum" noted by the island dwellers in all likelihood originates
from a process of nutrient loading in the reservoir, which causes the algal
bloom (Viessman, pers. com. 1989).
6 Researchers found that significant amounts of sediments are deposited by
rivers. Before the Aswan dam was built on the Nile River, the delta received
100 tons of silt per hectare per year. Currently, only a few tons of silt per year
are deposited on the delta (Goldsmith and Hildyard 1984).
Sediments in rivers have also been found to be important sources of
nutrients for crops. Before the damming of the Amudar'ya River in the Soviet
Union, the 40 tons of silt per hectare deposited annually by the river provided
250 kgs of humus, 200 kgs of nitrogen, 50 kgs of available potassium oxide,
and 50 kgs of phosphoric acid per hectare (Goldsmith and Hildyard 1984).
7 In tropical rivers, most fish species are migratory. When a dam is built,
migration patterns are disrupted. In addition, there is an interruption in the
flow of suspended materials and gases which sustain river life; the flow of the
water is reduced, shrinking the area of the water downstream, and there is
increased salinization of the water. In sum, fish disappear because they can
no longer survive in a drastically altered environment (Goldsmith and
SI have not yet found evidence to support Eletronorte's claims about increas-
ing population and urbanization along the river.
1987 Coping with Change: the Impact of the Tucuruf Dam
on an Amazonian Community. M.A. thesis,
University of Florida, Gainesville.
1989 Community Mobilization and Education for
Conservation: A Case Study of the Rubber
Tappers in Acre, Brazil. The Latinamericanist
Comissao Pastoral da Terra
1987 Ata do encontro entire a Eletronorte, Engevix,
FSESP, INAMPS, Prelazia de Cametd, Sindicato
dos Trabalhadores Rurais e Comunidades Cristas da
regido Baixo Tocantins. Cametd: CPT.
1986 VI Encontro do Anilzinho, 16 de outubre de 1986,
Brasilia. Archives of the Comissao Pastoral da
Terra, Cameta, Para, Brasil.
Goldsmith, Edward and Nicholas Hildyard
1984 The Social and Environmental Effects of Large
Dams. San Francisco: Sierra Club.
Santos, Gerardo Mendes dos; Michel Jegu and Bernard de
1984 Catdlogo de peixes comerciais do Baixo Rio
Tocantins: Projeto Tucurui.
Manaus: Eletronorte; Conselho Nacional de
Desenvolvimento Cientifico Tecon6logico, and
Institute Nacional de Pesquisas AmazOnicas.
Jornal do Brasil
1986 Usina de Tucurui foi erguida sobre falha
geologica. Domingo, 8 Marco, 1 Caderno, 29.
1986 The Catholic Church and Politics in Brazil, 1916-
1985. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Maltez, Herberto Tocantins and Maria Gil Maltez
1984 Efeitos da barragem de Tucurui em Bel6m. O
Liberal ,July 15.
1987 O reservatorio da usina hidrel6trica de Tucuruf,
Pard, Brasil: Uma avaliacao do program de
reassentamento populacional (1976-1985). In
Homem e Natureza na Amaz6nia. Tubinger
Geographische Studien 95. Tubinger: Tubinger
Beitrage Zur Geographischen Lateinamerika-
1984 0 mal que vira de tudo que ficar sob o lago de
Tucurui. February 14.
1989 Contesting the Military in Amaz6nia, 1979-1989.
Paper presented at workshop, Amaz6nia
Ecological Disorder: A 1989 Assessment, August
27-September 1, 1989. Rio de Janeiro.
Viessman Jr., Warren
1989 Telephone Conversation with author;
1985 The Amazon Caboclo. In The Amazon Caboclo:
Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed.
Eugene Philip Parker. Studies in Third World
Societies 32: vii-xvi. Williamsburg, VA: College
of William and Mary.
CENTER HOLDS CONFERENCE ON THE ECONOMICS
OF NATURAL RESOURCE USE
Economic Catalysts to Ecological Change, the 39th Annual
Center Conference, willbe held from February 8-11,1990. The
conference will focus on the interaction of economics and
resource exploitation and cover such topics as the political
economy of ecological change in Latin America, property
regimes and natural resource exploitation, and the lumber
industry in Pard, Brazil. Speakers scheduled include: Enrique
Bucher of Colorado State University; Doris Capistrano of
University of Florida; Ron Foresta of University of Tennessee;
Gary Hartshorn of World Wildlife Fund; Alcida Rita Ramos of
University of Brasilia; Anna Roosevelt of the AmericanMuseum
of Natural History; Carlisle F. Rungeof University of Minnesota;
Steven E. Sanderson of University of Florida; Javier Simonetti
of the University of Chile; Osvaldo Sunkel of the UN Economic
Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; and Chris
Uhl of Penn State University. Questions regarding the confer-
ence should be directed to Kent H. Redford, Assistant Professor
of Latin American Studies, 319 Grinter Hall, University of
Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
The Center recently announced the upcoming confer-
ence for 1991. Entitled From Machu Picchu to Medellin: Social
Justice, Revolution and the Cocaine Problem in the Andean Nations,
the 40th Annual Conference of CLAS will focus on the struggle
for human and cultural rights for the Andean peoples; revolu-
tionary movements and their socio-economic foundations;
and the social, economic and environmental consequences of
"cocaine capitalism" and the implications for national and
international policy. The conference will develop these inter-
twined themes in a comparative, interdisciplinary framework
recognizing the region as a unit but showing each country in
light of its own traditions and problems requiring nationally
appropriate policies. It will be held on March 13-16, 1991.
For more information about "The Andean Conference
'91," contact Paul L. Doughty, Professor of Anthropology and
Latin American Studies, or Deborah Pacini, Assistant Director
of the Center for Latin American Studies, 319 Grinter Hall,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. Telephone 904-
OUTREACH PROGRAM ACTIVITIES
TEACHER TRAINING INSTITUTE ON FLORIDA ENCOUNTERS
The second annual AMERICAS'92 summer institute
for elementary, middle and secondary school teachers focused
on Florida Encounters: The Experience of Latin American Women.
Ten teachers from around the state spent June 25-30 attending
lectures and films and working on team projects, developing
dimensions of Florida's Latin American Heritage: cultural
roots, immigration and settlement in Florida, first-person
accounts of the Florida experience in poetry, and teaching
about cultural diversity through the humanities.
Linda Miller, Director for Outreach and Special
Programs, organized the institute which included presentations
by Sandra Fradd (UF, Bilingual/ESOL Special Education),
Jane Landers (UF, History), Robert Lawless (UF,
Anthropology), Ximena Moors (UF, Romance Languages and
Literatures), George Pozzetta (UF, History), Helen Safa (UF,
Latin American Studies/Anthropology), Yvonne Sapia (Lake
City Community College, English) and Maida Watson (Florida
International University, Modern Languages).
The Florida Endowment for the Humanities provided
funding for the institute and the teachers earned thirty in-
service credits from theFlorida StateDepartment of Education.
THIRD ANNUAL AMERICAS '92 SUMMER TEACHERS' INSTITUTE
Plans are underway for the third annual AMERICAS
'92 teacher training institute, to be held in Gainesville June 25-
29,1990. As in previousinstitutes, preparation fortheColumbus
Quincentennial will be emphasized through the theme of the
encounterof three populations-European, African andNative
American-stimulated by Columbus's voyages to the New
World. Past and present will receive equal emphasis, and
teachers will be encouraged to examine issues from multiple
perspectives. The institute is conducted as a seminar, and
teachers take an active role in the discussion of lectures,
examination of curriculum resources, and development of
learning activities. A course-pack of readings on the topics
covered is provided.
Teachers and subject supervisors in all curriculum
areas from elementary, middle, and secondary schools are
invited to apply. Further information and application forms
willbe available in January from Linda Miller, Center for Latin
American Studies, 319 Grinter Hall, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611.
FIFTH YEAR OF THE USIS-BRAZIL PROGRAM
The fifth annual seminar on the contemporary United
States for Brazilian teachers of English was held in Gainesville
from July 7-29, with 29 teachers attending from binational
centers throughout Brazil. Lucia de Aragdo Mein from the
Uniao CulturalBrasil-Estados Unidos, Sao Paulo, was the USIS
group leader, and Linda Miller coordinated the program for
the Center for Latin American Studies.
This year's seminar featured presentations by
University of Florida Faculty/staff members Jean Casagrande
(English Language Institute),Jerry Cutler (Art), DavidDenslow
(Economics), John Dunkle (Geography), Sandra Fradd
(Bilingual/ESOL Special Education), Andrew Gordon (Film
Studies/English), Mildred Hill-Lubin (English), William
Kinnally (WUFT/NPR), Jane Landers (History), Kevin
McCarthy (English), Terry McCoy (Latin American Studies/
Political Science), Dennis Owen (Religion), George Pozzetta
Continued on page 12
Continued from page 11
(History) and Gordon Tapper (English Language Institute), as
well as Gainesville Mayor-Commissioner Cynthia Chesnut.
A special feature of this year's program was the
opportunity to meet U.S. teachers attending another summer
program on this campus. Teachers also conducted team
research on topics from the slang of UF students to the teaching
of Portuguese, interviewing students on campus and presenting
skits and summary reports on the last day of the seminar. They
experienced Gainesville lifestyles through visits to local families.
The City of Gainesville proclaimed "Brazil Day" when they
attended a Commission meeting to see local government in
action. Other activities included visits to Disney World, St.
Augustine, and Tallahassee.
The program succeeded in its goal of adding a U.S.
cultural dimension to the Brazilians' professional skills in
teaching English. As one teacher wrote in the evaluation,
"Now, I can teach some things of American culture that I have
NEW OUTREACH PROGRAM RESOURCES FOR K-12 TEACHERS
A large number of new curriculum resources have
been added to the Outreach Lending Library over the past
year. These items include audio-visual holdings, videocassettes
and slide sets. Thanks to a Jacksonville teacher, the Traveling
Suitcase on Ecuador has outgrown its small steamer trunk.
Gina Ashton of Wolfson High School spent the summer in
Ecuador and brought back many items, including a child's
bracelet of cabalonga pods, alpargatas (woven sandals), a jigsaw
puzzle of the provinces, the national flag, a set of country maps
and a book of word games. She wrote annotations on each item
for the Teacher's Guide and even provided recipes. The larger
Ecuador suitcase will be loaned through the postal service to
teachers around the country, as are suitcases on Bolivia, Brazil,
the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and Peru. Donations
from these and other countries are welcome, to replace lost or
worn-out items and to create new artifact kits on countries not
yet included. The Traveling Suitcases were sent out 42 times
Teaching ideas for Columbus Day were mailed to
local elementary and middle school teachers in early October.
Guidelines, questions for the students, and suggested learning
activities emphasized the theme of "Encounters in the
Americas," the organizing theme of AMERICAS '92, CLAS's
Columbus Quincentennial Outreach Effort. A list of resources
was also provided; it is available from the Outreach Lending
For further information on the Outreach Program,
contact Linda Miller, Center for Latin American Studies, 319
Grinter Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
Grinter Galleries will feature two exhibits focusing on
Latin American themes this year. The first, entitled Eric
Breitenbach: Portraits of the Caribbean and Latin American
Experience in Florida, is scheduled from January 12-February
16, 1990. In this collection of black and white photographs,
photographer Eric Breitenbach chronicles the struggles faced
by Latin American and Caribbean immigrants in South Florida.
FOR FACULTY VISITS TO BRAZIL
The Florida-Brazil Institute (FBI) will award two
scholarships of $1,500 each for the 1990 summer
Portuguese language and Brazilian Studies program
at the InstitutoBrasil-Estados Unidos in RiodeJaneiro.
Participants in the six week program, who are housed
with local families, receive six hours of transfer cred it
from the Universityof Florida for intensive Portuguese
instruction in the morning and lectures on the various
facets of Brazil in the afternoon. The program takes
place from late June to early August, 1990. In awarding
the scholarships, the institute will give preference to
students and faculty from Florida's universities and
The institute will also sponsor a two-week cross-
cultural training seminar in Brazil for U.S. faculty,
tentatively scheduled for May 1990. The purpose of
theseminar is to bringawarenessof Florida institutions
regarding comparative education. There will be
walking tours, cross-cultural workshops, and a course
in "survival" Portuguese.
For more information on the summer program
and the FBI scholarship, contact the Florida-Brazil
Institute, 319 Grinter Hall, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611. For further information
regarding the faculty seminar, contact FBI co-director
George EmersonatMiami-Dade Community College,
HonorsProgram, 11011 SV 104th SLRm.3336, Miami,
From March 30-May 4,1990, The Tomb of the Warrior Priest will
be shown. This elaborate group of ceramics is part of a
collection of art pieces from the Moche Culture in Northern
Peru. These objects were placed with the dead of noblebirth to
accompany them on their journey into the afterlife.
The Florida Museum of Natural History is currently
presenting First Encounters, Discovery and Exploration of the
Americas, 1492-1570. The exhibit tells the story of Spain's
discovery and settlement of Florida and includes artifacts from
the collections of the American Museum of Natural History
and the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum. After a three
year tour of twelve major cities, the exhibit will become the
keystone of the Florida Museum and be featured in the
Christopher Columbus Quincentennial Jubilee in 1992.
Sponsors of the exhibition include the National Endowment
for the Humanities and the Florida Arts Council.
The Center for Latin American Studies Film Series
featured newly acquired films, some of which focused on the
role and results of the military regimes in Argentina, Nicaragua
and Peru. In addition, classics such as The White Rose were
presented. The following films were shown during the Fall
LIBRARY TRAVEL GRANTS
The Center will again offer Library Travel Grants for the
Summerl990funded by agrant from the U.S. Department
Two awards up to $500 will be made to help cover the
travel and living expenses of faculty members and
graduates students. Awardees are expected to reamin in
Gainesvile forat leastone week and present an informal
seminar at the Center dinring their residence.
Applications are due March 1, 1990.
Black Orpheus (Brazil) September 26
The White Rose (Mexico) October 10
The Official Story (Argentina) October 17
Alsino and the Condor (Nicaragua) October 24
Pixote (Brazil) October 31
Jungleburger (Costa Rica) November 7
The Criminal Life of Archibaldo Cruz (Mexico) November 14,
Ile Aiyg: The House of Life and Carnfival Bahia (Brazil)
The City of the Dogs (Peru) November 28
COLLOQUIUM SERIES PLACES SPOTLIGHT
ON ELECTIONS IN LATIN AMERICA
The Fall semester's Colloquium Series focused on the
electoral processes throughout South and Central America.
Lecturers spoke on the evolution of electoral politics and the
role of political parties in Brazil, Chile and Honduras, analyzing
the possible outcomes. Given that Brazil held elections for the
first time in twenty-nine years and Chilean elections are being
closely watched as the military slowly removes itself from
office, this series served as a basis for discussion of the process
of political transition. The series continues in the Spring
semester and will include lectures on the upcoming Peruvian
and Nicaraguan elections. Co-sponsors for the Fall semester
series include the College of Journalism and Communication,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,the Departments of
Anthropology, History, Music, Romance Languages and
Literatures, and Regional and Urban Planning, the Center for
African Studies, the Student Association for Latin American
Studies, the Tropical Conservation and Development Program.
The following is a complete list of the colloquia presented:
Christopher Waterman, AssistantProfessorof Ethnomusicology/
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of
"Afro-Latin Contributions to Yoruba Popular Music"
Glaucio Soares, Professor of Latin American Studies and
Sociology, Center for Latin American Studies, University of
"Parties and Personalities in the Brazilian Presidential
Lee Malis, Photojournalist
"Chile: Transition to Democracy"
Reynaldo Susano, Chief of Scientific Research Office and Director
of Post-Graduate Program, Faculty of Economics at the
University of Lima
"Peru: An Economic Report"
Kathy Gladden, Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology, University
"Industrialization and Women's Labor Force Participation in
The Center for Defense Information
Guns for Guatemala
A videotape presentation
Enrique Zuleta Alvarez, Director of the Institute of American
Studies, National University of Cuyo
"Argentine Nationalism Today"
Andris Avellaneda & Adolfo Prieto, Professors of Romance
Languages and Literatures, University of Florida
"Examen y Perspectivas del Resultado Electoral en Argentina"
Douglas Horton, Agricultural Economist/Director of the
Departmentof SocialSciences at the InternationalPotato Center,
"Social Scientist in International Agricultural Research and
Development: An Underground View"
TerryMcCoy, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies,
University of Florida
"The Honduran Presidential Elections: Tweedledee or
Wilfrido Arag6n, Vice-President of the Confederation of
Indigenous Nations of the Ecuadorian Amazon
"History of Indigenous Organizations in the Ecuadorian
"The Impact of Petroleum Exploration on the Ecology and
Indigenous Peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon"
"Relations between Indigenous People and Foreign
Investigators and Opportunities for Research in the Ecuadorian
Geert Banck, Professor of Anthropology, University of Utrecht
and Senior Research Fellow at Interuniversity Centre of Latin
American Research and Documentation, Amsterdam
"Popular Planning in a Contradictory Setting: The Construction
of a Brazilian Neighborhood"
Cisar Caviedes, Professor of Geography, University of Florida
"Elections in Chile: Ratifying a People's Decision"
Antonio Figueiredo, Adjunct Professor of Food Science and
Human Nutrition, University of Florida
"Food Production and the Food Industry in Brazil: Their
Impact on Nutritional Status"
Jorge Duany, Director of the Center for Academic Research,
University of the Sacred Heart, Santurce, Puerto Rico
"The Status Plebiscite in Puerto Rico"
Twenty-six students received graduate degrees with Latin
American emphases from the University of Florida in Spring
and Summer Semesters of 1989.
Patrick A. Antoine, M.A. (Food and Resource Economics),
"Producer Behavior and Implications for Sugar Policy in
the Barbados Sugar Industry," May 1989
Kathleen C. Barnes, M.A. (Anthropology), Non-thesis
option, May 1989
Aurolyn Luykx, M.A. (Anthropology), "Language, Gender,
and Education in the Bolivian Aymara Community,"
Paul F. Monaghan, M.A.L.A.S. (Latin American Studies/
Anthropology), "A Profile of the New Industrial
Workforce in Haiti," May 1989
Susannah G. Neal, M.A. (Anthropology), Non-thesis option,
Debra A. Rose, M.A. (Political Science), Non-thesis option,
Mark G. Sorenson, M.A.L.A.S. (Latin American Studies/
Tropical Conservation and Development), "Uses of the
Amazon by Rubber Tappers in Acre, Brazil," May 1989
Angel A. Barrenechea, M.A. (Agriculture and Extension
Education), "The Adoption of Recommended Dairy
Practices in the Villa Maria Area, C6rdoba, Argentina,"
Michael I. Collins, M.A. (Food and Resource Economics),
"Economic Analysis of the Wholesale Demand for
Sweet Potatoes in Lima, Peru," August 1989
Ronald E. Brown, M.A.L.A.S. (Latin American Studies/
Political Science), "The Guatemalan Refugee Problem:
Catalyst for the Development of a Comprehensive
Mexican National Security Policy?," August 1989
Marta Bustillo, M.A.L.A.S. (Latin American Studies/
Sociology), "Differential Child Mortality in the City of
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1976-81," August
Jose A. Herndndez, M.A.L.A.S. (Latin American Studies/
Political Science), Puerto Rico and the United States: The
Dynamics of Political Autonomy and Economic
Dependency," August 1989
Francisco A. Herrera, M.A.L.A.S. (Latin American Studies/
Anthropology), "The State- Indian Relations in Panama :
1903-1983," August 1989
Cynthia J. Lagueux, M.A.L.A.S. ( Latin American Studies/
Conservation), "Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)
Nesting in the Gulf of Fonseca and the
Commercialization of Its Eggs in Honduras," August
Monica A. Lowder, M.A. (Anthropology), "Northern
ChileanVarieties of Aymara," August 1989
Mary Garcia Castro, Ph.D. (Sociology), "Family, Gender and
Work:The Case of Female Heads of Households in
Brazil (States of Sao Paulo and Bahia)-1950-1980," May
William W. Caudill III, Ph.D. (Geography), "Mortality as a
Measure of Spatial and Social Disparities in
Development : A Venezuelan Case Study," May 1989
John Ingersoll Glendinning, Ph.D. (Zoology), "Comparative
Responses of Five Sympatric Species of Mice to
Overwintering Colonies of Monarch Butterflies in
Mexico," August 1989
Kenneth Good, Ph.D. (Anthropology), "Yanomami Hunting
Patterns : Trekking and Garden Relocation as an
Adaptation to Game Availability in Amaz6nia,
Venezuela," August 1989
Enid Beverly Jones, Ph.D. (Higher Education
Administration), "A Plan for Democratizing the Higher
Education System in Jamaica," August 1989
Peggy A. Lovell, Ph.D. (Sociology), "Racial Inequality and
the Brazilian Labor Market," August 1989
Roy Henry Ryder, Ph.D. (Geography), "Land Evaluation,
Environmental Perception, and Agricultural Decision
Making in Las Cuevas Watershed, Dominican
Republic," August 1989
Marion Lois Stanford, Ph.D. (Anthropology/Food and
Resource Economics), "International Agribusiness and
the Small Farmer: Cantaloupes, Competition, and
Caciques in MichoacAn, Mexico," August 1989
Billie Dale Stratford, Ph.D. (Anthropology), "Structure and
Use of Altiplano Spanish," August 1989
Sondra Wentzel, Ph.D. (Anthropology), "Tacana and
Highland Migrant Land Use, Living Conditions, and
Local Organizations in the Bolivian Amazon," August
NEWS & NOTES
CLAS VISITING SCHOLARS
William Bal6e has been appointed as a visiting Professor
during the 1990 Spring semester. He will teach the Amazon
Seminar drawing from his knowledge as a distinguished
ethnobiologist with extensive experience in the Brazilian
Rafael F. De Moya Pons has been appointed as a visiting
Associate Professor for the Fall and Spring semesters during
which he will be teaching two courses on Caribbean history.
Dr. Moya is currently finishing his latest book, Historia General
del Caribe, to be published in 1990 by Alianza Editorial of
Carlos Hasenbalg, a noted Brazilian-based sociologist,
willbe a Fulbright Scholar at the Center during the 1990 Spring
semester. He is scheduled to offer a Seminar in ethnicity and
Allyn MacLean Stearman, Associate Professorof Sociology
and Anthropology at the University of Central Florida, will be
doing post-doctoral work in Neotropical Biology & Ecology at
the CLAS during the 1990 Spring semester. This work,
sponsored by the Tropical Conservation and Development
Program, will expand her research capabilities and methods in
Juana VAzquez has been appointed as consultant and
Aymara Instructor for the Fall semester. Vazquez also reviewed
and revised the teaching materials of the Aymara Language
Juan de Dios Yapita Moya will replace Juana VAzquez
during the 1990 Spring semester as a Language Instructor and
a consultant to the Center's Aymara Language Program.
Leonard Zobler has been contracted as a consultant and
advisor of research methods on water resource assessment.
Dr. Zobler will also direct the hydrology and watershed
program modules for research on the assessment of the impact
of changes in land-use on tropical steepland hydrology.
Donald Assali, Visiting Professor of Latin American
Studies, is completing his second book, Spicilege II, a book of
essays on francophones and French authors.
Emilio Bejel, Professor of Romance Languages and
Literatures, published Casas deshabitadas (with illustrations by
Cuban-American artist Vincent Topico, a resident of Miami).
The book has had extraordinary success. The first edition sold
out a few days after its publicationby Editora Corripio in Santo
Domingo. An excerpt is featured in this issue of the
Maxine Margolis, Professorof Anthropology, presented a
paper entitled "From Mistress to Servant: Downward Mobility
Among Brazilians in New York City," at the meetings of the
American Anthropological Association in Washington, DC, in
November, 1989. Margolis willbe on research leave during the
winter semester, 1990, for continued research on Brazilians in
Terry McCoy, CLAS Director, visited Suriname in May at
the invitation of the country's Foreign Minister, Dr. Edwin
Sedoc. McCoy delivered the keynote address to a joint
government-private sector seminar on the Caribbean Basin
Initiative. On the same trip, he visited Guyana and lectured on
US-Caribbean relations, under the auspices of the US
Information Agency. In July, McCoy presented a workshop on
sponsored research at the Universidad Aut6noma de Honduras,
also under USIA sponsorship.
Linda Miller, Director for Outreach and Special Programs,
gave lectures on teaching about Latin America and the 1992
Columbus Quincentennial to Dr. Regina Weade and Dr. Robert
Blume's classes in elementary school social studies education
at University of Florida. She spoke on the same subject at the
statewide meetings of theFlorida Foreign Language Association
and the Florida Council for the Social Studies, in October.
Miller presented a talk on "Latin America's Role in Florida's
Future" in a panel at the Florida Council for the Social Studies.
She also gave an in-service workshop for teachers of Spanish
in Jacksonville in November. She organized and chaired a
workshop on teaching about the Columbus Quincentennial
for the Latin American Studies Association XV International
Congress in December.
Jeffrey Needell, Associate Professor of History, received
a one year NEH Research Fellowship to work in Brazil on the
social thought and use of history in Brazil from 1840-1940.
Deborah Pacini Hernandez, CLAS Assistant Director,
presented a paper at the Society for Ethnomusicology entitled
"Cantando la cama vacia: love, sex and gender relationships in
Dominican bachata" on November 11. On December 5, Dr.
PaciniHernAndez presented anotherpaperentitled"Dominican
Popular Music Under Authoritarian Regime" at the LASA
conference in Miami, Fl. Her paper "Social Identity and Class
in Bachata: An Emerging Dominican Popular Music" was
published in the 1989 Spring/Summer issue of the Latin
American Music Review.
Charles A. Perrone, Assistant Professor of Romance
Languages and Literatures, wrote an essay for O Samba (Brazil
Classics 2), a compilation by David Byrne of current Brazilian
samba to be released in October by Warner/Sire/Luaka Bop
records. He also published five entries on Luso-Brazilian
literature in Cyclopedia of World Authors (Salem Press) and
"Jodo Guimaraes Rosa: An Endless Passage" in On Modern
Latin American Fiction, John King, ed. (Noonday Press). Perrone
presented a video-lecture "Brazilian Popular Music: Pop,
Politics, Populism and Poetry," at Miami-Dade Public Library
in April as part of "Other Voices : Film and Literature from
Africa, India and Latin America." Dr. Perrone also organized
"Modes and Moods of Representation in Recent Brazilian
Fiction" at the Latin American Studies Association XV
International Congress held in Miami on December 4-6, 1989
and served as a discussant on the panel.
Kent H. Redford, Assistant Professor of Latin American
Studies, introduced and taught a course entitled "Tropical
Resource Use." In July, he traveled to Brazil to consult with
their National Park Service on the conservation and
management of Emas National Park.
Helen I. Safa who is on sabbatical this year, has accepted
a position as the Kreeger-Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor
at Northwestern University for the Spring quarter 1990, and
will teach a course on Women and Development in Latin
America and the Caribbean. She is spending the year working
on a book on Women and Industrialization in the Caribbean,
comparing data on women industrial workers in Cuba, Puerto
Rico and the Dominican Republic. Her article with the same
title will be published by Macmillan in a volume entitled
Women, employment and the family in the International Division of
Labor. Dr. Safa is also co-author of a book entitled In the
Shadows of the Sun: Alternative Development Strategies in the
Caribbean to be published by Westview Press.
Glaucio Ary Dillon Soares, Professor of Latin American
Studies, spent five weeks in Brazil, doing research on his book
and establishing institutional relationships with IUPERJ, IDESP,
UERJ and USP. He lectured on Pesquisa Rica nos Paises
Pobres? at the Department of Political Science, University of
Sao Paulo. On September 13, he lectured on Parties and
Personalities in the Brazilian Presidential Elections at the
Center for Latin American Studies, UF. He published
"Effici6ncia dos Regimes," in Ciencia Hoje, 9(52) with Nelson
do Valle Silva; "Brazil" in Student Political Activism-An
International Reference Book (New York: Greenwood Press,
1989); "A political brasileira: novos partidos e velhos conflitos,"
in David Fleischer (org) Da distensdo d abertura: As eleiqces de
1982 (Brasilia, Edit6ra UnB, 1988); and "A censura durante o
regime autoritdrio," in Revista Brasileira de Ciencias Socias, 10 de
junho, 1989. His article, "A tentacao autoritbria," written with
Nelson do Valle Silva was accepted by Dados.
Connie Campbell, M.A.L.A.S. student (Tropical
Conservation and Development) participated in a Farming
Systems Course offered by the University of Florida and the
University of Acre in Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. She also
conducted field research on the Rubber Tappers' base
communities of the Catholic Church in the seringal, women'
groups in Xapuri and followed up on her Master's research of
1988 concerning the schools of the Projeto Seringueiro.
Ben Hayes, M.A.L.A.S. student (Political Science),
conducted field research in Mexico for two months during the
summer. He completed his thesis entitled "The Politics of the
Mexican Shrimping Industry: the Social Sector in A Mixed
Pennie Magee, Ph.D. Student (Anthropology), conducted
research funded by a Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral Dissertation
Abroad Fellowship in Para, Brazil, from 1988-1989.
Isolde Reimers,M.A.L.A.S. student (Sociology), completed
her thesis on the decline of social movements which focused on
the role of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.
Jim Stegall, M.A.L.A.S. student (Political Science),
completed his thesis on "Guatemalan Military as a Power
DUE RECOcNITION: Since our May issue, the Latinamericanist has
undergone a slowbut significant transformation. This process
has been painfully endured by many supportive students and
staff at the CLAS. Their unconditional willingness to assist in
proofreading and other tasks is appreciated and recognized.
The editors are also especially thankful to Jim McKay for his
professional assistance and patience with the editors during
the production of this issue.
CLAS ALUMNI: We are very interested in hearing from you.
Please send informationaboutyour careers, education, research,
publications, and participation in conferences to: the
Latinamericanist, Center for Latin American Studies,319 Grinter
Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl 32611
SThis publication was produced at a bi-annual cost of $3,097.00 or $2.17 per copy to provide information. I
Permit No. 94
Latin American Studies
319 Grinter Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611
Address Correction Requested
Dr. Peter Hildebrand