Conquistadores, Químicos, y Transgenicos, oh my!!

Published: July 16th 2008
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"A ver que hacen ellos...""A ver que hacen ellos...""A ver que hacen ellos..."

Call to action at the end of the play...
Last night, five youth performed a revival of a play that Aryeh first created with the técnicos (agronomists) of the organization two years ago. Although we had a rather rocky time putting together this peice (3 of the original cast members dropped out, and only 1 remained constant in his own part!), the result, after 5 rehearsals with all present (and bringing in new folks), was fun and moving.

The play´s basic premise is about two indigenous "antepasados" (ancestors) who practice advanced methods of agriculture, planting according to the phases of the moon, sharing the land, and believing in the sacredness of nature. But---one day, these ancestors receive a strange (and strange-smelling) visit from the future....

A transgenico (GMO) named Supertomatepez (Supertomatofish) arrives to tell them how she can resist cold temperatures and is stronger for it because of the wonders of technology!! But---isn´t it dangerous to manipulate the laws of nature like this, especially when the results can be irrevocable?

Next, "Don Tamarón," a pesticide, villainously describes how important it is to use chemicals so that more profits can be made (even though, sometimes, not always, it ends up killing a few people...but don´t worry!)! did all of this happen, anyway?

The narrator goes on to tell about the history of the conquistadors arriving and enslaving the people, then transforming the land to grow monoculture cash crops, privatizing resources--even seeds! and making the people dependent on using chemicals and GMOs for their agricultural livelihood...and in the process, the people forget their ways and traditions...

What can we do about this, then??

We can remember the ways we used to farm, saving seeds, without the use of chemicals, and living with respect and reverence for the earth!

This play was presented for a conference of farmers, producers, and representatives from organizations around El Salvador who came to Bajo Lempa to learn about the ways the agronomists that work for La Coordinadora are doing things "differently"--using permaculture, organic fertilizers, nurseries, and starting a native seed bank.

This same day, a visual artist from Los Angeles, Spartacous Cacao, whose parents are Salvadoran, came to visit to see the kind of work that the organization and ArtCorps is doing. It was great to have him and his cousin Claudia help out with last-minute touches on scenery and costumes, as well as to shed
"They believed all nature was sacred.""They believed all nature was sacred.""They believed all nature was sacred."

(Note the moon on the right--made by visual artist Spartacous Cacao!)
new perspectives on Salvadoran history and current issues.

It is very exciting to be involved with this movement that La Coordinadora has been working on for nearly a decade, to increase the independence of farmers in the area with organic techniques. In many ways, rescuing crops from the use of chemicals is not only an environmental issue, but also an issue involving the revival of culture and ways of life that have been lost. The youth, in the rehearsal process, had many valuable comments about the strengths and weaknesses of dependence (comparing dependence on a father to dependence on the United States--"They give us money, but if we want to go somewhere else, they won´t give us permission."), and I´m always amazed by the ways that we´re growing and changing in our perspectives through theatre...

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17



My favorite: the genetically modified tomato (combined with fish genes--what makes this even more "funny" is that these tomatoes actually exist!)
Don Tamarón!!Don Tamarón!!
Don Tamarón!!

Personifying poison
Becoming dependent on using chemicals for agricultureBecoming dependent on using chemicals for agriculture
Becoming dependent on using chemicals for agriculture

...and losing tradition in the process...

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