This, book, now reissued by Zed, has becorne a classic since it was first

published by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in 1982. It has been
translated into five languages and has had an extraordinary impact on
grassroots development practice.
The author relates two of his own experiences in 'barefoot economics';
As he explains: 'The first is about the miseries of Indian and black
peasants in the Sierra and coastal jungle of Ecuador. The second about
the m i ~ e r i e s of craftsmen and a r ~ i s a n s in Brazil. The former is, in a way,
the story of a success that failed; the latter a failure that succeeded. Both
refer to a people's quest for self-reliance. Both are lessons in economics
as practised at the human scale.'
He intersperses his moving and insightful accounts with reflections on
development projects and experts, pioneering criticisms of orthodox
development economics, and a new vision of development in which
'the poor must learn to circumvent the national (economic) system.'"
Manfred Max-Neef is a Chilean economist whose Centre for the
Study and Promotion of Urban, Rural and Development Alternatives
(CEPAUR) seeks to reorient development in terms of stimulating local
self-reliance, satisfying fundamental human needs and, more generally,
advocating a return to the human scale. A founder member of the Club
of Rome and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, he has taught in
various universities (including Berkeley in the early 1960s) as well as
working on development projects all over Latin America.
'A minor masterpiece ... The three chapters entitled 'Theoretical
Interludes' are remarkable for their insight, originality and
profundity.' John.Papwortp., The Fourth World.
'A clear break from the conventional approach to economICS
Max-Neef argues that in most Third World countries the
styles imposed tend to increase marginalisation of the
peasants without generating alternatives for employment. Further, the
growing industrialisation of agriculture tends to destroy existing
traditional skills. The final result is that the 'invisible sectors' are left
alone to design their own survival strategies.' West Africa.
'An unusual volume with an unusual message ... It should be studied
carefully by social scientists and policy makers alike.' Nicholas
Balabkins, The Eastern Economicfournal.
'A well written book that provides a challenging 'and welcome break
from the repetitive debates about the economics of development ...
For Max-Neef the central question of economic development, and in
particular the lives of the poor, is to find a principle of project design
whereby the people concerned are central in the whole process.'
Education with Production.
'Max-Neef realizes full well that the problems which face us today are
very profound.' Edward Goldsmith, Resurgence.
'Written with passion, this book also inspires passion in the reader,
above all because it views the problems of poverty and marginalisation
from a new and more human angle.' Development Education
Exchange Papers.
'Successfully combines very theoretical theory with very practical
practice ... This book will have many readers among economists and
politicians as well as among the increasing number of people
concerned with development and project design.' Chronicle.
FROMT E
OUTS DE
00 liNG
MANFRElD A M A X ~ N E E F
Zed }B({])({])]k§ J[Atidl
London and NewJersey
From the Outside Looking In was originally published by the
Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, bvre Slottsgatan 2,
75220 Uppsala, Sweden, in 1982. This edition was first
published by Zed Books Ltd, 57 Caledonian Road,
London N1 9BU, UK, and 165 First Avenue,
Atlantic Highlands, NewJersey 07716, USA, in 1992.
Copyright © Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, 1982, 1992.
Cover designed by Sophie Buchet.
Printed and bound in the United Kingdom
by BiddIes Ltd, Guildford and King's Lynn.
All rights reserved.
A catalogue record for this book is
available from the British Library
ISBN 1 85649.187 0 Hb
ISBN 1 85649 188 9 Pb
For MAT/AS FEL/PE, my first
grandchild, who was born at the
same time as this book. For him and
his generation / wish a world with
more justice than the one / here
describe.
Photo credits: Pierre Adamini, pages 75, 77, 79, 81,
83,85,87,89,91,93,95,97; Eros Conceicao, pages
127, 149, 151, 153, 155, 157; Manfred A Max-Neef,
pages 147, 177, 191, 193, 194, 195, 197; Harald
Hamrell, back cover; photographer unknown, pages
185,187,189.
The symbol on the front Coyer, which is the symbol
of CEPAUR, the Centre for Study and Promotion of
Urban, Rural and DeYelopment Alternatiyes,
founded in 1981 by Manfred A Max-Neef, is taken
from a Viking rune stone (6 UR 937) located in Upp-
sala's University Park in Sweden. Designed one
thousand years ago--or perhaps earlier-it ~ r a n s m i t s
such a serene and simple beauty in its representation
of a perfectly harmonious, balanced and indissol-
uble trinity, that it appeared to the author as an ideal
symbolic synthesis of CEPAUR's philosophy; that
is, the striving for similar conditions that should,
hopefully, pre,rail some day between the essential
components of our world's suryival trinity : Nature,
Humanity and Technology.
te ts
Foreword. Leopold Kohr 9
Prelude 15
Part One
The ECU-28 Project: Horizontal Communication for
Peasants' Participation and Self-reliance
1 Introduction 25
2 Theoretical Interlude (I) 33
3 Theoretical Interlude (11) 44
4 The Perception of Reality 57
5 In A World Apart 74
6 The Peasants Get Together 98
7 In A World of Our Own 105
8 Far Away and Long Ago 113
Part Two
The 'Tiradentes Project': Revitalization
of Small Cities for Self-reliance
9 Introduction 121
10 Theoretical Interlude (Ill) 129
11 Encounter with Reality 145
12 A Scheme for Action 161
13 The Action Starts 170
14 Navigation and Return 198
Notes 206
Foreword
It is sheer coincidence that it is in Liechtenstein that I find myself
writing this foreword to Manfred Max-Neef's book on the develop-
ment of some poor regions of Latin America. But it is perhaps not
altogether without significance that I should at last be taking up my
pen again in this enchanting principality, which hangs like a'medieval
tapestry from the majestic mountain range which crosses the 160
square kilometres of its territory, stretching along the Rhine near
Lake Constance, between its boundaries with Austria and Switzer-
land.
I say this may be not altogether without significance for several
reasons. In the first place, Liechtenstein is one of the world's smallest
sovereign communities. This should appeal to Manfred Max-Neef,
for whom smallness is not just a beautiful slogan but, as in the case of
Fritz Schumacher, a philosophy that permeates all his thinking. It is
the ideal size for a state, which Aristotle defined as one that can be
taken in at a single view. Its population numbers 25,220, of whom
15,974 are citizens and 9,246 foreigners. Population density is 157.6
per sq. km. Its inhabitants live in ten villages evenly spread through
the land in clusters ranging from 280 people to 4,552, surrounding a
little capital, with a population of 4,614, nestling at the foot of the
castle mountain residence of the Prince, who is the guardian of the
Liechtenstein Gallery, one of the world's most prestigious collections
of paintings. There is a car to every two inhabitants; the unemploy-
9
ment rate hovers at an almost unbelievable fractional point above
zero; and poverty does not exist.
There are problems, of course. Ten out of ten people still die;
floods and torrents produce an annual headache; and too many
outsiders are attracted by its thriving economy. But there is nothing
which lies beyond the control of ordinary mortals. As Alexander
Frick, a former Prime Minister, once told me, 'By the time a big
power learns of a disaster, we are halfway through mending the
damage'.
. In the eyes of all too many, this state of social and personal welfare
is due to outside factqrs, such as the insatiable appetite of the world's
philatelists for the principality's ever-changing handsome stamps,
issued to the tune of 50 million Swiss francs per year; such as t o u ~ i s t s
making a brief curiosity stop on their way from West to East or
North to South on Trans-European journeys; or, above all, the
international holding companies which have chosen Liechtenstein as a
tax haven in such numbers that the corporate population of the state
has become as large as its physical population. This is why, as other
countries have hotels and motels, Liechtenstein additionally sports
bureautels, offering visiting company presidents not only sleeping
accomodation but also secretarial and teletype facilities.
No wonder that so many expert economists should attribute
Liechtenstein's prosperity to those outside influences. Yet, the truth
lies in the opposite direction. To rework a famous saying of David
Ricardo's: Liechtenstein is not rich because so many holding com-
panies are there; the holding companies are there because Liechten-
stein is so rich. Hence, there is no danger that anyone--government,
nationalists, workers, peasants, reformers-should wish to expropri-
ate them. And it is this which has attracted the foreign corporations.
They have come not for the tax benefits but for the safety and
stability that comes from a population that is itself rich enough to
have no envy of those who are richer, and yet is not rich enough to
condemn itself to idleness, which is an even greater cause of social
upheaval than poverty.
But if neither postage stamps nor foreign corporations are respon-
sible for Liechtenstein's intrinsic autonomous prosperity, ,what is?
10
This is where smallness comes into play. For as waves take their
from the size of the body of water through which they
pass, so social problems-whether these be restlessness, economic
retardation, unemployment and inflation or crime, terrorism, and
war-take their scale from the size of the society they afflict. This is
why even the most severe problems are so reduced a small society
that something which in a large society cannot be solved even by a
genius, can be handled in a small one by anyone and everyone
endowed with a nonnal measure of common sense. For, in the
translucency of its narrow confines, nothing can stay hidden from
one's natural vision. There are no 'invisibles', as Manfred Max-Neef
calls the nameless carriers of history, the masses-on whose backs
economists, sociologists and historians construe their precious ab-
stractions which dissolve into thin air long before they touch the
earth, and which serve mainly to impress the experts instead of to
improve the lot of the people for whose sake they have been called in.
In his field experience, which his book so vividly describes, Man-
fred Max-Neef has done the opposite of He has made the
'invisibles' visible, by exploring the conditions and aspirations of old
and young alike-even of children-and by carving out of the vast-
ness of Latin America's world of poverty, little development princi-
palities where, as in Liechtenstein, everything is manageable and
everything is possible under the right guidance because, and only
because, they are small. As Marlow said, there are 'infinite riches in a
little room', and as Max-N eef explains, in what in a way is his
leitmotiv, . when he writes that 'this should not be surprising be-
cause, after all, smallness is nothing but immensity on a human scale'.
But there is yet another reason that imparts some special signifi-
cance to the fact that Liechtenstein gave me the impulse to write this
foreword within its boundaries. Some 800 metres higher up the
mountains from my sturdy little inn lives Josef Haid, an old
schoolfriend from my Salzburg days. He looks back on a career as a
prestigious business consultant who turned the fortunes of not a few
companies from a downhill slide to new heights of success. But what
he considers his real life's work is not his worldly achievement but a
small volume of thoughts entitled On the Side of Llfe. When his
11
secretary typed it, she begged him 'for heaven's sake' not to let it
transpire to his clients that he was the author. 'They will believe you
are a crank' she said, which brings to mind my late great friend Fritz
Schumacher who, when asked whether he was not often considered a
crank, replied: 'Yes, but I never minded because a crank is a tool
which is simple, small, inexpensive, economical, efficient and-added
the author of the subsequent international bestseller Small is Beauti-
ful-'it makes revolutions'.
Well, Josef Haid's ideas also are simple, economical, efficient and
make revolutions. But what enabled him' to induce his clients to
accept his revolutionary ideas for restructuring their firms, their
production, their marketing philosophy, and their relations with
society, state, workers, customers and even the arts, was this one
basic idea: if something is wrong in any respect--:-if a person seeking
success is unsuccessful; a person seeking health is sick; a pe1;"son
seeking happiness is unhappy; or one seeking peace is tormented-
the cause is always the same: somehow, somewhere, that person is
violating the design of nature. He is acting lebenswidrig; he is be-
having contrary to the design of life. Hence, all that is needed to
mend his condition is to find out what univerallaw he is violating and
then to begin acting lebensrichtig, in harmony with the design of life.
The only trouble is that this is not as simple as it looks. It requires a
study in depth; a penetration of the hidden relationships of existence.
When this is done; it may lead to the most unexpected revelations and
deepest philosophic perceptions, \Yhich may appear as eerie, unrealis-
tic, and fanciful to the person meandering around on the surface, as
the forms of marine life do to a snorkler when he swims through a
coral reef and discovers that life underneath the ocean surface sur-
passes in variety anything our space-age novelists could dream up.
Yet, if he goes deeper still, he will find that the forms of life become
simpler again, revealing the underlying unity of all things, indicating
in the last analysis that any principle applying. in one field will,
mutatis mutandis, apply in a myriad of others. What makes sense
anywhere, is common sense everywhere. And no principle makes
more sense-or is more basic to the scheme of things, than smallness.
The person who can really help in the solution of even s ~ c h
12
apparently strictly material problems as economic development, is
t h e r ~ f o r e the philosopher rather than the mere specialist and techni-
cian, the one who is guided by the bio-concept of lebensrichtig rather
than by mere economic expediency, even though he may be con-
sidered a romantic outsider and 'crank'. This is why Schumacher entitled
his last book A Guide to the Perplexed (which was, more significant
than the title he gave his first book, A Guide to Intermediate Techno-
logy, under which it would have barely stirred a ripple had not his
inspired publisher intervened to stress its philosophic rather than its
practical dimension and called it Small is Beautiful).
But what has all this to do with M'anfred Max-Neef's blueprint for
development? A very great deal. For not only does his book serve as a
most valuable guide, able to lead experts and laymen, governments
and people, economists and historians, and the visibles at the top as
well as the invisibles on the ground, to a new comprehension of the
development process and the vital role played by smallness-not
because it works in Liechtenstein but because it is lebensrichtig and,
on that basis, works everywhere; it also reveals one of those rare
authors in the field of economics who, like Josef Haid in his role as
business consultant, shows the road to achievement by introducing
the reader/client to a general understanding not so much of the laws
of economics but of. the deeper laws of nature. He is a meta-econo-
mist in the true sense of the term--: one who illuminates his subject by
drawing from insights gained by going beyond it. He has freed
himself from the academic bonds of professional development special-
ists, who do not know what they should do with their classroom
\
knowledge in the plains of Brazil or with the tribes of Ecuador, by
setting an example for wBa,t is now gradually becoming known, under
such doubtful terms as the\bottom-up approach', a decade before the
scholars stumbled upon it. 'Experiencing the problems he was called
in to solye as a field economist with a zeal which at times must have
been akin to a martyr's and is reminiscent of Moritz Thomsen's
Ecuadorian peace corps chronicle Living Poor, I could well imag-
ine that a grateful community such as the artisans of Tiradentes
would emulate London's Trafalgar Square and name a wayside
chapel St Manfred in the Fields.
13
But the most valuable part of Max-Neef's book, as of his earlier
study on Work, Urban Size and Quality of Lzle, may not be the
practical lessons that can be drawn from it. His real achievement lies
rather in what he seems to say on the side, as when he goes into a
most profound and uncompromisingly philosophical analysis of time-
space relationships which, as is the case with so many of his other
asides, can be absorbed, only if read at a slow pace. But once
absorbed, they drive one to read them again and again and not only for
one's own enjoyment, but also, as I have done, for reading passages
aloud for the benefit of others. They are, of course, no mere asides.
As in the case of Haid's On the Side of Lzle, they constitute the
philosophic base from which his development theories are drawn. I
have no doubt that, had Max- N eef lived' 50 years earlier, or had
Heilbronner written 50 years later, he would have been included in
the latter's Wordly Philosophers, which was designed to stress that the
pioneering achievements in the field of economics were invariably
contributed by the philosophers of the subject rather than by the
practitioners. Manfred Max-Neef has the distinction of being both.
But there are other things which make reading his work as appeal-
ing as it is instructive. In his moving confessions of disappointment
and failure he shares the sincerity and charm of Rousseau and St.
Augustine. The people he works with spring vividly to life, as when
the children he studies confide that their idea of the good life is eating
sardines, and of 'misery that they might be hit by a space ship
disintegrating over their town. Some of his landscapes are bathed in
the glow of poetry. And the description of himself as a giant, blond,
blue-eyed sort of Viking in Tiradentes, bestriding the region whose
development he had come to assist, indicates that at least one of the
factors for the success of a mission is the charismatic figure of a leader
who inspires trust on grounds other that the power of bureaucracy
and red tape.
Liechtenstein, September 1982
14
Leopold Kohr
rei e
The stories behind the book
If you are a traveller in
Llao-Llao-an idyllic town in
Argentina's northern Patagonia-as
you walk from the little port up the
hill, you will find yourself flanked
on either side by mountains and two
lakes before entering a native forest
of ancient 'Coigiie' trees. Rounding
a curve, you suddenly come face to
face with a beautiful log-mansion
that today houses the headquarters
of one of the finest research institu-
tions of its type in Latin America:
the Bariloche Foundation, where I
had the privilege of working as a
researcher for a couple of years. As
you approach it you will have the
feeling that the natural as well as the
man-made elements seem to inter-
mingle in order to generate an al-
most perfectly harmonious envi-
ronmental setting. You enter the
15
mansion's park after passing under
an arch made of two gigantic blue
whale maxilla bones; an unusual ex-
perience especially for a place lo-
cated 500 kilometres from the shores
of the Atlantic. The story of the
mansion that lies beyond is as pecu-
liar as the entrance itself.
Several decades earlier-the exact
'number I know not-it was built by
a retired whaler by the
name of Rangvald Nielsen. My
imagination was greatly aroused
once I became aware of the origins
of the house. I tried hard to imagine
the man and his circumstances, until
bits and pieces of a possible reality
began to unfold in my mind. Dis-
illusioned by the devastation
brought about by the European
war, this modern Viking started
looking for a better place to settle.
Unable to forsake his identity, the
man who had lost a world became a
man in search of a landscape. It was
here that he was reunited with his
nordic lakes and mountains. So here
he settled, here he built, here he
dreamed and here he died.
It was here, in October 1980, that I met Sven Hamrell, another
Scandinavian, who had come all the way from Uppsala to attend a
seminar organized by the Bariloche Foundation in the mansion. We
communicated well from the moment we were introduced. I dis-
covered that he was genuinely interested in my field experiences in
Latin America, and we enjoyed long conversations every after
16
the seminar sessions. He was clever enough to pose questions that
plumbed the depths of my experiences, motivations, inclinations and
beliefs. In fact, he got so much information out of me, that I some-
times had the feeling that I was undergoing some sort of introspective
analysis in the hands of an unusually able psycho-therapist. When he -
asked me, during our last meeting, whether I would like to write a
book about my development philosophy including the human per-
spective of my Ecuadorean and Brazilian experiences, I replied that I
had long entertained such a desire, but lacking the funds t9 sustain
my family and myself during the time required for such an endeav-
our, I had given up hope. I had earlier received grants and commis-
sions to write technical books and essays, but was highly unlikely-I
added-to find any financial support for a book like the one we had
in mind. I was very-and happily-surprised when Sven Hamrell
extended a four months' invitation to me to write the book in Upp-
sala, under the auspices and support of the Dag Hammarskjold
Foundation. The book was to form part of the Foundation's phased
seminar 'From the Village to the Global Order'. As planned I arrived
in Uppsala seven months later.
If you are a traveller in Uppsala
walking down the University Park,
from Universitetshuset towards the
old and venerable Gustavianum
building, you will find nine Viking
rune stones along your path. All
save one were cut as memorials for
the dead: parents, daughters, sons,
brothers or friends. The exception is
the first of the stones to catch your
eye during the stroll. If you find
someone who is able to interpret
and translate the runes 'for you, you
will discover that the inscription reads
as follows:
17
Vikmundr had the stone cut in
memory of himself, the most skilled
of men. God help the soul of the
skipper, Vikmundr.
My imagination was greatly aroused
once I became aware of the in-
scription. I tried hard to imagine the
man and his circumstances, until bits
and pieces of a possible reality began
to unfold in my mind. Wanting to
expand his horizon and, perhaps,
misunderstood by others, this an-
cient Viking had to sustain his acti-
vities through self-reliance. Anxious
to spread his identity, the man who
gave up a landscape became a man in
search of a world. Curiosity being
stronger than nostalgia, he sailed
and absorbed whatever came his
way. Nowhere did he settle,
although he built and dreamed a lot.
He died in some place unknown to
us, yet this message of faith and
self-reliance is as inspiring and
valid today as it was nine
hundred years ago.
In May 1981, upon my arrival in Uppsala, I was introduced by Sven
Hamrell to the other members of the Dag Hammarskjold Founda-
tion: Olle Nordberg, Lotta Elfstrom, Gerd Ericson, Kerstin Kvist
and Daniel von Sydow. Having been an admirer of the Foundation's
development philosophy and work for a number of years, and being
very much aware of its enormous and well deserved prestige
throughout most of the Third World, I could hardly believe that it
was all the product of just six people working together. It was to me a
confirmation of the efficiency that can be achieved through organized
18
smallness. The absence of bureaucracy, combined with frantic work,
frightening deadlines and a frequent atmosphere of highly creative
chaos, amounted to the most stimulating human environment I could
have expected. Furthermore, the house of the institution that has
done so much to promote peoples' self-reliance, was located a very
short distance away from the stone of Vikmundr, the man who had
believed in self-reliance and practised it nine centuries earlier. This
gave me a pleasant sensation of timeless coherence. As a setting in
which to write a book whose two basic leitmotivs are smallness and
self-reliance, this was-I thought-the perfect place. Finally, the fact
that I was granted the privilege of using Dag Hammarskjold's desk to
carry out my work, provided the final touch of quality. My sincerest
gratitude goes to those six outstanding human beings who taught"me
so much, and honoured me with such a stimulating and unforgettable
entourage. But there are two more people to whom I owe my thanks:
Olivia Bennet, the most zealous editor I have yet met, and Gabriela,
my wonderful comrade and wife, to whose nightly critical scrutiny all
my daily writings were subject.
All stories have a conclusion. In this case it is a book plus an
enigma. The book is a material reality in the hands of the reader. Yet,
the fact that it had to be-from the Baltic to the Patagonia-a Scandi-
navian thread of that allowed me to finally unravel
even understand two Latin American stories that belong-as Pablo
N eruda would say-to 'the most genital of the terrestrial', is a mys-
tery I should never wish to solve.
The book behind the stories
This is a book about 'barefoot economics'. As Fritz Schumacher
might have said: about 'economics as if people mattered'. In a way it
emerged out of my personal crisis as an economist. About fifteen
years ago, J. realized what I should have discovered earlier, that
economists had become dangerous people. Their discipline-despite
Lord Keynes warning to the effect that the importance of economic
problems should not be overestimated with the result that matters of
higher and more permanent significance are sacrificed to its supposed
19
necessities-suddenly became the magic science: the one to provide
the answers to most of the pressing problems affecting humanity. Its
practitioners, newly endowed with this unexpected power to exercise
their influence over enterprises, interest groups and governments,
swiftly and proudly took for granted their new role as inaccessible
and powerful sorcerers. It soon followed that economics, originally
the offspring of moral philosophy, lost a good deal of its human
dimension, to see it replaced by fancy theories and technical triviali-
ties that are incomprehensible to most and useful to none, except to
their authors who sometimes win prizes with them.
After a number of years, the enthusiasm and optimism with which
I had worked as an economist for several international organizations,
gave way to a growing uneasiness. To continue being engaged,
whether as a witness or as a direct participant, in efforts to diagnose
poverty) to measure it and to devise indicators in order to set up a'
statistical or conceptual threshold beyond which a percentage may
reveal the numerical magnitude of those to be classified as the ex-
tremely poor; and then to participate in costly seminars and even
costlier conferences in order to communicate the findings, interpret
the meaning of the findings (my God!!), criticize the methodologies
behind the findings, express our deep concern (often during cocktails)
for what the findings show, and, finally, end up with recommenda-
tions to the effect that what must urgently be done is to allocate more
funds for further research into the subject to be discussed again in
other meetings-made me feel at a certain point that I was happily
participating in a rather obscene ritual.
Not all was negative, of course, in my experience as an interna-
tional civil servant . .r did benefit' greatly from the examples of human
concern and wisdom I received from a few of my colleagues and
superiors. I also came across, participated in, or was made aware of,
some action programmes that were well conceived and inspiring
inasmuch as they succeeded in improving the living conditions of the
people for whose benefit they had been designed. Such positive
experiences notwithstanding, I have always maintained my impres-
sion that-as far as most international organizations are concerned-
they represent the scarce exceptions rather than the rule. Hence, they
20
did neither contribute to appease my mind nor to postpone the
outcome of my impending personal crisis.
It seemed to me that something had to be wrong with a system
that, being capable of gathering an enormous wealth of valuable
information and knowledge, proves to be so weak, powerless and
ambiguous when it comes to respond with pertinent and vigorous
actions to the implications derived from that knowledge and informa-
tion. My own interpretation of the reasons behind the system's
disturbing contradictions are discussed elsewhere in the book.
In any case, my awareness about such contradictions coupled with
the fact that I was living in a world in which, despite all kinds of
transcendental conferences, accumulated knowledge and informa-
tion, grand economic and social plans and 'development decad'es',
increasing poverty-both in relative as well as in absolute terms-is as
indisputable a statistical trend as it is an obvious and conspicuous fact
to anyone just willing to look around and see, induced me to re-
evaluate my role as an economist. The critical exercise-to put it in a
nutshell-led me to the identification of four areas of personal con-
cern: our unlimited admiration for giantism and 'big' solutions; our
obsession with abstract measurements and quantifiers; our mechanis-
tic approach to the solution of economic problems; and our tendency
to oversimplify, as reflected by our efforts to favour an assumed
'technical objectivity' ~ t the expense of losing a moral vision, a sen'se
of history and a feeling for social complexity.
It is only fair to say that some economists were not afflicted by the
malady. My contacts with a few of them proved to be decisive,
inasmuch as the conclusions I drew from the critical incursions into
which I ventured under their influence, were enough to change the
course of my life, not only as a professional, but as a human being as
well. I severed my ties with the trends imposed by the economic
establishment, disengaged myself from 'objective abstractions', and
decided to 'step into the mud'. The rich and unsuspected world I
discovered after taking such a step, is the subject of this book. Hence,
its purpose is neither to propose a general theory nor to make an
academic contribution. It is simply a book about life, where human
facts and feelings-those of others as well as my own-have replaced
21
abstract statistics. I do, however, theorize a little (mea culpa) in some
interludes included in the text. Whether I have done this because it
was really necessary, or because I am not yet mature enough to give
up the habit altogether, is something for which I have still to find an
answer. In any case, I let those digressions stand for whatever they
may be worth. .
I have chosen to tell two stories. The first is about the miseries of
Indian and black peasants in the Sierra and coastal jungle of Ecuador.
The second is about the miseries of craftsmen and artisans in a small
region of Brazil. The former is, in a way, the story of a success that
failed. The latter is, in a way, the story of a failure that succeded.
Both refer to a peoples' quest for self-reliance. Both' are a lesson in
economics as practised at the human scale.
Let the stories speak for themselves ...
Uppsala, Summer, 1981.
22
1 Introductio
The creation of a new front
Sixteen years before my arrival in Quito in January, 1971, the Inter-
national Labour Organization (ILO) had created the 'Misi6n Andina
del Ecuador' (Andean Mission of Ecuador), with the purpose of
promoting the improvement of living conditions among the Indian
communities. It was part of a more ambitious regional programme
known as 'Acci6n Andina' (Andean Action) which-under the sensi-
ble leadership of men like J ef Rens and Carlos D'Ugard-attempted
to undertake and stimulate similar ventures in other Indian countries
of the Andes as well. By the time I entered the scene, the 'Misi6n
Andina del Ecuador' (MAE) had already ceased to be an ILO agency
and had become the national institution, under the Ministry of La-
bour and Social Welfare, charged with carrying out the National
Rural Development Plan. Even after its nationalization, the MAE
maintained an Advisory Group of international experts.
The MAE, after a decade and a half, had many achievements to its
credit. Its accumulated experience included, naturally enough, both
successes and failures. By 1969 it was felt that a fundamental stage had
been completed and that it was time for a new orientation with new
strategies. Two years of analysis and dialogue between the Ecuado-
rean government, the United Nations Development Programme and
the ILO finally gave rise to a Plan of Operations entitled 'Planning of
Zonal Programmes for the Modernization of Rural Life in the An-
25
des', later popularly known by its code name: ECU-28. I was hired
by the ILO as Project Manager and entrusted with the responsibility
of heading the initiation of this new phase. Although the executing
agency of the Project was the ILO, other agencies such as FAO,
UNESCO and PAHO/WHO were to cooperate through the ap-
pointment of selected experts to fill the posts indicated in the Plan.
of Operations. .
The ECU-28 Project, in keeping with the philosophy of Andean
Action, was to be a part of a more comprehens{ve scheme. In fact, it
was intended to be one of three national projects (the other. two in
Peru and Bolivia), all under the general coordination of one Regional
Programme. Unfortunately the scheme was never completed, and the
only ventures that got off the ground were the ECU-28 Project and
the Regional Programme. After nine years I still think of this frustra-
ted endeavour with sadness. I am inclined to believe that if the
original idea had crystallized, it would have turned into an impressive
grass-roots mobilization of poor peasants for fuller participation,
through a non-violent process. And yet ... it might also have failed.
Considering the obscurantist and often sinister power games that take
place in so many Third World countries, the success of such a
mobilization might have been sufficient cause for a reactionary gov-
ernment to destroy it. In a way that is what happened with ECU-28,
but that is a story yet to be told.
ECU-28 represented a new front, a new way to tackle t.he problem
of rural poverty. The government was requesting cooperation in
order to eliminate the obstacles preventing a more accelerated process
of rural development in the Sierra. The objective was to be achieved
through:
• the selection of one priority rural area, at zonal level, for which an
integrated and multi-sectoral development programme was to be
formulated as a model and demonstration for other areas;
the establishment of improved methods for the execution of rural
development programmes and the design of more efficient admini-
strative structures and procedures to carry out the task;
the formulation of programmes to assist the government in the
allocation of resources in order to accelerate the development of
26
the rural sectors of the Sierra, and to improve its capacity to absorb
i
'
bilateral and multilateral credits for the purpose;
• the design of specific projects which could subsequently be fi-
nanced through the Special Fund of the United Nations Develop-
ment Programme (UNDP).
In order to avoid the listed requests being satisfied in a technocratic
manner, the Plan of Operations made provisions to the effect that it
was necessary to 'promote measures to ensure a more active participa-
tion of the rural population and facilitate a better utilization of the
actual and potential resources'. Another insisted that it was
necessary 'to revise the methods presently being applied in order to
ensure popular participation in the development process, and to
examine the possibilities of introducing new meth9ds and organiza-
tions in, order to secure (that participation)'. The message was pretty
clear. All actions to be carried out were to originate at grass-root
levels. I went even further and interpreted this as a mandate to
mobilize the peasants of the selected area, giving them the oppor-
tunity to design their own development plan.
The Plan of Operations was formally signed on February 1, 1971,
by the representatives of the three involved, and was official-
ly declared oparational two weeks later.
Getting organized
r
The role of a Project Manager is a strange one in many ways. Once
the Project is organized and functioning, he is in a powerful position.
He has freedom of action and of judgement. He is backed by efficient
support from headquarters and his decisions are generally accepted
and respected. However, he has no say whatsoever in the design of
the Plan of Operations. Such a document is produced by people who
will not be in the field and probably never have been in the field. It is
essentially a political document. Its wording cannot be questioned
and, depending on the aims of the project, contains concepts and
expressions considered 'progressive' at the time of writing. After all,
the written word tends to be permanent, and it is advisable to leave a
27
good impression for posterity. The spoken word has no such immor-
tality and, furthermore, can always be denied. Whatever the back-
ground, the Plan of Operations is handed over to the Project Manager
as a mandate. As far as I know, nobody ever tells the Project Manager
that what the document requests to be done is not necessarily what
has to be done. I learnt this the hard way, as shall be revealed later. If
a Project Manager runs into trouble for not having done what the
Plan of Operations indicated, the text will be used against him. If he
runs into trouble for having done exactly what the Plan of Operations
indicated, he can expect little or no official support and may be left to
fight a very lonely battle, provided that he is allowed to fight at all,
which is unlikely. The reigning principle is the same as in a shop: the
customer is always right. And the customer, remember, is the gov-
ernment, not the people for whose benefit a project is conceived.
T,he influence of the Project Manager on the selection of the experts
that will work under his supervision is also very slight. First, the
representatives of the recipient government have a say in the matter,
which I consider to be absolutely correct. Second, subjective consid-
erations, in addition to quality and merit, influence the selection
process. Whatever happens, the Project Manager is stuck with a Plan
of Operations that may be a double-edged sword and a group of
experts whose quality as a group depends to a certain extent on luck.
With respect to international experts I have detected three types.
First, those who are sincerely motivated, believe in what they are
doing and do it with utmost dedication. Second, those who are
mainly interested in their privileges and immunities and tend to adopt
an attitude of arrogance and superiority, especially vis avis the local
technicians or· counterparts. Third, the cynics, who o p ~ n l y declare
their disbelief in the merit of what they are doing but do it because it
allows them to keep a good job. For this latter group I have some
respect because at least they are honest and, if properly managed, can
carry out a good job. The second category I find totally repugnant.
Whatever combination of these types a project's staff is made up of, is
again a matter of luck. My project embraced the full spectrum.
ECU-28 had to appoint nine experts apart from the Project Mana-
ger. Their fields were: agricultural development, community devel-=
28
opment, marketing, crafts and small industries, cooperatives, com-
munication, rural education, public health, and public administ'ra-
tion. It took almost a year before the whole group came together, and
the expert in public administration was never hired. A considerable
amount of work, as shall be seen, had been completed by the time the
last expert had been appointed.
Perception of the formal environment
The headquarters of the MAE were modest and rather crowded. It
seems to be a rule in Third World that the institutions in
charge of improving the lot of the poor are very poor themselves.
But the material poverty of the MAE was amply compensated for by
the wealth of motivation and dedication in its teams of both profes-
sional and administrativt: workers. I was deeply impressed by this.
My positive impression was reinforced when I met many of the field
workers. Their kind of missionary spirit, in the best sense of the
word, was very They loved their job, poorly paid though it
was, and identified strongly with the Indian peasants. This feeling
was often reciprocated and I witnessed the affection with which many
of them were received in the Indian communities. I was much re-
lieved, since this implied that the future activities of the Project
could be carried out in a positive milieu. Furthermore, I could count
on excellent collaborators and counterparts for each of the Project's
experts.
The contacts at ministerial level were also encouraging and I was
assured of all the necessary support. I held many meetings with heads
of government institutions as well as with the technicians of MAE, in
order to understand their ideas, their methods and their expectations.
I had the impression that many of their expectations were beyond
their means, and that they tended to believe that ECU-28 would
represent an end to their lack of resources . It was somewhat sad for
me to have to disappoint them in this matter. However, I was later
able to persuade them that the real challenge lay in designing, to-
gether, more efficient strategies and tactics with whatever resources
were available. Previous field experience had convinced me that
29
imagination can often do more than money. On the other hand,
lack of resources is the very nature of the development game. Once
all these points had been raised and understood, we felt ready to
begin.
A note on participation
As stated in the first section, the Plan of Operations of the ECU-28
Project insisted on the active participation of the rural population in
the development process. Participation was slowly becoming an issue
in the context of development discussions, especially with respect to
the problems of rural poverty. Systematic studies of poverty in gen-
eral were scarce at the time. Some isolated scholars had tackled the
subject, Oscar Lewis in Mexico and Gunnar Myrdal in Asia among
others. The international organizations made it a central subject of
during the seventies. The ILO created its Rural Employment
Policies Branch in 1975, which has ever since devoted its efforts to the
achievement of a better understanding of these subjects. The World
Bank and ECLA also made these issues the subject of major research
efforts. However, at the beginning of 1971 there was not much
comparative material on which to draw for the methodological organ-
ization of the Project. We had to rely mainly on personal experience;
historical and anthropological studies which were normally very loca-
lized; and intuition.
From the many I had with the national experts' of Fhe
MAE, it transpired that they interpreted their role mainly as one of
conscientization of the peasant communities. They felt that con-
scientization had to precede any efforts towards participation in and
for development. Although this concept was pretty much in vogue at
the time-I had already detected its influence in previous field expe-
in Guatemala, Mexico and Peru-I felt an intuitive dislike for
it. It seemed to me that it contained the implicit assumption-some-
times even explicit-that a certain state of ignorance and unawareness
prevails among the rural poor with respect to their real problems. I
had never been willing to believe that this is the case. Despite the fact
that the peasant's passivity and conservative attitude were often cited
as fuel for the argument, it seemed to me that this was a case of
30
mistaken identity. In other words, a symptom was being interpreted
as the cause. I felt that passivity, in all its different manifestations,
was not the cause of a rural status quo, but rather the result of certain
traditional structural interrelationships between labour and the
owners of the means of production. Therefore I thought that any
coherent action had to be addressed to the dissolution of some of
those structural interrelationships, while a s s ~ m i n g at the same time
that-contrary to the prevailing belief-the rural poor were perfectly
well aware of what their real problems were. To turn beliefs of long
standing upside down is no easy task, not least because it is frustrat-
ing to think that one may have been treading an exhausting path
down the wrong track.
It was not difficult to reach consensus over the assumption that
participation is a function of some previous process of change.
Whether that change is connected with peasants' consciousness or
with structural interrelationships was something that every one felt
remained to be seen. But that change, whatever its source, was ne-
cessary, was clear in everyone's mind. It was also pointed out that
change for participation does not occur spontaneously and that it
must be 'provoked'. Here again the role of external agents became
the central issue of the discussions. Since the agent, being an out-
sider, may perceive things significantly differently from the people
concerned, the course of any changes provoked by his presence and
influence may well be unpredictable. The fundamental problem
could be stated in the following terms: if external agents of 'dis-
ruption' are necessary for changes to take place, who should those
agents be and how should they behave in order to overcome the
danger implicit in these differences of perception?
There seemed to be no satisfactory solution to the problem. Ade-
quate training of the agents was apparently the only answer, but it
seemed a poor one. After all, no matter what was attempted, the
agent was always a cultural outsider. I finally proposed a radically
different approach. The' disruption effect', I suggested, should come
from the peasants themselves, through a process of horizontal 'con-
frontation' and awareness. Traditionally the peasant communities
were dependent upon vertical links of communication. That is to say
31
that each community posed its problems to higher government au-
thorities and tried to get help from the top down. Their lines of
communication were like the wires of an inverted umbrella; all inde-
pendently converging on a central rod. Horizontal communication
was non-existent .. 50 it seemed plausible to assume that if horizontal
links of communication were established, and problems were re-
ciprocally analysed, interpreted and compareq, the 'disruption effect'
might come about without the risk of p e r c e p t i ~ e distortions. In each
case the agent of disruption would come from the outside, yet within
a common cultural framework.
Not all the experts thought the idea made sense. Some of them
insisted that in order to carry out such a scheme conscientization was
necessary, which meant that we were back at the beginning. Others
thought it was worth giving a try. The latter attitude finally prevailed
and, as shall become apparent in later chapters, the entire project and
its methodology was organized and carried out accordingly.
As an economist with extensive field experience, especially among the
rural poor, I already knew then that economics as traditionally pro-
fessed is too mechanistic to be of any use in the evaluation and
interpretation of the problems that affect peasant communities living
largely at subsistence levels. Economics has evolved into a selective
discipline, leaving many elements and processes with a direct· influ-
ence on change and development outside its range of preoccupations.
History and some ideologies also suffer from and are limited by
similar rigidities. Therefore, for the sake of a better understanding of
the story to be told, I shall devote the next two chapters to my
interpretation of this issue.
32
cal I rl
(I)
History, economics and some invisibilities
History is made by historians. No event becomes a historic event
unless historians turn it into one. The famous English historian E. H.
Carr wrote in his essay 'What is History?': 'It used to be said that
, facts speak for themselves. This is, of course, untrue. The facts speak
only when the historian calls on them: it is he who decides to which
facts to give the floor, and in what order or context.'l Paraphrazing a
statement by Vilhelm Moberg about Sweden, we may say that history
has been 'only about a single group of individuals: the decision-
makers, who on the people's behalf (have) decided what conditions
they should live under'. 2 Although some modern historical research
is taking a sociological turn, traditionally the voice, of the masses has
not been heard nor their presence felt. We may claim, in company
with Moberg, that in our readings of history we have missed those
'who had sown the fields and reaped them, who had hewn down
forests, cleared roads, built the ... palaces, castles and fortresses, the
cities and cottages. Of all these people who had paid the taxes, sal-
aried all the clergymen, bailiffs and officials (we have) caught only
occasional glimpses here and there. In all those armies that had fallen
for the fatherland in other countries (we) missed the rank and file,
their wives who had waited for them at home, the whole class of
serving men and women ... the unpropertied vagabonds, the "de-
fenceless" who owned neither land, house nor home.'3 These people
33
who form the ranks of those invisible to history are, paradoxically,
to a large extent the ones who have made 'visible' history possible.
Economics is d ~ v i s e d by economists. No event becomes an econo-
mic event unless it satisfies certain rules established by the economist.
As a discipline, economics has suddenly become one of the most
important subjects of the present day. There would be nothing wrong
with this if the importance assigned to economics corresponded with
its capacity to interpret and solve the pertinent problems affecting
humanity as a whole. This is, however, not the case. Its vast abstrac-
tions, such as the Gross National Product (GNP), price mechanisms,
growth rates, capital/output ratios, factor mobility, capital accumula-
tion and others, though admittedly important, are selective and dis-
criminatory when it comes to the mass of human beings. Through
these abstractions, economics, instead of turning into an 'open' dis-
cipline, becomes a sort of exclusive club. In fact; economic analysis
embraces only those whose actions and behaviour are adjusted to
what its quantifiers (such as those mentioned above) can measure.
What they can measure, taking GNP as an example, are activities that
take place through the market mechanism, regardless of whether or
not such activities are productive, unproductive or even destructive.
The result of such limitations is that the dominant economic theories
assign no value to tasks carried out at subsistence and domestic levels.
In other words, such theories are unable to embrace the poorer
sectors of the world or the majority of women. This means that
almost half of the world's population-and more than half of the
inhabitants of the Third World-turn out to be, in terms of econo-
mics, statistically 'invisible'.
The sectors that are invisible to history are practically the same as
those that are invisible to economics. These invisibles are of the
greatest importance, and the fact that they have remained unseen for
such a long time is no accident. The reasons lie in our cultural
traditions and evolution. That is to say, the evolution of the Western
Judeo-Christian cultural branch. I will try to demonstrate this in the
following pages. I should only like to add at this point that these
invisible sectors of humanity have become my main interest, not only
from a theoretical point of view but also as a concrete life experience.
34
It is for this reason that, after" working for a number of years as a
'pure economist', I decided to become a 'barefoot economist' and try
to live and share the invisible reality. The remaining sections of this
and the following chapter will be devoted to a description and inter-
pretation of the thought and behaviour of the 'visible' sectors of
history and economics, and the frightening conditions they have
brought about for humanity as a whole and for the 'invisible' sectors
in particular.
For technology to exist, both human beings and nature are required.
Humans, who may conceivably abstract themselves from technology
to a large degree in order to live, cannot, however, disengage them-
selves from nature. Nature, however, needs neither one nor the other
to fulfil its evolutionary programme. Such an organic hierarchy
should not be broken, if it is to evolve under conditions of dynamic
equilibrium. It requires a form of integration in which the rules of
interdependence have primacy over those of competition. Unfortun-
ately, the scheme h"as not operated like this and, although it is true
that the world has resisted the assaults of anthropocentric behaviour
for a long time and remained apparently unharmed, its effects are
now beginning to be felt, most clearly in terms of the very real
possibility of a crisis affecting not only the world but the whole
biosphere.
When I say 'a long time', I am talking in relative terms. If we
imagine a line two metres long as representing the time that has
passed since the birth of planet earth up to the present day, mankind's
total existence accounts for only the last millimetre. Against this
perspective, the 'effectiveness' of human beings in so dramatically and
rapidly altering a programme more than one thousand million years
old is undeniable. It is even more surprising when one realizes that
the most intensive efforts to lead us headlong towards a total crisis,
have taken place only in the last ten thousandth of a millimetre of this
imaginary line. It is also within this last infinitesimal segment that
humanity became divided into what I have called the 'visible' and
35
'invisible' sectors. If we add to all this that human beings are the last
of the superior creatures to emerge on the face of the earth, it is
undoubtedly disquieting to ask ourselves why such an old system
should have given rise to a new component (we might even say an
alien) endowed with such a surprising capacity to destroy the system
as well as itself. It is outside my scope to find an answer and I only
pose the question as something which every now and then absorbs
my imagination.
I am convinced that the total crisis which threatens us, our world
and even our biosphere, does not have its 'final cause' (causa
in planning faults, nor in the incompleteness of social, political and
economic theories, nor in the limitations of one ideology or another.
All of these, although not exempt from responsibility, are only
'efficient causes' (causa of the situation. The matter goes
much deeper. I believe causa finalis flows from the very essence of
our culture or, in other words, from what one might call 'the original
myth' on which our culture has been built.
Man and woman, according to the Bible, were created on the sixth
day. The 'original myth' assumes the role of a normative body and,
therefore, generator of culture, through the account in the Book of
Genesis of the event. After completing his work of that day: ' .... God
blessed them saying: increase and multiply, and fill the earth and
subdue it ... '.4 I believe that this mandate gave divine sanction to, in
the Judeo-Christian-Moslem culture at least, what were to become
unlimited aspirations for expansion and conquest, which inevitably
resulted in domination, exploitation and the establishment of class
hierarchies. The undeniable fact is that humans-particularly
In the Aristotelian sense, causa finalis is the relationship between a goal or purpose
(whether supposed to exist in the future as a special kind of entity, outside a time
series, or merely as an idea of the proposer) and the work carried out to fulfill it. In this
sense the concept is teleologic because it explains present and past in terms of the
future.
Causa efficiens is, also in the Aristotelian sense, the relation between a moving
force and the result of its action. In such a sense the concept is mechanistic in as much
as it explains the future in terms of the present or the past.
I am willing to accept that the mandate could have been misinterpreted. However,
it seems sufficiently simple and direct as to make misunderstandings unlikely.
36
men, as is also indicated by the account in Genesis-were placed
above nature, which extended all around with the sole purpose of
serving them. The mandate was not to integrate, which would have
induced humility; the mandate was to subdue, and as such it could
stimulate nothing less than actions and emotions of arrogance and
disdain towards the environment, as well as towards those humans
who were weaker or less prone to engage in games of power and
domination.
Current concern about a total crisis is deepening among some, and
solutions are sought and proposed. However, it is necessary to stop
and analyse and understand the causes which are pushing us, with
increasing momentum, towards a scenario which looks at times dis-
concerting and at others terrifying. Reaching an understanding of this
potentially disastrous panorama involves deciphering a dialectic that
oscillates between the drama of contradictions and the comedy of the
absurd (a sort of dialectic of dialectics). It involves interpreting not
only conflicts but also stupidity. It obliges us to catalogue not only
errors, but also irresponsibility. In sum it calls for an holistic effort
which, by liberally exceeding the range of any mechanistic ap-
proaches or analysis, restores philosophic, and perhaps also meta-
physical, thought to a preponderant place within whose scope (and
not within that of technique) the most transcendental revolutions are
to take place in the near future-always provided, of course, that
'technique' has not blown us up before that.
It is not hard to guess that nothing will remain the same-but we
should add that nothing can remain the same. The' integral problema-
tique displayed before us, like a fan which upon opening reveals more
and more surprises because of all the novelty it holds, is not only a
crisis as such, but, in addition, calls for equally integral reformula-
tions. The 'crisis of the foundations' which, at the beginning of the
century, brought down a good part of classical mathematics and
mechanics, takes its turn, at the end of the century, at toppling the
economic theories and the political and social philosophies.
The time has thus come to revise matters and causes from their
origins, v/ithout a priori considering anything so sacred as to absolve
it from any questioning of its validity. Our attitude must be sum-
37
marized-at least as members of the 'visible' sectors that are to be
blamed for the crisis in the first place-in the phrase of the Argentin-
ian poet Juan Gelman: 'Hurrah, at last no one is innocent!' I will try,
therefore, to take a swift overview-which to some may appear
iconoclastic and irreverent-of the period of history ending in the
present situation, which is of such great concern to some of us, and
then propose some foundations for the philosophy of the future to
which I adhere and which I have tried to put into practice as a
'barefoot economise.
The importance which I assign to what I have stated in previous .
paragraphs is not based on an assumed historical validity, something
which the biblical quote of course lacks, because it is a myth. It is
rather based on the fact that an 'original myth', because of the
teleologic programme it implies, is a generator of culture; even of a
culture-and this should be emphasized-which, being capable of
giving life and force to a rationality adverse to the myth, paradoxical-
ly reaches its apparent maturity when human behaviour becomes
congruent with the 'original myth' in spite of the fact that it might
have been forgotten, invalidated or abolished by the new rationality
which is, in fact, never new but always old.
Ideologies, especially those which regard themselves as scientific,
arise-as they must do-in opposition to the myth. Yet even by
denying it, they don't succeed in eliminating its influence (maybe we
should say its bewitchery) for the simple reason that their weapons
and rational arguments are an intrinsic part of the cultural body that
the myth itself has generated. The proof is not hard to find. Ideolo-
gies have expanded throughout the world establishing boundaries
within which to consecrate their efficiency, or at least, their advan-
tages. They have given rise to and established systems supposedly
opposed to each other. They have obliged people to take sides and
hold positions that range from the barricade to the parliamentary
seat. All this in the name of legitimate confrontation between par-
tially or radically different alternatives. Thus has the course of our
history been marked. Conflicts have been perceived as clear-cut and
inevitable. The curious thing is, however, that with respect to ecolo-
gical or environmental preoccupations, no ideology has yet en-
38
dangered the prevalence of the' original myth'. They continue to be in
accord with it. All of them contribute to a persistent escalation of the
anthropocentric spirit, which bears the greatest responsibility for the
situation now affecting our world.
During the period in which the West (the Judeo-Christian-Moslem
cultural branch) was basically dominated by the 'original myth', the
effect of people's anthropocentrism over nature did not go beyond
expressing itself in terms of a mixture"of superstition and indifference.
Nature was there to deliver its fruits to human beings or to act as
mere background. This b e c o m e ~ apparent, even in literature and
painting, far into the eighteenth century, where the only role nature
played, according to the few references or representations available,
was to fill the space around the central subject: the human being. This
long period of indifference slowly began to give way to conscious
assaults on nature, a phenomenon which coincides with the initiation
of what I would like to identify as the period of ideologies. This later
period I consider to have become clearly established, in a modern
I sense, with the thinking of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and conso-
lidated with the thinking of John Locke (1632-1704), both creators
of liberalism.
Reason, in this new epoch, is worshipped as in no previous era
since that of the Greek philosophers. It is worth recalling that this is
the period of Spinoza (1632-1677), Descartes (1596-1650), Newton
(1642-1727) and Leibnitz (1646-1716), among many others. The
myth is not yet rejected, but neither is it accepted without question.
In the face of the caution which still dominates these first ideologues,
rationalistic support for the myth is sought. The myth is not yet dead,
but it is the beginning of the end. The finishing strokes will come
from the thinkers of the nineteenth century, in the midst of the
Industrial Revolution.
A central theme of Locke's political teachings is growth; a theme
which will not only be central to the philosophy of the liberal state,
but also to the other ideologies that are to emerge in the course of the
two hundred years following the philosopher's death. This emphasis
on economic growth, or on the wealth of nations (to use the language
of the time), brought with it-as is well known-eoncerted and
39
varied forms of exploitation. Heritage ideologues responded to only
one of these forms of exploitation: the exploitation of man by man.
Of course, only a.few recognized it as exploitation, for most it was
simply a matter of a 'natural' relation between power and subser-
vience. In any case, the fact remains that this concern with the power
struggle between human beings obscured any recognition of the
transcendence of the assaults on nature which, as we have discovered
to our cost, are of equal importance.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), a little bit more than a century after
the death of Locke, stated his concern about the damage done by man
to nature, and became sceptical of the supposed advantages of indefi-
nite growth of production and population as advocated by liberalism.
His argum.ents caused little impact.
Liberalism as well as conservatism and socialism emerged as the
alternatives for human society. Their differences on a number of
(
fundamental issues are well-known, and in this particular context it is
more pertinent to emphasize the aspects they have in common. In the
first place, all of them accept growth as indispensable, even though
they differ as to the forms and mechanisms most appropriate for the
distribution of its fruits. Secondly, all of them limit their primary
philosophical-political concerns to power relationships among peo-
ple, while ignoring the direct power that both nature as well as
technology, at the existential level, are capable of exercizing on the
destiny of mankind. This means effectively 'ignoring two of the three
basic actors in the drama of human history'. 5 Thirdly, all of them
cultivate an unlimited admiration for technology as nothing more
than an instrument to solve problems. Finally, they are all agreed
that one of the unavoidable means of achieving a superior human
destiny lies in the domination· and control of nature, for which tech-
nology again becomes a primordial weapon. In this manner the
myths .of Genesis and Prometheus become one single equation.
The thinking of Marx (1818-1883) reflects the belief in the possibi-
lities of unlimited growth and of the victory of mankind over nature,
aided and influenced by a fully realized and developed technology.
For Trotsky (1879-1940) it is technology, among other things, that
will make it possible for socialist man to become' superman', capable
40
of moving mountains and altering his surroundings as- he pleases.
'One searches in vain in Marx, despite his allusions to man's projected
harmony with nature under socialism, for any feeling for nature at the
concrete existential level. Man is a maker, a doer, a conqueror'. 6 On
the other hand, Engels (1820-1895), in his capacity as a more com-
plete scientist .. than his colleagues, gives warning on the dangers
involved in the indiscriminate c o n q u ~ s t of nature. He holds that 'each
such conquest takes its revenge on us'. 7 Engels' reservations have, as
Ferkiss points out, 'been ignored by virtually all socialist thinkers'. 8
This same attitude, common to all the main ideological currents, is
also seen in the fact that 'in none of the numerous economic models in
existence is there a variable standing for nature's perennial contribu-
tion' .9 The relationship established by these models with the en-
vironment is confined to David Ricardo's (1772-1823) notion of
land, which is no more than a synonym for space, immune to any
qualitative change. 'Marx's diagrams of economic reproduction do
not include even this colourless coordinate'. 10
On the other hand, conservatism (which, in its purest' sense, is
possibly the oldest of political creeds in the West) has invalidated its
original essence to such an extent that it bears little or no relation to
its present form. In fact, at present conservatism tends to become
confused, in its most contradictory expression, with the philosophy
of the liberal state carried to its extreme; and in its most innocuous
although dangerous manifestatiQn, with the philosophy of nostalgia
carried to the acme of futility.! 'Not everything that is possible is
desirable', was one of its basic Frinciples, on behalf of which it went
as far as to protect the intetests of the peasants and the poor,
threatened by the emerging bourgeoisie, and thus meriting identifi-
cation by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto as 'anti-
socialist socialism'. Its ideological foundation emanated from Aris-
totle's Ethics, which holds that the essence of man is fixed and
immutable-a basic error (begging the master's pardon) because
humans are evolving beings. 'Human nature is real, but an essential
part of human nature is its capacity for change. Humanity evolves.
As a result, what is proper to mankind in one time and place, as a
legitimate expression of human nature, will not be universally so' .11
41
Conservatism's original concern to hold down the uncontrolled and
anti-natural technological forces released by capitalism, which could
only stimulate increasing greed, showed an attitude of evident love
for the natural state (though, of course, of an elitist structure). Such
an attitude has been exchanged today for an equally evident and un-
conditional love for the 'magic' of the market, for free competition
as the essence of social justice, and for unlimited expansion and
growth. Contrary to liberalism-which, transformed into
corporate liberalism under the impulse of technological develop-
has become essentially irreverent of the past and of all and
any institutions when, they stand in the way of its purpose of growth
as an end in itself-conservatism becomes futile when trying to pro-
mote the same technological race, for it places it within an
tutional framework that emanates not from congruence, but from
equal shares of nostalgia and the 'original myth'. Just listening to,
some of the spokesmen of the Reagan administration should illus-
trate the point.
From the above it may be concluded that although ideologies differ
as to their interpretation of the power relationships between human
beings, they are all basically the same as regards the role they assign to
nature as well as to technology. Moreover, I will go as far as to say
that, in this respect, they are all-in a way-daughters of liberalism.
More important than this last assertion, however, is the fact that the
paradox stated at the beginning of this chapter appears to be con-
firmed. In other words, while the myth was dominant, humans
went no further than believing in it. Once it was discarded by
reason, human behaviour conformed to it more than ever before.
The assault on nature did not take place while the 'original myth'
was the Law; but when it ceased to be the Law. This is a strange but
true fact, one which in itself merits serious and profound ,investi-
gatIon.
I would like to summarize in another way what I have stated so far.
If we observe our world now, in 1982, we can detect a new stage in
the evolutionary process I have tried to describe. Let me put it like
this: in the beginning there was the myth, and the myth alone. Then
came reason, and man attempted to use reason in order to the
42
myth. Then reason triumphed over the myth, and reason alone ruled.
N o ~ , if we listen to spokesmen of the Reagan government, such as,
for example, Mr Richard Allen, one has the feeling that in the hands
of such fundamentalists, the myth is being used in order to justify
reason. It is alarming, to say the least. And what lies ahead? Again
the myth, and the myth alone? I can feel only fear, when I think of
present corporate liberalism married to the 'original myth' .
43
c ( )
Ideological alternatives do exist in the social, economic and poli,tical
fields and therefore it is possible to choose-at least for the holders of
power-between different development styles. However, if our con-
siderations also take into account the concern for the environmental
problem-which, rather than adding a new element, involves the
statement of an essentially new problem-it should be recognized
that up to now only one style has been predominant: the vandalic
style. In other words, alternatives exist at a limited level, characteris-
tic of the orthodox analytical scheme. For an overall statement of the
biospheric problematique, theoretical alternatives of great interest
and value have been proposed, but none have so far been put into
practice on a national or global scale.
12
I intend to demonstrate this
point of view.
There is a form of opinion-perhaps the most widespread-which
considers the potential biosphericcrisis in general, and the ecological
aspects in particular, as additional elements to be taken into account
in development p l a n n i n g ~ In other words, it is simply a question of
considering one or more additional variables and parameters in order
to perfect a model. If this was so, it would then be perfectly logical'
and natural to conceive as possible an' ecological capitalism or cor-
porate liberalism, an ecological socialism, an ecological conservatism
or finally, any other equally ecological and eclectic mixture or com-
44
bination. It is these very possibilities that I consider illusory. I be-
that, for various reasons which I shall explain later, the forms
of socio-economic and political organization currently in force in
the world are essentially antagonistic to the achievement of a tripar-
tite harmony between Nature, Humans, and Technology. But be-
fore I continue to explore a field which I recognise is a sensitive one,
I would like to make some disquisitions in the of recapitu-
lation.
I believe that I have made the extent of the anthropocentric attitude
sufficiently clear and also that I have demonstrated that its origin lies
in the very basis of our Western culture and that, therefore, it is· a
common factor in all dominant political philosophies or ideologies to
date. It is therefore the product of a 'final cause' which, in conse-
quence, cannot be solved by including corrective factors in schemes
or models whose incompleteness is the result of 'efficient causes'. In
other words, a development model may be perfected in formal terms
as far as is desired, but modifications of cultural foundations-re-
garded as unfavourable-transcend any possibility of formalization,
and are possible only as the product of a deep structural revolution
capable of altering, or substituting for others, some dominant onto-
logical characters. Assuming this is a plausible argument, I should
state in sum that if anthropoc·entric behaviour originates in 'final
causes', and the ineffectiveness of ideologies, as well as of the
socio-political and economic organizations emanating from them,
originates in 'efficient then any attempt to modify or perfect
the latter which has not previously achieved a radical reorientation of
the former, will be in vain.
The necessary advent of a kind of ecological humanism, capable of
substituting, or at least correcting, the anthropocentrism still domi-
nant among us, is certainly so revolutionary a prospect that there is
no way it could merely be included as a simple element in a develop-
ment plan, however ambitious and sophisticated that plan may be.
But let me return now to the proposal.
::. Philosophical anarchism may be the only exception so far. I shall refer to it later on in
this chapter.
45
I have maintained the view that the systems currently in force are
not compatible with the integral solution of the problem which I have
posed. This view has been based on the fact that all of them, in their
constitution and content, flow from a common cultural matrix
which, because of its characteristics, has impelled them--despite their
differences and divergencies in other respects-in a way contrary to
that which a state of dynamic balance between Nature, Humanity
and Technology would require or rather demand. This might appear
to be sufficient argument to justify an overall critical revision. But
there are still testimonies for those who, rejecting the validity of my
thesis of 'final causes', hold on to the belief that the solution being
sought lies only in the mechanistic possibility of correcting errors
('side effects of bad house-keeping' as Ferkiss so aptly calls them)
within systems recognized as basically good and positive. I must
therefore enter into the second stage of my critical incursion, w ~ i c h
consists of drawing attention to the way in which each individual
system is affected, no longer only by an adverse 'final cause' com-
mon to all, but also by 'efficient causes', equally adverse and equally'
common to all.
. If the 'final cause'-as already stated-is responsible for anthropo-
centrism, the latter is in turn responsible-via the ideologies-for the
form which socio-political and economic systems have assumed. This
is as· far as the concatenation of the 'final cause' goes. What follows is
that development styles, or rather the concrete methodologies which
each system has designed to solve its problems in accordance with its
ultimate purposes, turn into 'efficient causes'-the results of which
can be individualized and, usually, measured. Development styles
turn into programmed forces which, when put into movement, gene-
rate processes identifiable in space and time.
Thus, due to the fact that the end product of the development
styles in their capacity as 'efficient causes' are usually conspicuous
and that it is possible to single them out in temporal terms, as well as
in terms of location and magnitude, the belief has spread that by
solving case by case, or by avoiding proliferation of new cases
through new technological as well as legislative measures, the overall
problem will sooner or later reach a solution. The thesis that I sustain
46
does not admit such a possibility, as the aspects in which current
development styles differ markedly from one another are neutral with
respect to the environment, while those aspects that are common to
all-to a greater or lesser degree-are precisely those which are
environmentally adverse. But, and this is even more crucial, the
degree of importance assumed by these common factors within each
individual system is such that the e f f e c ~ of altering them would be
equivalent to a complete reformulation of each system. In other
words, the drastic c'orrection of 'efficient causes' of the environ-
mental problem within a capitalist system-to take one example-
would represent the end of what defines the capitalist system. It
would not be a reformed capitalism, it would be something entirely
different. The same, of course, is true for the other existing systems.
There are more environmentally adverse common elements than I
could analyse within this chapter. I have therefore decided to select
only two, which are important enough, however, to illustrate my
point of view. I will refer to the problem of mechanicism and to some
questions of magnitude. But first I should point out that,' although
not every system will be affected with the same intensity by each
point to be mentioned, all of them are vulnerable to a greater or lesser
degree, according to the point in question.
Each system has generated its own economic theory. But 'the whole
truth is that economics, in the way this discipline is now generally
professed, is mechanistic in the same strong sense in which we gene-
rally believe only classical mechanics to be'. 13 Once economists be-
came obsessed with the need to promote their discipline to the
category of science, they made every possible effort to assimilate it to
patterns pertaining to the physics of the times. This is borne out by
the works of Jevons (1835-1882) and of Walras (1834-1910)-Eng-
lish and French respectively-who tried to find analogies with classi-
cal mechanics. Irving Fisher himself (1867-1947), as all economists
know, was involved in an effort worthy of a Swiss watchmaker, when
he completed the construction of a particularly ingenious and in-
47
tricate device, the purpose of which was to demonstrate the purely
mechanical nature of consumer behaviour. The Law of Say
(1767-1832), which has had such an important influence on liberal
economic thinking ('production generates its own purchasing
power'), is equally mechanistic. The notion of 'Homo Oeconomicus'
is undeniably so and, finally, Marx's diagrams of economic repro-
duction-which have already been mentioned-are bound by the
same limitation.
This trend would not present any problem whatsoever if economic
processes really were mechanical. Of course many economists still
seem to believe that they are, and the economic policies they advocate
are proof of this. After all, a characteristic displayed by many econo-
engaged in policy-making, is their talent to withdraw from
reality, which causes havoc among those who live in it. But the fact is
that economic processes-susceptible to mechanical interpretations in
isolated cases-are of an entropic nature in their broader and more
generalized
Contrary to what is stated in textbooks, the last link of the econo-
mic process is not consumption but the generation of waste. This
means a transformation of low into high entropy, a process which,
although inevitable, is at least susceptible to being slowed down. This
is a point many economists still refuse to recognize: the fact that
The concept of entropy stems from the Second Law of Thermodynamics which, in
its simplest formulation, establishes that heat always flows in one direction, that is,
from the hotter to the colder body. Because this process is unidirectional in addition to
being irreversible, it proved the existence of processes that could not be explained in
mechanical terms. In this sense it should be remembered that a mechanical pheno-
menon is such as long as it is reversible. As a result, entropic processes can only be
described by methods that are alien to mechanics (concretely through thermodynamic
equations). Entropy reveals that which in other terms is usually identified as an
irrevocable trend toward the degradation of energy contained in a closed system; a
situation which reaches its peak when the energy of all the systems' components is
equalised, the former thus becoming incapable-as is even intuitively evident-of
altering its final state, except for endogenous stimuli. In the language of physics, the
state of maximum entropy is a synonym of chaos, or of absolute disorder (which is the
same, as order is understood as the product of diversity). Ultimately, the important
thing to keep in mind is the notion of irreversibility in opposition to mechanical
processes.
48
'since the product of economic processes is waste, waste is an inevita-
ble result of process and ceteris paribus increases in greater
proportion than the (creative) intensity of economic activity'. 14
Hyper-urbanization and the increasing pollution that is concomitant
with those centres considered to be the most highly developed, is·
proof; proof that came as an unexpected and disconcerting surprise
for all economic theories. One should ask how to reconcile the
product of 'efficiency' supported by all economic theories with the
resulting environmental disaster.
Because economics never assigned the natural environment-a sys-
tem affected by entropy-its real weight, it was possible for the
discipline to remain enclosed within its mechanistic ivory tower up to
the day of the truth. Economics has thus become a discipline (or
science if you wish) as unhistoric as any mechanical process: only that
which is irreversible represents the emergence of an authentic novel-
ty; only the irreversible, in its purest sense, is a true event. The
mechanical is no more than the possibility of repetition. Economics is
prepared to play elegantly with the latter but remains, to a great
extent, deprived of arguments and tools with which to tackle what is
truly new.
It is strangely moving to observe the persistent efforts of so many
economists to promote their field to the category of a science devoid
of contradictions, while physics-the inspiration of the economic
mechanicism-gave up this pretence over fifty years ago. Just as the
'Principle of Complementarity' of Niels Bohr (1885-1962) emerged
from the inescapable necessity of having to ac'cept that the electron
may sometimes behave as a wave and sometimes as a
of mutually incompatible behaviour-so economic theories should be
prepared to accept the co-existence of mechanical and entropic pro-
cesses which also seem to contradict one
The curious thing is, however, that economics originated, without
its creators realizing it, in an entropic notion: scarcity. It is evident
that 'if the entropic process were not irrevocable, that is', if the energy
A person in love can perhaps understand the truth of this statement better than an
economist, unless they are an economist in love.
49
of a piece of coal or of uranium could be used over and over again ad
infinitum, scarcity would hardly exist in man's life. Up to a certain
level, even an increase in population would not create scarcity: man-
kind would simply have to use the existing stocks more frequently' .15
Yet, scarcity exists because entropic processes are irrevocable. To the
extent that economists are unwilling to accept the crisis affecting the
foundations of economic theories in order to undertake their recon-
struction, any hope that they will contribute positively to the ade-
quate interpretation and eventual solution of biospheric problems is
extremely thin.
Finally, there is an additional aspect which I would like to stress.
Economic processes, especially those generated by the corporate
liberal establishment, increase worldwide entropy at a frightening
pace. The generation of increasingly large amounts of unnecessary
waste is sealing the fate-destitute poverty-of the world's econo-
mically 'invisible' sectors. This means that those economic theories
which give theoretical support to corporate liberal actions are not
only wrong on technical grounds, but also on moral grounds.
Aristotle sustained the view that a great city should not be con-
founded with a populous one, and went as far as to propose that the
best limit to the population of a state is the largest number which can
be taken in at a single view. Such a notion may appear absurd to
thinkers and the general public today, who have become accustomed
to confusing greatness and efficiency with giantism. However, in
view of the new problems affecting humanity, it does not seem
sensible to reject, without a second look, any possibility of medi-
tating anew on notions that were discarded in the course of the
evolution of thought and history. Our present situation has no anal-
ogies in the past. It is not the result of a continuous extrapolation.
There are entirely new circumstances which oblige us to seek inspira-
tion in all sources of human knowledge and experience. What is
antiquated-in this case-is not so because it is old, but because it is
obsolete. Thus contemporary concepts (such as mechanistic econ-
50
omics, already discussed) should also be discarded because of their
obsolescence, while proposals from the dim past may reappear sur-
prisingly rejuvenated and relevant. Aristotle's observations, which I
have just cited, appear to me justly pertinent. In fact, in the 'Theore-
tical Interlude' of the second part of this book (see p. 129), I have
amply developed the ideas of Aristotle and others, with reference to
the size of systems, especially urban systems and their environments.
Therefore, I shall devote this section to comments on other questions
that relate to problems of magnitude.
It has long been believed that economic growth was good for
mankind, which is of course true. The problem emerged when 'good'
became a synonym for 'more and more'. In the end this obsession
generated a new concept of social justice, especially under capitalism.
Social justice became confused with growth itself. It is no longer a
question of better distributing a cake which is already big enough, so
that those who have less will receive a larger proportion. On the
contrary, it is now a question of making a yet larger cake so that all
will receive a greater portion than before, but keep the same propor-
tion assigned to them by the system. Of course, in reality what tends
to happen is that, even with growth, the poor's share of the cake
diminishes. Growing evidence of this does not seem to have affected
the behaviour of these economic systems or of the theories
them. There is still to the effect that processes such as the
so-called 'trickle-down effect' work, despite some overwhelming evi-
dence to the contrary, especially in many Third World countries.
The above concept (being especially typical of capitalism, mainly in
its guise of corporate liberalism) affects, to a degree, other systems as
well. Third World countries, with a few exceptions, are fascinated by
the temptation of following the road traced by the large industrial
powers, forgetting that the only way to achieve and secure their
identity and decrease their dependence, lies in promoting a creative
and imaginative spirit capable of generating alternative development
processes that may secure higher degrees of regional and local
self-reliance.
The question of magnitude turns into an apotheosis of stupidity
when applied to the proliferation of armaments: surely the fastest and
51
greatest generator of high e n t r o p ~ n rhe wot=kl today. The fact that
the present accumulated explosive power in the world is equivalent to
three tons of dynamite for every living person is so incredible that
it can only be explained with the assumption that some influential
sage must have demonstrated that it is possible to kill the same per-
son over and over again.
The question of great magnitude has also caused conceptual havoc
in other areas; most tangibly in the area that refers to the so-called
demographic problem. To this I want to refer at some length. The
arguments and warnings on this subject are well known and need no
repetition here. However, I do wish to draw attention to a situation
which I believe to be dangerously misleading.
Population is usually considered as a quantitative component with
an absolute value when making projections related to the resources
capable of -sustaining it. Many works have been carried out with the
purpose of detecting the total population that the earth could pre-
sumably sustain. There are those who believe that the total could be
as many as fifty thousand million, and others who do not dare go
beyond one tenth of that magnitude. All of this appears to me as
nothing more than irrelevant speculation which leads nowhere be-
cause it ignores a fundamental fact. Demographic expansion, if
related to the availability of resources-actual or potential-cannot,
and must not, be dealt with in absolute terms, but only in relative
terms. To speak of one hundred million people means nothing; to
speak of one hundred million D.S. Americans or one hundred mil-
lion people in India, means everything.
What I am aiming at is this: one hundred million D.S. Americans,
measured in terms of the natural resources (both renewable and
non-renewable) they draw upon, are equivalent to many thousands of
millions of Indians. Thus, in ecological terms, it would be perfectly
legitimate to state that the relatively more over-populated nations are,
in fact, the richest and not the poorest. In global terms, a drastic
decrease of population in the poorest areas of Asia, Africa and Latin
America, would make an impact immeasurably smaller than a de-
crease of only 5 per cent in present consumption levels of the ten
richest countries of the world. When one thinks in these terms, it is
52
easy to grasp the absurdity and weak rationality of arguments
against helping the poor except, of course, those countries who are
'really' carrying out efforts to decrease their rates of population
growth. 16
All this leads me to believe that a new statistical quantifier should
be developed in demography. I propose a measure which I would call
'ecological person' (' ecoson' for short). The idea is to establish an
approximate scale of the rational drainage of resources needed for a
person to attain an acceptable quality of life. I realize that subjective
aspects are involved here, but they are involved in many other quanti-
fiers in regular use. In any case, it is not an insoluble problem. It is
not difficult to establish such a scale in terms of nutritional require-
ments, clothing and housing. As a matter of fact, commodity pack-
ages have been calculated for many purposes, and it would simply be
a matter of following a similar line in order to establish the direct and
indirect resource drainages required by one' ecoson'. If such a statis-
tical objective were achieved, it would be interesting to calculate for
the first time, by regions or countries, the number of 'ecosons'
composing the different populations. It would not be surprising, for
example, to discover that one inhabitant of the United States was
equivalent to fifty 'ecosons', and that a single inhabitant of India or
Togo was no more than a fraction of an 'ecoson'. I would even dare
predict that if we world population in terms of
we would find that the world is already weighed down with nearly
fifty thousand million, of which the highest proportion would be
found in a few of the richest countries. In addition, if we consider
that, within my thesis, the proportion by which the population of
'ecosons' exceeds that of the absolute population will be a concrete
measure of the amount of 'waste surplus', ::- we would finally have a
clear notion of the destructive magnitude of the problem caused by
the worship of giant dimensions. I believe that my proposal would
not only enable us to see the problem in its true perspective, but
By 'waste surplus' of a population I mean the amount of waste resulting from
consumption levels higher than those that would be required by a population if
measured in terms of 'ecosons' .
53
would also be so illuminating a statistical illustration that it could act
as a persuasion to implement more humanistic international policies.
I am still confident that something can be done, despite the fact that
the dominant processes at work do not seem to care in the least about
the 'invisible' sectors of the world, except when it comes to accusing
them of being burdens that should "be treated as expendable.
So, what be done?
I hope I have shown, satisfactorily, the crisis of foundations that
affects us all in different respects. It would now be appropriate to
indicate a course of action, although this is, to a large degree, implicit
in my previous arguments. It will become explicit in the following
chapters, where I relate the concrete field experiences through which
I have tried to put my)deas into practice. However, I would like to-
make some additional disquisitions.
It seems to me that, in view of the overall crisis we are going
through, we find ourselves once again before 'the beginning of
Utopia'. The search for Utopia is not simply the search for a society
that is possible, but for a society that is, from a humanist perspective,
desirable. The notion of Utopia--or of eutopia, as I prefer to call
it-is rich, because it transcends the forms of crumbling eclecticisms
within which the present search for solutions is carried out. Transac-
tions and partial solutions are no longer of any use. In fact, they are
misleading; to pollute or to mislead people a little less is not the
equivalent of living a little better or dying a little less. Like a bridge
spanning three quarters of a river, they don't get you to the other
bank.
The kind of in which I believe and which I seek,
implies an integral ecological humanism. None of the present systems
provides for this, nor has the capacity to correct itself (in order to
provide it) without losing the essence of its identity as a result. And
since I do not believe that any of the existing systems will work itself
out of business, I have ceased to believe in the value of corrective
measures. It is n610nger a of correcting what already exists.
That opportunity was lost long ago. It is no longer a question of
54
adding new variables to old mechanistic models. It is a question of
remaking many things from scratch and of conceiving radically
different possibilities. It is a question of understanding that, if it is the
role of humans to establish values, then it is the role of· nature to
establish many of the rules. It is a matter of passing from the pure
exploitation of nature and of the poorer people of the world, to a
creative and organic integration and interdependence. It is a matter of
bringing the 'invisible' sectors into the forefront of life and of letting
them, finally, have their say and 'do their thing'. It is a m ~ t t e r of a
drastic redistribution of power through the organization of horizon-
tal communal integration. It is a matter of passing from destructive
giantism to creative smallness.
Such an eutopic society, which I conceive as oriented by a political
philosophy which I would identify (for the sake of giving it a name)
as 'humanist eco-anarchism', consolidates, in my opinion, many of
the possibilities for an adequate solution of the problem. But there
can be nothing definite or permanent about even this attempt, for
there lies a future beyond the future I can conceive, and that future
could well place us at a new crossroads where everything would once
more have to be rethought and reconstructed. But at this stage we
cannot preoccupy ourselves with concerns not yet conceived. We
have more than enough to do with the challenges facing us right now.
Let it simply be stated that I personally do not believe in any type of
permanent solution. My proposal is geared to current conditions
only; long-term flexibility and the willingness to change is built into
my philosophy.
My philosophy is ecological in the sense that it is based on the
conviction that human beings, in order to realize themselves, must
maintain a relationship of interdependence and not of competition
with nature and the rest of mankind, and equally that this must be a
conscious relationship, because the ecological perspective projected
on the natural environment provides fertile analogies for social order-
ing. It is a humanistic philosophy in that it maintains that humans are
self-conscious and carry out their relationships with nature and with
other human beings through culture. It also states that ecological
balance cannot be left to automatism, but must be subject to human
55
knowledge, judgement and will, in terms of conscious political ac-
tion. Finally, it is anarchistic, not in the vulgar sense, but in as much
as it is based on the conviction that every form of concentration of
power (and all the present systems lead to this) alienates people from
their environment-both natural and human-and limits or annuls
their direct participation and sense of responsibility, restricting their
imagination, information, communication, critical capacity and cre-
ativity. These last conditions I consider essential for the realization
of the two preceding conditions: that is, an ecological conscience
supported by humanistic behaviour. 17
My beliefs are strongly held, so I have tried to put them into
practice and live according to them. The story that follows reveals my
own experience of working and living within the 'invisible' sector. It
is a major experiment in the participation of and between horizontally
interdependent communities that contained altogether more than one
hundred thousand economically 'invisible' people. It was such a
successful experiment that it failed; the traditional holders of power
became afraid of it. Yet it proved to me that it can be done and,
above all, that it must be done.
56
Reconaissance region
The political and administrative division of Ecuador is into provinces
divided into cantons which, in turn, are subdivided into 'parroquias'.
The country contains a high Sierra that is part of the chain of the
Andes mountains, flanked by tropical lowlands to the east and west.
The lowlands include large virgin jungle forests. The population of
the Sierra-especially in the rural areas-is composed mainly of In-
dians belonging to the Quechua cultural branch, many tribal differ-
ences notwithstanding. In the coastal lowlands a high proportion of
blacks and mulattos is to be found, in addition to some Indian tribes
not related to the Quechua culture, the latter largely in the forest
areas. The eastern lowlands contain a population of several tribes of
non-Quechua Indians as well. Whites and mestizos are to be found in
all three regions. The larger urban centres of the Sierra itself and of
the tropical lowlands have seen a continual increase in the proportion
of migrant Indians coming from the impoverished rural areas of the
Sierra. These Indians are united by a common language and a cultural
tradition that originated in the integration of many tribes under the
Inca hegemony known as the 'Tahuantinsuyo'. The Quechua
language is still predominant, with minor regional variations, in not
only Ecuador but the south of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia as well as
the northernmost highlands of Chile. However, in the jungle regions,
a multitude of languages and dialects prevail. Despite the extent to
57
Table 1 Political sub-division of Project's area
Provinces
Carchi
Imbabura
Esmeraldas*
Total
Cantons
Espejo
Montufar
Tulcan
. Antonio Ante
Cotacachi
Ibarra
Otavalo
Eloy Alfaro
Pcuroquias
8
11
10
6
10
20
"1
19.
95
* The province of EsmerzlldCls hCls four CC-1ntons, hut only one WClS included in the Project's ClreCl.
which the Quechua language is spoken, Ecuador does not legally
recognize itself as a bilingual country, Spanish alone being accepted as
the official language.
After several months of study and analysis, the Project chose as a
priority area for its activities, the north-western segment of the
country. This is composed of the provinces of Carchi, Imbabura and
the Eloy Alfaro canton of the province of Esmeraldas. Despite the
fact that, according to its mandate, the MAE was supposed to
concentrate its work in the Sierra-specifically above an elevation of
1,500 metres-the Eloy Alfaro canton in the coastal lowlands was
included, following some important considerations which will be
explained later. The region comprised eight cantons which, in turn,
contained 95 parroquias (see Table 1). The total population amounted
to 356,593 people, 73 per cent of whom were rural inhabitants (see
Table 4). The total area covered approximately 16,600 square kilo-
metres. (see Tables 2 and 3), with an average population density of
21.5 people per square kilometre, the lowest density of 5.3 people per
square kilometre being in the Eloy Alfaro canton.
The reasons invoked in favour of the chosen area were numerous,
but they can be summarized as follows: (1) the north-west is a region
of Ecuador that allows for economic integration, and increased inter-
relationships in general, between four ethnic groups: Indians from
the Sierra, Indians from the coastal tropical forests, blacks and mesti-
58
Table 2 Population of Project/s area*
Province CJnton Urhan Rural Total
Carchi Espejo 4/304 25/037 29/341
Montufar 7/410 30/993 38/403
Tulcan 21/025 25/559 46/584
Sub Total 32/739 81/589 114/328
Imbabura Antonio Ante 11/750 12/084 23/834
Cotacachi 4/507 25/318 29/825
Ibarra 34/189 68/193 102/382
Otavalo 9/018 40/000 49/018
Sub Total 59/464 145/595 205/059
Esmeraldas Eloy Alfaro 4/043 33/163 37/206
Total 96/246 356/593
* Estimates for 1968 according to the Secretarfa General de Planeacion Economica.
zos; (2) the region is geographically and naturally integrated through
the basins of the Mira, Cayapas and Santiago rivers; (3) fewer
groups-private or public, national or international-were engaged
in development promotion and aid than in any other region of the
country.
The inclusion of the Eloy canton, on the other hand, was
based on the finding that many of the problems that arise in the Sierra
cannot be solved in situ, since there are natural links in terms of trade
and migration with the neighbouring lowlands. Although there are
many complex and serious rivalries and antagonisms between the
Sierra and the coast in most parts of Ecuador", no evidence of such
conflicts were to be found in the north-west.
Table 3 Population density of Project/s area
Area (km
2
) Population Density
per km
2
Carchi 4/138 114/328 27.6
Imbabura 5/469 205/059 37.5
Eloy Alfaro 7/000* 37/206 5.3
Total 16/607 356/593 21.5
* Estimated area.
59
Table 4 Percentages of urban and rural populations
Provinces Cantons Uroan Rural
Carchi Espejo 14.7 85.3
Montufar 19.3 80.7
Tulcan 45.1 54.9
Average 28.6 71.4
Imbabura Antonio Ante 49.9 50.1
Cotacachi 15.1 84.9
Ibarra 33.4 66.6
Otavalo 18.4 81.6
Average 29.0 71.0
Esmeraldas Eloy Alfaro 10.9 89.1
Project Average 27.0 73.0
Ever since the Spanish conquerors and early colonizers smashed
the Inca civilization to its very foundations, its descendants have
suffered, up to the present day, every form of servitude, discrimina-
tion, humiliation and exploitation. Their voice and their most legiti-
mate claims have been ruthlessly silenced time and time again. They
have been robbed of their land and, adding insult to injury, they have
been continually accused of being lazy, indolent, untrustworthy and
vicious. A common allegation among the more reactionary segments
of the dominant society is that the number of Indians in the country
has held back its development. In this respect, I will never forget a
scandal I provoked after delivering a paper at a conference on devel-
opment. Although the episode occurred in Peru, it could have
happened in any Indian country of Latin America, with perhaps the
sole exception of Mexico. During question time, someone pointed
out to me that I had overlooked the fact that the cOl!ntry's main
problem was that it had a population which was '60 per cent Indian,
and the Indians represent a dead weight on the national economy'.
M.y answer was that, as I saw it, the main problem was the 40 per cent
of the population that was not Indian. After the instant outrage
caused by my remark had calmed down somewhat, I proposed two
imaginary scenarios. In the first it was assumed that, for telluric or
magical reasons, the Indian population totally disappeared overnight.
The question posed was: what would happen to the country, i.e. the
remaining 40 per cent? It was reluctantly admitted that the country
60
would collapse. After all, a society built on exploitation cannot"'
manage without the exploited. In the second scenario it was assumed
that exactly the opposite occurred: the members of the dominant
society magically vanished from the face of the earth overnight. T.he
new question posed was: what would happen to the country, i.e. the
60 per cent of Indians? Again it was recognized with reluctance-al-
though by this stage some members of the audience had left the
room in disgust-that probably nothing would happen! After all,
the exploited can do better without the exploiters than vice versa.
I am not saying that the above attitude is typical of all members of
the white society; it is probably not even typical of the majority. But
what I am saying is that those who do hold such opinions have
dominated the political and economic scene and hence determined the
style of so'cial interaction, notwithstanding some short praiseworthy
interludes prompted by well-intentioned governments.
The Sierra is a tragic environment. The accumulated resentment is
so great that any person with a degree of sensibility can feel it
surfacing through even the apparently passive and humble mien of the
Indian peasant. It therefore requires much effort, dedication and,
above all, sincerity to gain his confidence. He has been deceived so
many times by so many people, that words no longer suffice to
convince him of one's good i n t e n t i ~ n s . This was the situation that
prevailed in the Ecuadorean Sierra, although improved interrelation-
ships had been established with a number of Indian communities,
thanks to the sensibility and devotion of many of the MAE field
workers. In other communities the distrust had not yet been over-
come, and some MAE members had b ~ e n killed in their attempts-
mistaken for land robbers or potential exploiters. In such communi-
ties, feelings and reactions bred by more than four centuries of
injustice were extant.
The tropical lowlands of the province of Esmeraldas, and par-
ticularly the Eloy Alfaro canton which is mostly jungle, have a
different tale to tell. The black inhabitants of this region must be
absolutely unique in the American context. Despite the fact that their
forefathers arrived in the sixteenth century, they were never engaged
in slave labour. What happened is quite fascinating.
61
In a ship that sailed from Panama in October, 1553, the Sevillian
Alonso de Illescas was transporting a cargo of African slaves to Peru.
Unfavourable currents slowed down their passage to such an extent
that by the time the ship reached the coast of Esmeraldas, it was
already 30 days behind schedule. Having run short of provisions, the
captain sailed into the Cape of San Francisco and touched land in the
inlet of Portete. The captain, together with the sailors, seventeen
black men and six black women, went on shore in order to look for
food. While ashore, sudden winds and waves tore the ship from her
moorings and smashed her against the rocks, totally destroying her.
The survivors had no choice but to search for civilization through an
unknown and virtually impenetrable landscape. A few of the whites
survived the long ordeal and finally reached Spanish settlements with
a rich silver custody which they had brought from Spain for the
M0t:lastery of Santo Domingo in the City of the Kings (Cuzco).
The blacks, much more at ease in an environment that was more
'their own', ventured into the forests until they reached a town
named Pidi, which was quickly abandoned by its inhabitants. When
the Indians tried to recover their settlement, they were defeated by
the blacks under the leadership of Anton. Anton died shortly after
the confrontation, leaving seven men and three women. New skir-
mishes ensued but the blacks were finally victorious and occupied the
land. At this stage their leader was Alonso Illescas, a native of Cape
Verde. It is clear that he must have decided to adopt the name of the
captain of the ill-fated ship. Illescas married the daughter of the
Cacique (cheif) of the Nigua Indians, who by now had become allies
of the blacks. Strengthened by this alliance, the blacks. began their
conquest of neighbouring territories, until news of the existence of a
band of rebel blacks reached the Spaniards. Captain Alvaro de
Figueroa left Guayaquil in order to attack Illescas. He was unsuccess-
ful. In 1568 a new expedition was sent, under Andres Contero and
his son-in-law Martin Carranza. They too were defeated by the
black-Indian alliance.
It was only in 1570 that Illescas was finally captured, together with
his family, in Portete. A young novice of the order of the 'Merceda-
rios', by the name of Escobar, was in the successful Spanish group.'
62
As fate would have it, he had earlier been saved by Illescas, and
treated with kindness, after having found himself abandoned (why
and how is not known) in the Bay of San Mateo. So it is not exactly
surprising that Escobar helped the Illescas family to escape. He was
aided by Gonzalo de Avila, one of the Spanish soldiers who had, in
the meantime, fallen in love with Illescas' daughter, whom he later
married. A few years later, in 1577, a new occurred in the
area. Among those saved by Illescas was Juan de Reina and his wife
Maria Becerra, who later continued their voyage to Quito where they
informed the authorities of Illescas' desire to enter the service'of the
King. The district court (Audiencia) and the bishop sent the presbyter
Miguel de Cabello Valboa to make the arrangements. The attempt
was unsuccessful despite the good disposition of Illescas-some of his
people were apparently distrustful of the party. A second visit by a
party led by the Deacon Caceres also failed, because the guides
refused, on grounds of fear, to enter Illescas' territory. After several
more years had passed without any new contact, the Esmeraldeiios
decided to go to Quito themselves. Juan Mangache visited Quito in
1585 and 1586. He returned with Fra Pedro Romero, who settled
among the Esmeraldeiios, helped them construct a town where
Spanish ships could reach land, converted them to Christianity and,
highly respected and beloved by the Indians and the blacks alike,
became a legendary figure.
The descendants of Alonso Illescas never abandoned the region
and, at the time of the initiation of the ECU-28 Project, were once
again one of the most neglected and isolated groups in Ecuador.
Many of their African traditions have been preserved in their purest
forms, notably their houses and other buildings. The people are tall,
dignified, proud and somewhat pompous despite their extreme pov-
erty. Very formal and with gracious manners, they are open, extro-
vert and like to celebrate their happy moments with colourful fiestas.
Their Spanish is beautiful: baroque and full of metaphors. Through
the years they have established a peaceful co-existence with the
Cayapa Indians, the other surviving group at the time of our arrival.
Such were the people of the Project's chosen region. Its hetero-
geneous character made it a fascinating challenge.
63
Foundations for a methodology
With the efficient cooperation of several of the Project's experts, we
completed a successful reconnaissance of the region. We were able to
count on the help and assistance of some of the MAE field ",:orkers.
The conclusions we reached were duly reported, in a document dated
December 1971, to all the national.authorities concerned. They were'
essentially the following:
1. Each community manifests a clear awareness of a number of
problems affecting it, and its members express the felt need that
the solution of these pr?blems is often a matter of the greatest
urgency.
2. The traditional means employed to find solutions to their prob-
lems has been to request, in each case, direct help from the highest
political and administrative authorities of the government.
3. Each community acts as though its problems were exclusive to
itself and its members do not perceive that many of the problems
are of much greater proportions, and affect a large number of
other communities as well. Consequently, the notion that basic
solutions cannot be sought at the local level, because they must be
applied in a wider regional context, is non-existent.
4. Apart from certain specific problems affecting particular commu-
nities, which therefore require local solutions, five areas of general
concern were detected after hearing the people's claims in com-
munal meetings that took place all over the region. T h e s ~ pro-
blems were related to the following areas: (a) education, (b) health
and sanitation, (c) marketing of local products, (d) roads and
communication, and (e) difficulties faced by small landowners as
well as landless peasants.
5. The communities had overwhelmed the government authorities by
contacting them individually and presenting them with petitions
that could not be satisfactorily or coherently dealt with.
6. The government authorities' inability to satisfy these innumerable
petitions had provoked frustration among the peasants and aggra-
vated their distrust. Such a continually deteriorating situation
could only be overcome through actions and programmes ema-
64
nating from coherent and coordinated partIcIpation, at grass-
roots level, by people previously imbued with a regional con-
SCIousness.
7. While all the different communities had established their individ-
ual channels of communication with higher government authori-
ties, they comple,tely lacked similar communication channels be-
tween themselves, on a horizontal level. Such horizontal com-
munication was deemed fundamental to the formation of a
regional consciousness, itself indispensable for the' design of
. coherent solutions to be tackled with governmental support. _
From these observations followed the Project's strategy and metho-
dology, which was then proposed to the government agencies con-
cerned. The fundamental ideas were as follows:
1. A coherent Regional Development Plan must result from the
direct and active participation of grass-root groups, using expert
assistance only when required. It should not be the other way
around, i.e. the result of proposals made by technicians and later
imposed on the people.
2. Contrary to the belief held by technicians who have avoided direct
or frequent contact with rural people, a willingness of the people
to participate was detected, as well as a clear consciousness of local
problems together with sufficient awareness and maturIty to justi-
fy active and direct· responsibility in the planning process and
action.
3. In view of the previous considerations it was proposed that, in
each parroquia of the north-west, a 'Committee of Communi-
cation, Information and Relations' (CCIR), of a non-political
structure, should be set up. Each committee would be made up
of five people representing: (a) the local administrative authori-
ties, (b) education, (c) craftsmanships, (d) small businesses, and
(e) agriculture at the peasant level.
4. The basic functions of the committees would be to: (a) establish
contact with the other committees in order to generate awareness
of those problems common to the region as a whole; (b) prepare a
report (before February 1972) describing all the problems affecting
65
their parroquia, the text divided into chapters according to in-
structions to be handed out beforehand; (c) serve as permanent
points of contact between the MAE and ECU-28 on the one hand,
and the parroquia on the other, so that any development actions
decided upon might have the backing of the people; and (d)
establish cooperation on a permanent basis with the technicians so
that the projects are sufficiently realistic to win the support of the
local population, thus guaranteeing their success.
5. The experts would make a synthesis, from the reports to be
prepared by each parroquia, that would serve as a socio-economic
diagnosis of the Region. Such a diagnosis would differ from those
normally prepared by technicians, in the sense that it would
present the situation as felt by the people themselves, and not as
interpreted by professionals.
6. The document with the diagnosis would be distributed to all the
committees so that it could be read and discussed in communal
assemblies, as a first step towards the formation of a regional
consciousness. Later it would serve in the organization of Peasants
Encounters in which all the committees would participate. These
Encounters would provoke a joint discussion between the region's
representatives, as a second and decisive step in the formation of a
regional consciousness.
7. The participants in the Encounters would elect a group of 15
persons (five for each province) in order to become members of
the Regional Planning Commission to be created. This Commis-
sion, aided by the national and international experts, would design
the basis of a Regional Development Plan, identifying concrete
projects as well as priorities, and giving details of the availability of
local inputs such as voluntary labour, tools and other equipment.
Such a plan, designed directly by representatives elected by the
people for the purpose and in permanent consultation with them
via the committees, would be the first of its kind in Latin America,
and c'ould serve as a model at international levels .
ECU-28 was a programme designed to promote the development of a
large rural region of the country, ensuring the people's participation
66
in the process. Since participation is a function of communication, the
scheme proposed represented the creation of a complete and efficient
communication network. Such a network was to form the structure
of the Project. Within the scheme, the CCIRs had to fulfil a bipolar
and catalytic role. On the one hand they were to serve the MAE and
ECU-28, particularly their experts, in terms of information, interpre-
tation and constructive criticism. On the other, they were to fulfil
similar functions at intra- and inter-community levels. The really
novel aspect of our guiding concept was the fact that the peasants,
through their CCIRs, were no longer the passive recipients of de-
cisions and actions channelled down from a distant and unknown
summit, but actually became the focal point of the entire process.
The language of experts is laced with obscure expressions. The
language of peasants has its own particular terms and expressions.
Communication between the two sectors is therefore often difficult.
In this respect the CCIRs were also destined to play an important
role. As the focal point of interrelationships, they were to generate a
common code of communication, acting as both filter and processor
of information originating at the two extremities of the chain. This
invested the overall scheme with coherency as well as, in theory at
least, efficiency.
many
Although we felt satisfied with our theoretical construction, the
tangible possibilities of its realization remained to be seen. The idea
was officially well received and was endorsed by the MAE authori-
ties. Yet in private we received a lot of very sceptical comments. It
was felt by many that we were overestimating the capacity of the
peasants to organize and respond. We had, however, reached the
point of no return, so we decided to proceed.
I should mention at this point that the foundations for the metho-
dology were conceived during a discussion meeting with the peasants
of the community of Borb6n in Eloy Alfaro. The peasants' ideas,
especially the imaginative contributions of Mr Caicedo, one of their
most respected representatives, were decisive. The final organization
67
of the communication system that ensued was fundamentally the
brainchild of Gonzalo de Freitas, the Project's Communication ex-
pert, who transformed the ideas into a viable scheme. Later on,
during the long journeys that were undertaken in order to get the
peasants organized, success was achieved due to the dedication and
persuasiveness of a number of people. I cannot mention every one,
although my appreciation extends to them all. Yet four of them, in
addition to de Freitas, deserve to be singled out at this stage: Andre
Theissen, the Community Development expert of the Project; Jorge
Teran of MAE; Heiko Brunken, the Project's Marketing expert, and
his wife Ursula. Although she had not been hired by ECU-28 she
steadily collaborated as though she was a formal member. Both
Theissen and the Brunkens had previously worked in the area, as
volunteers from Belgium and Germany respectively.
Action began on the 16th of November, 1972. Since we felt that it
was physically and logistically impossible to directly promote the
organization of CCIRs in every one of the region's 94 parroquias, we
chose 54 in the hope of succeeding in at least 47 of them, i.e. in 50
per cent of the total. The idea was that each CCIR organized at this
preliminary stage would later promote the organization of a second in
the neighbouring' parroquia, thus achieving a regional target as close
as possible to 100 per cent. The 54 parroquias that were chosen were
almost exclusively rural and represented 67 per cent of all the rural
parroquias in the region.
We began our work in the Eloy Alfaro canton, first because it was
there that the methodology had been conceived, and second because
it was the most isolated segment of the region and totally lacked any
form of assistance. The first meeting took place in Borb6n, a
hamlet surrounded by jungle and river. The reception was enthusias-
tic, just as we expected,and the next day the first CCIR had been
created. It was celebrated with a fiesta full of laughter, drums, ma-
rimbas, dances and brandy. Then followed trips along the rivers to
the most remote and isolated human settlements. The misery was
sometimes almost overwhelming. In many places our arrival seemed
like a miracle to the people. In some areas they had not seen visitors
for years. Our guide was an unforgettable person. His name was
68
Angel Guevara. He was a school teacher in his late forties or early
fifties who, having refused all promotions or transfers to better
places, had been in the area for almost 20 years. No matter how small
his contribution had to be, he regarded it as a lot for people who had
nothing. An increase between 1 and 2, he would say, is 100 per cent;
but an increase between 0 and 1 is infinite. After days of navigation in
canoes and boats, witnessing absolutely inhuman desolation, we fully
appreciated his point. I hope he is still doing well, because the world,
especially the 'invisible' sector, is in need of people like him.
We had success in every parroquia. All the CCIRs of Eloy Alfaro
were created, so we left the area-relieved but taciturn. We said
nothing for many days. Perhaps we all felt that what we had ex-
perienced and seen was beyond words. Any comment would have
sounded frivolous. However, we could not get rid of our mental
images. I had never seen misery borne with so much dignity. Each of
those tall thin blacks, I thought, could make any aristocrat feel
inferior after a while. There was something regal, in the best possible
sense, in their bearing, their movements, gestures, their way of
walking and of speaking. For the first time in my life I felt that some
people can be superior even when surrounded by obscene misery.
Our labours continued for two months in the rest of the region. At
the end of that period we felt we had completed a major task. The 54
CCIRs had been organized. Since each member of a CCIR was
elected by his peers (the teacher by all the teachers, the artisan by all
the artisans, the peasant by all the peasants), we had promoted 270
electoral processes. In addition we had instructed the members of
each committee as to what was expected of them. We had insisted that
the CCIRs were comprised of equals, so no one member was to
preside over the others. Furthermore, we had asked them to produce
the Project's most important input: their report on the living condi-
tions and problems of their parroquia. We asked them to write with
absolute freedom on whatever subjects they deemed of interest. If
they wanted to relate the people's personal experiences, they should
do so. We asked no questions whatsoever. They should say what they
wanted in the way that they wanted. We requested only one thing,
and this merely for practical purposes: they should divide their report
69
into certain chapters. These were: Education; Health; Communica-
tions; Problems of Artisans; Problems of Small Landowners; and
Problems of Landless Peasants. They could also freely add chapters
on other subjects. Such a division was necessary for the comparative
analysis we would make during the preparation of the synthesis that
was to serve as the Region's Felt Diagnosis. We also indicated that
their reports should be read, discussed and approved in communal
assemblies, thus giving the people the opportunity to add to or
subtract from the contents. We asked them to mail the reports to our
office in Quito within 30 days.
Upon our return we had to face the sceptics once again. There were
ironical smiles everywhere. In a way we were frightened; perhaps
they were right after all, and we were just a bunch of naive outsiders.
We avoided talking about the subject, perhaps because we did not
want to frighten one another even more. We went about our routine
chores, but I know that all of us endured the wait in a state of great
anxiety.
Our reaction when the mailman walked into the offices and delivered
a large envelope addressed to the Project in a cursive and uneven
handwriting, was exhilaration almost beyond belief. It was the first
report, coming in from Borb6n in Eloy Alfaro. Completely hand-
written, it contained a wealth of information. The many signatures
and fingerprints on the last page were proof that the report had been
approved in a communal assembly. From that point on, more reports
came through the mail practically every day. After six weeks we had
received every single one of the 54 reports we had requested. This was
beyond our wildest expectations and it caused a degree of perplexity,
especially among the sceptics.
When we started reading the reports, we discovered an unsus-
pected world. Our consciences were disturbed at every page. We felt
confused and we suddenly realized that, willingly or not, we had
been accomplices for too long to stereotypes and myths such as 'those
p·eople do not understand their problems'; 'they must undergo con-
70
scientization'; and 'they are ignorant, torpid and lazy'. In these
reports we were faced with descriptions and definitions that were so
vivid, so true, so profound and yet simple, that no expert with all his
formal knowledge could have improved upon them. We decided that
a sample of the testimonies contained in the reports should be dis-
persed as widely as possible.
We first put together a selection of paragraphs, sentences and ideas,
and circulated it among lots of people in order to get their reaction.
Some were truly moved, but others reacted critically and with typical
scepticism. 'This cannot be true', they told us. 'Those who wrote this
are not representative of the communities'. 'Probably all the reports
have been written by the teachers who imposed their opinions'. Faced
with such criticism we had only one answer: the way to achieve
genuine representation has not been solved even in our own milieu.
However, those who wrote these reports, whoever they were, have
the moral representativity that comes from sharing the misery-, mal-
nutrition and diseases of the people described. In other words, what
we had was the best possible representation. What better representa-
tion could we have obtained in a parroquia of 500 inhabitants in
which only two were literate, than a report written, with enormous
difficulty, by those two people?
The criticism was strange, yet typical. I have encountered it so
many times. The so-called technicians, or rather technocrats, who
consistently avoid being contaminated by life as it really is out there,
far from their comfortable air-conditioned offices, are always ready
to criticize the methodological inaccuracies of those who are willing
tQ step into the mud. We were not disturbed by these 'arm-chair'
perfectionists and produced a book containing the peasants' testimo-
nies entitled En El Mundo Aparte (In A World Apart), part of which
is reproduced in the next chapter. The publication, which also con-
tained relevant photographs, was distributed to government authori-
ties and among the peasants themselves, upon their arrival in Quito
for the Encounters. All the peasants felt that the book represented
their reality with great fidelity and, to us, theirs was the only opinion
that really mattered.
71
The reports had a great impact on us. they somehow provoked a
change in our outlook; of ourselves and of our role. We belonged to a
species called 'experts'. Whether nationals or internationals, our pro-
fession was the same. It was the profession of knowing things, of
diagnosing situations, of interpreting realities and problems in order
to, eventually, offer solutions. We had been educated to know, we
were taught to articulate, we were t9-ught to teach, we had developed
techniques in order to raise the consciousness of the 'others', and so
we had become important. But something strange happened to us
after reading the reports. We suddenly felt that those who had elev-
ated us to a position of importance were not those who really mat-
tered. We discovered that, although we knew a lot, we understood
very little. We felt that, having taught others so much, we had
learned very little ourselves. So we decided to modify things. Apart
from our technical functions we now had to become the voice of
those who live and die in a world apart, the spokesmen for their
rights and the lessons they had to offer.
The reports were thoroughly analysed and then summarized. Since all
of them had been divided into chapters, exactly as we had requested,
each subject (education, health, etc.) was written as a separate docu-
ment. In order to do this, the claims that were common to all, or to
the majority, were separated from those which were unique or special
cases. This facilitated a satisfactory hierarchy of claims in the sum-
maries, in which nothing was left out. Once each subject had been
summarized in this manner, they were combined in one coherent
document that became the final Regional Felt Diagnosis.
The Diagnosis was reproduced and sent to all the CCIRs for
comment, suggestions and correction, in case we had misinterpreted
any of their contributions. In addition, we hoped that, by reading the
document in communal assemblies, the rural inhabitants would take
their first step towards the formation of a regional consciousness. The
final version, incorporating the amendments suggested by some of
the CCIRs, was reproduced once again, and was to serve as the basic
72
document for the Peasants' Enco.unters that were planned to take
place in Quito a few weeks later.
I imagine that the reader of this book will expect, with good
reason, to be 'informed of the main contents of the Diagnosis. It is
very unfortunate that this is no longer possible. I will explain why in
detail in Chapter 7. However, at this stage, suffice it to say that all the
fundamental documents, i.e. the CCIR reports, the summaries and
the Diagnosis, were confiscated by the military authorities because
they apparently felt that the process was potentially dangerous. The
same happened to the documents that emanated from the Peasants'
Encounters and a later Congress, both of which are described in
Chapter 6. In view of this, the only contribution that this book can
make is of a methodological nature. The author's evaluation and
interpretation of events and results-lacking documentary sup-
port-must, therefore, be taken in good faith. What were possible to
save were the peasant's contributions to the book In A World Apart.
They are'reproduced in the next chapter and should suffice to give"the
reader at least an idea of the richness of the materials with which we
worked. The quotations are absolutely textual, only spelling mistakes
have been corrected in order to facilitate the reading. In translating
from the Spanish every effort has been made to maintain the flavour
of the original. The text linking the different quotations was origin-
ally written, also in Spanish, by Gonzalo de Freitas. The photographs /
were taken by Pierre Adamini, a young French freelancer at the time.
73
One time ago I worked in the precinct of Colon de Onzole, about the year
1963, where it was a community of 93 pupils with one teacher only that had
up to three grades, when about at two in the morning a pupil was dying with
loud cries oh I am dying, and listening until after one hour more or less, I got
up, resorted to my medical chest, looked for certain pastilles and injections,
the syringe all my equipment necessary, descended to the house of the ailing
child, spoke with the father that was of very scarce economic resources in
order to transfer him until the city of Limones where there is one physician.
Immediately I give him certain pastilles and one injection and left with them
from the house of the child, when enormous was the satisfaction to listen
about one hO'ur or so that passed that the child was not lamenting any more. I
went back the next day and give him the same dose until that he was healthy
completely again. As his father had nothing to give me, I had not charged him
yet, but so much was his happiness that he felt that father, that after five days
he came until my house where I lived and said to me teacher I give you the
boy as a present, he is yours, and with which words I told him thank you don
Marcelino Ortiz you don't have to worry. (From the report of Anchayacu,
Esmeraldas. )
The boat cuts through the heavy current of the Santiago and heads
towards the wooden hamlet perched on the islet. Every house the
same, standing like animals with long legs nailed into the edge of the
river. The little black children greet us, raising their hands. Dugouts
have been placed over the swamp so that we can reach the shore.
Through the narrow alleys the latecomers come running.
Here at last is the village, after two hours of choppy and dirty river.
74
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The jungle traps the people against the coast; it forces them to live
with the mud as their second skin, lining the dry and scaly hands of
the woodcutters, clinging like a thin film on the faces of the children
who paint themselves with mud when they play at being whites.
Dysentery, fever, parasites, tetanus, misery, few survivors into
old age. Blacks sleeping in the mud under the scorching midday sun.
Naked children. Rubbish under the houses, brought in by the river, .
which then sucks it away. Everywhere the mud, that rots the finger-'
nails, and dulls the pain of 'pian' ,;:- and swallows the 'concheras' up
to their waists. A little boy died from a small injury to his eyebrow:
'He. had little blood-they tell us-so, while waiting, he ran out of
it'. The waiting was for a boat to take him to .the distant hospital,
where the syringes are sterilized in a tin can, in contaminated water
boiled over the feeble heat of a handful of charcoal stones.
When the 'gringos' leave their boat, they look like conquerors of a
place that has just emerged from the depths of the earth. They are
travellers to be closely scrutinized,· their rubber boots are touched,
their lazy Virginia tobacco is sniffed and then the smiles break out in
tired faces that still seem clouded by the stupor of the siesta.
Tpe sick have no means to get to the centres, because in matters of transporta-
tion you make it in two hours of rowing to San Lorenzo or Limones, where
they charge 40 sucres, and having to pay up 200 sucres whep it is an
urgency. ~ : - ~ : - (From the report of Carondelet, Esmeraldas.)
On the shores of the Santiago, the Onzole, the Mira, on the banks
of all the rivers and streams of the Eloy Alfaro canton in the province
of Esmeraldas, the huts of the Indians and the blacks alternate against
a landscape of impenetrable jungle. There has never been a doctor.
H'e whp goes to cut a tree, earning 15 sucres for the three days it takes
him, cures his. 'machete' wound with a piece of· viper on the
witch-doctor's recommendation. Children die of anaemia, of diar-
rhoea, of tetanu's.
~ : - At the end of this chapter is a glossary defining the terms that appear in quotation
marks.
~ : - ~ : - The prevailing exchange rate, which applies to all references made in Ecuadorian
currency, is 25 sucres to 1 US dollar.
76
::j All houses the same, standing like animals with long legs nailed into the edge of the river.
The people drink water from a hole made in the earth, dirty water. In "Tinter
you can drink rain water. (From the report of Tambillo, Esmeraldas.) .
Indian communities of Abatag, Imbaburita, Cusin-Pamba and Tunaguano
Alto. These Indian communities represent a total of approximately 1,400
inhabitants. At present they provide themselves ·with water by carrying it
from long distances, up to 5 kilometres. And in the rainy seasons they
consume water that they store in big holes they make in the ground "in front
of their houses. It is easily concluded that it is consumed a terribly contami-
nated water and in awful hygienic conditions, and that is the reason why
children mortality due to parasitarian diseases here is one of the highest in the
country. (From the report of San Pablo del Lago, Imbabura.)
The teacher, a short, diligent man, smiles in front of his plate of hot
food: 'Yes, senor, we come here to share the misery of these people,
and their parasites as well, of course'.
Only two hours ago, during the popular assembly gathered in the
school building, someone was closely observing the numbers written
on the blackboard. He asked: 'Why are there 120 childreI). registered
in this school and only 28 attending?' A courteous man with a dusty
head stood up and asked permission to speak. '1 am the teacher of that
school. What happened is that when they went to monitor the attend-
ance, it was midday. At that time I let the children go to the jungle to
cut some sugar cane for their lunch.'
The picture is really dreadful and horrifying, since the great majority of
family heads receive a salary that fluctuates between 10 and 15 sucres per day.
The men as 'peones' in a hacienda earn miserable salaries that take care of the
most pressing needs in infrahuman conditions. If we know that the greatest
part of the households are numerous, we can already think how they resign
themselves to live in dreadful conditions. The father wants his child to grow
up fast so that he can help to sustain the household. As soon as the child has
grown enough, if he was in school they take him out of it, so he continues
being exploited by the patron; that is to say that he and his family are
sentenced to live eternally as slaves. During harvest periods, the whole family
will have to go out to earn its livelihood. The women threshing maize earn
the astronomic sum of 3 sucres per day. While this is the picture that
represents the great majority, on the other side one notices the waste and
luxury of a few feudals that dispose of thousands and thousands of hectares of
uncultivated lands on top. of a people that is starving to death. (From the
report of Urcuqui, Imbabura.)
78
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Anaemia, fear, ignorance, hunger, ancestral rites, exploitation, the
'will' of the river, the lack of work, the miserable pay, the white
booze, the 'marimba' or the band, the coconut water for the newly
born, the 'chicha' for Sundays, potatoes and lima beans, the inevi-
table banana, miserable huts, trash, the mat shared with the dog and
the pigs, the mountain, the fevers, the 'chuchaqui'.
A whole region of the country that springs from the Sierras of
Imbabura and Carchi, where the silent work of the Indian peasants
takes place, becomes deadly ill in Esmeraldas where the jungle storms
into the Pacific. The Sierra-with the Indian who fuels his ancient
and patient hatred, the dramatic geography of the mountains, the
inhabitable paramo, the almost vertical hollows where the maize
grows, on the verge of the abyss, on the only pieces of soil that
nourish them.
One should not, therefore, be surprised when, upon arrival at a
peasant village, an Indian greets you with his hand twisted to the
inside as if it were a stump, thrust out from under his poncho, thus
showing distrust.
The peasant does not want to trust in foreigners or in sterile promises, but
only in his own resources and authentic values which they feel in their own
flesh as the motor of creative reaction. The Indian needs the alphabet with
urgency, but at an early age, when his mind is unobstructed and open and not
when overwhelmed by age, battered by forced labour and annihilated by the
vice of the 'guarapo', his agony begins in the inexorable unfolding of involu-
tion. (From the report of La Esperanza, Imbabura.)
The inhabitant of the coast is loquacious, extrovert and courteous.
He laughs frequently and is always willing to talk in a baroque prose
full of tropical metaphors. The Indian from the Sierra is introverted,
static and immutable. His smile is short and solemn. Both have their
share of merry-making that allow them to live in a world apart: in
Esmeraldas the 'marimba' and the drums. A frantic rhythm shakes
the blacks in a sort of hypnotic trance for hours, soaked with sweat·
and white booze, while the drums hit the night, emptying their
echoes along the river. There are curtsies and bows, white hats,
coloured shirts, bare feet on the wooden floor in which the nails that
begin to surface with the vibrations of the dance are hit back into
80
A little bit of sugarcane; that's all he'll have for lunch.
81
place by a boy who walks around with a hammer. The singing and
shouting strengthen the curiosity of those who are afraid to go in.
The dance is an amorous conquest; full of courtesy, insinuation and
retreats. Music of their forebears, a century-old heritage which the
young admire, although their hearts burn with the rhythm of the
Colombian 'cumbia'.
And the Indian also dances. They dance to the tune of flutes and
little drums; music with a nostalgic rhythm that seems to come from
the wind. They dance with hands crossed behind their backs, heads
stretched out and bodies stiff. Blacks and Indians dance and play:
checkers in Borb6n and 'cuarenta' in Mariano Acosta where, through
the open window of his house, the joyous shouts of the priest-who
is winning-can be heard. It rains outside and they gather and dance
around a fire that throws flashes of flamelight against the wall of the
room where the priest and the other players surround the only
remaining candle. Shouts and music intermingle. The jars of 'chicha'
are never still. The women dance with their sleeping children sus-
pended .from their backs. For the Indians, fun is a family affair in
which children and elders are never separated.
The blacks know how to relate their joys and sorrows, weaving
rich and ancient words around everything, using metaphors that stick
in the mind like the colours of their party clothes, twisting sentences
with a fantasy as rich as the infinite forms of the jungle itself. Polite-
ness of language prevails even when describing the ugliest of events.
I t is the case of a man who had Maclovio Cortes as his name; farmer and of
scarce economic resources, he fell ill of the liver and of great gravity. Because
here is no physician he decided to travel to Limones and cure himself, but
since he lacked to pay the freight of one, or to rent a canoe and pay for a
rower, he waited for the boats to arrive. On Thursday that means of trans-
portation was already there and he found himself in a more delicate state of
health. He undertook the journey, but when arriving at Limones, the doctor
was away from the place. He wanted to travel to San Lorenzo, but there was
no boat leaving for that place and he had himself waiting for the ship to
Esmeraldas until five in the morning of the day Friday, arriving at the above
mentioned city after eight hours of navigation. In the afternoon he attended
the hospital even more prostrated so that after those two days he was
reposing asleep in the eternity.
82
83
It is painful to see children without care and elder people on occasions
adhering to the river to calm their thirst, while others in the (toilet) services
are throwing their wastes into the estimable liquid as if fulfilling or closing an
ecologic cycle.
The case of a lady whose name for reasons of delicacy will not be disclosed:
she asks a girl to give her water, and since there was none in the house, the
little one takes the road to the river and provides herself with water in a
calabash. Returns the girl in darkness and the lady requests to drink from the
calabash. After the first few gulps she feels that her lips are caressed by
something already solid, she is surprised, extravasates the liquid in order to
satisfy her curiosity, which one is enhanced when "a masterpiece of the
digestive apparatus is seen to drop from the container. (From the report of
Borb6n, Esmeraldas.)
All that the landless Indian can rely on for survival is the power of his
arms. He emigrates when crop failures hit his community and ex-
changes his worn out strength for a plate of food. Thus one finds
him in the suburbs of Quito and Guayaquil, carrying heavy bundles
on his back, reduced to a barely human condition. A long line of
landless Indians-the day labourer-stretches like a frieze from the
tiny door of the mountain hut to the solid doors of the city, which
open onto exploitation. Walking with short, rapid steps, sometimes
drunk, sometimes sober, the Indian is always followed by his
impassive wife.
Day labourer is he who owns no land for cultivation, habitation, profession,
little or no instruction, but many children, privations and needs. When he
arrives in the city he accomodates himself to 'live-if it can be called that-in
miserable shanties, in infrahuman conditions without any comfort and aban-
doned to his own destiny, without any hopes of vindication. It is a class that
is silent and mute, just drifting and drugged with resignation. He does not
know, when he wakes up, if he will be able to conquer the day's bitter bread
to take to his malnourished and ragged family.
The day labourer has a pay of 10 sucres per day without food,. and 8 sucres
with it, if he works in the town. But when they work in the haciendas the
salary is 6 sucres with food. Annually every man I1)ust work three days of
'yanapa' (compulsory free labour) in the hacienda closest to his community,
for having used roads, grass and wood from the mount. ~ : - This is in the case of
~ : - In this way the owner of a hacienda, considering the number of men available in the
neighbouring community, can count on a high number of free man-hours. According
to this report, the obligation is three days annually. In other areas it may be a number
of days monthly. -
84
Peasant from the Sierra.
85
those Indians who are not 'huasipungueros'. (From the report of La Esper-
anza, Imbabura.)
Square of mud. Church of mud and straw. Pigs fastened to the door
and grubbing in the mud. Village hanging from the mountain. Bare-
foot children, with sodden shirts barely covering their navels. Dry
and darkened skin, wide feet with toenails rotted by the mud. Little
to eat and too little space for cultivation.
History of the region ~ fifty years ago a handful of adventurers invaded these
mountains, humble and poor people, and with their perseverance and sacri-
fice managed to acquire a parcel of 5 hectares of farming land, and it is in this
manner that we make it known that in Sigsipamba exists the minifundia.
(From the report of San Francisco, Imbabura.)
'Glad to meet you.'
'It's the Reverend, you know?'
Lemon-coloured skin, worn out cassock and eagle eyes.
'Chicha, doctorcito. Clean jar!'
'I have been here four years. Can you imagine?'
'Just one drink, doctorcito.'
'Give me, just to see!'
The child runs with twisted feet, hiding the present he received
from the white girl under his poncho.
'Glad to meet you.'
Dirty shirt. Proud President. Drunk and laughing. No teeth.
Brown gums stained by tobacco. Eyes opaque from the 'chuchaqui'.
'As Pres,ident of the Cabildo I want to tell you... '
The others, like the damned, stand stiff as if n'ailed into the patience
of the icy drizzle.
'It's not true that they are lazy, you know?'
The Indian producer of ponchos, scarfs and blankets, etc., in order to solve
his daily subsistence, helps himself with the sale of his domestic animals like
guinea pigs, chickens and other animals. Other Indians who do not dispose
of this help from the animals dedicate themselves to theft. (From the report of
San Roque, Imbabura.)
President of Puetaqui. Barefoot President. Indian President. Long
poncho. Naked and skinny chest. Small hands, but gross, like dark .1
86
Peasant woman from the Sierra.
87
stones hidden behind the back. Sixty-year-old Indian, under the
stubby hat like a dead leaf.
'The chicha in clean jar" doctor. She made it, yes.'
'Nice, the fiesta, eh patron?'
'I am the coordinator here. Did you have a bad trip?'
'Let the children come. Here! No, there it's raining. Come on, hurry
up! Here, for you. Yes, you too. I gave you some already.'.
The present gets warm in their hands and seems to melt against the
empty stomachs.
'They want to look at you, doctorcito. You bring the road. They
want to see you because they want to believe. See that mountain?
From there come 30 children to the school. Three hours they walk to
the school. You will not forget this poor Indian, will you? Don't
forget that school over there.'
... besides, the old school of Bareque is at the point of falling down because it
cannot resist any more its many years of existence, and then it represents in
this manner a constant danger; its ygienic conditions are deplorable with a
floor of earth that produces much dust and also provokes illnesses in the
children. (From the report of Chuga, Imbabura.)
'Come to eat! Please, doctor, you go first.'
Earth floor. Cracked board and a few benches.
'No, no. The chair for you, doctor.'
'Now you get out because we are fucked if the candle goes out! You
hear?'
'You got your presents. Now go!'
'More guinea pig, patroncito?'
The hand goes to the mouth and remains, as if stuck, between the
broken teeth. The holes in the door covered with wet ponchos. It
smells of wet earth and sleeping animals. Gazes sliding over the
plates. A smile full of white maize. Swollen bellies and fever.
'Sorry, but I have seen so many people... '
'Everything grows in the Chota valley, brother: tomatoes, plums,
grapes, papaya. Not like here, you know?'
'Nice fiesta!'
'Take that dog away! And leave the light.'
88
Peasant from the coast of Esmeraldas.
89
'Yes, the Chota valley is the stomach of Ecuador.'
'I don't know what Imbabura means, but it is not Quechua language.'
'We have no means to build the road. But they come with bulldozers
to take away the archaeological gold.'
'The Mount Imbabura cries at night, it's true!'
Little snatches of fiesta behind the door. M.unched sugar cane on
the "floor. Silence in the rain that falls over the majestic Imbabura that
crIes.
'It cries, father priest. It really cries.'
'It's the wind over the stones.'
'No. It's Atahualpa's bride who has taken off her gold and silver
garments to s ~ v e his life.'
'Chicha, patroncito.'
'In the Chota you find blacks that are two metres tall.'
'Yes, from there come the best domestic servants.'
'Besides God, there are other things that we need here.'
'Jesus Christ was born in the Chota, but never managed to get as far
as here in Mariano Acosta.'
The Church still has done nothing. It only offers the salvation of the soul and
the happiness in a non-terrestrial life. But with that fatalism, that is the
product of old beliefs and of a malnourished religion, makes them an easy
prey in the hands of evil-intentioned exploiters like the colonial conquistador
who made believe that he was 'Wiracocha'. The Church must help to get
what is humanly necessary: bread, roof and health, not as a gift or as charity
that are humiliating offers, but getting rid of its properties that are so
extensive and sell them with good credit that will allow the peasants to cease
to be pariahs and become productive elements. (From the report of La
Esperanza, Imbabura.)
He must be some 50 years of age but the flat and coppet-coloured
face, the black hair, the thin and erect body make him look still
young. He is sitting on a step in front of his hut, without a greeting,
without a glance beyond his absorbing task, hidden behind his black
crushed wool hat.
The hamlet unfolds along the only street, sometimes crossed by
coloured papers, by dogs, by chickens and by pigs. Smoke escapes
through the windows. A girl stirs the coals in the brazier where the
90
Peasant woman from the coast of Esmeraldas.
91
maize and the potatoes are boiling for lunch. It seems as if nothing
could ever happen here, in this lost mountain village without water,
without roads, without food. That man over there looks as though he
is the only one trying to prove that the people are alive. With great
vigour and precision and much patience, he strokes some wet
leather, on top of a wooden block, with the palm of his hand. He is
a cobbler, with an open wound in his hand. Someone will come to
buy his work, buy his patience, rest his wounded hand for a little
while. For a few sucres, someone will prove that the cobbler is still
alive and bleeding.
The Indian worker, to produce one poncho and a half, invests in raw
material: 25 pounds of wool that cost 220 sucres; in cotton 4 pounds with a
value of 16 sucres. So that it can go into the market, one poncho, he must
work for 13 days, selling to the intermediary for 200 sucres and then the
intermediary resells it, obtaining already a profit of 50 sucres or much more,
while the producer earns in 13 days 45 sucres, which amounts to a daily rate
of approximately 4 sucres. (From the report of San Roque, Imbabura.)
In the Sierra the illiteracy rate reaches 50 per cent and it increases on
the coast. In Esmeraldas, whole villages are to be found without a
single person who knows how to read or write. No printed pieces of
paper anywhere. Sometimes the owner of the transistor radio passes
on the news that seems important to him. Someone asked about a
president who had died 12 years ago. '
Most suffer from first or second degree malnutrition. They fall
asleep while one is talking to them, oppressed by a weakness that
cannot be eliminated by eating sugar cane and bananas. Schools are
almost empty in many places. Some benches of rough wood, a
blackboard for the teacher, a washbowl in a corner-an attempt at
hygiene for the children. A flag, to remind them of the location of
their world apart.
'We eat what the earth gives us', said some peasants who were
leaving, without breakfast, for work. But what the earth gives is
always the same: potatoes, lima beans, some rice. Sugar cane, coco-
nuts and some fish when the Santiago river allows some fishing.
Scraps of clothing and always bare feet. Hat and poncho. The Indian
92
93
peasant works from sunrise to sunset. It is said that he is indolent, but
one never sees him idle. The peasant's work recalls biblical passages
to us, especially the tenacity required for work in the highlands, in
the paramo, with primitive instruments, worn out strength and no
resources. There are no roads where the women herd their goats,
their children on their backs, weaving wool at the same time. Along
the Andean abysses they walk for days, behind the mule when they
have one, to reach the market where their products will always be
sold at a loss.
The 'chulqueros' fix the prices. The 'chulqueros' buy their harvest
'in green'; that is to say, they lend money for planting and then keep
most of the harvest for themselves. Our jeep, in Esmeraldas, look a
full two hours to cross a single hacienda, uncultivated, with coconut
trees and diseased cattle.
The harvests of the peasants in their small parcels of land are reduced to:
some cereals, tubercles, scarce cattle, sheep, a pig, chickens and guinea pigs.
The peasants distribute it according to the exigencies of the period, and
auscultating the time and the future according to their experience. It is thus
that of their harvest one part is sold 'in green' to satisfy emergency needs:
feasts, baptisms, litigations, illnesses or urgent acquisitions. Another part is
left for food, the other for seeds. And the remainder, obviously insignificant,
is sold to the speculators who arbitrarily impose the price in the market
without control from any authority. (From the report of La Esperanza,
Imbabura.)
The work on the construction of the road from Mariano Acosta to
Ibarra was ready to start. We were providing the few machines and
the 'minga' was organized. Over the cliff, tied to a pole, hung the flag
of Ecuador. The ritual of the speeches was faithfully carried out
under the rain of the paramo. They listened in silence, leaning on
their shovels and 'machetes'. An Indian band played the same tune
over and over again. Hot anisette was being circulated for the cold. In
an improvised hut, the food was prepared for the guests. At the
future road's starting point, a triumphal arch had been erected from
tree branches, flowers and coloured papers.
A man came slowly forward and raised his head towards the place
where the visitors were standing. Small but imposing, soaking wet,
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holding his horse's bridle in one hand, he raised the other as if
wanting to touch the sky and then shouted at the top of ~ i s voice: 'At
last we are going to see the face of God!'
Glossary
CONCHERA: A woman who gathers molluscs.
CUARENTA: Popular Ecuadorean card game. Shouting and 'insulting' the
other players is all part of the game.
CUMBIA: Popular dance in Colombia.
CHUCHAQUI: Hangover after heavy drinking-.
CHICHA: Alcoholic beverage made of fermented maize.
CHULQUERO: Intermediary.
GUARAPO: Fermented beverage, often quite toxic.
GRINGO: Name given to foreigners, especially if they are of light com-
plexion and blond.
HUASIPUNGUERO: Indian who works, as a share-cropper, a small piece
of land given to him by the owner of the hacienda.
MACHETE: Knife with a short handle and long and wide blade, which
the peasant uses for his work and for clearing jungle paths. It can also be
used in fights and duels.
MACHETERO: A man who works with the machete.
MARIMBA: Musical instrument similar to the xylophone, made of wood.
When played in the coastal jungle it is normally accompanied with drums.
MINGA: Group of voluntary workers who gather together to carry out
tasks of benefit to the community such as road building, irrigation systems,
school buildings and housing. It is an ancient Indian institution in the
Andes.
PEON: A day labourer. He has no contract and receives daily wages with-
out having any form of social security or other rights. He is generally a
migrant labourer.
PIAN: A skin disease that can be quite painful.
QUECHUA: Predominant language of the Indian populations of the
Andean region in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and north of Chile.
WIRAKOCHA: An Indian god. Also name given to the Spanish conquis-
tadors.
YANAPA: Compulsory free labour in a hacienda, from the Indian peasants
for having used roads, firewood or pastures. It can be a number of days or
weeks per year.
96
97
e G er
Logistics for mobilization
It was a terribly hot and humid morning. We ha/d left the door and
windows of the old and decrepit wooden buildin'g open, but instead
of the hoped-for breeze, all we got was the nauseating odour of
methane coming from the surrounding swamp. Sitting soaked with
perspiration and half drowsy, the words of Gonzalo de Freitas,
explaining the reasons for the meeting, seemed to come from a great
distance. Delegates from most of the CCIRs of Eloy Alfaro were
gathered here to receive instructions as to when and where they were
to meet in order to be transported to Quito for the Encounters. It was
a sizeable operation to mobilize some 300 people distributed over an
area of more than 16,000 square kilometres. The task was even more
complicated in the jungle area because of the lack of internal transpor-
tation. For some, reaching the gathering point implied a journey of
several days-sometimes more, depending on the 'will' of the
river-navigating in canoes or dugouts. They had made that sacrifice
to attend this meeting, and they were to repeat it if they wanted to get
to the capital two weeks later.
A few delegates were missing. Around noon someone announced
that a canoe could be seen in the distance. About half an hour later the
rower reached the shore, left his primitive craft and walked through
the swamp. Tall, black and extremely slim, his body covered with
dried mud, wearing frayed-off trousers and naked from the waist up,
98
he had a ghostly appearance. "As he stretched out his long arm to
greet us, he collapsed in a faint. After he had recovered, he told us
that he had been rowing without food for two days, because his
dugout had capsized and tipped his supplies into the river. We gave
him strong coffee, some soup and sandwiches so he could join the
meeting later. When he entered the room everyone fell silent. He
remained standing and requested permission to speak. With a deep
and solemn voice, in beautifully modulated Spanish, he spoke the
words he had come to speak. Words, 1 am sure, he must have re-
peated to himself over and over again during his solitary days and
nights along the hostile river.
'1 am', he said, 'a very poor man. We are all very poor in my
village . We belong to the forgotten people of this land. 1 am so poor
that the day 1die 1will have to look around myself and be careful not
to fall dead on a piece of someone else's earth.'
Looking at us, with his head stretched back, his eyes half closed, as
if making an invocation, he continued:
'1 am here because we believe in you, and we believe in our
ECU-28. You went to our village and told us interesting things, and
we listened, and y6u said that you would come back. Yau did come
back and invited us to this reunion where 1see many brothers that are
poor as well. That is the reason why I am here, because you kept your
promise. Now you are saying that we will go to the great capital of
Quito and I believe you. You say that important senores will really
listen to us this time and 1 believe you.'
We flashed a surprised glance at each other when we heard him use
the possessive in relation to ECU-28 . We thought of it as a good
omen. But just as quickly we were back to intense concentration.
After a moment of tense silence, he slowly extended his arm with a
raised finger and in a sad and very low voice he added:
'We have been told lies so many times that 1 cannot remember. We
have been betrayed so many times that 1 cannot remember. Not a
single promise made to us by important senores who have visited us
has ever been fulfilled. But now it seems that you are people who
keep their promises. Our dear teacher, senor Guevara, he also told us
that you were good people. So now we believe.'
99
Raising his voice quite suddenly while pointing his finger at those
of us sitting at the main table, he finished in a tone of warning:
'But I must say one word more. If we are betrayed once more, I
promise you this: no stranger shall ever set foot on the shores of our
village again!'
Nodding his head very slowly, he looked around the audience as if
accepting a tacit approval from his peers. He sat down and remained
silent for the rest of the meeting. We felt that little could be added, so
after a few additional instructions we adjourned the session. We left
the old building with our thoughts burning.
Similar meetings to instruct the people about their journey to
Quito took place in many parts of the region. The logistics were
difficult and complex. However, we were fortunate to have the full
support, both technical and material, of the army and the air force
in bringing the delegates to the capital. In Quito the delegates were
to be lodged and hold their meetings in the Colegio Normal
Manuela Caiiizares. There was frantic activity at headquarters. Most
of the people from the MAE were helping, as well as members of a
number of other public institutions and Ministries. A medical sys-
tem was set up, as well as an internal information network. The
kitchens were amply supplied and two administrative offices were
organized, including a centre for the reproduction of documents. A
pool of secretaries was at the disposal of the delegates. It seemed
that no detail had been overlooked, so we were all very excited
when the day finally arrived.
Encounters
The three provincial Encounters and later a Peasants' Congress took
place between the 19th of July and the 6th of August, 1972. More
than 300 peasants attended since, in addition to the delegates, a
number came as observers. The first group came from the province of
Imbabura, the second from the province of Carchi and, finally, from
Eloy Alfaro canton of the province of Esmeraldas. Each group met
for two days, the delegates being divided into commissions dealing
with education, health, crafts, marketing, agriculture and communi-
cations.
100
Each commission used as a ·basic document for the sessions, the
synthesis that had been prepared, using the CCIR reports, by the
MAE and ECU-28 experts. For every commission there were three
advisors present: one international expert, one expert from the MAE
and an additional one appointed by the relevant Ministry. The role
of the advisors was to intervene only when requested by the dele-
gates to clarify technical matters or doubts that might arise as a re-
sult of the discussions and proposals. In addition they acted as rap-
porteurs and, together with three elected members from among the
delegates, they had to draft the final report of the corresponding
commISSIon.
The discussions were lively and problems were analysed in great
depth. A regional awareness soon begun to emerge and specific
projects were outlined and priorities were established. It was amazing
to observe how the traditional way of perceiving problems as strictly
local was dramatically changed. All the delegates, being among equals
and sharing mutual problems, were reaching a stage in which they
realized that the only way of satisfying their most basic needs was by
acting together, in a common front.. This emerged with the utmost
clarity in all of the commission reports. Prior to the Encounters,
some people in the MAE, as well as in governmental institutions, had
been afraid that the output of the event would consist of a collection
of petitions which would leave the government in a very difficult
position. Such fears turned out to be groundless since, instead of
petitions, the final outcome was a package of admirably coherent
projects and proposals . We had often insisted to the members of the
CCIRs, in the course of our organizational journeys, that all propo-
sals to be eventually approved during the Encounters should (a) take
account of the very limited financial resources available, and (b)
incorporate the maximum possible input of locally generated re-
sources. The second condition especially generated great doubts
among the CCIRs on the grounds of the existing poverty. However,
after realizing the potential of their newly acquired horizontal com-
munication, they also came to realize that, through mutual coopera-
tion and a dynamic organization, they were capable of achieving
more than they had ever imagined. So it was fascinating to discover.
101
that most of the proposed projects were of low cost and certainly less
onerous than most projects prepared in a national planning office.
Each provincial group met for two days. After that, three days
were devoted to the drafting of the final reports, before the next
group arrived. Every delegate was paid a fixed sum in order to
compensate him for any loss of income during his attendance. When
the Encounters were over, 18 specialized reports had been produced;
six for each province, covering the different areas of concern into
which the Encounters had been divided. At the regional level, this
represented three reports on each subject. Each report was divided
into: (a) description and diagnosis of the problem; (b) critical apprai-
sal of actions taken in the past, or currently under way, to solve the
problems; (c) division of the province into zones of priority; (d) list
of proposed projects in order of priority; (e) inputs expected to be
generated locally (voluntary labour, tools and machinery, exchange
of experiences); and (f) appraisal of necessary external inputs,
especially financial and technical assistance.
A new synthesis of the reports was produced by the experts as a
basic document for a Regional Peasants' Congress that took place
immediately after the three Encounters.
.........................J ................ Peasants' Congress
During the Encounters it was decided that each of the CCIRs should
select one of their members to participate in a Regional Congress.
The main purpose of the event was to produce the foundations of a
Regional Rural Development Plan. The Congress held its meetings
between the 4th and 6th of August. Fifty-four delegates were present,
plus a number of regional observers, in addition to the international
and national experts. A number of high-level government officials
participated in different sessions, including some of the cabinet Min-
isters. Due to the interest that the Encounters had provoked in
different circles, several members of the diplomatic corps requested
permission to attend as observers.
The delegates, in a moving statement of their newly acquired
regional solidarity, elected as their President the only Cayapa Indian
102
that had remained for the Congress. Representing the most isolated
Indian group of the region-a group of jungle dwellers in Eloy
Alfaro-he was the first in his tribe to have become an elementary
school teacher. A man of singular intelligence, he assumed his role
with great efficiency and dignity. His ability proved to be a decisive
factor during some very difficult moments, as shall be reported in a
later chapter.
The delegates to the Congress were, at this stage, acting and
behaving like 'old timers': agreements were reached over coffee;
proposals were drafted in the haUways; group strategies and tactics
were agreed upon for the plenary sessions. It was a dynamic process
at its best and the results were of the same standard. After long
discussions it was agreed that the region should be divided into 12
zones. For each zone, a development Sub-Plan was to be designed. It
was understood that all the parroquias comprising a zone were to act
as a common front in the execution of the different projects, in
accordance with the established priorities. All the individual projects
, proposed by the Encounter commissions were discussed, until a list
of final priorities was produced which tied in with the new zonal
sub-division of the region.
After all the revision, argumentatior and paper-work had been
completed, the plenary elected 15 members (five for each province) to
make up the Regional Planning Commission. This Commission was
to be in charge of the final version of the Regional Rural Develop-
ment Plan, in cooperation with the national and i n t ~ r n a t i o n a l experts.
As a permanent body it would act as a link between the national
authorities and the CCIRs of the region. In addition, it would super-
vise the execution of the projects and act as a channel ferall the
necessary feedback.
In order to guarantee maximum efficiency of action, ECU-28 had
decided to contribute 11 radio transmitters. One was to be placed at
the MAE headquarters and the rest in different points of the region. It
was hoped to increase the number later, so that each of the 12 zones
would have its own equipment. In this manner daily communication
would be established, and up-to-date information about the progress
and problems of each particular project would be readily available.
103
The sites for the equipment were decided by the members of the
Regional Planning Commission.
The event had b ~ e n a total success. The rural delegates were mainly
responsible for that success, but the enthusiastic cooperation of many
other people had been decisive as well. I could not name them all.
Nevertheless-and thinking of ECU-28-I wish to single out the
dedication and efficiency of a few in particular: Samuel Ruiz Lujan,
the expert in Cooperatives; Carlos Arguello, our Administrative
Officer; and Gonzalo de Freitas, the expert in Communication. The
quality of their work as well as their devotion to the task, greatly
facilitated the smooth and profitable development of the proceedings.
Nineteen days of an important experience came to an end, and we
felt that the outcome had exceeded even our most optimistic expecta-
tions. Harmful myths about the peasants had been destroyed. They
had proven their worth and nobody could argue any longer that they
(
were not prepared for full participation. We thought that to produce
inputs for the preparation of a Regional Rural Development Plan
more coherent than those produced by the rural inhabitants during
the Quito gatherings, would be a difficult task for any team of
experts.
Although the venture had been a success, we had exhausted our-
selves in the process. Months of preparation, planning and travelling
plus 19 days of intense concentration and activity had left us worn
out. We were ready for celebration and then ... rest. However, our
wish was not to be fulfilled. In the very success of the meetings lay its
vulnerability, as we were soon to discover. The most exhausting and
devastating experience lay still ahead, just around the corner. For
some strange reason, the warning of our black friend came constantly
to my mind during those days: 'If we are betrayed once more, I
promise you this: no stranger shall ever set foot on the shores of our
village again!' And what lay ahead, as some of us already suspected,
was betrayal ... once more.
104
7 rl r
Instability and anxiety
The Project, as originally conceived, was to last five years, divided
into two phases of two and three years respectively. My own stay had
a duration of 18 months. Some experts stayed on for a few months
after my departure, but the second phase was never initiated. Not
only was the Project destroyed and the MAE absorbed by a number
of Ministries, but the process of peasants' participation that had been
so successfully stimulated was later utterly destroyed. How this
disaster came about is the subject of this chapter. I do not have
answers to all the questions raised by this issue, hence my interpreta-
tion of the facts may be incomplete. However, there is sufficient food
for thought in the story which follows.
The Project had to operate under very difficult conditions. During
my 18-month stay, we had two governments, the second being the
result of a military take-over, four Ministers of Labour and Social
Welfare, four Executive Directors of the MAE and four Co-Directors
of ECU-28. The shift of government represented a dramatic transi-
tion from a strong civil authoritarianism to a military dictatorship,
with all the political and ideological changes that such a process
implies. The changes affected not only the higher echelons of national
institutions, such as the MAE, but often the technical personnel as
well. During the first government, while ECU-28 was still in its
organizational and research stage, a number of department heads,
105
together with the MAE's Executive Director, were dismissed. Similar
dismissals occurred when the military government took over, so that
we were never able to rely on the slightest degree of continuity.
The Project's methodology had been approved by the MAE's first
Executive Director and was later ratified by the second, Dr. Eduardo
Borja. Indeed he went beyond a formal ratification and became, in
theory and in practice, an ardent supporter of the Project's philos-
ophy. During the six months of his administration, largely due to
.his personal concern, we were able to carry out our tasks under
almost ideal conditions. It was during this period that the numerous
field trips were undertaken and the CCIRs were organized. We had
got so far ahead in our activities that the Peasants' Encounters had
been scheduled to take place in April and May.
The military take-over of the government occurred in February
1972; one month later an Air Force Colonel was appointed as the
MAE's new chief executive. All our activities had to be slowed down
until the new Director had been fully informed, not only of the
organization and purposes of the MAE but also of the reasons and
purposes behind the UNDP/ILO Project. We had the impression
that Colonel Carlos Banderas Roman was a sensible person, open to
the kind of ideas that the Project was trying to advance. Our impres-
sion was confirmed when he instructed the institution's technical
personnel to cooperate fully with us. It was during his directorship
that the CCIR reports began to arrive. Impressed by the contents and
quality of the reports, he authorized the proposed publication of the
book In A World Apart. A new tentative date for the peasants'
meetings was set. It was at this point that unexpected hostility to our
work began to surface.
Every Monday those ECU-28 and MAE experts attached to the
Project held a meeting with the Executive Director. It was at one of
these meetings that two of the MAE ex;perts-one of them the
Co-Director of ECU-28-suddenly raised their doubts with respect
to the representativity of the members that made up the newly created
CCIRs. Since both of them, especially the Co-Director, had been
directly involved in the entire process, this came as a considerable
surprise. While we feared for the outcome of all our efforts; ~ h e r e was
106
nothing that we could do. It was finally decided that both objectors
w e r ~ to make a trip through the region and determine the representa-
tivity of each CCIR. They probably did not expect such a decision
from the Executive Director. When faced with it, they pointed out
that they had no objections to the CCIRs from Carchi and Eloy
Alfaro (curiously enough the two most inaccessible areas) but only to
those of Imbabura. The result of their trip was t h a t ~ out of a total of
160 CCIR representatives, only six were substituted. This apparent
blunder was later transformed into a series of most effective intrigues.
Two weeks prior to the planned initiation of the Peasants' En-
counters, Colonel Banderas was transferred to the United States, and
a new Executive Director was appointed; this time an Air Force
Major. Once again activities had to grind to a halt and meetings were
postponed. It was another couple of months before we were ready to
continue again. Having obtained the support of the new chief execu-
tive, the dates for the meetings were now finalised. The peasants, as
was reported in the previous chapter, met in Quito between July 19
and August 6,1972.
Most of the experts-both national and international, myself in-
cluded-were so heavily involved in the preparations for the event,
that we had neither the time nor inclination to think about anything
else, or even to be a'Yare of anything not directly related to the task in
hand. This narrowness of perception and concern proved to be
disastrous.
Persona grata
In A World Apart came off the printing press ten days before the
Quito Encounters. Copies were distributed to many authorities,
including cabinet Ministers. The first copy was reserved for the
President of the Republic, General Rodriguez Lara. It was at this
time that the Head of State sent me an invitation to visit him, together
with the Project's experts, at the presidential palace. When we en-
tered his office he greeted us with great cordiality and invited us to
sit down in comfortable armchairs surrounding his desk. He was in
full uniform and on top of his desk we could see the copy of the
107
book. After a few minutes of small talk he lifted the book above his
head and said, 'It is shameful that at this stage of the twentieth cen-
tury, a World Apart like this still e'xists in our country. Yet it is a
reality and every effort mus't be undertaken in order to put an end to
it. In this sense you have my backing for the work you are carrying
out. I want to thank you personally, in the name of my government
and in the name of the Ecuadorean people, for what you are doing.'
I mentioned that the participation network we had organized, and
expected to see consolidated during the peasants' meetings, was to-
tally congruent with what he had outlined in his 'Plan and Philos-
ophy of the Nationalist Revolutionary Government'. This seemed
to please him, and then he added: 'I cannot think of a better way of
planning than the one you have designed'. He addressed his satis-
faction not only to me and my team, but to· the Director of the
MAE who was also present. We left his office very satisfied. and
with our optimism greatly strengthened. We thought that the
Peasants' Encounters could not start under more favourable aus-
pices. However, such optimism was soon to prove cruelly un-
founded.
Intrigue and betrayal
Four days before the first encounter was to take place, I received a
laconic memorandum from the Director of the MAE in the following
terms:
I hereby let you know that, following superior orders, the following
dispositions are to be observed during the Peasants' Encounters:
1. No publicity or information of any kind must be handed out.
2. All acts are forbidden outside the premises of the technical
meetings.
3. All acts must take place inside the Colegio Normal, and space for
any forms of enterta.inmeJ}t must be found inside.
We were certainly surprised, but went along without any objections ..
Later on we were informed, in a personal conversation with the
Director, that it was feared that the Ecuadorean Indian Federation
woulq infiltrate the meeting, or influence the delegates if they left the
108
premises. In other words it was believed that the occasion might be
used. for political purposes by institutions alien to the encounters.- I
was also informed that police control would be permanent during the
meetings. I had a reunion with my experts and insisted that every-
thing had to be done with utmost care in order to avoid problems or
misinterpretations. I had a pretty uneasy feeling and began to have a
strong premonition of impending danger. .
The first encounter was of the delegates from the province of
Imbabura. The results were beyond our expectations. All delegates
worked with great dedication, and not one instance occurred that had
any implications of a political nature: The success, in this respect, was
so complete, that the last night the Director of the MAE himself
participated actively in a party, singing and playing the guitar. We
were all very relieved and looked forward. to the coming encounters
with greater peace of mind.
The second encounter-that of the delegates of the province of
Carchi-followed the same rhythm and style as the previous one.
Once again a merry party was thrown. A competition of 'cuarenta'
(card game) was organized, in which the Director of the MAE and I
were partners. Much laughter and enjoyment followed. It turned out,
however, to be the last time that I ever saw the Director. From then
on I was not even allowed to enter his office.
We were supposed to see each other again at the start of the third
encounter, this time of delegates coming from Eloy Alfaro. He
did not show up at the inaugural session. Later I learned that at the
very same. hour a meeting was taking plaFe in the office of the
Resident Representative of the UNDP, Dr. Erich Lang, in which the
of the MAE were informing him that my departure from
the- country would be requested. When Dr. Lang informed me of the
situation, it came as the most unexpected blow, in the midst of a
process that was succeeding in a quite spectacular manner.
I informed the Project's experts of the situation, but decided that
everything had to proceed as if nothing had happened. In this
manner, the third encounter was completed to the satisfaction of all
concerned, and three days later the Peasants' Congress was inau-
gurated.
109
While we were intensely busy in the organization of the meetings, a
whole network of intrigue had been mobilized, reaching all the
government institutions that had dir'ect or indirect relations with the
Proj ect' s activities . It became quite clear as a result that a decision
had been taken about my situation and that I would have to leave the
country. Dr. Lang made all the efforts to provoke a meeting be-
tween myself and the Director of the MAE for a joint discussion of
the matter. His efforts were carried out to no avail and, after having
insisted several times, he was told that any further insistence could
determine that I would be forced to leave the country within 24
hours. Other unpleasant occurrences and situations began to come
to my attention. My discovery that one of my own experts-the one
I had appointed as Deputy been directly and actively
involved in the intrigues, was very disappointing indeed.
Whatever the accusations brought up against me, I have a good
reason for neither enumerating nor analyzing them here, using
simple common sense; let it suffice to say that had the project con-
tinued to function normally, after my removal and the appointment
of a new Project Manager, it could be assumed that the reasons for
requesting my removal might have been well founded. This was,
however, not the case. As already stated, a few months after my
departure the project came to an end, and even the MAE ceased to
exist as an independent institution, its personnel having been ab-
sorbed by several Ministries. Looking back after nine years, it has
become quite clear in my mind that the target of the intrigues was
the neutralization of the entire process unleashed by ECU-28. I
represented, in the game, nothing but an obstacle that had to be re-
moved.
Persona non grata
It is extremely difficult to describe the feeling of betrayal. Suddenly
everything collapses. One feels overwhelmed with accusations, with-
out being given any opportunity to confront one's accusers. One feels'
betrayed, yet powerless against the betrayers. One feels that every-
thing has turned upside down: logic, values, behaviour, percep-
whole world. Bad is good, dishonesty is honesty, lies
110
become the truth and treason becomes a virtue. And above all one
feels very isolated. Nobody can share one's situation. No amount of
understanding or moral support makes any sense of what has hap-
pened. Everything collapses, including oneself.
At the time of writing, nine years have elapsed. Few events in my
life have left marks as deep as this one. The dedication to what we did
was so intense that it has become verY difficult to forget what
happened.
The reaction of the peasants
Although the situation went unnoticed during the Encounter of the
delegates of Eloy Alfaro, word had reached, through channels un-
known to me, those peasants who had remained for the final Con-
gress. I was sitting at the podium along with other peasant authori-
ties, during one of the last plenary sessions, when something quite
unforgettable happened. One of the delegates from the floor re-
quested permission to speak. His words were more or le'ss as fol-
lows: 'Companeros, I have a proposal to make. We all know that
our communities are very poor. But we have also learned that there
is much that we can do together. So I propose that we do this: let us
all gather a small contribution from our villages so that we can buy a
ticket for our President to go to the United Nations in New York and
visit the Secretary-General in order to thank him, in the name of the
peasants of the north-west of Ecuador, for what the United Nations
through the ECU-28 Project has done for us. I know that we can do
this, because our friends deserve it.'
We were deeply moved by his short speech. The President asked
for other opinions, and a number of delegates seconded the motion.
It was finally unanimously approved. The President-the young
Cayapa school teacher-abandoned speech and, walking over to
where I was sitting, begged me to stand up, and embraced me. A
standing ovation followed and the meeting was adjourned. The ges-
ture had been worth a thousand words.
A few months later I met one of my former experts in Chile, and
was informed by him that the government had denied the President a
111
passport so that, despite the peasants' sacrifices, the trip was never
: made.
Other reactions
Many people apart from the peasants were surprised and shocked at
the unexpected outcome. After all, only two weeks had elapsed since
the President of the Republic had sanctioned our work: two weeks
.between the status of 'persona grata' and 'persona non grata'. Certain
members of the government gave me their moral support. Captain
Reyes of the Air Force, one of the MAE executives, took pains to
make his disgust with the situation evident. My gratitude to him
remains. Dona Maria Cecilia de Navarro, one of the most distin-
guished old ladies of Ecuador, offered her unconditional support and
possible influence at higher levels. I declined the offer, but I have
always felt grateful to her. My chief in Lima-and my mentor in
many important ways-don Carlos D'Ugard, was a reliable and
devoted friend during the entire process. Eduardo Ribeiro de Carval-
ho, the Regional Director of the ILO and his Deputy, Julio Galer,
assured me that, despite the disaster, they considered the Project to
have been a success. And last but not least, Abraham Guachamin, the
Project's driver and Carmen Collahuaso, our maid, stood so solidly
at my side that their support turned into everlasting friendship. As a
matter of fact, they are the only two friends in Ecuador with whom
I still maintain permanent correspondence.
112
F r g
1.o"'lT.olr1,_"''''''.o1t''Il1l'" and illusions
During my initial years as an economist, when I was 'from the inside
looking out', I believed that my discipline was evolving very fast. In
the early fifties, while in the School of Economics of the University of
Chile, the central issuoe was economic development-basically under-
stood as economic growth. In the late fifties and early sixties there
was talk about social 'aspects' of economic development. At that time
and a little later, some iconoclasts-myself included-were talking
and writing, to the disdain of orthodox economists, about sociology
of development. Then came the period of economic and social devel-
opment. This was successively followed by concepts such as social
development pure and simple, 'integral development' (some called it
'integrated development') , the 'unified approach to development'
and-as advanced mainly by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in
its 1975 Report What Now-'Another Development'.
I remained part of the 'in group' until 1960. Having written my
dissertation on 'Social Structure and Economic Development' I man-
aged to gain my degree, but was no longer well received by the
members of my profession. At that time-a period of great economic
chauvinism in Chile-subjects like the ones with whi'ch I had con-
I have borrowed the title of this chapter from W.H. Hudson, writer and naturalist,
whose account of his early life in Argentina with the same title has long been a classi<;: in
South America.
113
cerned myself were considered to be-;:nere charlatanism. As a result I
left my country, to return 12 years later, and then only for a short
time, since unexpected political circumstances led to my voluntary
departure again in early 1974. During my years of peregrination I
slowly evolved into what I call a 'barefoot economist'. I discovered
the 'invisible people', whom I mentioned in Chapters 2 and 3. I lived
and worked for years among them and became aware of how dismally
inadequate my discipline was when it came to interpreting the invisi-
ble reality. Ever since I have been 'from the outside looking in', I
have become aware of facts which had never claimed my attention
before. What I had earlier interpreted as the evolution of economics
turned out to be an evolution only in words. There was a richer
vocabulary but, as far as the invisible sectors were concerned, that
seemed to be the extent of the evolution. Their misery and neglect
were as obscene as ever, despite the insistence on yet newer words
and concepts such as 'social justice' and 'participation'.
It is true that some economists today are concerned with several
fundamental issues, such as poverty, basic needs and human needs in
general. It would seem that, at last, the discipline is slowly getting
closer to a reality that really matters. Yet whether research, theory
and positive action in the field will ever converge, is something that
remains to be seen.
I believe that to assume goodwill on the part of governments to
really improve the lot of the invisible sectors is naive. Most, if not all,
have more urgent priorities such as, for instance, building 'damn big
dams', as someone once put it. The invisible sectors are treated as
expendable sectors. It is assumed that they can wait, and must wait.
They will get their turn once the country has become economically
strong. Development-whether as a concept or as concrete action
-can never assume the existence of a class harmony. It strongly
represents class interests, and the chosen style will be that imposed
by the dominant class. This is not only true historically, it is a mat-
ter of common sense. Hence technical and financial assistance for
development will always be a business conducted between the devel-
opment agencies and the ruling class. The fact that most agreements
-as I have mentioned in the Introduction-are couched in 'pro-
114
gressive' terminology and are conceived to enhance 'participation'
and 'social justice', seldom, if ever, represents the true intentions of
the holders of power. It is a ritual, sanctioned internationally and
hence faithfully followed. The language becomes eclectic in an at-
tempt to reconcile irreconcilable positions.
Marshall Wolfe has stressed this point very clearly: 'The eclecticism
of international discourse, the heterogeneity of the regimes partici-
pating in it, the pervasive dissatisfaction with what has been done in
the name of development and the quest for policy innovations have
increasingly blurred the dividing line between developmentalist and
revolutionary ideologies, and brought about an ambivalent recepti-
vity to radical questioning of the articles of faith. The realities of the
world, too harsh to be camouflaged by discreet reports, continually
press the international organizations in this direction, while institu-
tional continuity, vested interests in on-going programmes, and gov-
ernment admonitions to be 'practical' continually force them to try to
pour the new wine into their old bottles, to assume that all states
mean well, and that, practically, ideological positions are ultimately
reconcilable. Thus, forms of social action that have emerged painfully
from revolutionary struggles in specific national societies are dis-
cussed as if they were promising prescriptions that might be adopted
at the will of any r ~ g i m e along with a selection from the m<?re
conventional tools of social action. One outcome is the proliferation
of what I have labelled "utopias devised by committees" .'20
What happened with the ECU-28 Project is a concrete example.
We did exactly what the Plan of Operations requested us to do: to
guarantee the full participation of the peasants in the development
process. Perhaps I was still inexperienced, and still believed that
'states mean well', or at least that states mean what they sign. That
experience, plus other observations made during the last nine years,
means that I know better now. A few things are much clearer in my
mind and I would like to devote some lines to them.
National development styles wrongly assume that a country is a
homogeneous unity and, as a consequence, generate serious and
harmful regional imbalances. Furthermore, they represent the inter-
ests of the dominant class. Hence diversified regional development
115
processes can only come about as a consequence of power redistribu-
tion and decentralization, which are unlikely to occur. Furthermore,
although it is possible to strengthen participation at the local level,
this will never imply enhanced participation of. the same groups at
national levels. The situation becomes paradoxical. There is no truly
effective or valid way of promoting human welfare and social justice
if not through real participation. Yet-as Marshall Wolfe has
stressed-'in practice such participation has remained elusive and
ephemeral, both for the state-dominated development strategies and
for the revolutionary countermobilizers'. 21
Another wrong assumption is to believe that many of the problems
affecting the invisible sectors are either special cases or isolated phe-
nomena. The truth is that poverty, both rural and urban, is an
intrinsic part of the economic system of most Third World countries.
Since it is often not recognized as a structural component of the
system, current development strategies tend not only to circumvent
such sectors, but often to worsen their living conditions. In most
Third World countries the development styles imposed tend to in-
crease the marginalization of the peasants without generating alterna-
tives for employment. Furthermore, the growing 'industrialization of
agriculture' tends to destroy existing traditional skills. The final result
of such a situation is that, while the dominant class designs its own
development strategy, the invisible sectors are left alone to design
their own 'survival strategies'.
Development strategies and' survival strategies' must not be under-
stood as processes that merely co-exist. The truth of the matter is that
the poor are once again trapped by the system. Their survival will
often depend on exploitative relationships such as share-cropping,
unfavourable wage 'relationships, debt-bondage and other forms of
patron-client relationships. The result is that the possibilities for the
poor to improve their living conditions as a consequence of the
nationally designed development strategies, has proved, in the great
majority of cases, to be nil. The only-alarmingly few-exceptions to
be found are in countries where regio.nal and local autonomies have
really been enhanced. How can ~ u c h a vicious circle be broken? Much
time and effort may still have to elapse before we find the most
116
satisfactory answers. In the meantime, however, there are things that
can and should be done.
Testimony as an alternative
I am far away from my peasant friends, writing of an episode long
past. This exercise has induced me to re-evaluate places, situations
and circumstances, as well as my own participation in them. I have
reached a stage in my life in which I have many more questions than
answers. But the few answers'that I do have are proving to be useful.
For instance, I know that waiting for grandiose solutions to come
from the top is not only self-defeating, but turns me into a passive
accomplice of a situation I dislike. Therefore, I also know that one
must do what one can do. No matter how little it is, it is nonetheless a
human testimony and human testimonies, as long as they are not
based on greed or personal ambition for power, can have unexpected
positive effects.
I have already made it clear that, since my concern is with the
people of the invisible sectors that account for more than half of the
world's population, I no longer believe in 'national solutions' or
'national styles'. I do not even believe in 'national identities'. I do not
believe-to put it in a. nutshell-in any form of giantism. Hence, a ~ a
barefoot economist, I believe in local action and in small dimensions.
It is only in such environments that human creativity and meaningful
identities can truly surface and flourish.
So what next? My reply is this: if national systems have learned to
circumvent the poor, it is the turn of the poor to learn how to
circumvent the national systems. This is what can be done and, in my
opinion, must be done at local levels. Think small and act small, but
in as many places as possible. Whatever cannot be achieved with
national systems must necessarily assume the many forms of local
self-reliance. Everything that can be done at local levels, is what
should be done at local levels. The path, it seems to me, must go
from the village to a global order.
The second part of this book relates an attempt to follow this path.
117
A
o
It all began over evening cocktails in a beautiful garden in Asunci6n,
Paraguay, in the spring of 1977. A few hours earlier I had delivered
my paper to a Latin American audience gathered together for the
annual meeting of My main argument had been that
vocational training, as traditionally practiced in most countries of the
region, was discriminate in the sense that it tended to benefit the large
metropolitan areas more than the small cities, towns and villages.
Furthermore, I argued, the orientation and content of any vocational
training curricula had to be determined by-and adapted to-regional
and local characteristics, and not by the extrapolation of national and
global trends. In view of the irregular demographic distribution
which affects the majority of Latin American nations-proof of
which is the hyper-urbanization of a few: centres in comparison with a
huge number of deprived, deteriorating and decayed small cities-my
conclusion was that there is an urgent need for the revitalization of
small urban centres, and that a new orientation in styles of vocational
training was paramount to the achievement of such an objective. A
new orientation which took account of regional and local potential
::- The Latin American Vocational Training Research and Documentation Centre
(CINTERFOR) is an ILO specialized agency set up in 1964, with the aim of encour-
aging and coordinating the action of the Latin American institutes, organizations and
agencies involved in vocational training.
121
and need, might serve-it seemed to me-not only to reduce the
trend of forced migration, but also to enhance the quality of life in
small cities and therefore their value as legitimate and attractive urban
alternatives. I had insisted that it was necessary to bear in mind that,
as a general rule, small cities are depressed not because they are small,
but because of the voracity of the metropolitan centres that deploy, .
for their own benefit, a good portion of the surplus generated in the
periphery.
There exists a universal ritual known to all those who have par-
ticipated in international meetings, namely the claps in the back and
all the nice words, after one's performance. Cards and addresses are
exchanged and promises are made to remain in permanent contact.
A few hours pass and all is forgotten. There goes another or
another proposal, into the proceedings of the meeting, which is the
most expedient passport into the blissful realm of eternal oblivion.
Something seemed to be different this time. Stimulated, perhaps by
the colourful and tasty tropical drinks, I had the feeling that my
interlocutor, the Director General of was genuinely
interested in the presentation of my arguments. In the presence of
Eduardo Ribeiro de Carvalho,22 who was at the time Director of
CINTERFOR and was sharing the conversation, he spoke. of an
ideal place, in Brazil, to carry out a revitalization experiment. It was
the first time that I became aware of the existence of the town to
which I was later to find myself devoting two intense and eventful
years of my life: Tiradentes, in the State of Minas Gerais. 23 Our
enthusiasm about the subject and its potential increased to almost
wild proportions. Carried away by romantic and utopian scenarios,
the conversation took us deep into the night. When I' finally went to
sleep my mind was drowsy, not so much from the drinks (which
had nonetheless contributed) as from the wanderings of my imagi-
nation let loose. The possibilities seemed endless.
The next day, thanks to the outstanding diplomatic abilities of
Eduardo Ribeiro de Carvalho, the plenary session approved, for the
SENAC is the Brazilian Vocational Training Service for the tertiary sector. The
Director General was Mauricio de Magalhaes Carvalho.
122
meeting that was to take place in Mexico the following year, the"·
organization of a seminar on the subject of 'Work, Vocational Train-
ing and Quality of Life in Small Cities' which I was to coordinate.
The idea, so we thought, had had a timely birth.
Preparing the ground
My first duty-for which I was hired by CINTERFOR-was to
undertake a trip through most of the Latin American countries in
order to discuss the meaning and purposes of the seminar with the
heads of the vocational training It was hoped that all
delegations, once aware of the aims, would contribute experiences or
ideas about the subject at the Mexico meeting. The visits proved to be
highly stimulating, although the efforts to gather interest and support
were carried out in vain. At the time of the reunion, only three of the
many executives visited were present. All the others had-in con-
gruence with Latin American predictability-lost their jobs in the
meantime. So, apart from the explanation contained in the title, the
Seminar's contents and final purposes were an unknown quantity for
the great majority of those
It was October, 1978. Apart fr0Il?- the numerous country delega-
tions, there were a number of high-ranking experts and authors from
different parts of the world, who had been by CINTERFOR
to contribute with written essays and to address the audience through
lectures panels.
The first day and a half turned into a sort of brainstorming. A mass
of unorthodox presentations, and alternative development
visions began to disconcert part of the audience. Reactions very soon
made themselves felt: what did CINTERFOR, and for that matter
the Vocational Training Institutions, have to do with revitalization of
small cities? Was it not a problem to be dealt with by the Planning
Ministeries or the national urban authorities? Was this not, perhaps,
an interesting meeting, but with the wrong audience?
The reactions were not unexpected for the organizers of the semi-
nar. Furthermore, the protesters had a point and deserved good
answers. "In reality, almost any institution could find reasons to
123
initiate such a programme of action. It could be the health authorities,
because there are serious health and sanitary problems in small cities.
It could be the educational authorities, because educational facilities
tend to be poor in small cities. By the same token, it could be the
planning or the agricultural authorities, and so on. However, such
sectoral initiatives, although indispensable, do not provoke the de-
sired effects implicit in the concept of revitalization. Such a concept
implies the emergence of positive forces from within the city dwellers
themselves, stimulated by their collective awareness of a new signifi-
cance to a long dormant local or regional identity, itself a result of
new possibilities and opportunities that accurately reflect local or
regional conditions and characteristics. A critically revised style of
vocational training determined according to local existing or potential
skills and respecting cultural identities, might therefore be the ad-
equ.ate (but not the sole) vehicle to initiate a revitalization process
in small cities, towns and villages and, of course, their rural en-
VIronment.
Arguments and counter-arguments continued to wage to and fro.
Some of the delegates thought the ideas were valid and worth giving a
try. Others, behind benevolent smiles, thought that the whole idea
was impractical, romantic and utopian. The majority, as is usually the
case, remained silent and uncommitted. But, thanks to the brilliant
presentations of the invited authors and speakers plus the persuasive-
ness of the Director of CINTERFOR, the case had been made and
important support had been gathered. It was officially approved that
CINTERFOR should try to promote a project along the propose'd
lines.
It was the Brazilian delegation of SENAC which accepted the
challenge and decided to invite me for an initial period of six months,
in order to explore the possibilities of undertaking a demonstrative
revitalization project in the city of Tiradentes, in the State of Minas
Gerais.
I was both happy and preoccupied. One is not often given the
opportunity to put one's theories and beliefs into practice, and I was
now being offered that very challenge and chance. It was in fact quite
alarming, because it is under exactly such circumstances that, after
124
having felt very strong and sure about one's own way of thinking, i",
one is suddenly overwhelmed with uncertainty and doubt. I therefore
felt a strong need to thoroughly revise my theoretical framework.
Revitalization of small cities, of this I had no doubt, was more than
just concrete and sensible actions to improve local living conditions.
It implied a whole philosophy for alternative life styles. It meant
questioning the predominant opinions and tendencies. Considera-
tions traditionally absent from the preponderant development the-
ories had to be brought into light, and in a convincing manner.
Fortunately some years of research and thought into a subject of no
interest for most economists, had provided. me with a good deal of
pertinent material from which to draw in order to undertake this task.
After having completed the exercize, it turned out that I had con-
firmed my agreement with several of the main ideas contained in
some of my previous writings. Discussions with colleagues were
also very
The chosen area
The state of Minas Gerais was of' great importance during colonial
times, mainly due to its enormous mineral wealth. Gold was to be
found in abundance, as well as iron 'ore, tin and precious and semi-
precious stones. This stimulated the development of cities of opu-
lence and culture, as well as a concentration of highly talented plastic
artists, architects and musicians. Many of these cities have deterio-
rated quite considerably over the years, but several of them still
contain invaluable treasures and tradi.tions from the seventeenth,
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Ouro Preto, Congonhas do
Campo, Diamantina, Mariana, Sabara, Prados, Sao Joao del Rei and
Tiradentes are the most important. Ouro Preto, which was for some
time the capital of Minas Gerais, was in 1980 declared a World
Monument by UNESCO.
I must, in this respect, express my special gratitude to Professors Carlos Mallmann,
Oscar Nudler, Sergio Montero, Isidro Suarez, Luis Izquierdo, Gonzalo Alcafno and
Leopold Kohr. The opportunity I had to work with the first two, and the extensive
dialogues I had with the others, were invaluable and enriching experiences for me.
125
The art of goldsmiths and silversmiths, sculpture and architecture
reached high levels of accomplishment. Particularly interesting-and
relatively unknown in Latin America and the rest of the world-was
the musical creativity and development. A great number of compos-
ers produced important music during these centuries, in a predomi-
nantly baroque style. New composers are still being discovered, and a
large number of scores are yet to be classified. The musical tradition
has survived up to the present day, and each of the cities has one or
more orchestras which still perform the music of the region, especial-
ly for church services and notable occasions. The quality of many of
the works compares well with those of some of the best European
composers of the same period.
It is in these cities that the sculptures, carvings and architectural
achievements of Aleijadinho are to be found. He was probably the
artist of his type in all of Latin America. All the building and
artistic creation generated some highly refined craftmanship, rem-
nants of which are still to be found among isolated artisans.
At a certain point in the historical development of Minas Gerais,
the church hierarchy lost its influence-and the churches fell under
the control of 'Cofrarias' (Lay Brotherhoods)-who would even hire
and pay for the priest whom they themselves selected. To this very
day, each church has its own 'Cofraria' which, in addition to its
religious preoccupations, acts as a welfare institution for those in
need, emergency food and housing, elementary health
facilities, and help and support to those in difficulties. Their influence
is very considerable since they penetrate every aspect of commu-
nallife. .
The Municipality of Tiradentes, with an approximate population of
10,000, is located at 350 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro, 250 from
Belo Horizonte and 500 from Sao Paulo. It is divided into two urban
districts and a rural area, of poor soils, where small scarcely subsis-
tence holdings are predominant.
After a long period of great splendour, gold became exhausted,
traditional mining activities were mostly discontinued and Tiradentes
slowly vanished into oblivion. During more than half of this century
it decayed, yet survived, in almost total isolati.on. It was only in the
126
127
late sixties that, through the construction of a 5 kilometres paved road
linking the town with the Sao Paulo-Belo Horizonte highway, that
Tiradentes was 'rediscovered'.
Paradoxically, it was the town's impoverishment and isolation that
allowed for most. of its architectural and artistic treasures, as well as
traditional institutions, to be preserved, their evident decay notwith- .
standing. Hence, the remnants of the old institutions, traditions and
crafts, represent an area rich in opportunities f<?r revitalization. Tira-
dentes has seven 'Cofrarias' and many craftsmen, wherein lies a great
deal of potential for an improvement in the city's quality of .life and
the achievement of a greater local self-reliance.
128
1 eo cal I rl e (Ill)
The problem of size
The size of systems, especially of artificial systems such as businesses,
firms and other different kinds of enterprise, as well as cities, has been
,an issue in economics only in relation to the efficiency of productive
'units. The so-called economies of scale and the corresponding law of
diminishing returns, are conspicuous cases in point. Economies of
scale, in the name of efficiency, tend to favour bigness and, in many
cases, even giantism. Efficiency is about output, and about output
conducted in a manner that minimizes costs and maximizes profits. If
large-scale production and huge metropolitan centres facilitate the
satisfaction of such a formula of efficiency, it is such systems that
have to be favoured and promoted. The fact that bigness--or
giantism-of systems may in itself have an adverse effect on the
relative well-being of the people who are a part of them, is, and has
been, a subject of no concern to economists.
Although I am an economist myself, I have long been tempted to
explore this subject, despite the fact that it is not considered to be part
of my discipline. I somehow cannot agree with this view. As a matter
of fact, economics does deal with the concept of well-being. Indeed, it
is one of its central preoccupations. The fact that it handles it in a
mechanistic way, for example assuming the existence of a people
whose economic behaviour is generally rational, does not impede an
attempt to approach it in a -non-mechanistic manner, as when
129
assuming the existence of a people whose economic behaviour is also
influenced by emotion and intuition and characterised by unpre-
dictable reactions and feelings. 24
The fact is that what receives scant attention today, was once an
issue of central importance. On the subject of human beings and the
size of their cities, we should pay some attenion to the words of
Aristotle:
First among the materials required by the statesman is population: he will
consider what should be the number and character of the citizens, and then
what should be the size and character of the city. Most persons think that a
city in order to be happy ought to be large; but even if they are right, they
have no idea what is a large and what is a small city. For they judge of the size
of the city by the number of inhabitants; whereas they ought to regard, not
their number, but their power. A city too, like an individual, has a work to
do; and that city which is best adapted to the fulfillment of its work is to be
deemed greatest, in the same sense of the word great in wliich Hippocrates
might be called greater, not as a man, but as a physician, than some one else
who was taller.
Moreover, experience shows that a very populous city can rarely, if ever,
be well governed; since all cities which have a reputation for good govern-
ment have a limit of population. Beauty is realised in number and magnitude,
and the city which combines magnitude with good order must necessarily be
the most beautiful.
A city, then, only begins to exist when it has attained a population
sufficient for a good life in the political community: it may indeed, if it
somewhat exceed this number, be a greater city. But, as I was saying, there
must be a limit. What should be the limit will be easily ascertained by
experience. For both governors and governed have duties to perform; the
special functions of a governor are to command and judge. But if the citizens
of a city ~ r e to judge and to distribute offices according to merit, they must
know each other's characters; where they do not possess this knowledge,
both the election to offices and the decision of lawsuits will be wrong. When
the population i? very large they are manifestly settled at haphazard, which
clearly ought not to be. Clearly then the best limit of the population of a city
is the largest number which suffices for the purposes of life, and can be taken
in at a single view. 25
Even before Aristotle, his master Plato had stated as a fundamental
principle that: 'The city should grow only as long as it can do so
130
without impairing its unity'. 26, When one states that 'the citizens ...
must know each other's characters', and the other isolates the im-
portance of unity, they reveal a common preoccupation. One could
say that they considered true communication between citizens a
condition sine qua non for the attainment of a good life, ruled by
justice and virtue. Such ideals are clearly related to an idea of scale,
and more concretely, to a relatively small scale. Giantism, in their
minds, was clearly something to be avoided.
It is interesting to note that not only the Greek masters related
quality of life with social units of comparatively small scale. None of
the later utopias ever succumbed to the temptation of granting merit
to giantism. Thomas More proposed an ideal community of 6,000
families. The phalansteries of Fourier did not exceed 1,600 people.
The parallelograms of Robert Owen received from 500 to 2,000
members, and the same was the case with the cooperative associations
of Horace Greeley. In each case the reasons are the same: Plato'nic
unity and the Aristotelian need for citizens to know 'each other's
characters'. I was later, while living in Tiradentes, to bear witness to
the importance and immense contemporary value of these principles.
The advantages of a social dimension on the human scale were
maintained both in Athens and in Sparta. City States in the Italian
Renaissance followed the same example to varying degrees, as did the'
notably prosperous free cities of the Hanseatic League. As cities, they
were the ones that produced wealth and cultural diversity in spite of
the hegemonic impulse of such great empires as the Holy Roman
Empire, which finally collapsed under the weight of its absurd and
humanly unsustainable proportions.
For more than 2,000 years the empire and the city, both considered
in their broadest terms, have confronted each other as alternative
ways of living and forms of identity. This is still the case today for,
although we lack empires, we have an effective substitute in modern
forms of imperialism. Unitarianism or federalism, integration or bal-
kanisation, centralisation or decentralisation, nationalism or regional-'
ism: all these are manifestations of alternative preferences as valid
today as they were yesterday. They represent different options and as
such they involve 'costs and benefits'. When choosing, one should be
131
quite clear as to tpe implications of that choice. If the intention is
human communication and participation, then giantism should be
avoided by all means possible.
It seems quite indisputable to me that human beings develop
according to the relations they maintain with their environmen·t. All
their integrity, their inner and external equilibrium, as well as their
alienation, depend on the degree to which they feel integrated with
their environment. This depends, in turn, on the dimension and
homogeneity or heterogeneity of the same. Every type of en-
vironment-economic, spatial, political, cultural and natural-may
have both an optimum dimension and a critical dimension. I identify
the first as 'humanising' and the second as 'alienating'. In the first,
humans are able to achieve a sense of identity and integration, while
within the second they can only choose to endorse their individual
integrity. Within one, a person feels the consequences of whatever he
or she does and decides; within the other, the human being resigns
himself to letting others act and decide for him. In the first the
development of people is possible; within the second, only the de-
velopment of objects. The attainment of a dynamic equilibrium
between Nature, Human Beings and Technology-which is, of
course, a highly desirable goal-is only possible when humans, both
at the collective and individual level, feel themselves directly re-
sponsible for the consequences of their actions within their environ-
ment, and this can only happen if the dimension of that environ-
ment remains within the human scale.
Since the scale of economic activity has a direct influence on the
scale of other systems such as cities, let me go back and analyse its
implications a little further. Economics has worshipped efficiency,
and on its behalf we have evolved from economies of scale to what I
would like to call' diseconomies of uncontrollable dimensions'. The
economic efficiency of this process is incontestable and so is its power
to pillage natural resources, its capacity to pollute and its contribu-
tion to the rise in heart attacks and hypertension. And once dimen-
sions of large scale have been consolidated, their evolution is possible
only in terms of becoming even larger. The system no longer expands
to meet the consumption needs of people; it is people who consume
132
in order to meet the system's requirements of growth. ~ : - As long as
alienation, boredom, dissatisfaction, rural and urban decay, pol-
lution, insecurity, anxiety and, finally, dehumanisation are not
measured as costs of the process, it will continue to be seen as
positive, efficient and successful in terms of the traditional criteria by
which it is judged.
It should be recognized once and for all that a measure as abstract
as the per capita Gross National Product (GNP) is a highly mislead-
ing indicator of the standard and quality of life, as it includes any
activity, regardless of whether or not it is beneficial to society. 27 On
the other hand, powerful evidence already exists to the effect that 'the
improvement of living standards (basic needs and luxuries) consti-
tutes a diminishing fraction of each new unit of increased per capita
GNP; the rest is spent on the structural changes required by growth
itself, on its side effects and on managing wastes'. 28 It should thus be
clear that the constant increase in the scale of economic activity
alienates those participating in it and destroys the human element in
the surrounding framework.
Under present conditions, to maintain such enormously onerous
systems while anxiously seeking some sort of equilibrium, only to
continue paying homage to the 'religion of efficiency' is-to say the
least-extremely ill-advised. In the words of Fouche: 'It is worse than
a crime, it is an error'.
From what has already been said on the problem of dimension, one
could conclude that humans, while having been increasingly affected
and impressed by large dimensions, have not yet been able to redis-
cover their own dimension. Inertia their only impetus, people merely
strengthen the fallacy. They participate less and less and allow them-
selves to be led more and more. And so this lack of participation,
which is partly a product of the alienating dimensions into which we
have fallen, turns into fertile ground for the few to gain even more
~ : - I strongly believe that as long as a system serves people and their environment, its
existence is morally justified. However, when the function of people and their envi-
ronment is only that of serving the system, the latter ceases to be in the human interest
and all efforts geared towards its fundamental reformulation are legitimate, even
though they may not be legal.
133
power over the many. And if we remember Lord Acton's warning
that: 'Power corrupts and total power corrupts totally', we should
realize that we are at a crossroads where negligence, indifference and
the inability to react have become a form of suicide. And not even
suicide committed on behalf of a superior ideal, but suicide in defense
of stupidity and obduracy.
Let us now return to the city, and ask ourselves what its functions
are supposed to be. I should like to make the proposal, based on
recognised historical and cultural evidence, that there are at least four
functions expected of a city: it should provide its members with
sociability, well-being, security and culture. Such functions can only
be fulfilled as long as human communication between citizens is
satisfactory and genuine, and participation is complete, responsible
and effective. Communication and participation were the original
preoccupations of this chapter, when we gave way to some voices
from the past. It might now be appropriate to explain, in theoretical
terms, communication as a function of human space and time.
Subjective human space
Every system comprises a set of interrelated elements that operate
together for a common purpose, i.e. that of fulfilling or realizing a
particular goal. Without a condition of finality it is merely a set, but
not a system. An individual human being may be studied as a system,
as can a society or a city. In the case of a city viewed as a system, the
people are the elements or the sub-systems. Now, if a city is a system
whose function is to p r o ~ i d e its inhabitants with sociability, well-
being, security and culture, the fulfilment of such objectives will de-
pend on the way in which its citizens (or elements) interrelate, both
among themselves and with the other elements that make up the
system (or city). The other elements may be natural or artificial
objects, as well as other living things such as animals and plants.
We will define in the broadest sense any interrelation of elements in
which one or more persons intervene (person to person, or person to
object) as a bond of communication. It does not matter whether the
resulting communication is good, bad, necessary or useless. Such
134
value judgements do not concern us for the moment, although they
will later. The notions put forward so far are sufficient to open the
debate with which I am here concerned.
To say that every human communication takes place in a time and
in a space seems an all too obvious truth-and it would indeed be so,
if we were referring solely to chronological time and metrical space.
But as we are concerned with more subjective meanings, the state-
ment has a special significance. For that purpose, let us define both
space and time as subjective human phenomena.
Beginning with space, I propose'the following definition: space (as
perceived) is the set of abstract relations that define an object. The
relations may be classified according to form, distance, size, proxim-
ity, depth etc., all of which presume the existence of other objects.
For example, distance is 'distance with regard to ... '; proximity is
'proximity from ... '; size is 'larger, equal or smaller than ... '. An
object cannot be defined and has no meaning without reference to
something else. Wittgenstein states that: 'Just as we are quite unable
'to imagine spatial objects outside space or temporal objects outside
time, so too there is no object that we can imagine excluded from the
possibility of combining with others'. 29 He adds later that: 'Each thing
is, as it were, in a space of possible states of affairs. This space I can
imagine empty, but I cannot in1agine the thing without the space'. 30
Human beings are responsible for classifications and thus for the
abstract relations that define objects. This is the way they perceive
spaces and, in perceiving them, they are actually creating them or, to
be more precise, creating themfor themselves. Their bond with space
is therefore a bond with a reality that is perceived subj ectively. Metric
spaces are only conventions that are useful for measuring, evaluating
and classifying those changes and distortions that affect subj ective
human spaces. Let us illustrate this with some simple examples.
Anyone who has seen a house under construction will have wit-
nessed the following phenomenon. When we look at the outline of
the foundations, the future rooms seem smaller than we had imagined
when the plan was drawn up. Once the walls are up, we have the
strange sensation that the rooms have grown. Similarly, when the
rooms are finished but empty, they look smaller than when they are
135
furnished, provided that-and this is important-the number of
objects and pieces of furniture is not excessive. What is the reason for
this phenomenon?
Perhaps the most plausible hypothesis is that: perception of spatial
magnitude is a function of the amount of information that the brain
receives and stores with respect to the space in question. In other
words ~ n empty room, with its limited amount of information,
imposes upon the brain a minimum of abstract relations. The fur-
nished room increases the number of abstract relations and so, as the
brain stores an increased amount of information, the space is per-
ceived as being larger. Let us explore another example.
If we lie on our backs to look at a night sky profusely studded with
stars, we perceive an immense space. The huge number of stars
represents an enormous amount of information, as the simultaneous
perception of their huge number engages almost all our attention. If
we saw nothing but one star, the sensation of the immensity of space
would drastically diminish. Finally, if we were'surrounded by total
and absolute darkness, the s e ~ s a t i o n of space would disappear almost
completely. Thus the spatial magnitude perceived does not depend on
the metric distance in which the objects being observed· are located,
but on the amount of information that such space delivers to the
brain.
The existence of a relationship between the spatial magnitude per-
ceived and the amount of information stored by the brain seems a
probable hypothesis to me, although I cannot, at this stage, verify it
with proven evidence. In any case, the relationship I am proposing
seems to be less than linear. That is, the sensation of spatial magni-
tude grows with the increase of information, but with less inten-
sity than the latter. The function could perhaps be logarithmic or, if
there is some point of saturation, a negative exponential.
These speculations may seem an unnecessary digression. They are,
however, essential to the central topic, for subjective space influences
people'·s behaviour in a very determinant way. The human agglome-
ration of large metropolitan centres may merely imply small metrical
distances between people, but in effect the amount of spatial informa-
tion is so vast, that bonds of communication become very difficult or
136
impossible. People. are, in fact, separated by large subjective spaces.
In small towns the opposite is the case, as anyone's experience will
confirm.
I therefore conclude that for the purposes of both analysis and
planning, urban solutions which start from exclusively metric spatial
conceptions do not correspond to the real pro?lems affecting people.
Subjective human time
A successful attempt to define time and to penetrate its essence, has
been the etern2J aspiration of countless philosophers and scientists. I
would not be so intellectually arrogant as to attempt to offer an
answer here. In fact, I shall confine myself to the suggestion that, just
as we can refer to a chronological or astral time, we can also speak of a
subjective human time. By this I mean the sensation of duration that
we as people have of a given event. Over the same chronological
period, let us say five minutes, two different events may pro'duce
upon us varying sensations of duration. Five minutes of toothache
appears to be longer than five minutes spent in pleasant company. So,
for our purposes, I would define subjective human time as a set of
abstract relations that link the being with the coming about.
Robert Ornstein defines this form of temporal experience when he
says: ' ... our normal experience of time passing, of hours lengthening
or shortening, of a recent event seeming "a long time ago", of one
interval passing more quickly for one person than another or more
quickly for one person at one instance than another. It is the con-
t i n ~ i n g , persevering, time in which we live our lives'. 31 Throughout
his book, in which a large number of experiments are examined, we
see a clear confirmation of the subjectivity of people's temporal
experiences. He demonstrates the validity of what he calls the 'Stor-
age Size Metaphor', and defines it as one which '... relates the ex-
perience of duration of a given interval to the size of the storage
space for that interval in general information processing terms. In
the storage' of a given interval, either increasing the number of stored
events or the complexity of those events' will increase the size of
storage, and as storage size increases, the experience of duration
137
lengthens'. We may add that the same may well happen with what I
have called the 'intensity' of information, and that has to do neither
with the number of stored events nor with their complexity. A good
example is the inordinately long time that it takes a pot of water to
boil when we are watching it and waiting for it to come to the boil.
The impatience with which one awaits some determined event repre-
sents an increase in the size of storage that the brain has designated for
processing the information. It is my assumption that the storage size
does effectively grow, because impatience involves reprocessing the
same information many times. It is my hypothesis that processing, in
~ determined interval of time, n quantity of different events is more or
less equivalent to processing, in the same interval, the same event n
number of times.
Leniz and Alcaino, taking a different approach, suggest that in
planning the well-being of people, subjective and not chronological
time must be considered.
32
They state in this regard that a year 'passes
slowly', full of changes and impressions, for children, while it has a
tendency to 'pass quickly' as age increases. According to the authors
this is so, and it is due to comparisons of anyone interval with
intervals already lived, not with mechanical units of measure. They
propose that time, as perceived by any person, seems to be propor-
tional to the square root of the person's chronological age.
Ornstein's observations concern micro-experiences, i.e. singular
occurrences, while Leniz and Alcaino's approach is concerned with
the overall life macro-experience. In this sense both contributions
complement each other. In the course of studying and analysing these
investigations, Professor Carlos Mallmann, from the Bariloche
Foundation in Argentina, and I, came to the conclusion that an
additional element had to be taken into consideration. It seemed to us
that a cultural constant had to be included in any formula that
attempted to interpret a person's sensation of the passing of time. We
identified it as the 'cultural constant of time valuation'. Its justifica-
tion as a necessary component of any general formula comes from the
fact that different cultures, even different environments, determine
different types of links between the being and the coming about.
Cultural anthropology has evidence to corroborate this. The bond,
138
for want of a better word, that places a person in a temporal con-
tinuum that involves, carries and determines him or her in his or her
own and shared coming about is different for a sedentary country
dweller than for a nomadic person. Similarly, the bond of the peasant
with time is different, and has different meanings and consequences,
from that of the urban individual, especially one who lives in a
metropolitan business/industrial environment. There is no doubt that
the famous (and very destructive) slogan 'time is money' has no
meaning whatsoever for a peasant. The latter is bound to a time that is
determined by the metabolism of natural systems; the former, to "a
time determined by the 'industrial metabolism'.
As the next chapter reveals, I came across vivid evidence of these
different bonds whilst living in Tiradentes. In fact, the process of
understanding, and integrating with, notions and treatments of time
and space that were alien to me, proved to be as important as it was
difficult, in spite of all my theories on the subject.
Space-time disruptions
We have already stated that a city is a system whose function is, at the
very least, to provide its inhabitants with sociability, well-being,
security and culture." The nature and quality of the communication
bonds that people establish between themselves and with the other
elements that constitute the city and its environs, are subjacent to the
possibility ~ f fulfilling such 'a function. We have also stated that these
communication bonds take place in subjective time and space. While
it was not necessary to qualify these bonds earlier, it is now appro-
priate to do so. The purpose is to furnish some arguments in order to
establish some characteristics of and conditions for a city that may be
more than human (for they are all human)-a city that may be
humanizing. The theory (not yet fully developed) that I intend to
propose I have called the 'theory of space-time disruptions'. It runs
along the following lines.
People who live in a city live in a space. This presents them with
two alternatives: to be in the space or to integrate themselves into the
space. To i n t e g r ~ t e themselves means to be a part of a space that
139
coincides with the space perceived; that is, with the space which
oneself contributes to generate as a determining part of the same and,
therefore, creates for oneself. I identify such a condition as a 'human
state of spatial In o'ther words: 'I am part (object/ele-
ment) of a space that is my space, because as long as I contribute to its
creation just by being present and make it definable through my
presence, by being an element that, in it is I attain and acquire
identity' .
Simply to be in a space represents an absence of identity. In other
words: 'I walk in and move around, float, so to say, in a spatial
magnitude that I cannot comprehend, and in which I am too insigni-
ficant to aspire to be a necessarily definable "element", able to
generate space'. I identify this situation. as a 'human state of spatial
asynspacy' .
People who live in a city live in a time. This means they are
permanently exposed to temporal micro- and macro-experienc·es. The
subjective element of both is influenced by the type and quality of the
bonds of communication allowed by the environment. When sub-
jective time, lived over a determined period, inhibits the possibility of
creating and satisfactorily completing a bond of communication that
the person considers objectively possible for that period (chronologi-
cal period), I would define that as a 'human state of temporal asyn-
chrony'. These asynchronies produce varying of anguish and
anxiety, according the importance given by the person concerned-
to the' bonds 6f frustrated communication. It is, in this respect,
deeply moving to read Franz Kafka's entry in his Diary for the 16th
of January: 'This last week was like a total breakdown. Impossible to
sleep, impossible to wake, impossible to bear life, or more accurately,
to bear the continuity of life. The clocks .do not synchronize, the
inner one chases in a devilish or demoniac, or at any rate inhuman
manner; the outer one goes haltingly at its usual pace'. 33
Subjective time and subjective space might be considered separate
Just as 'synchrony' is derived from the Greek syn = together and chronos = time; I
have constructed' synspacy' from syn = together and spaein = space.
The word is has here the sense of the German dasein, which is closer to the notion
of existence than of mere physical presence.
140
,fields of enquiry. However, when a city is the issue, such separation
would not make sense, as both influence' each other. Out of many
examples, I have chosen only two. The first refers to relations
between space and temporal micro-experiences, and is relatively
trivial; the second refers to space in connection with the temporal
. .
macro-experIence.
Let us imagine a traffic jam on a metropolitan super-highway.
Moreover, let us imagine ourselves to be in one of the vehicles.
Finally, let us consider all that happens in the light of the concepts
recently explained: (1) a metrically large space becomes subjectively
small for us; (2) the subjective reduction of the space produces
impatience in us; (3) impatience determines a constant reprocessing of
the same information, i.e. the information that our brain processes is
monotonic but of high 'intensity'; (4) the 'intensity' of the informa-
tion prolongs our sensation of the duration of the event; (5) this
(unwanted) prolongation of the event blocks our capacity to establish
and diversify our possible bonds of communication with either other
people, the landscape or ourselves; (6) such a blockade causes a
degeneration into bonds of anti-communication as we honk our
horns, shout and insult others; (7). this anti-communication generates
even more impatience, and the circuit repeats itself with increasing
intensity. We finally ·gethome-and we all know what happens then.
Everything disturbs us, there is no time to chat to our daughters
and sons, and the most ininor problems become disproportionately
IiTltatlng.
This app'arently frivolous model describes the consequences of a
'human state of space-time disruption'. I suspect that these states of
space-time disruption are responsible for many a family crisis in large
cities. The resulting stress severely hinders the successful achievement
of those bonds of communication that are indispensable to the main-
tenance of balanced human relationships. Taken in isolation the
model described may seem somewhat trivial. Yet, h'owever trivial
these types of disruptions may be in themselves, they are systemati-
cally repeated, day after day, in most big cities, so that their detri-
mental effects are cumulative.
The second example deals with the temporal macro-experience.
141
Every one, no matter where he or she lives, is simultaneously affected
by three forms of ageing: chronological ageing, biological ageing and
social ageing. I shall concern myself with the last two, since the first is
important mostly for legal and bureaucratic purposes. Biological age
is comparatively straightforward and does not require much explana-
tion. Social age, on the other hand, is more complex. It is that which
society assigns you, in actuality and in attitude. You feel it by the way
society treats you and especially by the increasing amount of oppor-
tunities no longer open to you. If biological ageing and social ageing
are not synchronized, the result can be deeply disturbing, and this is
precisely what I wish to analyse.
Biological ageing may be influenced by, among other factors,
heredity, environment and habits of l i f ~ . Social ageing is influeilced
mainly by environmental and cultural factors. If we consider habits of
life as a part of culture, then the influences of culture and environ-
ment are common to both forms of ageing. Anyone who has lived in
both a large metropolitan centre and in a rural community or small
city, must have noticed that there is a subtle difference to the process
of ageing in the former as compared to the latter category. Or to put
it another way, the implications are not the same. In a business/indus-
trial environment, the institution of forced retirement is society's
official sanction of old age. The practice is less prevalent in rural
areas. Furthermore, if retirement is accompanied by alack of alterna-
tive activities, the person may feel useless and a burden to her family
who, in turn, may begin to consider her a nuisance and so, eventual-
ly, another inmate for an old people's home is packed off. This sort of
social ageing can dramatically accelerate the process of biological
ageIng.
In rural communities and small cities, it normally happens that a
person of advanced social age becomes respected for his or her
wisdom, and is granted new functions. He or she is listened to and
actively participates in and influences decision-making. They remain
active, feel integrated into' society, and hence useful.
Gerontologists and psychologists. agree that· biological ageing i·s
accelerated if a person feels redundant and useless. Such feelings of
redundancy are certainly more common in large urban centres than in
142
small cities or rural areas. We can therefore say that if social ageing is
more rapid than biological ageing, we have a 'human state of temporal
asynchrony'. Moreover, if social ageing tends to be more rapid in
metropolitan centres than in small cities or rural communities, we are
faced with a situation where 'space-time disruption' is affecting the
large urban conglomerates.
Cultural factors are also important. As' far I know-, social ageing
in Oriental and African countries is not as dramatic an experience as it
is for Western people but, even there, it may be better to be old in a
small environment than in a very large one.
A city for human beings
Now I do not wish to give the impression that I am some sort of
'smallness' fanatic. There is a relativity to everything. There are, for
instance, large cities and large cities. We feel better in some than in
others, however similar in size. It is interesting to speculate oil the
reasons why.
At the risk of being repetitious, let me state once again the four
minimal conditions that a city is supposed to fulfil: sociability,
well-being, security and culture. And now let me ask the reader to
examine his own experience of life, in his own city, against these four
conditions. I would be willing to bet that, if the four conditions are
satisfied in his large city, it will turn out to be a city with smallness
inside its bigness. Let me explain, drawing on my personal ex-
perience. One of the happiest periods of my life was the years that I
lived in Montevideo, Uruguay. It is a large city, housing half the
country's population, yet I felt that the four exigencies I have enume-
rated were fully satisfied. This was fifteen years ago, an important
point, since in recent years my visits have -turned out to be quite
disappointing. When I lived there, sociability was to be found on
every block and in every corner bar or cafe. Well-being was to be felt
in the relatively modest material ambitions characteristic of most
Uruguayans when compared to other Security was
guaranteed by an almost over-extensive welfare system and by a
relatively low rate of criminality compared to other Latin American
143
capital cities. Poverty existed, but not intolerable misery. Culture
was accessible in all its manifestations and in great quantity. There
were theatres and concerts sufficient to satisfy anyone's needs. There
was a public library which never closed, where people were to be seen
at all times of the day and night. It was a city where w ~ l k i n g was a
pleasure. It was full of mysteries, yet invited discovery. iIt was a city
in which one felt in a 'state of space-time coherence'.
Buenos Aires has also, in the past, held a considerable attraction for
me. I have given these experiences a good deal of thought, especially
'Yhen I've found myself reacting very negatively to other metropoli-
tan centres in which I have lived. My conclusion is that the large cities
I have liked, by which I mean the cities where I have felt good, are
large yet contain a lot of smallness. A city such as Montevideo is
comprised of many small quarters (quartier in French, or barrio in
Spanish) that have their own characters, conserve their own identities
and traditional ways, and preserve a flavour of intimacy. There is a
sense of diversity that avoids monotony. That is what makes them
attractive and, above all, liveable in. But why are such characteristics
to be found in some large cities and not in others?
It seems to me that if one were to pick out some other cities that
reflect the same image as the one I have just described, one would
probably find that all of them had become big before the period of
rapid industrialization. This would certainly be true of Latin Ame-
rica, at least. Cities which grew as a consequence of industrialization
tend to lack character and seem oppressively monotonous. In addi-
tion there are many cities-Sao Paulo being a case in point-where all
the pre-industrial charm was simply bulldozed away in the name of
progress.
My image, then, of a city for human beings is either one which is
small, or one which offers the alternative of smallness inside bigness.
Since 'humanising' dimensions are small dimensions, wherever'there
are insufficient large cities with this internal smallness, the sensible
thing to do is to revitalize the small cities that are struggling to
survive-victims of a mistaken concept of progress. An attempt along
these lines is contained in the story which unfolds in the following
chapters.
144
11 E co r Ii
The City: its space and its time
Some years ago, being alone and lonely-a situation in which I often
find myself-I wrote the following line while thinking of my daugh-
ter Magdalena: 'When you are not there, it is like hearing a violin ...
in the distance ... long ago'. I had the sensation, while writing those
words, that distance and past are one and the same, as long as ,distance
implies separation from someone or something you hold very dear.
And strangely enough, now that I am solitary once again, when I
think of Tiradentes I feel that 'suddenly all seems so long ago,
perhaps because I amso far away and this distance implies separation
from something that was-and therefore is-intense'. This sensation
is very real indeed. Relations that were interrupted only one month
ago seem suddenly so remote, that I will probably be writing like an
old man trying to recollect memories of his youth.
I must presume some indulgence from other witnesses to the story
since, as befits 'my adopted role of an old man recalling his past, some
of the events related may turn out to be rather more how I felt them
to be, instead of what they actually were in cold and unemotional
terms. This does not disturb me in the least, since no other outcome
can be expected when we are relating a story in which' we are in-
volved. However, being well aware of this human weakness, I aim
to ensure that any distortions will be never more than slight. So,
here follows my version of the story to which I contributed two im-
145
mense years of my life. By the time this account approaches its end,
I hope it 'Yill be clear to the reader why I call these years immense.

Being a musician I am very sensitive to sounds. So it is not surprising
that, for me, hearing Tiradentes took precedence over really seeing it.
Comfortably installed in the attractive hotel of friends of the friend
who was responsible for my having come to Tiradentes, I had gone to
bed but was having trouble getting to sleep. My mind was wandering
and my senses were unusually alert. At a distance impossible to
determine, I became aware of a group of dogs that were howling
simultaneously-as if combining in some sort of surrealistic choir. I
concentrated hard in order to detect how many there were. After a
while I was able to distinguish six, and I classified them as one
soprano, three tenors, one baritone and one bass. An odd combina-
tion, I thought, but worth listening to. Then other sounds came to
my attention, followed by more and more. There were hundreds,
perhaps thousands of sounds yet each had an existence of its own, and
all of them together had a sort of magic significance. I discovered that
I could choose anyone of them and follow it along its inner and
outermost expressions without being disturbed by the rest. It was not
a cacophony, but a very discreet and subtle symphony. Only then did
I discover why I was unable to fall asleep. There was no noise. I was
surrounded, by a fascinating hierarchy of sounds that al-
lowed, in the midst of the many, each individuality to be preserved.
The next day, still under the influence of my experience of the
previous night, I remembered the old Indian in the far south of my
country who, when I was seventeen years old, had told me so many
things about the sounds and the many languages of Nature. He had
said to me on several occasions, while walking along the seashore:
'Remain silent and listen, be watchful and see; She is always trying to
give you a message'. Whenever' he referred to Nature, he simply
called her 'She'.
Sheer coincidence, the truth or wishful thinking? It did not matter.
I decided that there was a message contained in two of my impres-
sions: ' ... each an existence of its own, and all together a ... magic
146
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significance'; 'in the midst of the many ... each individuality to be
preserved'. These sentences, which I begun to repeat in my mind,
turned into a dictum that was to influence the orientation and activ-
ities of the Project and, moreover, define its stYle for the years that'
lay ahead. After my nightly had allowed me to hear, I was
now ready to watch in order to see.
A man carrying two big milk containers on a mule. Another
peasant selling fresh country cheese on a bicycle. Tourists from Rio
de Janeiro in a late model Passat, looking for bargain antiques and
clicking away with their cameras at the sadly deteriorated remains of
an opulent eighteenth century. The elegant and ill-prepared metro-
politan lady trying to keep her high-heeled balance while walking like
a tight-rope walker along the uneven stone-paved streets. Children
playing their important games with home-made toys. A group of old
men drinking their while watching television in the bar.
Bells from one of the seven churches tolling in the distance. A boy
showing me the two-and-a-half centuries old Chafariz, and telling
me: 'If you drink from the faucets of the sides you will always return
to Tiradentes; and if you drink from the one in the centre you will
marry here'. Being happily married, I decided to drink from the one
on the right. Half a block down, through a tiny, narrow street full of
greenery, I find the stone mason carving a big piece of blue-grey
granite into the most beautiful sun-dial I have ever seen. Up the steep
street that leads to the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the
Blacks I see the ancient jail, its iron-barred cells overlooking the street
so that the inmates can chat to their friends standing outside. Nobody
stays there for more than one or two days, mainly for minor drunken
quarrels. More cases, if there ever are any, are taken to the big
city where the cells look onto the inside of the prison. The spectacular
Sierra de Sao Jose, like a cyclopean wall, seems to protect this little
jewel where, it seems to me, dreaming and nostalgia may become a
normal state of mind for the outsider.
Cachac;a is a brandy made from sugar cane. The best is normally home-made. In
strength it resembles Akvavit.
Chafariz is the town fountain. It has been in use since 1749.
148
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I sat down in the plaza under a shady roof formed by the branches
of five gigantic ficus trees, trying to grasp what I had seen and felt.
Time was there, of course, and so was space; but there was something
different as well. I had the strong sensation that I was living a
'contemporaneousness of the not-c9ntemporary'. The mules and the
cars, the Chafariz and the television, the sun-dial and my Casio
lithium watch. All widely diverging eras co-existing in the midst of a
space of incredibly generous' perspective. I remembered having been
in many old cities before, and my sensation was almost always 'time
asynchronic': i.e. modern life going on at its usual rapid pace in
museum-like surroundings. Here it was different. '"Times seemed to
be synchronized because of the basically tranquil pace and style of the
people's forms of human interaction. People were not in a space; they
integrated into their space. They defined their own space and made up
their own time, thus generating a splendid space-time coherence. It .
suddenly occurred to me that it was probably very difficult to de-
velop gastric ulcers in a place of this kind. Sometime later I was to
discover several forms of space-time disruption, yet this initial
impression remained the overriding one for as long as I lived in
Tiradentes.
I liked what I perceived, although it took me quite a long time to
adapt to it. Being probably the only person in the town who regularly
adhered to the dictates of a watch, I was often irritated by what I
interpreted as irresponsibility on the part of others for not keeping
pre-arranged _time schedules; or, rather, watch schedules. I later
corrected my attitude, when I discovered that people's time was
regulated by events. In the short term, by daily events: things are
done before or after mass, b e f o ~ e or after school classes, after the
Town Hall meeting, and so on. The long term is planned and regu-
lated in tune with the religious and patriotic feasts of which there are,
of course, a lot. A person's involvement with the preparation of a
feast is a duty that takes precedence over any other type of com-
mitment.
This kind of relationship between people and time influences the
overall environment in so decisive a manner that-as one inevitably
becomes part of it-one has some unusual experiences. When I had
150
The 'Chafariz' (the town fountain) in uninterrupted use since 1749.
151
metropolitan friends visiting me, it happened consistently that after a,
subjectively-felt, hours-long conversation we suddenly realized that
only three-quarters of an hour had passed. Incredulity was the reac-
tion every time, and the experience was often repeated. It proved to
be a marvellous bonus when in good company, but a heavy burden
when dealing with loneliness.
I was very attracted by the social distribution of space. Here is a
small city in which space is integrated in all its human diversity. There
are no quarters designed to separate the rich from the poor. Anyone,
no matter what his status, can and does live next door to anyone else.
Poverty is not hidden, as it is in big cities, from the 'sensitive' eyes of
the well-to-do. Poverty may be startling, but it has a certain dignity.
Spatial closeness was a highly educational experience.
The role of informants and a lesson in perception
I had arrived in Tiradentes without any pre-arranged programme,
and was to stay there for six months. I was there alone, with a project
that existed only in my mind and in the mind of the Director General
of SENAC (who had extended the invitation) and with no office or
help or infrastructure of any kind. I could, in fact, have done any-
thing or nothing, for I did not even have any terms of reference.
Given such a situation, my first move was to involve myself in an
understanding of the environment. The physical environment, as
already described, I had begun to grasp after a short period. The
human factor, however, remained basically unknown. In addition, I
lacked, at the time, proper command of the Portuguese language,
which made direct communication with the people, during the initial
period, an extremely difficult task. Furthermore, being 1.96 metres
tall and having a beard and a Viking appearance, I must have looked a
very odd character in the midst of this small and traditional town of
the interior. I suspect that I was the cause of many hours of specula-
tion and gossip in bars and other meeting places. Having worked in
rural areas and Indian communities before, I had been through simi-
lar experiences and took the situation for granted. I was trying to get
used to the town and the town would, eventually, get used to me.
152
The 'Chafariz' with the Matrix Church of Santa Antonio in the background.
153
The problem is that during the '-running-in period', one cannot
simply sit down, relax and wait. And so this is where a very impor-
tant element enters the scene: the informant. As any field anthropo-
logist will confirm, the relationship established with informants is of
an extremely delicate nature. They are, during an important period,
our only lines of good communication. We have to rely on them,and
their answers and observations' are ·determinant inputs for the con-
struction of our model of reality. The relationship should, however,
be short-lived. When the ties between recipient and informant are
extended over too long a period, a harmful and undesirable rupture
may result. What constitutes too long a period is, of course, quite
subjective and should be left to the recipient's intuition. N everthe-
less, at a certain point, some concrete signs of danger may appear:
when the recipient has become excessively dependent, the informant
tends to become increasingly possessive. This is the moment when
one should either move on, or establish a different kind of relation-
ship, such as simple and uncompromising friendship if that is appli-
cable. Otherwise there comes a stage in which the informant informs
less and less and manipulates more and more. If discrepancies then
arise between the received input and the independently perceived
reality, the rupture may be just around the corner.
Despite my previous field experiences, I committed that very mis-
take. Probably due to a lack of sensitivity on the part of both parties,
my initial informant and I reached a breaking point which, much to
my regret, could never be healed. I was grateful, however, for the
very valuable data, background information about culture and tradi-
tions, and communicated experiences. I placed great value on the
reported facts, but I could not agree, in many instances, with my
informant's interpretation of them.
The uninvited epilogue of this relationship taught me one lesson.
No place can really be a place if the life experience of one person is to
be the life experience for the other. The mere fact of being where I
am, changes me and changes everything else. Discovery is not seeing
what there is (that is impossible at any level), but rather allowing
oneself to converge towards a continually freshly-created reality. I
am no longer what I was, but what I shall be ~ s a consequence of
154
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155
everything else ceasing to be what it was and becoming what it will be
in a constantly renewed dialectical synthesis.
Solitude and perception
My wife had accompanied me for two months of the initial period,
and was of incalculable help during the discovery process. But now,
after the ill-fated relationship just described, I was alone and thrown
totally onto my own resources. My closest contacts became a young
couple-she was Norma, a psychologist, and he was Ademar, a
musician-whose recent arrival in the city disqualified them from
being my new informants. However, we could communicate ex-
tremely well and they turned into the most able and willing inter-
mediaries during my efforts to establish communication ~ i t ~ the
local population at large. I felt that with their help the ice was
slowly melting, although there was still a long way to go, on what
was basically a solitary journey.
Loneliness can be a very heavy burden under any circumstances,
but it can reach destructive proportions if we experience it in an alien
environment. The risk of this happening weighed heavily on me.
Moreover, I was reminded of those w'hom, in my many years of field
experience, I had seen crack up, sometimes with dramatic conse-
quences, because they could not take it. So I decided to take pre-
cautions by building up my self-defence. What I did was simply
to persuade myself that, instead of suffering an enforced loneliness, I
was undergoing voluntary solitude. I achieved this by repeating the
idea over and over again to myself, especially before goi!1g to sleep. I
even went as far as to give loneliness a concrete form, turning her into
a dramatis persona and staging an act between her and myself. I talked
.in a loud voice, as if to a living interlocutor, and proposed a truce: I
would draw the most positive elements out of her presence, thus
dignifying her existence; she, in turn, would let me go as unharmed as
possible. This small yet important psychological game worked won-
ders, and I soon felt very much at ease with, and drew inspiration
from, my newly acquired solitude.
What I have just described, may seem to some totally irrelevant and
156
157
out of context. Yet I would hope to find in those who feel that way, a
willingness to give the subject a second thought. Indeed, I can think
of nothing more important in a field experience, than what is going
on in the field worker's mind and psyche. My experience has taught
me that many projects' failures must be attributed precisely, and
often solely, to uncontrollable mental and psychological processes,
which affect the participants and go unreported and unperceived in
the final evaluation. When I was commissioned to write this book, it
was understood that my inner experience should emerge with the
same intensity as the purposes, action and outcome of the Project
itself. I feel that in making these intimate confessions I may be doing a
valuable service to others engaged, or intending to engage, in field
ventures of a similar nature.
Having acquired a new state of mind-equilibrium with dyna-
r:nism-I discovered the amazing potential of a true compatibility
with solitude: it heightens our senses and sharpens our perception.
It was at this stage, and as a result of my new disposition, that the
entire Project began to take concrete shape, no longer just in my
mind, but on paper. I saw things much more clearly and began to
interact with the people in a stimulating and increasingly natural
way. I had a definite feeling that I had ceased to be the odd one out,
and was integrating smoothly and successfully. The high point came
late one night when, fast asleep and totally unsuspecting, I was
wakened by a serenade staged in my honour in front of my house.
This episode, which was repeated many times, especially whenever
my wife came to stay, meant that I was accepted. I finally felt that I
was stepping on solid ground.
Five months had passed and I was making a lot of ·friends. The
document with the proposals for a Project was completed and ap-
proved in an ad hoc meeting, in which a number of representatives of
potentially interested public and private institutions participated.
In addition to the Project document, I had already started some
interesting work, which I shall describe later, with the help of the
young couple mentioned earlier in this chapter. It was decided that
I should stay for an additional six months in order to put my prop.o-
sals into practice.
158
The dimension discovered
I strongly believe that all the mysteries of the world are within reach
of my hand, of my sensibility or of my inquisitive powers. They are
right here, inside my house, in the surrounding pathways and in the
corners of my garden. I have my own piece of sky and my parcel of
air. My quota of light and colours. I am surrounded by the soil, the
air itself, the walls and barks, the flower buds and the roqts, the
anxieties of my daughters, the sorrows of my wife and my own
sorrows, the food we share at our table, the birds that wake me in the
morning, the habits of my dog and the skin of my dog, my books, the
sounds of my piano, the voices and the silences of my friends, my
dreams and the mosquito that curtails my dreams, the spider that I
don't see but know is there and which disturbs me by its presence, the
fragrance of coffee, the infallibility of the medicinal herbs that are in
the pantry and the ants that always manage to find their way into the
pantry, the raisons d'etre of the painter and the poet and the artisan
who come to have a drink with us, the ideas for the construction of a
better world that are discussed at night in my library, the letters and
greetings which come from other homes. I am surrounded by all
forms of life and death, of love and anguish, of glory and decay, of
humility and vanity, of despair and hope. The laws of Nature are
here, or it is here where their inflexible effects reflect themselves.
Human laws are here, or it is here where their fallacies reflect them-
selves. This infinitesimal grain of the Universe is, after all, a Universe.
The Universe-I discover-is threshed into infinite Universes within
personal reach. To know the world means to know, first, the house
where one lives, its pathways and its garden. Because if it is true that
all the houses a n d ~ l l the pathways and all the gardens make up a
world, it is also true that the world unfolds itself to find a total place
in every house, in every pathway and in every garden. All the
immensity is contained in the small. Smallness is nothing but immen-
sity on the human scale.
Confident, yet with the necessary dose of humility, I have ap-
proached the immensity of this small town. To try to understand it is
a gigantic task, one that may never be achieved in its entirety by
159
anyone, least of all by myself. There are, however, a few things I do
know. I know, for instance, that small is not necessarily beautiful. It
can be ugly and evil. It can be depressing, destructive and burden-
some. It can be monotonous and boring. In fact, smallness can
contain any and every natural and human quality-good or bad. It
has, however, one overwhelming advantage over giantism. Whatever
is contained in smallness is within the human scale. It is in this respect
that smallness, for better or worse, makes humans more human. This
is the essence of its beauty.
Tiradentes is no exception. There is friendship and intrigu'e, but
you get to know who is who. 'There is solidarity and exploitation, but
you learn to distinguish those concerned with the needs of others
from those concerned only with their own greed. Virtue and evii are
visible: they have a face and a name. Tiradentes is a small town where
people-according to the Aristotelian dictum-know each other's
character. It is from there that one can build.
Before arriving in Tiradentes I had been told many things about it.
I was told of its beauty, of its marvellous colonial architecture and of
its fascinating history. I knew 'nothing of its people. Whenever I got
in touch with informed and concerned outsiders, I found them more
preoccupied with the preservation and restoration of buildings than
with the quality of the life of the people who inhabited the buildings.
After five months I had become aware of the human drama behind
these walls, so eagerly photographed by tourists.
The true dimension of Tiradentes-the dimension discovered-is
the human dimension. And what is the case with Tiradentes, is also
the case with thousands of small cities. In the blue-prints of the
planners they become small featureless dots, without identity, despite
the fact that they may be some of the last places left where people
have managed to preserve their own identity. Is that not one of the
most valuable human conditions we could regain? Then why not
preserve it and eI?-hance it in those places where it still exists?
160
12 A Sch e for Actio
The outlines of the Project
Serious and harmful regional imbalances prevail in most Latin Ameri-
can countries. Although these imbalances already eiisted in colonial
times they have, in many cases, become more acute as a result of the
application of the rapid industrialization model. Brazil is a dramatic
example of this. A rich and powerful industrial south co-exists with a
depleted and impoverished north-east. Some of the largest metro--
polises of the world are to be found in the same country where
thousands of small cities languish and deteriorate due to lack of
resources. It was with such a situation in mind that the Tiradentes
Project.was conceived. It was to be a demonstrative model with the
purpose of 'promoting the revitalization of small urban centres as
alternative vis avis the increasing disfunction. of the great
metropolitan areas, allowing for an in the quality of life
and the productivity of the informal economic' sectors'.
The Project was conceived ·as a transdis4iplinary exercise and,
based on the potential of a properly adapted style of vocational
training, intended to fulfil the following fundamental objectives:
1. To promote the development of the region's cultural life, studying
its manifestations and stimulating the action and potential of local
representatives.
2. To develop forms of mutual·cooperation between the members of
the community, as well as a more harmonious and organic inter-
16.1
relationship between the community and its' cultural and natural
environment. 34
3. To pursue the achievement of acceptable degrees of equivalence
between fundamental human needs and their satisfaction for all mem-
bers of the community.
4. To promote the necessary conditions for the survival and im-
proved productivity of small and family enterprises, both urban and
rural.
5. To develop the technical capacity and productivity of artisan
units, stimulate an increased output and pursue the preservation of
traditional forms of production while maintaining a high quality..
6. To organize a marketing process for the articles produced by
artisans and small and family enterprises.
7. To develop a vocational training style that makes use of the
potential and existing skills of the members of the community, thus
allowing for an occupational structure within which work may be-
come an authentic vehicle for the person's self-realization.
8. To prepare the ground for the creation, in Tiradentes, of a 'Centre
for the Study and Promotion of Urban and Rural Alternatives'
(CEPAUR), with the purpose-among others-of promoting the
regular meeting of experts from different parts of the world, inter-
ested in. the revitalization of small cities and their rural environ-
ments, and thus the exchange of ideas, the design of strategies and
the diffusion of the accumulated experiences and achievements. ~ : -
Given its demonstrative characteristics, the project was to be carried
out within the context of some special considerations. First of all
national and international cooperation was to ~ e gathered from both
public and private institutions. The national contributing agencies
were to combine in a Consultative Council in order to stimulate, as
well as evaluate, the actions of the project.
The main activities were to be designed in such a manner as to
allow the lower income level inhabitants to acquire knowledge and
~ : - The CEPAUR was created in January, 1982, with headquarters in Santiago, Chile;
but maintaining representatives in Brazil as well as in other Latin American countries.
162
immediat.ely applicable within their traditional crafts. The
project was to give preference to training that would not require an
input of expensive equipment. Local instructors, chosen from dis-
tinguished artisans and craftsmen, were, also to be given preference,
and training was to be combined with marketable production. In a
way, the intention was to adopt the principle of 'education with
production as promoted in some African regions, with adaptations to
the regional reality of this Latin Ame,rican area.
Special attention was to be given to the training of women, beyond
those areas traditionally considered as feminine. By the same token,
creative opportunities were to be offered to children and youngsters
through the installation of creative ateliers. Finally, and consistent
with the project's philosophy, certain mechanisms had to be fa-
voured, among which the following were the most important:
1. To carry out the actions in such a manner that they may reinforce
the roots of the people, and thus avoid forced migration due to lack of
opportunity.
2. To reinforce and stimulate the region's cultural potential in such a
manner that, revitalized, it may determine the regional style of devel-
opment and generate opportunities.
3. To promote and stimulate forms of participation in such a
manner that "they include all sectors of the community, especially
women, youths and children.
4. To integrate the children as active subjects, instead of passive
objects, stimulating their creative capacities and thus making them
part of a permanent and fertile process of vocational training that
enhances revealed skills and talents.
5. To introduce and stimulate the use of alternative technologies that,
as far as possible, emanate from local skills so as to diminish local and
regional dependence on metropolitan areas.
6. To organize the of vocational training in such a manner
that it will pot be the mere reproduction of those processes applied in
large cities. The reality and exigencies of small cities being different
from those of the big centres, the $ystem to be adopted should not
impose the of new' skills, but rather use and build up
already existing skills.
163
7. All actions should be inspired by the idea of a development for
regional and local self-reliance.
After the fundamental objectives and special considerations of the
Project had obtained the approval of the executive authorities of
SENAC, a list of concrete and specific actions for the fulfilment of
each objective was produced. It would be tedious and unnecessary to
enumerate them here, so suffice it to say that they amounted to a
total of 25. They were the product, essentially, of my five months of
observation. They represented more a frame of reference and a set of .
guidelines, than actual obligations. I lacked the opportunity to carry
out any formal and scientific field so I had to rely on
perception and common sense.
Once the Project Document had been completed and circulated
among those interested and concerned, the Tiradentes Project re-
vealed its weakest flank: objectives too ambitious, on the one hand,
and an excessive amount of action on the other. At the time, as I
later discovered, it was believed, if not officially declared, by several
people that, as conceived, the proje'ct was condemned to failure from
the very start.
Reality turned out to contradict this pessimistic outlook. Based on
my previous field experiences and on the many mistakes I have
committed, I have simply ceased to believe in rigid terms of reference.
I believe rather in the utility of a wide and ample gamut of objectives
and proposed actions acting as a frame of orientation. The
exploration of the local actuality and character will provide the indi-
cators of any necessary adaptations and reorientations. Experience
showed the approach to have been correct. Not all objectives were
fulfilled but all those that were, were part of the objectives that had
originally been proposed. In other words, the gamut of what was
desirable embraced what was possible. The sub-set of the possible
was totally contained by the set of the desirable: It should, further-
more, be added, that, given the many adverse conditions and circum'-
stances which are reported later, what was finally achieved was be-
yond my expectations.
164
Justification of the project
The big cities in Third World countries are growing at such a fast pace
that they are becoming burdensome and unmanageable. The process
has no precedent in history. and squatter settlements
increase at alarming rates, as a consequence of the seemingly endless
waves of migration that originate in rural areas and small cities. At the
same time, the small cities deteriorate and the rural areas become even
poorer.
In 1950, acc6rding to population studies carried out by the United
Nations, only two of the world's 15 largest cities were located in the
Third World. By the year 2000 it will be 12! The largest will be
Mexico City, with 31 million inhabitants. Sao Paulo, in Brazil, will
be the second with 26 million and Rio de Janeiro the seventh with 19
million. In 1970 the Third World had only 16 cities with more than 4
million people. By the year 2000 it will have 61.
The immoderate urban growth that accompanies an equally rapid
decline of small cities and impoverishment of rural areas, represents,
for the poorer nations, aproblem of incalculable' proportions for
which no adequate and practical solutions have been designed, de-
spite the efforts of certain concerned and conscientious groups.. The
existing-and alarming-tendencies are the product of a development
strategy that failed, inasmuch as it emphasized rapid industrialization
at the expense of rural development. The unforeseen consequence
was a hyper-urbanization. There seems to be no doubt that the
development criteria which originated after the Second World 'War
ar'e still predominant the world over. However, the debilitation of
agriculture has reached such appalling proportions in many parts of
the world that vigorous efforts and action geared towards rural im-
provement and revitalization of small cities appear to be the most
sensible and urgent priorities for the immediate future.
One' truth seems evident. When considering the possibilities that
exist for efficient solution of the problems which affect the
metropolitan areas, one can only conclude that the main development
effort-and this is the paradox-must be reoriented for the benefit of
the rural areas and the small cities. Almost all Third World countries
165
.have expressed their concern with the way hyper-urbanization is
affecting them. The United Nations carried out an enquiry into the
subject, in 1977, which revealed that from a total of 119 governments
interviewed, 113 considereq that their demographic distribution was
unacceptable. Ninety-four of those governments claimed that they
were engaged-or were intending to finding solutions to
the problem
1

The possibilities of finding' solutions-at least for the time
being-are not great, and this is for a very curious reason.
35
The
problem has not so far attracted sufficient or widespread interest on
the part of economists and other social scientists of the Third World.
Hence political leaders and administrators have lacked the necessary
support to penetrate the question in depth and search for feasible
solutions. The reason for this lack of interest is somewhat bizarre. It
is due mainly. to the fact that the phenomenon of hyper-urbanization
affecting the poorer countries was never anticipated in' development
t,heory (or theories)"and, therefore, it was not supposed to occur. On .
the contrary, a number of intricate self-regulating mechanisms (or
planned controls) were supposed to make the development process
'tend' towards a relative equilibrium. The fact that such
mechanisms refused to function has disconcerted the Third World
theoreticians. So, we are faced with. a problem which we still do not
quite know how to handle, since the theoretical-tools necessary for
its analysis and are not yet at our disposal, despite
some corrective efforts undertaken in some First World countries,
particularly in Sweden. Furthermore, an argument that appears time
and again as a justification for the lack of corrective action, is that.
there is no way of measuring hyper-urbanization and, therefore, it is
impossible to establish when it begins or what its magnitude may be
at a given point in time. Although such an argument is, from a .
scientific point of view, completely unconvincing, it is endlessly
repeated.
We find ourselves at a crossroads . We know what should be done
but we still do not know how to do' it, because we lack a convincing
alternative development theory. While awaiting the manifestation of
such a new grand theory, little or nothing is done. Yet the strange
166
thing is that maybe a new grand theory is what we least need. Grand
theories have failed too often. Probably what we need instead of a
theory, is a purpose. A purpose that allows for peoples' full participa-
tion, through multi-level action processes, starting at grass-root levels
and stretching from the village to the global order. A purpose in the
spirit of the Third System Project, which states that 'starting from the
base of society, each unit should be able to initiate its own course of
acti_on, and solve all the problems it is able to solve. This is the essence'
of self-reliance and self-management. Problems beyond the reach and
. perspective of primary communities would be solved by larger units
according to the nature of the task and in such a manner as to ensure
the participation of those concerned, as well as the accountability of
those exercizing power.'36
The need to vigorously intensify rural development (and revitalize
small cities) is accepted in the majority of countries, although it is not
practised. Subsidized employment, higher incomes, fiscal incentives
and the greatest share of amenities continue to favour the large urban
centres, so that the rural zones and the smaller cities have no possibili-
ty of appearing valid and attractive against the metropoli-
tan areas. The reduction-and perhaps even the elimination-of such
preferential treatments is, for the governments of the poorer nations,
an imperative duty, despite the fact that it may require the enacting of
some radical and unpopular measures. If the current procrastination
persists, the Third World countries may never reach the levels of
well-being to which they aspire and which rapid industrialization was
supposed to bring about. All benefits may be cancelled out by the
chronic urban problems. The greatest absurdity may be-and in
many cases already is-that the economic benefits accruing from the
development process are used in the solution of those severe prob-
lems created by the same development process.
A new orientation is required. Action is urgently needed. Procras-
tination is suicidal.
Looking for support
It has been my experience that, in Latin America, support is easily
167
promised, seldom committed and rarely concretized. I had suffered
this problem before, and I was to suffer it one more time. Faithfully
I followed the same old ritual, namely that of informing all sorts of
agencies about our purposes, and I even organized-under the spon-
sorship of the Director General of SENAC-a meeting in Tiradentes
with executives of those federal and state agencies and private institu-
tions which should be interested in an undertaking like the Tiradentes
Project. Interest was aroused and encouragement was received; nei-
ther concrete aid, however, nor the participation of the organiza-
tions represented at the meeting ever crystallized.
During the initial months a private foundation, the Fundacao Ro-
berto Marinho, provided some money towards the payment of my
salary plus minor materials for t h ~ Project's office. After six months
their support was discontinued, mainly because the official in charge
of the matter considered that the Project was too vague. The chrono-
grams and detailed proposals that he requested, I was neither able nor
willing to provide, basically for the reasons I have already stated in
the previous section.
37
Hence financial support during the entire life
of the Project, including my salary (with the sole exception of three
months in which it was covered by CINTERFOR/ILO), was pro-
vided almost exclusively by SENAC.
Apart from my salary, what SENAC could provide was, of course,
the bare minimum: office space, some office equipment of which the
most important piece :was a mimeograph, the rental of a used car, a
secretary and-during the last 12 months-the salaries of the three
young local collaborators I had managed to find, and the office boy.
Some concrete measures such as vocational training courses were
financed through SENAC's regular budget as part of their normal.
activities, and courses taught by local artisans were financed through
a grant from the Ministry of Labour. For some photographic work
we were offered the free use of the laboratory and materials of the
Secretariat of the National Historic and Artistic Patrimony
(SPHAN). The Bamerindus Bank and Kodak of Brazil also contrib-
uted to the printing of a catalogue and a poster for one of the exhibi-
tions organized by the Project.
As can be seen, apart from SENAC, contributions were sparse and
168
way below what we had initially expected as additional support. The
rest were PFomises., constantly renewed but never substantiated.
The continuous critical lack of resources was discouraging but,
paradoxically, it had its positive side.' It forced us to develop oUF
imagination and ingenuity in order to do as much as possible with the
little we had. It all worked out in the end, and we can look back at the
achievements with great satisfaction. What the Project lacked in
money was compensated for by the high motivation and dedication of
those involved·in it.
169
13 e Actio Starts
The unorthodoxy of the Project
The Project had been conceived in an unusual manner, and remained
unorthodox to the end. It did not follow the traditional rules laid
down for projects that have the participation of international agen-
cies. In one sense it represented the formalization of th·e informal. Its
coming about was more the result of the convergence of ideas of
individuals, than of institutional interests and policies. The absence of
clearly formalized institutional ties generated a chronic deficiency of
material· and financial resources but, on the other hand, allowed for
great freedom and creativity as well as speed of action. Its apparent
weakness turned into its strength, since it generated and
esprit de corps among its members. This strength was acquired, how-
ever, at considerable emotional and psychological cost. We carried
on in the permanent expectation of stronger support. In fact, the
CINTERFOR/ILO general meetings of 1979 and 1980 had con-
firmed the interest in the Tiradentes Project as a demonstrative
undertaking for the Latin American vocational training institutions,
and it had been strongly that international financial
contributions should be negotiated. So negotiations were going on
all the time at the highest levels, while we were stretching our
imaginations for means of survival and positive output. Efforts at
the top were exercized to no avail, while our efforts at the lowest
level were already bearing fruit.
170
A cause for permanent anxiety was the fact that we were never able
to envisage the complete duration of. the Project. My own stay was
renewed seven times during two years. This was also the case ~ i t h the
three.assistants who worked with me during the last 12 months. Such
insecurity is mentally exhausting and caused many periods of .acute
depression.
But human reactions are strange and unpredictable. Our constant
anxiety became a sort of challenge. Our feeling of being abandoned
and misunderstood provoked the response: we'll show them how
foolish they are by demonstrating what we are capable of doing even
without their help. Our motivation and belief in the value of what
was being done became the driving force behind all our efforts. I
think it is important to stress these factors, because they allow the
ultimate achievements to be evaluated in their true human perspec-
tive. Probably the most unorthodox component of the Tiradentes
Project was the fact that it was carried out successfully with meagre
resources, but with a great amount of love. Looking back, I feel
convinced-because there is the evidence-that such love can per-
form wonders. I was lucky, of course, to have found collaborators
capable of so much attachment to and passion for their work and my
gratitude goes out to them.
38
In the end we felt-and made. it
public-that the Project, had it not been carried out in this unortho-
dox manner, would have remained forever in the realm of ideas.
Phase One: the children speak their minds
A central preoccupation of mine during the Initial months was to find
a way to secure the participation of children in the revitalization
process. It seemed to me that if children could be made to reveal
freely their visions of society, of school, of authority, of work and of
the worst, best and most likely futures, then the most fundamental
and pressing problems of their society could be exposed in the purest
possible way. I felt strongly about the validity of this hypothesis. I
discussed the matter with several qualified persons in relevant institu-
tions. They felt that it was an Interesting idea, but a difficult task.
Furthermore, the outcome might be dubious, because 'children can
171
be so easily influenced', or because 'you can make children say what
you want'. I was not very convinced by these observations, and
persisted in my idea. My feeling about children was, and remains,
quite different. I believe that children can, and usually do, stick very
strongly to their feelings and beliefs, despite the fact that they may
often appear to give in. They may only superficially give in, because it
is in their to maintain favourable relations with their elders,
while keeping th'eir convictions to themselves. Hence a 'neutral'
person might well work as a positive catalyst for the revelation of
their inner world.
There was no hope of me carrying out the task on my' own. I had to
find exactly the right person, which I thought highly unlikely, at least
in Tiradentes. However, I had the good fortu.ne-as mentioned
earlier-to meet a young, newly-arrived couple. She was a psy-
chologist and he a musician, and both revealed an interest in child-
ren. I was able to hire her for some months in order to carry out
the experiment and her good communication with children gave me
confidence.
39
What follows in this section is the product of her
tion.
. It was decided to try out a sample of 20 per cent of the children of
Tiradentes, both urban and rural. The age bracket was between 7 and
12 years of age. The areas to be studied were their visions of: school
and education, work and working conditions, the city, and the best,
worst, and most likely future. The method consisted of free conversa-
tions which were recorded. The dialogues were repeated and for each
child there was a considerable amount of recorded material. The most
important revelations were then extracted from the tapes and classi-
fied. Complete transcriptions were also made for anyone to study or
analyse further. This was very important in case any qoubts or
misunderstandings arose later. The material collected proved to 'be
highly revealing, often and very useful indeed. Since not all
the material can be reproduced here, the mO$t important findings
follow.
A. total of 107 children were interviewed: 51 boys and 56 girls.
They were divided into three categories, accc;>rding to the socio-
economic status of their parents: 1) of employers; 2) child-
172
ren of employees; 3) children of self-employed or autonomous
people. Thirty-five children came from the rural area, and 72 from
the urban environment. The division into three groups was not
particularly sophisticated, especially in the case of group 3 which
could include children of a lawyer as well as of an artisan, but it was
sufficient for our purposes.
The first topic to be investigated was the childrens' relationship
with school and education. It produced some very interesting con-
trasts. With respect to the teacher-pupil relationship, -85 per cent of
the answers given by urban children revealed it to be of a highly
authoritarian nature, while only 51 per cent of the rural children
revealed the same characteristic. The remainder did not denounce any
form of clear authoritarianism. Despite many critical revelations and
complaints, per cent of those urban and 74 per cent of those rural
considered school 'a good thing'. The rest thought that school should
be abolished. An interesting outcome was the fact that, despite com-
plaining about punishments, many thought that they were good.
Several children even considered that 'shouting and insulting was not
enough, and that the teacher should also hit them when necessary'.
These apparent contradictions are clearly the outcome of a
patriarchal society. Authoritarianism is disliked, yet accepted and
sanctioned as the only possibility.
Their dislike of the school building was almost unanimous. When
asked how they would improve it, the great majority asked for trees
and flowers and for the walls to be painted with nice colours. As to
other improvements for the school in general, they wanted a library,
lessons in musical instruments, horticulture and free painting. The
poorer children wanted lunch and jobs.
When the results of the interviews were revealed in a seminar, the
reactions of the teachers and educational authorities were adverse in
the extreme. Complaints were made to-the effect that the research was
biased, that many revelations had been fabricated and that some were
simply libellous. We felt that we were really in trQ-uble: it was the
Project's first and most serious crisis, and we were just starting.
Asking later what went wrong, I came to the conclusion that
the method of communicating the results had been too harsh. A great
173
number of direct quotations-some extremely critical-had been read
at the Seminar in front of an international audience.
4o
The teachers'
feelings had been hurt quite badly. This error on our part impeded
any constructive analysis of the findings made together with the
teachers, in order to make improvements. The findings were prob-
ably valid, but making them public without the teachers having had
any previous say in the matter was considered offensive. Fortunate-
.ly, after a while, close ties were re-established between the Project
and the school and its teachers, but the subject was never touched
upon again. We had learned a lesson, and such an error was never
committed again.
The other outcomes of the study did not provoke any adverse
reactions or, if they did, we were never made aware of them. The
second subject was work and w o r ~ i n g conditions. It should be point-
ed out that, due to the migration of young people, a growing amount
of working responsibility is taken up by children as young as those
we were studying, i.e. between 7 and 12 years old. It was discovered
that 76 per cent of the urban children and 66 per cent of those from
rural areas were carrying out regular work. Many of them were
working for their parents and the rest away from home. Working
schedules were between 3 and 5 hours a day for the great majority.
Their activities were mainly helping their parents with their work:
door to door and street selling of food products or bijouterie; assis-
ting silversmiths; baby-sitting; domestic service; cheese-making;
laundry work; making fireworks; assisting stone masons; acting as a
guide in museums and places of interest; and other menial tasks. Of
those who received payment, the monthly incomes for their work
(expressed in dollar equivalents) fluctuated between a minimum of
50 cents and a maximum of 40 dollars. However, about 80 per cent
received an average of 15 dollars per month. Others did not receive
pay, and worked just for food.
Despite such exploitative conditions, only a surprising 21 per cent
of the urban children and 34 per cent of those rural, were thinking of
leaving the area when somewhat older. It was established that in
practically all cases the money received was a contribution to the.
family income. It should be pointed out that child malnutrition is
174
prevalent. in the region. Furthermore, the vast majority have either
lost their teeth by the time they are 15 years of age or these are in an
advanced stage of decay. Skin problems are also to be found, mainly
due to lack of vitamins and proteins.
As far as their perception of the city goes, some iQteresting obser-
vations came to light. Although constructions of a tasteless yet ag-
gressive modernistic style are beginning to appear in many
Tiradentes contains a predominantly colonial style of architecture
which, although badly deteriorated, is of great artistic value and
remains the city's main attraction. Indeed, were it not for the charac-
ter and beauty of its antiquities, the town have died out quite
some time ago. So, bearing this in mind, it was somewhat surprising
that a large amount of children wanted to get rid of the old and see the
town full of those 'modernose' houses, so called because of their
aggressiveness yet lack of identifiable style-except for the con-
spicuous presence of expensive kits.ch materials. In this instance,
classifying the opinions according to the status of parents turned out
to be significant. Those for total modernization were 73 per cent of
children of employers, 71 per cent of \children of employees, and
only 43 per cent of those of autonomous workers, who are mainly
artisans and indepe'ndent labourers.
The long dialogues with the children were sufficient to discover the
reasons behind their visions of modernization. The old constructions
are extremely attractive for any outsider yet, as mentioned in a
chapter, no one sees the poverty, and often misery, that
exist behind their walls. Quite logically, the children identify the old
with the misery. They see that those who live {n 'modernose' houses
do not suffer their distress and privation. Hence, antiquity means
deprivation. c:y
This finding was, for us, a confirmation that any process of revita-
lization must concentrate on the betterment of the people's quality of
life. Only then will the important preservation and revitalization of
the physical environment have any meaning. If a beautiful old town is
to be saved-and it must be saved-it is imperative to save the people
first. The future adults, who will one day be responsible for the town,
were giving a very clear warning.
175
The next subject was, perhaps? the most fascinating of all: the
children's visions of the future. The first enquiry was: what were
their images of the best and worst possible futures? It transpired,
among the urban children, that their notion of the future had, in
general, a lot to do with collective processes. In other words, they did
not perceive it in a particularly i n d i v i d u ~ l way.41 This, however, was
not the case among rural children. Their vision was of a more indivi-
dual nature. In the urban case, when referring to the best possible
future, 71 per cent had a collective vision; and 61 per cent maintained
such a vision when describing the worst possible future. In the rural
area only 29 per cent had a collective vision when thinking of the best
possible future. Yet curiously enough, a collective vision character-
ized 49 per cent of the rural children when it came to describing the
worst possible future. The next step was to ask them what they
thought was the most probable future. Here, 68 per cent of the urban
children had an optimistic outlook. In the rural milieu, optimism
characterized 51 per cent. .
Having looked at the statistics, it is interesting to see the future in
terms of the childrens' own images. The best future for urban child-
ren comprised basically the following components: less violence
(which included people shouting less at each other), an improved
environment and the world 'not coming to an end'. They spoke
(using these terms) of more social justice, less inequality, no wars, no
'exploitation' of the poor and no street quarrels. Several answers
revealed a desire for the disappearance of repressive systems and local
hierarchies. They envisaged playgrounds for themselves and even 'a
shower of roses' .
Rural children, as already indicated, saw the best possible future in
more individual terms and, as shall be seen, for good reasons. Their
predominant vision was: having food, firewood and water.· Some
were very specific and said that the best that could happen to them
would be to eat sardines. One-as a means to overcome his needs
-wanted to become a cow 'because cows are fine just eating grass'.
As to the worst possible future, the answers are notably consistent
as opposites of the best imaginable future. However, some additions
worth mentioning came to light. Traditional religious images retained
176
The children speak their minds.
177
a strong influence. Images of hell, the end of the world, a universal
punishment, the extinction of the human race and the final judgement.
generated a lot of fear. In addition there was the fear of losing a job or
being forced to a beggar. And, as a counterpart to the shower
of roses, a fear-obviously influenced by television-that the remains
of Skylab might fall over Tiradentes.
The final stage was to enquire whether a distinction existed in their
minds between the desired personal future and the probable personal
future. A disparity, surprising to us, was detected in 77 per cent of "
the urban children and 46 per cent of those from rural areas. In all
these cases they wanted to be something which they knew to be
impossible. They showed no rebellious attitude, but rather appeared
to conform to what society had reserved for them. Only 23 per cent
of the urban children showed great faith in their personal capacity to
overcome their currently undesirable situation. Rural children were
even more accepting of their destiny.
(
Apart from some minor methodological shortcomings, and the
mistake committed 9ver the handling of the information about school
. and teachers, we came to the conclusion that the exercise "'had been
illuminating and I today that every development effort to be
carried out in any region, city, town or village ought to be preceded
by an enquiry into the children's minds. It is an immensely rich and
unexplored world. The facts and food for thought that it provides are
very useful. We should not be preoccupied only in doing things for
the children, we should also give them the opportunity to do some-
thing for us. And what could be better than the gift of their truth?
While the research was going on, four creative ateliers for children
were organized. They were devoted to musical, visual, literary and
corporal expression. Different forms of craftsmanship were included
under visual expression. The fundamental purpose of this "structure
was to" allow individual skills and abilities to surface in order to
stimulate their development. Thus it was hoped that, when the
children became ready for vocational training, this would allow
them to choose a speciality for which their skills had already been
revealed, and would, in turn, allow the vocational training efforts to
be consistent with local potential.
178
The ateliers functioned quite well for three months, under the
leadership of four unpaid voluntary workers. All our efforts to gather
even the most basic support for the initiative were to no avail and it
had to be terminated. Fortunately, a little more than .a year later, the
experience was revived by another group-one not related to the
Project, but with close ties of reciprocal cooperation. Under the
dynamic sponsorship of Dr. Yves Ferreira Alves, a high ranking
executive from Sao Paulo who had decided to abandon the large
metropolis in order to settle in Tiradentes, and with a house and
adequate resources, the Children's Centre for Crafts and Horticul-
ture was organized, and the idea has proved to be a great success. In
April of this year the first exhibition of children's arts and crafts was
inaugurated and revealed the existence of talent and creativity. The
true impact of such an initiative will, undoubtedly, make itself felt in
a not too distant future.
One of the experts 'of SENAC, Professor Sebastiao Rocha, had
completed a .kind of census of the artisans and craftsmen of the
Region of the Rio das Mortes (River of Deaths) to which the munici-
pality of Tiradentes belongs. A great number had been detected,
although only one-a famous ceramist-was registered as belonging
to the Tiradentes district. Still working with unpaid volunteers, we
decided to look deeper into the subject.
The first step was to attempt a classification of traditional crafts.
For this purpose, we selected s>ne of the most important and beautiful
buildings of the town-semi-abandoned and in a very advanced state
of decay-and studied it down to its finest detail. By doing this, all
the crafts and specialities that had gone into its construction were
brought to light. We left out nothing and through research into
archives and the testimonies of old people, it was possible to recon-
struct a picture of the manor as it had looked originally. Fernando
Rocha Pitta, the painter who was one of my collaborators, produced
a large number of designs that showed everything from the most
minute component of the construction to the original plans and
179
perspective. Olinto Rodrigues dos Santos Filho, local historian and
another collaborator, went into the history of the building. ·Both
contributions combined to make a very fine publication, which was
intended to be the first of a series.
We had three purposes in mind when we undertook this scheme.
First, to produce the publication, which we identified as a 'document
for seduction', in order to tempt either public or private institutions
to undertake the restoration or at least contribute to it. Second, to
classify, using a direct approach, all the traditional crafts that went
ip.to the construction. Third, with such a clas.sification at our dispo-
sal, to try to find the people in whose hands such crafts were still
survIvIng.
The main idea behind the scheme was that any restoration-and
several such projects are now underway-should originate in the revi-
talization of the relevant traditional crafts, in order to contribute to
an improvement in the quality of life of the craftsmen and their
families. In this sense, physical and human revitalization could go
hand in hand, thus satisfying the underlying philosophy of the Pro-
ject-a philosophy shared by several concerned people outside the
Project.
Our classification and publication completed, the search for
craftsmen began. Contact with a good number of artisans was estab-
lished and after long dialogues, intended to overcome their natural
distrust, they were persuaded to participate in an exhibition to be
sponsored and organized by the Project. We wanted to make as much
impact as possible with the exhibition, so the week of Easter was
selected as the best date. In addition, eight painters were· in-
vited-two, Mario Mendons;a and Roberto Vieira, of international
renown-to exhibit their works together with the 14 artisans that
made up our list. All the painters had to p r e s ~ n t work produced in
Tiradentes.
The exhibition was th·e first of its type ever in Tiradentes, and it
turned out to be impressive. It had national impact, and was reported
in the main newspapers and filmed by television. The comments
about the quality of the exhibits were very encouraging and the
artisans of the district, for the first time in their lives, felt their work
180
had been publicly dignified and admired. Practically everything was
sold and all the money handed over to the craftsmen. Many of them
could hardly believe it and some had never had so much money in
their hands. A new stage in those people's lives had begun. Rescued
from their traditional anonymity, they were gaining confidence and
pride in their work. The first step had been taken, b\lt a long journey
lay ahead.
A further outcome of the scheme was the good relations that were
consequently established with the chief executive of the Secretariat
of the National Historic and Artistic Patrimony, Dr. Aloisio
Magalhaes. His institution cooperated with the Project in other im-
portant undertakings later. Moreover, we discovered to our great
satisfaction that his philosophy had many fundamental elements in
common with that of our Project.
Phase Three: fear of freedom
We were satisfied and so were the artisans. But, human nature being
as unpredictable as it is, this satisfaction did not last very long. Many
of the artisans had sold a lot during the exhibition and had received
numerous commissions. Most of them were selling directly for the
first time, and the sensation of their newly-acquired independence,
plus the commissions, had left them a little perplexed-but happy.
Less than a week passed, and we had a number of very worried
craftsmen in our office. A few of them revealed themselves to be
extremely frightened, and the reason soon emerged. They had been
threatened-by employers in some cases and by intermediaries in
others. They had been told that working on their own was an illu-
sion, that they would need licences that were difficult to get (which
was totally untrue), and that government inspectors could come and
fine them, and so on and so forth. Others had been recriminated for
having sold directly at the exhibition and told that they were fools,
because some sinister scheme of exploitation was in the back of the
minds of those involved in the Tiradentes Project. As a result they
had panicked and, in addition, felt resentful towards us.
We were shocked and disillusioned, and disgusted by the be-
181
haviour of such sick people. It was a long and difficult task we .
'succeeded in regaining the confidence of the majority, and convinced
them that their freedom, so recently acquired, was not something to
be afraid of. Inevitably, some were lost to the cause and returned to a
state of total dependence, much to the satisfaction-I imagine-of the
troublemakers.
We had discovered that we had enemies, and we had to organize
ourselves accordingly. One thing was clear: the worst thing we could
do would be to show fear or weakness. We felt even more
committed to our task than before. In that sense the intriguers did us
a favour!
A few reflections may be pertinent at this point. Certain people
hold very strange attitudes towards artisans. Apart from the different
types of exploiter, which are well-known everywhere, there are those
who take 'possession' of the artisan in a strange way. They discover
him or her, like his work, buy his products, but keep him 'secret' by
creating an air of inaccessibility around him. They see him as 'their'
artisan, 'their' discovery, and so apparently claim exclusive rights
over him. They even justify such actions with claims that they are
'preserving the purity' of the craftsman and his work by keeping them
in a healthy seclusion. These ideas may be nonsense but they are held
by a number of people who could develop into quite serious adversa-
ries. Any work to be carried out with artisans must take account of
their existence.
Through SENAC we had the chance to organize vocational training
courses in areas of the tertiary sector. After printing a list of all the
courses that could be made available, we the 'Cofrarias' (Lay
Brotherhoods) to circulate it among the families of their members to
see if there was sufficient interest. We were quite surprised with the
number of registrations, and decided to proceed.
Courses were organized in four areas: health and sanitation, hy-
giene and body care, tourism, and hospitality. A total of 442 people
registered, and 430 diplomas were finally distributed. The small
182
proportion of drop-outs is an indication of the people's thirst for
knowledge and advancement. Despite the fact that Tiradentes does
not have the market to absorb so many newly trained people, no
migration took place. It was interesting to discover that most people
were using their knowledge in order to improve their family life and
conditions. A good number, however, began to exercise their
new-founds skills not only in Tiradentes, but in neighbouring towns
and cities as well, their journeys being paid for by their clients.
A number of young women frQm a tiny and extremely poor
village, 8 kilometres from Tiradentes, had also registered. Their
village lacks all the most basic amenities. They have no electricity or
running water and no regular means of transport to Tiradentes. De-
spite such difficulties they walked 16 kilometres every day, without
once missing a class. Some took two courses, others even three, and
one went as far as to take four courses and finished as the top stu-
dent in all of them. We were so moved by this that after two weeks
I arranged with our mayor for the Town Hall vehicle to drive them
home each day. Thus their effort was reduced to 8 kilometres daily.
It should also be pointed out that the distance covered was through
rugged terrain, from a place that is totally cutoff after even light
rainfall.
Once the courses were finished we had not only newly trained
people, we had a group of individuals who felt happy and fulfilled.
For them, the most important element had been the to share
with others in a classroom. The courses changed their forms of social
interaction. It contributed to a better and better inte-
gration. This by-product was probably as important as the product
itself. Many families, on the other hand, increased their income after
a short period.
The courses that were given were not of the kind we had had in
mind when discussing a vocational training system adapted to local
needs. Some of the courses fulfilled this requirement, others seemed
less appropriate. However, no other possibilities were available at the
time. The satisfaction of the people was our own satisfaction. Fur-
thermore, we had learned a lesson: the people respond avidly and
overwhelmingly to any chance of self-improvement. A relatively
183
small amount of effort at low cost can bring about great results. One
of those results, and a not unimportant one, was the increased sym-
pathy for the Project in the minds of the people.
Phase Five: Project is discovered
Starting in September 1980, a series of events took place which had
important ramifications for us. It was the time when the Tiradentes
Project was 'discovered internationally'. Despite the fact that I had
signed my contract with CINTERFOR, which is an ILO specialized
agency, I had never visited the office in Brasilia and I decided to do
so. It was surprising, and even amusing, to discover that the ILO
authorities in Brasilia had never even heard of the Project. In addition
I was not registered, so both the and my existence came as a
big surprise. After a warm reception on the part of the Director, Dr.
Carlos Alberto de Brito, and his second in command, Mr. Anthony
Travers, we (the Project and I) were declared into official existence.
This was later to bear fruit.
Two trips which I had to make at the time, to Mexico and Argen-
tina, served to arouse the interest of the and of the Dag
Hammarskjold Foundation, whose Director I met at a seminar in
Bariloche, Argentina. The relations established with both institutions
meant the future possibility of widening the scope of the Project.
Interest from abroad was a means of strengthening the Project inter-
nally and, in away, that is exactly what happened.
The ILO office in Brasilia decided to come to the aid of the Project
in a different form, as is outlined in the corresponding section. Our
new international relations were a reassurance for us; a reassurance
that, despite our local successes, we badly needed, in view of the
persistent lack of internal support.
Phase Six: an appointment with the past
For the past eight months my who after eight months
Centro de Estudios Economicos y Sociales del Tercer Mundo, in Mexico.
'184
The town's photographer and friends at the beginning of the century.
185
of voluntary work were now receiving a salary, and I had been busy
with a fascinating scheme that was on the point of successful comple-
tion. Wanting to do something around which the entire community
could be united, we had come up with a very ingenious idea: an
exhibition of One Century of Photography in Tiradentes. It was no
easy task but we approached it with great enthusiasm.
The methodology was simple yet slow and sensitive. We visited
family after family and, after m ~ c h conversation, persuaded them to
look into their attics, old trunks and forgotten corners, and see what
they could discover in terms of photographs . We dedicated several
months to this research and extraordinary photographic documents
of the past began to appear. We made an initial selection of 600
photos, narrowed this down to 300, and made a final choice of 120
for the exhibition. The material covered exactly one hundred years,
the oldest photograph being dated 1880.
The collection was divided into a number of basic subjects: Musical
Culture, Religious Events, Architecture and Environment, and Social
Events. The latter included hunting parties, weddings, important
visitors, family groups, sports, carnivals, picnics and funerals. It was
a marvellous illustration of one hundred years of the city's life and
history.
We had unearthed the photographs, but actually mounting the
exhibition was an expensive affair. Many of the photos had deteriora-
ted and all of them had to be enlarged. So we went searching for
support. The Secretariat of the National Historic and Artistic Patri-
mony, following instructions from the Secretary General, Dr.
Aloisio Magalhaes, made all the enlargements at their own expense.
Bamerindus, the local bank, financed the printing of several hundred
beautiful posters, while Kodak of Brasil took over the cost of printing
the catalogue.
The exhibition was inaugurated on the 5th·of February, 1981, in
the building of the Old Forum. Practically everybody, including the
oldest people, some unable to walk, came to this appointment with
the past. Every few seconds, people could be heard exclaiming as they
recognized an ancestor or were reminded of some long forgotten-
event. Many old and some younger people had tears in their eyes.
186
A patriarch and his family in 1880.
187
People stayed until very late that night and kept returning each day.
The exhibition achieved national fame and it was decided that it
should visit other cities. All the negatives went into the National
Historic and Artistic Archives because they were considered such
invaluable assets. Furthermore, it is highly likely that similar exer-
cises will be carried out in other small Brazilian cities, in view of the
valuable historical and sociological documents that can be unearthed
using such a simple methodology. Thus the exhibition proved to be a
great contribution not only to the people, of Tiradentes but to the
whole country.
Phase Seven: a guild of artisans
Meetings continued on a regular basis with the artisans and the
possibility of some form of organization was slowly taking shap'e in
their minds. Two important exhibitions had been organized in Belo
Horizonte, the State capital, and another in Juiz de F'ora, one of the
State's most important cities. Some of the artisans went personally to
the exhibitions and witnessed the successful sales. Their enthusiasm
was greatly enhanced, and finally the time seemed ripe for the
creation of a guild.
The ILO office in Brasilia sent an expert, Mr. Ivan Hasslocher, in
order to discuss with the artisans all the necessary' features of such
an organization. In addition, the Project began receiving assistance
from one of ILO's Regional .Counsellors, Professor Roberto
Whitaker-Penteado. The presence of both men proved to be impor-
tant to the successful launch of our scheme.
A ~ e e t i n g was held between the artisans and the experts, and after
having dealt satisfactorily with all questions and worries, the final
decision was taken. The artisans appointed a committee in order to
draw up the statutes f9r t ~ e future 'Corporacao dos Artesaos de
Tiradentes'. They had two weeks to report their results to the as-
sembly. The work was carried out to the satisfaction of all con-
cerned and. on the 22nd of April, 1981, in the presence of many
authorities and of other distinguished guests, the 'Corporacao' was
officially inaugurated.
188
189
This was another emotional occasion. After the newly elected
executive members had taken up their posts, their first decision was
to appoint as Honorary Members of the guild, the three oldest
artisans of the community. With wisdom, they appointed as head of
their public relations, Dr. Yves Ferreira Alves, who was about to quit
his post as Busines·s Director of the Globo Television Network,
which is the largest and most influential in Brasil. They could not
have found anyone more qualified than him for this post, the only
one requiring a non-artisan.
The new 'Corporacao' will give the artisans not only a number of
social benefits but will allow them, through a contribution from the
Ministry of Labour, to have a working capital at their disposal. This
will put an end to their constant problem of haying to sell a piece
before being able to afford new raw materials. A committee of
control will monitor all the qualifications of new members and the
requirements that all members' products must satisfy.
Those who were present as guests during the installation left with
the sensation that a considerable number of people who, only a year
earlier, were barely-making a living, isolated in their anonymity, had
reached a stage in which their work was finally recognized, respected
and dignified.
artisans become masters
For seven months I had been negotiating a grant with one of the
Departments of the of Labour through the Regional Office
of SENAC and with the efficient help of its Director, Dr. Agostinho
Miguel Pardini. This grant would allow the payment of the most
distinguished craftsmen for a few months, as part-time instructors for
young people. The approval came through in time, so that the estab-
lishment of the courses became the first concrete activity of the new
guild.
The structure of the courses was to be ·very functional. Four areas
were established: stone, wood, metal and textiles. Each medium is
covered by several teachers whose styles and products differ. Each
student chooses an area and once he has been approved, he must first
190
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191
take two obligatory courses in drawing and design. After that he
studies with three instructors in his chosen field, one after another.
The idea behind having different instructors in the same field is to
stimulate the student's creativity by avoiding the tendency to copy, as
often happens with those who have had only one master. Further-
more, the scheme is conceived in terms of education with pro-
duction.
The courses went well, and unsuspected talents made themselves
apparent. This is a good feeling, because it signifies the completion of
a human cycle. From isolation and anonymity to public recognition,
and from there to the fbrmation of an organization of their own and
now to the perpetuation of the creative process through a younger
generation.
Nine: an
In February 1981, on the very day of the inauguration of the photo-
graphic exhibition, we received an almost fatal blow. Mauricio
Carvalho, the Director General of SENAC, with whom the idea for
the Project had been conceived that distant night in Asunci6n, had
left his post a few weeks earlier. The interim Director came to visit
us and announced that no more funds were available and that the
Project had to come to an end. We were in despair, since the most
important activities that had been undertaken (as already reported)
were just on the point of successful completion. Finishing the Proj-
ect virtually then and there was, in our minds and hearts, a total and
tragic disaster. Fortunately we received private reassurance from the
Regional Director, Dr. Pardini, that he would try everything within
his power to guarantee the Project's survival for another two or
three months. '
In view of the circumstances we decided to· organize a seminar of
evaluation by the people of Tiradentes. A great many of the popula-
tion were invited, as well as representatives of the ILO and those
national institutions that had maintained relations with us. The Semi-
nar was sponsored by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, as an
input to its phased seminar 'From the Village to the Global Order'.
192
)--ol.
\.0
VJ
Apprentices of the Guild of Artisans preparing their home-made forge to melt some silver. On the right, Fernando Rocha Pitta,
painter, member of the Project's team and coordinator of all the courses.
Master craftsman 'Baba' carving one of his granite sun clocks.
194
Master craftsman Tadeu Silva working on a commissioned sculpture of Saint Michael.
195
Every one of the more than 40 people present gave their opinions
and spoke their minds. The most important and relevant aspect that
was constantly stressed by the people was that the Tiradentes Project,
as opposed to so many other plans and promises, had generated
concrete and tangible actions that had greatly benefited the commu-
nity. It was their unanimous plea that the Project should continue and
it was this testimony that a l l o ~ e d it to survive, for at least an
additional short period.
The Project went into a'transitional phase. It remained to be seen
whether it was a transition towards its end, or towards the gestation
of something that can give new force and greater dispersion to the
philosophy of revitalization of small cities for self-reliance. The ven-.
ture was a success, but in all my years as a barefoot economist, I
have learned that success is not enough to prevent the failure of
such an enterprise. I have seen others fail precisely because they had
succeeded. At this stage I could only hope. Time would tell.
196
~
~ Master craftsman Fernando Rosa, President of the Guild' of Artisans, decorating one of his cabinets.
1 a
Ten: severing
In the first week of May-after several farewell ceremonies and
parties-I left Tiradentes with mixed feelings of hope and anxiety.
Hope was based on the fact that, as a consequence of the enthusiastic
support dispensed by Carlos de Brito and Anthony Travers, heads of·
the ILO office in Brasilia, a small grant had been obtained from the
ILO in Geneva in order to carry out a field research into working
conditions and quality of life of the region's inhabitants. The funds
guaranteed a modest income for the local members of the team until
the end of the year, thus avoiding their disintegration during the vital
period of transition into consolidation and maturity. Furthermore,
the work and activities during the months that lay ahead, were to be
guided and supervised by Roberto Whitaker-Penteado, at the time
the ILO Regional Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean. His
dedication, experience and sincere commitment to the project's phil-
osophy proved to be a decisive element in its final success.
My anxiety, on· the. other hand, was rooted in the fear expressed by
many people, including members of the Project's team, who thought
that my departure-at what they perceived to be a critical moment-
would leave them perhaps dangerously unprotected·. Many thought
that disillusion and eventual collapse might follow. Paradoxically, it
was those attitudes and manifestations that convinced me that
the time was ripe for me to I had the feeling that, at least for
198
those who expressed their concern, I had turned into a sort of father
figure that provided security and protection. Hence I was convinced
that this image had to be destroyed-or should at least disappear-for
the sake of stimulating their own potential for human growth and
greater self-reliance. My friend Roberto Whitaker-Penteado was par-
ticularly helpful during those days, since he pointed out to them more
than once, that the promoter of a project could be considered to have
succeeded precisely when his presence was no longer necessary. Our
arguments to the effect that such a time had arrived for me, convinced
a few, but apparently not the majority. Time was to prove us right.
A digression at this point is in order. There is an optimal duration
for every project. But exactly how long that is, is a very sensitive and
subtle question. There are no fixed rules. First of all, a decision will
depend-among other things-on the type of project under consider-
ation. A project to build a bridge or to construct a dam is, by its very
nature, quite different from a project conceived to improve, through
participatory action, the quality of life of a given group of people. In
the latter case, there is a first phase of discovery. Ideally, that should
be foilowed by a phase of true integration between the outsiders that
are members of the team, and the local people for whose benefit the
project has been organized. This is supposed to be the period of
creativity, including the creation of an increasing awareness and
transformation, that should finally and, most importantly, lead na-
turally into the final phase of maturity, consolidation and greater
self-reliance. This last phase, however, must necessarily be reached
after the project promoters have departed. It must be the work 'and
achievement of the people themselves. Now, this can only come
about if the middle phase is, first, sufficiently enriching and stimulat-
ing for the people; and, second, not extended beyond the limit of its
critical duration. The limit cannot be established a priori. However,
although there are no rules, there are symptoms. Assuming a success-
ful integration during this middle phase, after a certain len'gth of time
a crisis will inevitably surface. It may take the shape of growing
disagreements, confrontations and disputes between the team mem-
,bers and the people (which may be a healthy sign); or of increasing
submission and dependency of the people with respect to the project
199
(which is a definitely unhealthy and undesirable sign). Whatever the
alternative may be in the case of any given project, one fact should
remain beyond dispute: that this is the moment when it is imperative
for the 'umbilical cord', to be severed. Beyond that point there is
nothing positive that an outside expert could or should do. From
there on, the chosen future and the chosen paths belong exclusively
and inalienablely to the people.
Unfortunately in most projects these subtle, yet important, psy-
chological manifestations are not taken into account. Durations are
rigidly fixed in advance, and 'desirable' aims, goals and outcomes are
predetermined by technocrats without any consultation of the people
concerned. The experts of such projects, instead of acting as they
should, that is, as 'catalysts', for the development of hidden potential,
act as they should not, that is, as 'doers' of things that are often not
desired. The final outcome in such cases is always the same: it is
neither what the technocrats proposed or predicted, nor what the
people would have wished. It is simply failure and, eventually,
collapse.
Despite the fact that our project had been flexible and had pro-
moted full participation, these considerations weighed heavily on my
mind when I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to bid
farewell. So I did, and two weeks later-my anxiety notwithstand-
ing-I had settled in Uppsala, as a guest of the Dag Hammarskjold
Foundation, in order to write this book.
Phase Eleven: satisfaction from afar
Two months had elapsed since the misty evening of my arrival in
Uppsala. It was one of those late spring mornings of almost unreal
nordic luminosity. I just sat at my desk, unable to write. Beyond the
window, my eyes played hide-and-seek with Uppsala castle through
the nodding branches of the luxuriant maple tree. It was one of those
days without room for darkness, either in the atmosphere or in the
mind. One of those days in which we are willing, nay, anxious once
. again to believe.
The discreet approaching steps of Kerstin brought my entire exist-
200
ence back into the room. The expression on my face must have been
somewhat strange, because she simply looked at me, handed me a
large envelope saying 'For you', and left, it seemed to me, in haste.
Mechanically, my hands (not me) tore open the envelope. I looked
out through the window again, and when I realized that it was
impossible to submerge myself once more into the vanished en-
chantment of a moment ago, I pulled my senses together and forced
them to converge on what I was holding with my hands. I looked in
the envelope and found six letters. Contrary to any normal habit, I
opened all of them at once, pulled out all the sheets, and place.d them
one on top of the other. I had to laugh at myself when I discovered
that, for a moment, I had been disturbed by the fact that the sheets
being of different sizes, did not allow me to organize them into a neat
congruent pile. I felt a bit silly. Only then did I take the first letter
and began to read.
One letter from the Mayor of Tiradentes. Others from members of
the Town Hall, and the rest from some citizens of the town. All
wished me well, told me about the progress that was taking place
through the project and assured me that Tiradentes would always be
open for me as a home. I put down the last letter, streched myself in
my chair, and a line of a poem my mother had read to me while I was
still a child, suddenly came to my mind: 'This is the end of a perfect
day ... '.
I left the office, and spent the rest of the day walking in the woods.
Phase Twelwe: six months later, Tiradentes revisited
One day in mid-September, the summer and I had accomplished our
respective missions. I had written my book and he had delivered all
his light. We both bade farewell to Uppsala, and together we headed
towards the south. During the transit it occurred to me that, in some
respects, my life had something in common with that of the seasons:
it was an interminable chain of arrivals and farewells; only in my case
there was seldom a return. This trip was going to be an exception.
Two aeroplanes and one bus took 20 hours to get me from Paris
to Tiradentes. I thought this was fun, because I wanted to enjoy the
201
total contrast without any transItIon. My good friend Roberto
Whitaker-Penteado and 'my kids' from the project, Ann Mary,
Vania, Fernando and Olinto, were waiting for me at the bus terminal in
Sao Joao del Rei, the neighbour city of Tiradentes. During the 15
kilometre drive home our conversation was mere trivia. It always
happens on such occasions, when we all have too many things to
report. We simply kept conjugating the verb 'to be': I am fine, you
are fine, we are fine, they are fine. .
The first person to greet me, with guttural laughter and happy
gesticulations, when I got off the car was '0 Preto', the village fool, a
lovely old man, who probably was' not half the fool many people
thought him to be; since he was surely the only one in town who
registered everything about everyone. Later came the many embraces
and the interminable welcoming toasts with home-distilled 'cachas;a'.
Quite drowsy, I went to bed to enjoy my first night ever as a guest of
Tiradentes.
I stayed for one week, and what I discovered was very· pleasing
indeed. I became aware not only of tasks that had been completed but
also of processes in the course of consolidation, as well as of interest-
ing and intelligent plans for the future. The Guild of the Artisans had
achieved official recognition from the federal government through its
National Artisanship Development P r ~ g r a m m e .. This allowed for
increased markets, both national and foreign, for the new products
being made. Furthermore, financial support for the purchase of raw
materials was now possible. The school of the Guild was functioning
smoothly, revealing many new creative talents. The results of the
field research into quality of life were being tabulated at the time, and
the most. acute problems that were detected were going to be the
basis of community action programmes sponsored by the Guild.
This deserves some additional comment.
The final structure that the Guild· was naturally adopting was
interesting and quite unique. It was not just a guild of artisans for
artisans; it was slowly turning into a vital nucleus of revitalization for
Tiradentes as a whole. According to the plans under consideration at
the time, three centres-in addition to the apprentices' School·that
was already functioning to the satisfaction of all concerned-were to
202
be integrated into the Guild. These were a Centre for Study and
Promotion of Community Actions (CEPAC); a Centre of Popufar
Arts and Traditions; and a Children's Centre of Crafts and Horticul-
ture.
The CEPAC originated as a felt need following the results of the
field research previously mentioned. Its function is to carry out
similar surveys periodically and then design concrete action pro-
grammes to solve the most pressing problems that are detected. Any
technical as well as financial aid beyond local capabilities must be
negotiated between the Guild and the corresponding state or federal
agencies, with the support of the local authorities for whom this new
grassroots organization has become a corJ;1er-stone. The functions of
the Centre of Popular Arts and Traditions are to revitalize and diffuse
regional musical folklore as well as formal music, cuisine, dances, oral
stories and legends through recordings, and to house ,as well as to
expand the collection <?f one century of photography in Tiradentes.
Finally, the Children's Centre of Crafts and Horticulture which, as
reported in the previous chapter, has developed well under the gene-
rous sponsorship of Ives Ferreira Alves and with the cooperation of
the local school, will hopefully become' part of the Guild as well. In
this manner, talents revealed arid stimulated during childhood may
later find appropriate outlets for f ~ r t h e r growth and development in
the apprentices' school of the Guild. .
Six months earlier I had left Tiradentes with mixed feelings of hope
and anxiety. This time I left with mixed feelings of sorrow and
satisfaction. Sorrow for the fine people and the valuable human
experiences I was leaving behind; this time perhaps forever. Satisfac-
tion because I had had the privilege of being a witness-and, perhaps a
little bit of a promoter-to a significant metamorphosis 'of people
who, having been invisible not long ago, had now becom'e important
for their community and very visible indeed. Furthermore, I was also
satisfied because 'my kids' in the project were all integrated· into the
process by the wish and will of the people themselves: Fernando
Rocha Pitta as coordinator of the courses of the Guild's school, Vania
Lima Barbosa as head of the CEPAC, Olinto Rodrigues dos Santos
Filho as future coordinator of the Centre of Popular Arts and Tradi-
203
tions; and Ann Mary Fighiera Perpetuo-her 22 years of age and her
four children notwithstanding-as the dedicated secretary of it all.
Whether everything continues and is consolidated according to
wishes and plans, I do not know. Probably not. After all, every
process of human growth generates its own contradictions. However,
a rich and honest experience in grass-roots organization with full
participation is taking place. As a consequence, somewhere in the
world, in a place called Tiradentes, there are some people whose life
today is a bit better than it was. That one fact is legitimate cause
for satisfaction.
Afterthoughts
I am certainly not of the opinion that the Tiradentes Project was in
itself a project of a spectacular nature. What are important, however,
are the lessons that can be drawn from it. The fact that considerable
improvements, at the local level, came about in such a short period
and with such minimal resources, is well worth further consideration. I
Immensely costly and laborious national development programmes
have done little or nothing for the people living on the national
peripheries. In many cases their situation has worsened as a conse-
. quence of the kind of development programme that is applied on a
national basis without any consideration of local or regional needs
and characteristics.
Since financial resources are always scarce, it should be noted that a
lot can be done with remarkably little at local and as
long as people. are stimulated by being given some opportunities
themselves, however small. Young people can be found in every
region and in every town with the motivation, imagination and will to
promote the revitalization of their birthplaces rather than emigrating
from them. The problem is that they seldom, if ever, get the chance
or the necessary direction. Policy makers and planners are too busy
with the big problems. There is still a predominant belief to the effect
that 'big problems require big solutions'. I don't believe in the valid-
ity of such a dictum any longer. In fact, I am quite sure that 'big'
problems require a great number of small solutions'. Perhaps not
204
i everything but nevertheless more than one would be willing to be-
lieve at first, can be solved at the local level, with local people. i'.
Tiradentes has changed, and I feel convinced that it is for the
better. The lethargy that resulted from depression and a sense of
having been abandoned has given way to a new dynamism and a
renewed confidence in the community's potential. Not only the
Project but other local institutions that have developed in the mean-
time, such as the Society of Friends of Tiradantes, represent a new life
and greater hopes for the city and its environment.
The annual cost of the Project (my personal salary excluded) was
less than US$ 30,000. With such an amount, 430 people attended
training courses and a further \80 were Cl:t the time of this writing
studying in the School of the Guild of the Artisans of Tiradentes.
Exhibitions were organized and the traditional artisans have at least
tripled their sales if not more. Furthermore, a new local confidence
has emerged, which may lead to many additional improvements
in the near future. Some disruptive elements notwithstanding, the
people increased their participation in the life of the community as
well as their sense of unity. If such outcomes could be calculated in
terms of capital/output ratio, the result would be quite spectacular.
Such a project is a good investrrient because it works. So much can
be achieved when thinking and acting small. This should not be sur-
prising, because, after all, smallness is not.hing but immensity on the
human scale.
205
1. See Moberg, Vilhelm, A History of the Swedish People, P.A. Norstedt &
Saners Forlag, Stockholm, 1970, Vo!. I, p. 2.
2. Ibid., p. 2.
3. Ibid., p. 2.
4. Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 28. (The italics are mine.)
5. See Ferkiss, Victor, The Future of Technological Civilization, George
Braziller, New York, 1974, p. 7.
6. Ibid.,p.68.
7. Engels, Friedrich, Dialectics of Nature, International Publishers, New
York, 1940, pp. 291-292.
. 8. Ferkiss, Victor, op. cit., p. 68.
9. Georgescu-Roegen, N., The Entropy Law and the Economic Process,
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1974, p. 2.
10. Georgescu-Roegen, N., op. cit., p. 2.
11. Ferkiss, Victor, op. cit., p. 63.
12. Some of the most interesting proposals are contained in What Now:
Another Development, The 1975 Dag Hammarskjold Rep'ort on De-
velopment and International Cooperation. The Dag Hammarskjold
Foundation, Uppsala, 1975.
13. Georgescu-Roegen, N., op. cit., 'p. 1.
14. N., cit., p. 19.
15. Georgescu-Roegen, N., op. cit., p. 6.
16. Hardin, Garret, 'Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor',
Psychology Today, 8, 1974. For good criticism of Ha'rdin's ideas see Bay,
Christian, 'Toward a World of Natural Communities', Alternatives IV,
No. 4, Spring, 1981.
17. For the fjrst two points I have taken ideas from Ferkiss, because I
identified with them even before reading him. I have added the third
206
aspect (which he ignores as do most) for reasons that I consider quite
obvious. I have added it because I consider it logical and essential to
consolidate the factual possibility of the other two. No form of human-
ism makes any sense to me without a drastic redistribution of power.
18. The detailed information of this history has been taken from Julio
Estrada Ycaza, Regionalismo y Migraci6n, Publicaciones del Archivo
Historico de Guayas, Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1977.
19. Juan Mangache made his second visit to Quito in 1598, accompanied by
his two sons, Pedro and Domingo, who were painted. Their portrait is to
be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Madrid.
20. The quotation has been taken from the first chapter of Marshall Wolfe's
Elusive Development, published in 1982 by the UN Reserarch Institute
for Social Development and the Economic Commission for Latin
America.
21. Ibid.
22. Eduardo Ribeiro de Carvalho died in 1979, in his early fifties. His
untimely death represented an irreparable loss to all those who, under his
stimuh-:ts, were allowed to advance and promote the most audacious and
innovative ideas, something rarely found in international organizations.
23. Tiradentes means literally 'Toothpuller'. It was the nickname of J oaquim
Jose de Silva Xavier, leader of the first independence attempt in Brazil, in
the late eighteenth century. The attempt was known as the 'Inconfidencia
Mineira'. Tiradentes was executed in Ouro Preto after the movement was
crushed. His body was dismembered and the head and limbs were
exhibited in the main towns of the area as a warning to the population.
He was born close to the town that today bears his nickname.
24. In this respect, a fundamental contribution has been made by Tibor
Scitovsky in The Joyless Economy, Oxford University Press, 1976. He
does not concern himself with the problem of size as I do here, but he
does 'look deep into the consumer's soul'.
25. Aristotle, Politics, 1326a and 1326b.
26. Plato, The Republic, 423b.
27. See Valaskakis, K., et aI., The Conserver Society, Harper & Row,
Publishers, New York, 1979.
28. Bent Sorensen, Energy and Resources, Science, VoI. 189, No. 4.199,
July, 1975, pp. 255-260.
29. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Proposition
2.012, fourth phrase.
30. Ibid., Proposition 2.013. (The italics are mine.) I agree with Wittgenstein
that we can imagine an empty space, although with some difficulty, since
some form of object will tend to appear as a boundary or limit of that
imagined empty space. However, we can certainly not perceive an empty
space.
207
31. Robert Ornstein, On the Experience of Time) Penguin Books, New
York, 1975, pp. 21-22.
32. Leniz and Alcaino)s paper was presented at °the Seminar on 'Time,
Quality of Life and Social Development', Bariloche, Argentina, Octo-
ber, 1980.
33. The embryonic theory that I am presenting here was greatly inspired by
this dramaticparagraph of K a f k ~ ) s. °
34. Tiradentes is located at the base of the Sao Jose Sierra which is a haven of
spectacular and rare flora as well as interesting fauna. It has been, and
still is, in constant danger of depletion and destruction. Some species
have already vanished. Tiradentes itself contains an invaluable colonial
cultural heritage, in spite of its long abandonment, deterioration and
decay.
35. For an interesting exposition of the idea that follows, see Michael Toda-
ro, City Bias and Rural Neglect) The Population Council, New York,
1981.
36. See IFDA Dossier 17) International Foundation for Development Alter-
natives, May/June, 1980, pp. 11-13 and Development Dialogue 1981:1.
37. The Foundation contributed to the financing of the Third Latin Ameri-
can Meeting on Research and Human Needs, sponsored by UNESCO,
in Tiradentes in October, 1979. Although I was coordinator of the
meeting, it was not properly an action of the Project.
38. They were: Fernando Rocha Pitta Sampaio, painter; Vania Lima Barbo-
sa, economist; Olinto Rodrigues dos Santos Filho, regional historian;
Ann Mary Fighiera Perpetuo, secretary; Edson dos Santos, office boy.
Their ages ranged from 19 to 28 years.· °
39. Norma Nasser and Ademar Salomao. All the information and data that
follows about children has been taken from a preliminary (unpublished)
version of her paper 'Visoes da Infancia; 0 Caso de Tiradentes'. This
version was produced in 1980.
40. It was the Third Latin American Meeting on Research and Human
Needs, sponsored by UNESCO and carried out in Tiradentes in Octo-
ber, 1979. The subject of the meeting of that year was 'Human Needs
and Childhood', hence the presentation of our research on that occasion.
41. Exactly the opposite had been the finding of Eleonora Masini who had
studied children in small towns of Italy. Her research was contained in
her paper 'The role of childhood in different development styles', presen-
ted at the Seminar mentioned in notes 37 and 40.
208

This, book, now reissued by Zed, has becorne a classic since it was first published by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in 1982. It has been translated into five languages and has had an extraordinary impact on grassroots development practice. The author relates two of his own experiences in 'barefoot economics'; As he explains: 'The first is about the miseries of Indian and black peasants in the Sierra and coastal jungle of Ecuador. The second about the mi~eries of craftsmen and ar~isans in Brazil. The former is, in a way, the story of a success that failed; the latter a failure that succeeded. Both refer to a people's quest for self-reliance. Both are lessons in economics as practised at the human scale.' He intersperses his moving and insightful accounts with reflections on development projects and experts, pioneering criticisms of orthodox development economics, and a new vision of development in which 'the poor must learn to circumvent the national (economic) system.'" Manfred Max-Neef is a Chilean economist whose Centre for the Study and Promotion of Urban, Rural and Development Alternatives (CEPAUR) seeks to reorient development in terms of stimulating local self-reliance, satisfying fundamental human needs and, more generally, advocating a return to the human scale. A founder member of the Club of Rome and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, he has taught in various universities (including Berkeley in the early 1960s) as well as working on development projects all over Latin America.

'A minor masterpiece ... The three chapters entitled 'Theoretical Interludes' are remarkable for their insight, originality and profundity.' John.Papwortp., The Fourth World. 'A clear break from the conventional approach to economICS Max-Neef argues that in most Third World countries the ~evelopment styles imposed tend to increase marginalisation of the peasants without generating alternatives for employment. Further, the growing industrialisation of agriculture tends to destroy existing traditional skills. The final result is that the 'invisible sectors' are left alone to design their own survival strategies.' West Africa. 'An unusual volume with an unusual message ... It should be studied carefully by social scientists and policy makers alike.' Nicholas ~ Balabkins, The Eastern Economicfournal. 'A well written book that provides a challenging 'and welcome break from the repetitive debates about the economics of development ... For Max-Neef the central question of economic development, and in particular the lives of the poor, is to find a principle of project design whereby the people concerned are central in the whole process.' Education with Production. 'Max-Neef realizes full well that the problems which face us today are very profound.' Edward Goldsmith, Resurgence. 'Written with passion, this book also inspires passion in the reader, above all because it views the problems of poverty and marginalisation from a new and more human angle.' Development Education Exchange Papers. 'Successfully combines very theoretical theory with very practical practice ... This book will have many readers among economists and politicians as well as among the increasing number of people concerned with development and project design.' Chronicle.

FROMT E OUTS DE
00 liNG

MANFRElD A

MAX~NEEF

Zed }B({])({])]k§ J[Atidl
London and New Jersey

Copyright © Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. New Jersey 07716. 1992. and 165 First Avenue. This edition was first published by Zed Books Ltd. USA. Cover designed by Sophie Buchet. in 1992. bvre Slottsgatan 2. All rights reserved. 57 Caledonian Road. Sweden. UK. Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by BiddIes Ltd. 1982. Guildford and King's Lynn.187 0 Hb ISBN 1 85649 188 9 Pb . London N1 9BU. 75220 Uppsala. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 1 85649.From the Outside Looking In was originally published by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. Atlantic Highlands. in 1982.

For MAT/AS FEL/PE. my first grandchild. For him and his generation / wish a world with more justice than the one / here describe. who was born at the same time as this book. .

97. pages 147.189. 193. 194. 77.93. is taken from a Viking rune stone (6 UR 937) located in Uppsala's University Park in Sweden. 149. photographer unknown. Eros Conceicao. 83. The symbol on the front Coyer.rail some day between the essential components of our world's suryival trinity : Nature. Designed one thousand years ago--or perhaps earlier-it ~ransmits such a serene and simple beauty in its representation of a perfectly harmonious. . pre. 157. founded in 1981 by Manfred A Max-Neef. 197. that is. 155.95.89. 153. back cover. Rural and DeYelopment Alternatiyes. 79.Photo credits: Pierre Adamini. which is the symbol of CEPAUR.187. 195.87. hopefully. pages 185. 151. the striving for similar conditions that should. Humanity and Technology. pages 127. balanced and indissoluble trinity.91. 191. Harald Hamrell. Manfred A Max-Neef.85. 81. that it appeared to the author as an ideal symbolic synthesis of CEPAUR's philosophy. the Centre for Study and Promotion of Urban. pages 75. 177.

te ts Foreword. Leopold Kohr Prelude 15 9 Part One The ECU-28 Project: Horizontal Communication for Peasants' Participation and Self-reliance 1 Introduction 25 2 Theoretical Interlude (I) 33 3 Theoretical Interlude (11) 44 4 The Perception of Reality 57 5 In A World Apart 74 6 The Peasants Get Together 98 7 In A World of Our Own 105 8 Far Away and Long Ago 113 Part Two The 'Tiradentes Project': Revitalization of Small Cities for Self-reliance 9 10 11 12 13 14 Introduction 121 Theoretical Interlude (Ill) 129 Encounter with Reality 145 A Scheme for Action 161 The Action Starts 170 Navigation and Return 198 Notes 206 .

.

which hangs like a'medieval tapestry from the majestic mountain range which crosses the 160 square kilometres of its territory. In the first place.246 foreigners. stretching along the Rhine near Lake Constance. Liechtenstein is one of the world's smallest sovereign communities. Its population numbers 25. I say this may be not altogether without significance for several reasons. of whom 15. This should appeal to Manfred Max-Neef. There is a car to every two inhabitants.6 per sq.220. with a population of 4. one of the world's most prestigious collections of paintings.974 are citizens and 9. But it is perhaps not altogether without significance that I should at last be taking up my pen again in this enchanting principality. which Aristotle defined as one that can be taken in at a single view. the unemploy- 9 . between its boundaries with Austria and Switzerland. who is the guardian of the Liechtenstein Gallery. nestling at the foot of the castle mountain residence of the Prince. Its inhabitants live in ten villages evenly spread through the land in clusters ranging from 280 people to 4. a philosophy that permeates all his thinking.614.Foreword It is sheer coincidence that it is in Liechtenstein that I find myself writing this foreword to Manfred Max-Neef's book on the development of some poor regions of Latin America.552. surrounding a little capital. km. for whom smallness is not just a beautiful slogan but. as in the case of Fritz Schumacher. It is the ideal size for a state. Population density is 157.

nationalists. the international holding companies which have chosen Liechtenstein as a tax haven in such numbers that the corporate population of the state has become as large as its physical population. floods and torrents produce an annual headache. or. as other countries have hotels and motels. a former Prime Minister. and yet is not rich enough to condemn itself to idleness. issued to the tune of 50 million Swiss francs per year. To rework a famous saying of David Ricardo's: Liechtenstein is not rich because so many holding companies are there.what is? 10 . 'By the time a big power learns of a disaster. of course. and too many outsiders are attracted by its thriving economy. we are halfway through mending the damage'. As Alexander Frick. there is no danger that anyone--government.ment rate hovers at an almost unbelievable fractional point above zero. above all. But there is nothing which lies beyond the control of ordinary mortals. This is why. But if neither postage stamps nor foreign corporations are responsible for Liechtenstein's intrinsic autonomous prosperity. . Hence. this state of social and personal welfare is due to outside factqrs. There are problems. They have come not for the tax benefits but for the safety and stability that comes from a population that is itself rich enough to have no envy of those who are richer. reformers-should wish to expropriate them. the holding companies are there because Liechtenstein is so rich. which is an even greater cause of social upheaval than poverty. and poverty does not exist. such as tou~ists making a brief curiosity stop on their way from West to East or North to South on Trans-European journeys. peasants. No wonder that so many expert economists should attribute Liechtenstein's prosperity to those outside influences. Yet. Liechtenstein additionally sports bureautels. And it is this which has attracted the foreign corporations. Ten out of ten people still die. In the eyes of all too many. workers. such as the insatiable appetite of the world's philatelists for the principality's ever-changing handsome stamps. the truth lies in the opposite direction. offering visiting company presidents not only sleeping accomodation but also secretarial and teletype facilities. . once told me.

economic retardation. nothing can stay hidden from one's natural vision. in what in a way is his leitmotiv. everything is manageable and everything is possible under the right guidance because. an old schoolfriend from my Salzburg days. But what he considers his real life's work is not his worldly achievement but a small volume of thoughts entitled On the Side of Llfe. as in Liechtenstein. can be handled in a small one by anyone and everyone endowed with a nonnal measure of common sense. which his book so vividly describes. and as Max-N eef explains. This is why even the most severe problems are so reduced ~n a small society that something which in a large society cannot be solved even by a genius. so social problems-whether these be restlessness. they are small. and only because. the masses-on whose backs economists. . Some 800 metres higher up the mountains from my sturdy little inn lives Josef Haid. sociologists and historians construe their precious abstractions which dissolve into thin air long before they touch the earth. when he writes that 'this should not be surprising because.This is where smallness comes into play. terrorism. When his 11 . In his field experience. He looks back on a career as a prestigious business consultant who turned the fortunes of not a few companies from a downhill slide to new heights of success. after all. unemployment and inflation or crime. Manfred Max-Neef has done the opposite of this~ He has made the 'invisibles' visible. there are 'infinite riches in a little room'. in the translucency of its narrow confines. But there is yet another reason that imparts some special significance to the fact that Liechtenstein gave me the impulse to write this foreword within its boundaries. as Manfred Max-Neef calls the nameless carriers of history. F or as waves take their dim~nsions·from the size of the body of water through which they pass. and which serve mainly to impress the experts instead of to improve the lot of the people for whose sake they have been called in. by exploring the conditions and aspirations of old and young alike-even of children-and by carving out of the vastness of Latin America's world of poverty. For. There are no 'invisibles'. and war-take their scale from the size of the society they afflict. As Marlow said. smallness is nothing but immensity on a human scale'. little development principalities where.

The only trouble is that this is not as simple as it looks."son seeking happiness is unhappy. a person seeking health is sick. The person who can really help in the solution of even s~ch 12 . apply in a myriad of others. if he goes deeper still. is common sense everywhere. But what enabled him' to induce his clients to accept his revolutionary ideas for restructuring their firms. which brings to mind my late great friend Fritz Schumacher who. small. a penetration of the hidden relationships of existence. when asked whether he was not often considered a crank. and their relations with society. Well. efficient and make revolutions. It requires a study in depth. state. he is behaving contrary to the design of life. mutatis mutandis. unrealistic. as the forms of marine life do to a snorkler when he swims through a coral reef and discovers that life underneath the ocean surface surpasses in variety anything our space-age novelists could dream up. efficient and-added the author of the subsequent international bestseller Small is Beautiful-'it makes revolutions'. \Yhich may appear as eerie. somewhere. in one field will. Hence. workers. their production. he will find that the forms of life become simpler again. customers and even the arts. inexpensive. it may lead to the most unexpected revelations and deepest philosophic perceptions. indicating in the last analysis that any principle applying. economical. that person is violating the design of nature. 'They will believe you are a crank' she said. revealing the underlying unity of all things. Josef Haid's ideas also are simple. or one seeking peace is tormentedthe cause is always the same: somehow. was this one basic idea: if something is wrong in any respect--:-if a person seeking success is unsuccessful. all that is needed to mend his condition is to find out what univerallaw he is violating and then to begin acting lebensrichtig. What makes sense anywhere. Yet. than smallness. And no principle makes more sense-or is more basic to the scheme of things. He is acting lebenswidrig. their marketing philosophy. economical. and fanciful to the person meandering around on the surface. a pe1. replied: 'Yes. but I never minded because a crank is a tool which is simple. she begged him 'for heaven's sake' not to let it transpire to his clients that he was the author. in harmony with the design of life.secretary typed it. When this is done.

is the philosopher rather than the mere specialist and technician. a decade before the scholars stumbled upon it. like Josef Haid in his role as business consultant. He has freed himself from the academic bonds of professional development specialists. by setting an example for wBa. more significant than the title he gave his first book. governments and people. shows the road to achievement by introducing the reader/client to a general understanding not so much of the laws of economics but of. He is a meta-economist in the true sense of the term--: one who illuminates his subject by drawing from insights gained by going beyond it. But what has all this to do with M'anfred Max-Neef's blueprint for development? A very great deal. ther~fore 13 . to a new comprehension of the development process and the vital role played by smallness-not because it works in Liechtenstein but because it is lebensrichtig and. the deeper laws of nature. able to lead experts and laymen. under which it would have barely stirred a ripple had not his inspired publisher intervened to stress its philosophic rather than its practical dimension and called it Small is Beautiful). This is why Schumacher entitled his last book A Guide to the Perplexed (which was. economists and historians. the one who is guided by the bio-concept of lebensrichtig rather than by mere economic expediency. on that basis. under such doubtful terms as the \bottom-up approach'. I could well imagine that a grateful community such as the artisans of Tiradentes would emulate London's Trafalgar Square and name a wayside chapel St M anfred in the Fields.t is now gradually becoming known. even though he may be considered a romantic outsider and 'crank'. and the visibles at the top as well as the invisibles on the ground. works everywhere. who do not know what they should do with their classroom \ knowledge in the plains of Brazil or with the tribes of Ecuador. 'Experiencing the problems he was called in to solye as a field economist with a zeal which at times must have been akin to a martyr's and is reminiscent of Moritz Thomsen's Ecuadorian peace corps chronicle Living Poor. A Guide to Intermediate Technology.apparently strictly material problems as economic development. it also reveals one of those rare authors in the field of economics who. For not only does his book serve as a most valuable guide.

But the most valuable part of Max-Neef's book, as of his earlier study on Work, Urban Size and Quality of Lzle, may not be the practical lessons that can be drawn from it. His real achievement lies rather in what he seems to say on the side, as when he goes into a most profound and uncompromisingly philosophical analysis of timespace relationships which, as is the case with so many of his other asides, can be absorbed, only if read at a slow pace. But once absorbed, they drive one to read them again and again and not only for one's own enjoyment, but also, as I have done, for reading passages aloud for the benefit of others. They are, of course, no mere asides. As in the case of Haid's On the Side of Lzle, they constitute the philosophic base from which his development theories are drawn. I have no doubt that, had Max- N eef lived' 50 years earlier, or had Heilbronner written 50 years later, he would have been included in the latter's Wordly Philosophers, which was designed to stress that the pioneering achievements in the field of economics were invariably contributed by the philosophers of the subject rather than by the practitioners. Manfred Max-Neef has the distinction of being both. But there are other things which make reading his work as appealing as it is instructive. In his moving confessions of disappointment and failure he shares the sincerity and charm of Rousseau and St. Augustine. The people he works with spring vividly to life, as when the children he studies confide that their idea of the good life is eating sardines, and of 'misery that they might be hit by a space ship disintegrating over their town. Some of his landscapes are bathed in the glow of poetry. And the description of himself as a giant, blond, blue-eyed sort of Viking in Tiradentes, bestriding the region whose development he had come to assist, indicates that at least one of the factors for the success of a mission is the charismatic figure of a leader who inspires trust on grounds other that the power of bureaucracy and red tape. Liechtenstein, September 1982

Leopold Kohr

14

rei

e

The stories behind the book
If you are a traveller in Llao-Llao-an idyllic town in Argentina's northern Patagonia-as you walk from the little port up the hill, you will find yourself flanked on either side by mountains and two lakes before entering a native forest of ancient 'Coigiie' trees. Rounding a curve, you suddenly come face to face with a beautiful log-mansion that today houses the headquarters of one of the finest research institutions of its type in Latin America: the Bariloche Foundation, where I had the privilege of working as a researcher for a couple of years. As you approach it you will have the feeling that the natural as well as the man-made elements seem to intermingle in order to generate an almost perfectly harmonious environmental setting. You enter the

15

mansion's park after passing under an arch made of two gigantic blue whale maxilla bones; an unusual experience especially for a place located 500 kilometres from the shores of the Atlantic. The story of the mansion that lies beyond is as peculiar as the entrance itself. Several decades earlier-the exact 'number I know not-it was built by a retired Scandinavia~whaler by the name of Rangvald Nielsen. My imagination was greatly aroused once I became aware of the origins of the house. I tried hard to imagine the man and his circumstances, until bits and pieces of a possible reality began to unfold in my mind. Disillusioned by the devastation brought about by the European war, this modern Viking started looking for a better place to settle. Unable to forsake his identity, the man who had lost a world became a man in search of a landscape. It was here that he was reunited with his nordic lakes and mountains. So here he settled, here he built, here he dreamed and here he died. It was here, in October 1980, that I met Sven Hamrell, another Scandinavian, who had come all the way from U ppsala to attend a seminar organized by the Bariloche Foundation in the mansion. We communicated well from the moment we were introduced. I discovered that he was genuinely interested in my field experiences in Latin America, and we enjoyed long conversations every n~ght after

16

the seminar sessions. He was clever enough to pose questions that plumbed the depths of my experiences, motivations, inclinations and beliefs. In fact, he got so much information out of me, that I sometimes had the feeling that I was undergoing some sort of introspective analysis in the hands of an unusually able psycho-therapist. When he asked me, during our last meeting, whether I would like to write a book about my development philosophy including the human perspective of my Ecuadorean and Brazilian experiences, I replied that I had long entertained such a desire, but lacking the funds t9 sustain my family and myself during the time required for such an endeavour, I had given up hope. I had earlier received grants and commissions to write technical books and essays, but was highly unlikely-I added-to find any financial support for a book like the one we had in mind. I was very-and happily-surprised when Sven Hamrell extended a four months' invitation to me to write the book in Uppsala, under the auspices and support of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. The book was to form part of the Foundation's phased seminar 'From the Village to the Global Order'. As planned I arrived in U ppsala seven months later. If you are a traveller in Uppsala walking down the University Park, from U niversitetshuset towards the old and venerable Gustavianum building, you will find nine Viking rune stones along your path. All save one were cut as memorials for the dead: parents, daughters, sons, brothers or friends. The exception is the first of the stones to catch your eye during the stroll. If you find someone who is able to interpret and translate the runes 'for you, you will discover that the inscription reads as follows:

17

Lotta Elfstrom. My imagination was greatly aroused once I became aware of the inscription. this ancient Viking had to sustain his activities through self-reliance.Vikmundr had the stone cut in memory of himself. until bits and pieces of a possible reality began to unfold in my mind. He died in some place unknown to us. Anxious to spread his identity. In May 1981. I was introduced by Sven Hamrell to the other members of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation: Olle Nordberg. Curiosity being stronger than nostalgia. God help the soul of the skipper. upon my arrival in U ppsala. Kerstin Kvist and Daniel von Sydow. Gerd Ericson. perhaps. he sailed and absorbed whatever came his way . I tried hard to imagine the man and his circumstances. I could hardly believe that it was all the product of just six people working together. yet this message of faith and self-reliance is as inspiring and valid today as it was nine hundred years ago. Vikmundr. although he built and dreamed a lot. It was to me a confirmation of the efficiency that can be achieved through organized 18 . the man who gave up a landscape became a man in search of a world. Nowhere did he settle. Wanting to expand his horizon and. the most skilled of men. Having been an admirer of the Foundation's development philosophy and work for a number of years. and being very much aware of its enormous and well deserved prestige throughout most of the Third World. misunderstood by others.

amounted to the most stimulating human environment I could have expected. As Fritz Schumacher might have said: about 'economics as if people mattered'. Yet. The book is a material reality in the hands of the reader. All stories have a conclusion. combined with frantic work. In a way it emerged out of my personal crisis as an economist. In this case it is a book plus an enigma. As a setting in which to write a book whose two basic leitmotivs are smallness and self-reliance. But there are two more people to whom I owe my thanks: Olivia Bennet. that economists had become dangerous people.smallness. and Gabriela. frightening deadlines and a frequent atmosphere of highly creative chaos. my wonderful comrade and wife. provided the final touch of quality. the fact that it had to be-from the Baltic to the Patagonia-a Scandinavian thread of circu~stances that allowed me to finally unravel a~d even understand two Latin American stories that belong-as Pablo N eruda would say-to 'the most genital of the terrestrial'. and honoured me with such a stimulating and unforgettable entourage. this was-I thought-the perfect place. to whose nightly critical scrutiny all my daily writings were subject. Furthermore. This gave me a pleasant sensation of timeless coherence. J. Finally. Their discipline-despite Lord Keynes warning to the effect that the importance of economic problems should not be overestimated with the result that matters of higher and more permanent significance are sacrificed to its supposed 19 . The book behind the stories This is a book about 'barefoot economics'. is a mystery I should never wish to solve. About fifteen years ago. My sincerest gratitude goes to those six outstanding human beings who taught"me so much. The absence of bureaucracy. the fact that I was granted the privilege of using Dag Hammarskjold's desk to carry out my work. the house of the institution that has done so much to promote peoples' self-reliance. was located a very short distance away from the stone of Vikmundr. the man who had believed in self-reliance and practised it nine centuries earlier. the most zealous editor I have yet met. realized what I should have discovered earlier.

It soon followed that economics. of course. criticize the methodologies behind the findings. Its practitioners. gave way to a growing uneasiness. except to their authors who sometimes win prizes with them.necessities-suddenly became the magic science: the one to provide the answers to most of the pressing problems affecting humanity. the enthusiasm and optimism with which I had worked as an economist for several international organizations. end up with recommendations to the effect that what must urgently be done is to allocate more funds for further research into the subject to be discussed again in other meetings-made me feel at a certain point that I was happily participating in a rather obscene ritual. express our deep concern (often during cocktails) for what the findings show. finally. and then to participate in costly seminars and even costlier conferences in order to communicate the findings. to see it replaced by fancy theories and technical trivialities that are incomprehensible to most and useful to none. interpret the meaning of the findings (my God!!). whether as a witness or as a direct participant. Not all was negative. in my experience as an international civil servant. they . participated in. did benefit' greatly from the examples of human concern and wisdom I received from a few of my colleagues and superiors. I have always maintained my impression that-as far as most international organizations are concernedthey represent the scarce exceptions rather than the rule. To continue being engaged. lost a good deal of its human dimension. newly endowed with this unexpected power to exercise their influence over enterprises. Such positive experiences notwithstanding. or was made aware of. interest groups and governments. and. I also came across.r 20 . swiftly and proudly took for granted their new role as inaccessible and powerful sorcerers. in efforts to diagnose poverty) to measure it and to devise indicators in order to set up a' statistical or conceptual threshold beyond which a percentage may reveal the numerical magnitude of those to be classified as the extremely poor. originally the offspring of moral philosophy. Hence. After a number of years. some action programmes that were well conceived and inspiring inasmuch as they succeeded in improving the living conditions of the people for whose benefit they had been designed.

its purpose is neither to propose a general theory nor to make an academic contribution. were enough to change the course of my life. It is only fair to say that some economists were not afflicted by the malady. my awareness about such contradictions coupled with the fact that I was living in a world in which. My contacts with a few of them proved to be decisive. induced me to reevaluate my role as an economist. being capable of gathering an enormous wealth of valuable information and knowledge. The rich and unsuspected world I discovered after taking such a step. accumulated knowledge and information.did neither contribute to appease my mind nor to postpone the outcome of my impending personal crisis. despite all kinds of transcendental conferences. powerless and ambiguous when it comes to respond with pertinent and vigorous actions to the implications derived from that knowledge and information. proves to be so weak. but as a human being as well. and decided to 'step into the mud'. disengaged myself from 'objective abstractions'. not only as a professional. It seemed to me that something had to be wrong with a system that. The critical exercise-to put it in a nutshell-led me to the identification of four areas of personal concern: our unlimited admiration for giantism and 'big' solutions. as reflected by our efforts to favour an assumed 'technical objectivity' ~t the expense of losing a moral vision. Hence. our obsession with abstract measurements and quantifiers. our mechanistic approach to the solution of economic problems. is the subject of this book. a sen'se of history and a feeling for social complexity. I severed my ties with the trends imposed by the economic establishment. and our tendency to oversimplify. My own interpretation of the reasons behind the system's disturbing contradictions are discussed elsewhere in the book. increasing poverty-both in relative as well as in absolute terms-is as indisputable a statistical trend as it is an obvious and conspicuous fact to anyone just willing to look around and see. where human facts and feelings-those of others as well as my own-have replaced 21 . In any case. It is simply a book about life. grand economic and social plans and 'development decad'es'. inasmuch as the conclusions I drew from the critical incursions into which I ventured under their influence.

is something for which I have still to find an answer. . The latter is. U ppsala. however. The second is about the miseries of craftsmen and artisans in a small region of Brazil. in a way. Both' are a lesson in economics as practised at the human scale. Both refer to a peoples' quest for self-reliance. I have chosen to tell two stories. I do...abstract statistics. the story of a failure that succeded. or because I am not yet mature enough to give up the habit altogether. Whether I have done this because it was really necessary. In any case. 22 . Summer. 1981. The first is about the miseries of Indian and black peasants in the Sierra and coastal jungle of Ecuador. theorize a little (mea culpa) in some interludes included in the text. Let the stories speak for themselves . the story of a success that failed. in a way. I let those digressions stand for whatever they may be worth. The former is.

.

.

under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. Its accumulated experience included. after a decade and a half. had many achievements to its credit. the 'Misi6n Andina del Ecuador' (MAE) had already ceased to be an ILO agency and had become the national institution. By 1969 it was felt that a fundamental stage had been completed and that it was time for a new orientation with new strategies. charged with carrying out the National Rural Development Plan. The MAE. the International Labour Organization (ILO) had created the 'Misi6n Andina del Ecuador' (Andean Mission of Ecuador). both successes and failures. It was part of a more ambitious regional programme known as 'Acci6n Andina' (Andean Action) which-under the sensible leadership of men like J ef Rens and Carlos D'Ugard-attempted to undertake and stimulate similar ventures in other Indian countries of the Andes as well. 1971.1 Introductio The creation of a new front Sixteen years before my arrival in Quito in January. Even after its nationalization. naturally enough. Two years of analysis and dialogue between the Ecuadorean government. the United Nations Development Programme and the ILO finally gave rise to a Plan of Operations entitled 'Planning of Zonal Programmes for the Modernization of Rural Life in the An- 25 . the MAE maintained an Advisory Group of international experts. with the purpose of promoting the improvement of living conditions among the Indian communities. By the time I entered the scene.

at zonal level. In fact. ECU-28 represented a new front. And yet . it would have turned into an impressive grass-roots mobilization of poor peasants for fuller participation. . but that is a story yet to be told. the establishment of improved methods for the execution of rural development programmes and the design of more efficient administrative structures and procedures to carry out the task. of Operations.he problem of rural poverty.. through a non-violent process. was to be a part of a more comprehens{ve scheme. The ECU-28 Project. I am inclined to believe that if the original idea had crystallized. After nine years I still think of this frustrated endeavour with sadness. all under the general coordination of one Regional Programme. a new way to tackle t. the formulation of programmes to assist the government in the allocation of resources in order to accelerate the development of 26 .. The government was requesting cooperation in order to eliminate the obstacles preventing a more accelerated process of rural development in the Sierra. for which an integrated and multi-sectoral development programme was to be formulated as a model and demonstration for other areas. I was hired by the ILO as Project Manager and entrusted with the responsibility of heading the initiation of this new phase. Considering the obscurantist and often sinister power games that take place in so many Third World countries. in keeping with the philosophy of Andean Action. it was intended to be one of three national projects (the other. later popularly known by its code name: ECU-28. The objective was to be achieved through: • the selection of one priority rural area. and the only ventures that got off the ground were the ECU-28 Project and the Regional Programme. two in Peru and Bolivia). Although the executing agency of the Project was the ILO. it might also have failed. Unfortunately the scheme was never completed.des'. the success of such a mobilization might have been sufficient cause for a reactionary government to destroy it. UNESCO and PAHO/WHO were to cooperate through the appointment of selected experts to fill the posts indicated in the Plan. In a way that is what happened with ECU-28. other agencies such as FAO.

and to improve its capacity to absorb bilateral and multilateral credits for the purpose. giving them the opportunity to design their own development plan. However. Its wording cannot be questioned and. After all. Getting organized r The role of a Project Manager is a strange one in many ways. The Plan of Operations was formally signed on February 1. i ' In order to avoid the listed requests being satisfied in a technocratic manner. he is in a powerful position. • the design of specific projects which could subsequently be financed through the Special Fund of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). order to secure (that participation)'. the written word tends to be permanent. I went even further and interpreted this as a mandate to mobilize the peasants of the selected area. and it is advisable to leave a 27 . It is essentially a political document. by the representatives of the three p~rties involved. All actions to be carried out were to originate at grass-root levels. contains concepts and expressions considered 'progressive' at the time of writing. depending on the aims of the project. he has no say whatsoever in the design of the Plan of Operations. He has freedom of action and of judgement. The message was pretty clear. the Plan of Operations made provisions to the effect that it was necessary to 'promote measures to ensure a more active participation of the rural population and facilitate a better utilization of the actual and potential resources'. and to examine the possibilities of introducing new meth9ds and organizations in. Another par~graph insisted that it was necessary 'to revise the methods presently being applied in order to ensure popular participation in the development process. Once the Project is organized and functioning. He is backed by efficient support from headquarters and his decisions are generally accepted and respected. and was officially declared oparational two weeks later. 1971.the rural sectors of the Sierra. Such a document is produced by people who will not be in the field and probably never have been in the field.

can always be denied. The reigning principle is the same as in a shop: the customer is always right. remember. community devel-= 28 . Whatever the background. the Project Manager is stuck with a Plan of Operations that may be a double-edged sword and a group of experts whose quality as a group depends to a certain extent on luck. Their fields were: agricultural development. If he runs into trouble for having done exactly what the Plan of Operations indicated. which I consider to be absolutely correct. First. As far as I know. I learnt this the hard way. Whatever combination of these types a project's staff is made up of. Third. especially vis a vis the local technicians or· counterparts. those who are sincerely motivated. For this latter group I have some respect because at least they are honest and. if properly managed. can carry out a good job. the cynics. ECU-28 had to appoint nine experts apart from the Project Manager. Whatever happens. he can expect little or no official support and may be left to fight a very lonely battle. subjective considerations. The spoken word has no such immortality and. the representatives of the recipient government have a say in the matter. not the people for whose benefit a project is conceived. With respect to international experts I have detected three types. First. the text will be used against him. who op~nly declare their disbelief in the merit of what they are doing but do it because it allows them to keep a good job. in addition to quality and merit. And the customer. believe in what they are doing and do it with utmost dedication. is again a matter of luck. influence the selection process. The second category I find totally repugnant. If a Project Manager runs into trouble for not having done what the Plan of Operations indicated. T.good impression for posterity. is the government. My project embraced the full spectrum. provided that he is allowed to fight at all. furthermore. the Plan of Operations is handed over to the Project Manager as a mandate. nobody ever tells the Project Manager that what the document requests to be done is not necessarily what has to be done.he influence of the Project Manager on the selection of the experts that will work under his supervision is also very slight. Second. those who are mainly interested in their privileges and immunities and tend to adopt an attitude of arrogance and superiority. Second. as shall be revealed later. which is unlikely.

It took almost a year before the whole group came together. crafts and small industries. My positive impression was reinforced when I met many of the field workers. and the expert in public administration was never hired. But the material poverty of the MAE was amply compensated for by the wealth of motivation and dedication in its teams of both professional and administrativt: workers. communication. Perception of the formal environment The headquarters of the MAE were modest and rather crowded. The contacts at ministerial level were also encouraging and I was assured of all the necessary support. public health. I was much relieved. It seems to be a rule in Third World countri~s that the institutions in charge of improving the lot of the poor are very poor themselves. as shall be seen. more efficient strategies and tactics with whatever resources were available. rural education. poorly paid though it was. was very ~oving. since this implied that the future fie~d activities of the Project could be carried out in a positive milieu. However. I was later able to persuade them that the real challenge lay in designing. I had the impression that many of their expectations were beyond their means. had been completed by the time the last expert had been appointed. I held many meetings with heads of government institutions as well as with the technicians of MAE. I could count on excellent collaborators and counterparts for each of the Project's experts. in the best sense of the word. and public administ'ration. together. marketing. This feeling was often reciprocated and I witnessed the affection with which many of them were received in the Indian communities. Previous field experience had convinced me that 29 . cooperatives. A considerable amount of work. It was somewhat sad for me to have to disappoint them in this matter. I was deeply impressed by this. Furthermore. Their kind of missionary spirit. They loved their job. and identified strongly with the Indian peasants. their methods and their expectations. in order to understand their ideas.opment. and that they tended to believe that ECU-28 would represent an end to their lack of resources .

it seemed to me that this was a case of 30 . From the many ~eetings I had with the national experts' of Fhe MAE. Mexico and Peru-I felt an intuitive dislike for it. A note on participation As stated in the first section. Once all these points had been raised and understood. Systematic studies of poverty in general were scarce at the time. I had never been willing to believe that this is the case. The World Bank and ECLA also made these issues the subject of major research efforts.imagination can often do more than money. Despite the fact that the peasant's passivity and conservative attitude were often cited as fuel for the argument. Some isolated scholars had tackled the subject. historical and anthropological studies which were normally very localized. The international organizations made it a central subject of enq~iry during the seventies. However. which has ever since devoted its efforts to the achievement of a better understanding of these subjects. It seemed to me that it contained the implicit assumption-sometimes even explicit-that a certain state of ignorance and unawareness prevails among the rural poor with respect to their real problems. On the other hand. we felt ready to begin. They felt that conscientization had to precede any efforts towards participation in and for development. Oscar Lewis in Mexico and Gunnar Myrdal in Asia among others. and intuition. lack of resources is the very nature of the development game. The ILO created its Rural Employment Policies Branch in 1975. Participation was slowly becoming an issue in the context of development discussions. especially with respect to the problems of rural poverty. Although this concept was pretty much in vogue at the time-I had already detected its influence in previous field experi~nces in Guatemala. We had to rely mainly on personal experience. at the beginning of 1971 there was not much comparative material on which to draw for the methodological organization of the Project. it transpired that they interpreted their role mainly as one of conscientization of the peasant communities. the Plan of Operations of the ECU-28 Project insisted on the active participation of the rural population in the development process.

To turn beliefs of long standing upside down is no easy task. may perceive things significantly differently from the people concerned. But that change. After all. Adequate training of the agents was apparently the only answer. who should those agents be and how should they behave in order to overcome the danger implicit in these differences of perception? There seemed to be no satisfactory solution to the problem. while ass~ming at the same time that-contrary to the prevailing belief-the rural poor were perfectly well aware of what their real problems were. a symptom was being interpreted as the cause. That is to say 31 . Therefore I thought that any coherent action had to be addressed to the dissolution of some of those structural interrelationships. It was also pointed out that change for participation does not occur spontaneously and that it must be 'provoked'. The' disruption effect'. In other words. was clear in everyone's mind. I felt that passivity. The fundamental problem could be stated in the following terms: if external agents of 'disruption' are necessary for changes to take place.mistaken identity. Whether that change is connected with peasants' consciousness or with structural interrelationships was something that every one felt remained to be seen. being an outsider. in all its different manifestations. was necessary. Traditionally the peasant communities were dependent upon vertical links of communication. Since the agent. was not the cause of a rural status quo. I finally proposed a radically different approach. no matter what was attempted. but it seemed a poor one. should come from the peasants themselves. but rather the result of certain traditional structural interrelationships between labour and the owners of the means of production. whatever its source. the course of any changes provoked by his presence and influence may well be unpredictable. not least because it is frustrating to think that one may have been treading an exhausting path down the wrong track. I suggested. through a process of horizontal 'confrontation' and awareness. It was not difficult to reach consensus over the assumption that participation is a function of some previous process of change. Here again the role of external agents became the central issue of the discussions. the agent was always a cultural outsider.

Not all the experts thought the idea made sense. all independently converging on a central rod. In each case the agent of disruption would come from the outside. Others thought it was worth giving a try. Economics has evolved into a selective discipline. for the sake of a better understanding of the story to be told. Their lines of communication were like the wires of an inverted umbrella. I shall devote the next two chapters to my interpretation of this issue. 50 it seemed plausible to assume that if horizontal links of communication were established. The latter attitude finally prevailed and. and problems were reciprocally analysed. Horizontal communication was non-existent. I already knew then that economics as traditionally professed is too mechanistic to be of any use in the evaluation and interpretation of the problems that affect peasant communities living largely at subsistence levels. which meant that we were back at the beginning. Some of them insisted that in order to carry out such a scheme conscientization was necessary. Therefore. As an economist with extensive field experience.that each community posed its problems to higher government authorities and tried to get help from the top down. as shall become apparent in later chapters. the entire project and its methodology was organized and carried out accordingly. leaving many elements and processes with a direct· influence on change and development outside its range of preoccupations.. yet within a common cultural framework. interpreted and compareq. History and some ideologies also suffer from and are limited by similar rigidities. the 'disruption effect' might come about without the risk of percepti~e distortions. 32 . especially among the rural poor.

cal I rl (I) History. This is. H. traditionally the voice. economics and some invisibilities History is made by historians. We may claim. The facts speak only when the historian calls on them: it is he who decides to which facts to give the floor. Carr wrote in his essay 'What is History?': 'It used to be said that . house nor home. No event becomes a historic event unless historians turn it into one. and in what order or context. Of all these people who had paid the taxes.'3 These people 33 . their wives who had waited for them at home. bailiffs and officials (we have) caught only occasional glimpses here and there. who had hewn down forests. the unpropertied vagabonds. facts speak for themselves. of course. castles and fortresses.. built the . the cities and cottages..'l Paraphrazing a statement by Vilhelm Moberg about Sweden. we may say that history has been 'only about a single group of individuals: the decisionmakers. 2 Although some modern historical research is taking a sociological turn. The famous English historian E. untrue. in company with Moberg. that in our readings of history we have missed those 'who had sown the fields and reaped them. who on the people's behalf (have) decided what conditions they should live under'. In all those armies that had fallen for the fatherland in other countries (we) missed the rank and file. the whole class of serving men and women . palaces... cleared roads. of the masses has not been heard nor their presence felt. salaried all the clergymen. the "defenceless" who owned neither land.

economics has suddenly become one of the most important subjects of the present day. The reasons lie in our cultural traditions and evolution. capital/output ratios.who form the ranks of those invisible to history are. In fact. not the case. In other words. paradoxically. economic analysis embraces only those whose actions and behaviour are adjusted to what its quantifiers (such as those mentioned above) can measure. economics. capital accumulation and others. Its vast abstractions. price mechanisms. statistically 'invisible'. I will try to demonstrate this in the following pages. factor mobility. What they can measure. These invisibles are of the greatest importance. are activities that take place through the market mechanism. are selective and discriminatory when it comes to the mass of human beings. such as the Gross National Product (GNP). This is. There would be nothing wrong with this if the importance assigned to economics corresponded with its capacity to interpret and solve the pertinent problems affecting humanity as a whole. Economics is d~vised by economists. Through these abstractions. the evolution of the Western Judeo-Christian cultural branch. This means that almost half of the world's population-and more than half of the inhabitants of the Third World-turn out to be. instead of turning into an 'open' discipline. growth rates. unproductive or even destructive. 34 . As a discipline. The result of such limitations is that the dominant economic theories assign no value to tasks carried out at subsistence and domestic levels. I should only like to add at this point that these invisible sectors of humanity have become my main interest. though admittedly important. taking GNP as an example. No event becomes an economic event unless it satisfies certain rules established by the economist. however. in terms of economics. becomes a sort of exclusive club. not only from a theoretical point of view but also as a concrete life experience. to a large extent the ones who have made 'visible' history possible. such theories are unable to embrace the poorer sectors of the world or the majority of women. regardless of whether or not such activities are productive. and the fact that they have remained unseen for such a long time is no accident. That is to say. The sectors that are invisible to history are practically the same as those that are invisible to economics.

however. mankind's total existence accounts for only the last millimetre. The remaining sections of this and the following chapter will be devoted to a description and interpretation of the thought and behaviour of the 'visible' sectors of history and economics. the scheme h"as not operated like this and. Nature. and the frightening conditions they have brought about for humanity as a whole and for the 'invisible' sectors in particular. Humans. both human beings and nature are required. It requires a form of integration in which the rules of interdependence have primacy over those of competition. Unfortunately. after" working for a number of years as a 'pure economist'. For technology to exist. I decided to become a 'barefoot economist' and try to live and share the invisible reality. Against this perspective. cannot. if it is to evolve under conditions of dynamic equilibrium. who may conceivably abstract themselves from technology to a large degree in order to live. When I say 'a long time'. its effects are now beginning to be felt. however. disengage themselves from nature. I am talking in relative terms. needs neither one nor the other to fulfil its evolutionary programme. the 'effectiveness' of human beings in so dramatically and rapidly altering a programme more than one thousand million years old is undeniable.It is for this reason that. Such an organic hierarchy should not be broken. It is also within this last infinitesimal segment that humanity became divided into what I have called the 'visible' and 35 . most clearly in terms of the very real possibility of a crisis affecting not only the world but the whole biosphere. It is even more surprising when one realizes that the most intensive efforts to lead us headlong towards a total crisis. although it is true that the world has resisted the assaults of anthropocentric behaviour for a long time and remained apparently unharmed. If we imagine a line two metres long as representing the time that has passed since the birth of planet earth up to the present day. have taken place only in the last ten thousandth of a millimetre of this imaginary line.

. If we add to all this that human beings are the last of the superior creatures to emerge on the face of the earth. I believe causa finalis flows from the very essence of our culture or. also in the Aristotelian sense. the relation between a moving force and the result of its action.I am willing to accept that the mandate could have been misinterpreted.4 I believe that this mandate gave divine sanction to. ~:-~:. '. nor in the limitations of one ideology or another.~:. nor in the incompleteness of social. outside a time series. Man and woman. were created on the sixth day.. ~:-~:. and fill the earth and subdue it . which inevitably resulted in domination. After completing his work of that day: ' . causa fin alis is the relationship between a goal or purpose (whether supposed to exist in the future as a special kind of entity.. generator of culture. are only 'efficient causes' (causa efficiens~:·~:·) of the situation. it seems sufficiently simple and direct as to make misunderstandings unlikely. therefore. from what one might call 'the original myth' on which our culture has been built. In such a sense the concept is mechanistic in as much as it explains the future in terms of the present or the past. our world and even our biosphere.. God blessed them saying: increase and multiply.In the Aristotelian sense. in other words.'invisible' sectors. according to the Bible. or merely as an idea of the proposer) and the work carried out to fulfill it. It is outside my scope to find an answer and I only pose the question as something which every now and then absorbs my imagination. does not have its 'final cause' (causa finalis~) in planning faults.Causa efficiens is. ~:-~:-~:. it is undoubtedly disquieting to ask ourselves why such an old system should have given rise to a new component (we might even say an alien) endowed with such a surprising capacity to destroy the system as well as itself. what were to become unlimited aspirations for expansion and conquest. All of these. exploitation and the establishment of class hierarchies.. The matter goes much deeper. 36 . I am convinced that the total crisis which threatens us. The undeniable fact is that humans-particularly ~:. However. through the account in the Book of Genesis of the event. in the Judeo-Christian-Moslem culture at least. In this sense the concept is teleologic because it explains present and past in terms of the future. The 'original myth' assumes the role of a normative body and. political and economic theories. although not exempt from responsibility.

It obliges us to catalogue not only errors. of course. The' integral problematique displayed before us. In sum it calls for an holistic effort which. calls for equally integral reformulations. at the beginning of the century. like a fan which upon opening reveals more and more surprises because of all the novelty it holds. which would have induced humility. the mandate was to subdue. but also irresponsibility. at toppling the economic theories and the political and social philosophies. The 'crisis of the foundations' which. towards a scenario which looks at times disconcerting and at others terrifying. at the end of the century. that 'technique' has not blown us up before that. Current concern about a total crisis is deepening among some. v/ithout a priori considering anything so sacred as to absolve it from any questioning of its validity.men. with increasing momentum. It involves interpreting not only conflicts but also stupidity. and perhaps also metaphysical. Reaching an understanding of this potentially disastrous panorama involves deciphering a dialectic that oscillates between the drama of contradictions and the comedy of the absurd (a sort of dialectic of dialectics). Our attitude must be sum- 37 . but. and solutions are sought and proposed. by liberally exceeding the range of any mechanistic approaches or analysis. The mandate was not to integrate. which extended all around with the sole purpose of serving them. as well as towards those humans who were weaker or less prone to engage in games of power and domination. it is necessary to stop and analyse and understand the causes which are pushing us. and as such it could stimulate nothing less than actions and emotions of arrogance and disdain towards the environment. The time has thus come to revise matters and causes from their origins. brought down a good part of classical mathematics and mechanics. as is also indicated by the account in Genesis-were placed above nature. However. is not only a crisis as such. It is not hard to guess that nothing will remain the same-but we should add that nothing can remain the same. takes its turn. restores philosophic. thought to a preponderant place within whose scope (and not within that of technique) the most transcendental revolutions are to take place in the near future-always provided. in addition.

The curious thing is. never new but always old.marized-at least as members of the 'visible' sectors that are to be blamed for the crisis in the first place-in the phrase of the Argentinian poet Juan Gelman: 'Hurrah. arise-as they must do-in opposition to the myth. Ideologies have expanded throughout the world establishing boundaries within which to consecrate their efficiency. especially those which regard themselves as scientific. in fact. no ideology has yet en- 38 . paradoxically reaches its apparent maturity when human behaviour becomes congruent with the 'original myth' in spite of the fact that it might have been forgotten. they don't succeed in eliminating its influence (maybe we should say its bewitchery) for the simple reason that their weapons and rational arguments are an intrinsic part of the cultural body that the myth itself has generated. that with respect to ecological or environmental preoccupations. even of a culture-and this should be emphasized-which. All this in the name of legitimate confrontation between partially or radically different alternatives. however. and then propose some foundations for the philosophy of the future to which I adhere and which I have tried to put into practice as a 'barefoot economise. being capable of giving life and force to a rationality adverse to the myth. because of the teleologic programme it implies. invalidated or abolished by the new rationality which is. to take a swift overview-which to some may appear iconoclastic and irreverent-of the period of history ending in the present situation. therefore. which is of such great concern to some of us. their advantages. They have given rise to and established systems supposedly opposed to each other. Thus has the course of our history been marked. They have obliged people to take sides and hold positions that range from the barricade to the parliamentary seat. paragraphs is not based on an assumed historical validity. Ideologies. Conflicts have been perceived as clear-cut and inevitable. It is rather based on the fact that an 'original myth'. at last no one is innocent!' I will try. is a generator of culture. or at least. Yet even by denying it. because it is a myth. something which the biblical quote of course lacks. The proof is not hard to find. The importance which I assign to what I have stated in previous .

The myth is not yet rejected. was to fill the space around the central subject: the human being. It is worth recalling that this is the period of Spinoza (1632-1677). This emphasis on economic growth. or on the wealth of nations (to use the language of the time). in this new epoch. Nature was there to deliver its fruits to human beings or to act as mere background. brought with it-as is well known-eoncerted and 39 . They continue to be in accord with it. where the only role nature played.I dangered the prevalence of the' original myth'. The myth is not yet dead. far into the eighteenth century. The finishing strokes will come from the thinkers of the nineteenth century. A central theme of Locke's political teachings is growth. which bears the greatest responsibility for the situation now affecting our world. rationalistic support for the myth is sought. but also to the other ideologies that are to emerge in the course of the two hundred years following the philosopher's death. the effect of people's anthropocentrism over nature did not go beyond expressing itself in terms of a mixture" of superstition and indifference. This long period of indifference slowly began to give way to conscious assaults on nature. This become~ apparent. both creators of liberalism. Reason. but neither is it accepted without question. In the face of the caution which still dominates these first ideologues. During the period in which the West (the Judeo-Christian-Moslem cultural branch) was basically dominated by the 'original myth'. with the thinking of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and consolidated with the thinking of John Locke (1632-1704). All of them contribute to a persistent escalation of the anthropocentric spirit. a phenomenon which coincides with the initiation of what I would like to identify as the period of ideologies. is worshipped as in no previous era since that of the Greek philosophers. a theme which will not only be central to the philosophy of the liberal state. even in literature and painting. among many others. Newton (1642-1727) and Leibnitz (1646-1716). but it is the beginning of the end. in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. Descartes (1596-1650). in a modern sense. This later period I consider to have become clearly established. according to the few references or representations available.

In this manner the myths . and in this particular context it is more pertinent to emphasize the aspects they have in common. Liberalism as well as conservatism and socialism emerged as the alternatives for human society. while ignoring the direct power that both nature as well as technology. aided and influenced by a fully realized and developed technology. are of equal importance. stated his concern about the damage done by man to nature. His argum.few recognized it as exploitation. In the first place. for most it was simply a matter of a 'natural' relation between power and subservience. for which technology again becomes a primordial weapon. they are all agreed that one of the unavoidable means of achieving a superior human destiny lies in the domination· and control of nature. 5 Thirdly. that will make it possible for socialist man to become'superman'.ents caused little impact. The thinking of Marx (1818-1883) reflects the belief in the possibilities of unlimited growth and of the victory of mankind over nature. Finally. are capable of exercizing on the destiny of mankind. as we have discovered to our cost. In any case. among other things. the fact remains that this concern with the power struggle between human beings obscured any recognition of the transcendence of the assaults on nature which. Secondly. Heritage ideologues responded to only one of these forms of exploitation: the exploitation of man by man. even though they differ as to the forms and mechanisms most appropriate for the distribution of its fruits. at the existential level. For Trotsky (1879-1940) it is technology. Of course. only a. a little bit more than a century after the death of Locke. This means effectively 'ignoring two of the three basic actors in the drama of human history'. Their differences on a number of fundamental issues are well-known. all of them cultivate an unlimited admiration for technology as nothing more than an instrument to solve problems.of Genesis and Prometheus become one single equation.varied forms of exploitation. capable ( 40 . and became sceptical of the supposed advantages of indefinite growth of production and population as advocated by liberalism. all of them accept growth as indispensable. all of them limit their primary philosophical-political concerns to power relationships among people. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873).

9 The relationship established by these models with the environment is confined to David Ricardo's (1772-1823) notion of land. as a legitimate expression of human nature. 'Human nature is real. will not be universally so' . In fact. in his capacity as a more complete scientist .of moving mountains and altering his surroundings as. Engels (1820-1895).! 'Not everything that is possible is desirable'. threatened by the emerging bourgeoisie. on behalf of which it went as far as to protect the intetests of the peasants and the poor. Man is a maker. As a result. Humanity evolves. immune to any qualitative change. at present conservatism tends to become confused. 6 On the other hand. 7 Engels' reservations have.11 41 . which holds that the essence of man is fixed and immutable-a basic error (begging the master's pardon) because humans are evolving beings. He holds that 'each such conquest takes its revenge on us'. a doer. in its most contradictory expression. and thus meriting identification by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto as 'antisocialist socialism'. what is proper to mankind in one time and place. 'been ignored by virtually all socialist thinkers'. for any feeling for nature at the concrete existential level. with the philosophy of the liberal state carried to its extreme. despite his allusions to man's projected harmony with nature under socialism. gives warning on the dangers involved in the indiscriminate conqu~st of nature. 'Marx's diagrams of economic reproduction do not include even this colourless coordinate'. but an essential part of human nature is its capacity for change. is also seen in the fact that 'in none of the numerous economic models in existence is there a variable standing for nature's perennial contribution' . 'One searches in vain in Marx. was one of its basic Frinciples. conservatism (which. and in its most innocuous although dangerous manifestatiQn. common to all the main ideological currents. Its ideological foundation emanated from Aristotle's Ethics. is possibly the oldest of political creeds in the West) has invalidated its original essence to such an extent that it bears little or no relation to its present form. than his colleagues. 8 This same attitude.he pleases. as Ferkiss points out. 10 On the other hand. with the philosophy of nostalgia carried to the acme of futility. a conqueror'. in its purest' sense. which is no more than a synonym for space.

If we observe our world now. of an elitist structure). Then came reason. they stand in the way of its purpose of growth as an end in itself-conservatism becomes futile when trying to promote the same technological race. I will go as far as to say that. In other words. humans went no further than believing in it. but from equal shares of nostalgia and the 'original myth'. transformed into corporate liberalism under the impulse of technological develop~ent. This is a strange but true fact. however. Contrary to capitali~t liberalism-which. we can detect a new stage in the evolutionary process I have tried to describe. and for unlimited expansion and growth. for it places it within an i~sti­ tutional framework that emanates not from congruence. in 1982. some of the spokesmen of the Reagan administration should illustrate the point. Just listening to. showed an attitude of evident love for the natural state (though. and man attempted to use reason in order to j~stify the 42 . but when it ceased to be the Law. and the myth alone. Such an attitude has been exchanged today for an equally evident and unconditional love for the 'magic' of the market. while the myth was dominant.Conservatism's original concern to hold down the uncontrolled and anti-natural technological forces released by capitalism. for free competition as the essence of social justice. which could only stimulate increasing greed. has become essentially irreverent of the past and of all and any institutions when. Moreover. I would like to summarize in another way what I have stated so far. one which in itself merits serious and profound . The assault on nature did not take place while the 'original myth' was the Law. they are all-in a way-daughters of liberalism. of course.investigatIon. in this respect. Once it was discarded by reason. they are all basically the same as regards the role they assign to nature as well as to technology. is the fact that the paradox stated at the beginning of this chapter appears to be confirmed. human behaviour conformed to it more than ever before. More important than this last assertion. Let me put it like this: in the beginning there was the myth. From the above it may be concluded that although ideologies differ as to their interpretation of the power relationships between human beings.

And what lies ahead? Again the myth. when I think of present corporate liberalism married to the 'original myth' . one has the feeling that in the hands of such fundamentalists. 43 . Then reason triumphed over the myth. such as. the myth is being used in order to justify reason. to say the least. Mr Richard Allen. It is alarming. if we listen to spokesmen of the Reagan government.myth. for example. No~. and the myth alone? I can feel only fear. and reason alone ruled.

alternatives exist at a limited level. For an overall statement of the biospheric problematique. an ecological socialism. theoretical alternatives of great interest and value have been proposed. if our considerations also take into account the concern for the environmental problem-which. it would then be perfectly logical' and natural to conceive as possible an' ecological capitalism or corporate liberalism. rather than adding a new element. but none have so far been put into practice on a national or global scale.c ( ) Ideological alternatives do exist in the social. characteristic of the orthodox analytical scheme. There is a form of opinion-perhaps the most widespread-which considers the potential biosphericcrisis in general. 12 I intend to demonstrate this point of view. If this was so. However. economic and poli. an ecological conservatism or finally. In other words. any other equally ecological and eclectic mixture or com44 . it is simply a question of considering one or more additional variables and parameters in order to perfect a model. and the ecological aspects in particular. involves the statement of an essentially new problem-it should be recognized that up to now only one style has been predominant: the vandalic style. as additional elements to be taken into account in development planning~ In other words.tical fields and therefore it is possible to choose-at least for the holders of power-between different development styles.

But before I continue to explore a field which I recognise is a sensitive one. capable of substituting. Assuming this is a plausible argument. as well as of the socio-political and economic organizations emanating from them. Humans. The necessary advent of a kind of ecological humanism. I should state in sum that if anthropoc·entric behaviour originates in 'final causes'. I shall refer to it later on in this chapter. ~:. then any attempt to modify or perfect the latter which has not previously achieved a radical reorientation of the former.It is therefore the product of a 'final cause' which. and the ineffectiveness of ideologies. it is· a common factor in all dominant political philosophies or ideologies to date. cannot be solved by including corrective factors in schemes or models whose incompleteness is the result of 'efficient causes'. originates in 'efficient c~uses'. I would like to make some disquisitions in the f~rm of recapitulation. will be in vain. or at least correcting. for various reasons which I shall explain later. 45 . but modifications of cultural foundations-regarded as unfavourable-transcend any possibility of formalization. Philosophical anarchism may be the only exception so far. In other words. and Technology. some dominant ontological characters. the anthropocentrism still dominant among us. however ambitious and sophisticated that plan may be. a development model may be perfected in formal terms as far as is desired. But let me return now to the proposal. is certainly so revolutionary a prospect that there is no way it could merely be included as a simple element in a development plan. or substituting for others. I bethat. and are possible only as the product of a deep structural revolution capable of altering. the forms of socio-economic and political organization currently in force in the world are essentially antagonistic to the achievement of a tripartite harmony between Nature. I believe that I have made the extent of the anthropocentric attitude sufficiently clear and also that I have demonstrated that its origin lies in the very basis of our Western culture and that. therefore. It is these very possibilities that I consider illusory. in consequence.bination. liev~ ::.

This view has been based on the fact that all of them. hold on to the belief that the solution being sought lies only in the mechanistic possibility of correcting errors ('side effects of bad house-keeping' as Ferkiss so aptly calls them) within systems recognized as basically good and positive. equally adverse and equally' common to all. turn into 'efficient causes'-the results of which can be individualized and. or by avoiding proliferation of new cases through new technological as well as legislative measures. the latter is in turn responsible-via the ideologies-for the form which socio-political and economic systems have assumed. as well as in terms of location and magnitude. w~ich consists of drawing attention to the way in which each individual system is affected. has impelled them--despite their differences and divergencies in other respects-in a way contrary to that which a state of dynamic balance between Nature.I have maintained the view that the systems currently in force are not compatible with the integral solution of the problem which I have posed. usually. in their constitution and content. measured. This is as· far as the concatenation of the 'final cause' goes. no longer only by an adverse 'final cause' common to all. flow from a common cultural matrix which. the overall problem will sooner or later reach a solution. or rather the concrete methodologies which each system has designed to solve its problems in accordance with its ultimate purposes. I must therefore enter into the second stage of my critical incursion. But there are still testimonies for those who. rejecting the validity of my thesis of 'final causes'. Thus. the belief has spread that by solving case by case. but also by 'efficient causes'. because of its characteristics. Development styles turn into programmed forces which. If the 'final cause'-as already stated-is responsible for anthropocentrism. due to the fact that the end product of the development styles in their capacity as 'efficient causes' are usually conspicuous and that it is possible to single them out in temporal terms. What follows is that development styles. . generate processes identifiable in space and time. Humanity and Technology would require or rather demand. The thesis that I sustain 46 . This might appear to be sufficient argument to justify an overall critical revision. when put into movement.

But first I should point out that. But 'the whole truth is that economics. is mechanistic in the same strong sense in which we generally believe only classical mechanics to be'.' although not every system will be affected with the same intensity by each point to be mentioned. There are more environmentally adverse common elements than I could analyse within this chapter. I will refer to the problem of mechanicism and to some questions of magnitude. it would be something entirely different. In other words. as the aspects in which current development styles differ markedly from one another are neutral with respect to the environment. It would not be a reformed capitalism. But. I have therefore decided to select only two.does not admit such a possibility. The same. which are important enough. while those aspects that are common to all-to a greater or lesser degree-are precisely those which are environmentally adverse. however. in the way this discipline is now generally professed. This is borne out by the works of Jevons (1835-1882) and of Walras (1834-1910)-English and French respectively-who tried to find analogies with classical mechanics. 13 Once economists became obsessed with the need to promote their discipline to the category of science. they made every possible effort to assimilate it to patterns pertaining to the physics of the times. all of them are vulnerable to a greater or lesser degree. the degree of importance assumed by these common factors within each individual system is such that the effec~ of altering them would be equivalent to a complete reformulation of each system. and this is even more crucial. as all economists know. when he completed the construction of a particularly ingenious and in- 47 . according to the point in question. to illustrate my point of view. is true for the other existing systems. Irving Fisher himself (1867-1947). of course. the drastic c'orrection of 'efficient causes' of the environmental problem within a capitalist system-to take one examplewould represent the end of what defines the capitalist system. was involved in an effort worthy of a Swiss watchmaker. Each system has generated its own economic theory.

is equally mechanistic. Of course many economists still seem to believe that they are. But the fact is that economic processes-susceptible to mechanical interpretations in isolated cases-are of an entropic nature in their broader and more generalized trend. a characteristic displayed by many economis~s engaged in policy-making. in its simplest formulation. the purpose of which was to demonstrate the purely mechanical nature of consumer behaviour.The concept of entropy stems from the Second Law of Thermodynamics which. Because this process is unidirectional in addition to being irreversible. Entropy reveals that which in other terms is usually identified as an irrevocable trend toward the degradation of energy contained in a closed system. is their talent to withdraw from reality. as order is understood as the product of diversity). the former thus becoming incapable-as is even intuitively evident-of altering its final state. In the language of physics. although inevitable. After all. it proved the existence of processes that could not be explained in mechanical terms. and the economic policies they advocate are proof of this. is at least susceptible to being slowed down. finally. except for endogenous stimuli. which has had such an important influence on liberal economic thinking ('production generates its own purchasing power'). which causes havoc among those who live in it. 48 . the state of maximum entropy is a synonym of chaos. The notion of 'Homo Oeconomicus' is undeniably so and. a situation which reaches its peak when the energy of all the systems' components is equalised. entropic processes can only be described by methods that are alien to mechanics (concretely through thermodynamic equations). a process which. In this sense it should be remembered that a mechanical phenomenon is such as long as it is reversible. This is a point many economists still refuse to recognize: the fact that ~:.~:Contrary to what is stated in textbooks.tricate device. or of absolute disorder (which is the same. from the hotter to the colder body. This trend would not present any problem whatsoever if economic processes really were mechanical. that is. The Law of Say (1767-1832). Marx's diagrams of economic reproduction-which have already been mentioned-are bound by the same limitation. the last link of the economic process is not consumption but the generation of waste. the important thing to keep in mind is the notion of irreversibility in opposition to mechanical processes. As a result. establishes that heat always flows in one direction. This means a transformation of low into high entropy. Ultimately.

without its creators realizing it. 14 Hyper-urbanization and the increasing pollution that is concomitant with those centres considered to be the most highly developed. however. One should ask how to reconcile the product of 'efficiency' supported by all economic theories with the resulting environmental disaster. in its purest sense. to a great extent. Because economics never assigned the natural environment-a system affected by entropy-its real weight. that economics originated. waste is an inevitable result of th~t process and ceteris paribus increases in greater proportion than the (creative) intensity of economic activity'. 49 . Economics is prepared to play elegantly with the latter but remains. that is'.A person in love can perhaps understand the truth of this statement better than an economist. proof that came as an unexpected and disconcerting surprise for all economic theories. It is evident that 'if the entropic process were not irrevocable.'since the product of economic processes is waste. It is strangely moving to observe the persistent efforts of so many economists to promote their field to the category of a science devoid of contradictions. only the irreversible. deprived of arguments and tools with which to tackle what is truly new. unless they are an economist in love. Economics has thus become a discipline (or science if you wish) as unhistoric as any mechanical process: only that which is irreversible represents the emergence of an authentic novelty. The curious thing is. is a true event. if the energy ~1. Just as the 'Principle of Complementarity' of Niels Bohr (1885-1962) emerged from the inescapable necessity of having to ac'cept that the electron may sometimes behave as a wave and sometimes as a particl~forms of mutually incompatible behaviour-so economic theories should be prepared to accept the co-existence of mechanical and entropic processes which also seem to contradict one anoth~r. while physics-the inspiration of the economic mechanicism-gave up this pretence over fifty years ago. ~:. The mechanical is no more than the possibility of repetition. is· proof. it was possible for the discipline to remain enclosed within its mechanistic ivory tower up to the day of the truth. in an entropic notion: scarcity.

but because it is obsolete. To the extent that economists are unwilling to accept the crisis affecting the foundations of economic theories in order to undertake their reconstruction. increase worldwide entropy at a frightening pace. The generation of increasingly large amounts of unnecessary waste is sealing the fate-destitute poverty-of the world's economically 'invisible' sectors. without a second look. in view of the new problems affecting humanity. especially those generated by the corporate liberal establishment. However. scarcity exists because entropic processes are irrevocable. It is not the result of a continuous extrapolation. Such a notion may appear absurd to thinkers and the general public today. There are entirely new circumstances which oblige us to seek inspiration in all sources of human knowledge and experience. Economic processes. and went as far as to propose that the best limit to the population of a state is the largest number which can be taken in at a single view. Finally. Aristotle sustained the view that a great city should not be confounded with a populous one. even an increase in population would not create scarcity: mankind would simply have to use the existing stocks more frequently' . but also on moral grounds. scarcity would hardly exist in man's life. What is antiquated-in this case-is not so because it is old. who have become accustomed to confusing greatness and efficiency with giantism. any possibility of meditating anew on notions that were discarded in the course of the evolution of thought and history. Up to a certain level. there is an additional aspect which I would like to stress.of a piece of coal or of uranium could be used over and over again ad infinitum. Our present situation has no analogies in the past. This means that those economic theories which give theoretical support to corporate liberal actions are not only wrong on technical grounds. Thus contemporary concepts (such as mechanistic econ- 50 .15 Yet. any hope that they will contribute positively to the adequate interpretation and eventual solution of biospheric problems is extremely thin. it does not seem sensible to reject.

appear to me justly pertinent. while proposals from the dim past may reappear surprisingly rejuvenated and relevant. despite some overwhelming evidence to the contrary. with reference to the size of systems. forgetting that the only way to achieve and secure their identity and decrease their dependence. Of course. which I have just cited. but keep the same proportion assigned to them by the system. lies in promoting a creative and imaginative spirit capable of generating alternative development processes that may secure higher degrees of regional and local self-reliance. it is now a question of making a yet larger cake so that all will receive a greater portion than before. The question of magnitude turns into an apotheosis of stupidity when applied to the proliferation of armaments: surely the fastest and 51 . already discussed) should also be discarded because of their obsolescence. The problem emerged when 'good' became a synonym for 'more and more'. in the 'Theoretical Interlude' of the second part of this book (see p. In fact. In the end this obsession generated a new concept of social justice. The above concept (being especially typical of capitalism. I shall devote this section to comments on other questions that relate to problems of magnitude. It is no longer a question of better distributing a cake which is already big enough. with a few exceptions. are fascinated by the temptation of following the road traced by the large industrial powers. the poor's share of the cake diminishes. There is still in~istence to the effect that processes such as the so-called 'trickle-down effect' work. especially urban systems and their environments. Growing evidence of this does not seem to have affected the behaviour of these economic systems or of the theories behi~d them. 129). Therefore. in reality what tends to happen is that. even with growth. Third World countries. so that those who have less will receive a larger proportion. especially under capitalism. which is of course true. On the contrary. other systems as well. Aristotle's observations.omics. mainly in its guise of corporate liberalism) affects. Social justice became confused with growth itself. to a degree. I have amply developed the ideas of Aristotle and others. It has long been believed that economic growth was good for mankind. especially in many Third World countries.

if related to the availability of resources-actual or potential-cannot.S. a drastic decrease of population in the poorest areas of Asia. There are those who believe that the total could be as many as fifty thousand million.S. in ecological terms. The fact that the present accumulated explosive power in the world is equivalent to three tons of dynamite for every living person is so incredible that it can only be explained with the assumption that some influential sage must have demonstrated that it is possible to kill the same person over and over again. To speak of one hundred million people means nothing. Americans. The arguments and warnings on this subject are well known and need no repetition here. and others who do not dare go beyond one tenth of that magnitude. What I am aiming at is this: one hundred million D. When one thinks in these terms. the richest and not the poorest. measured in terms of the natural resources (both renewable and non-renewable) they draw upon. would make an impact immeasurably smaller than a decrease of only 5 per cent in present consumption levels of the ten richest countries of the world. and must not. in fact. it is 52 . I do wish to draw attention to a situation which I believe to be dangerously misleading. The question of great magnitude has also caused conceptual havoc in other areas. Thus. In global terms. to speak of one hundred million D. means everything. Demographic expansion. All of this appears to me as nothing more than irrelevant speculation which leads nowhere because it ignores a fundamental fact. However. most tangibly in the area that refers to the so-called demographic problem. it would be perfectly legitimate to state that the relatively more over-populated nations are. are equivalent to many thousands of millions of Indians. Many works have been carried out with the purpose of detecting the total population that the earth could presumably sustain. be dealt with in absolute terms. but only in relative terms. Africa and Latin America. Americans or one hundred million people in India.greatest generator of high entrop~n rhe wot=kl today. Population is usually considered as a quantitative component with an absolute value when making projections related to the resources capable of -sustaining it. To this I want to refer at some length.

the number of 'ecosons' composing the different populations. In any case. to discover that one inhabitant of the United States was equivalent to fifty 'ecosons'. by regions or countries. it would be interesting to calculate for the first time. of course. 53 . if we consider that. As a matter of fact. and that a single inhabitant of India or Togo was no more than a fraction of an 'ecoson'. the proportion by which the population of 'ecosons' exceeds that of the absolute population will be a concrete measure of the amount of 'waste surplus'. The idea is to establish an approximate scale of the rational drainage of resources needed for a person to attain an acceptable quality of life. I propose a measure which I would call 'ecological person' (' ecoson' for short). It is not difficult to establish such a scale in terms of nutritional requirements. those countries who are 'really' carrying out efforts to decrease their rates of population growth. If such a statistical objective were achieved. commodity packages have been calculated for many purposes. we would find that the world is already weighed down with nearly fifty thousand million. I realize that subjective aspects are involved here. In addition.easy to grasp the absurdity and weak rationality of arguments against helping the poor except. I believe that my proposal would not only enable us to see the problem in its true perspective. ::. within my thesis. 16 All this leads me to believe that a new statistical quantifier should be developed in demography. but they are involved in many other quantifiers in regular use.By 'waste surplus' of a population I mean the amount of waste resulting from consumption levels higher than those that would be required by a population if measured in terms of 'ecosons' . and it would simply be a matter of following a similar line in order to establish the direct and indirect resource drainages required by one' ecoson'. for example. clothing and housing. of which the highest proportion would be found in a few of the richest countries.we would finally have a clear notion of the destructive magnitude of the problem caused by the worship of giant dimensions. it is not an insoluble problem. but ~:. I would even dare predict that if we me~sured world population in terms of 'ecoson~'. It would not be surprising.

The search for Utopia is not simply the search for a society that is possible. Like a bridge spanning three quarters of a river. but for a society that is. However. where I relate the concrete field experiences through which I have tried to put my)deas into practice. implies an integral ecological humanism. despite the fact that the dominant processes at work do not seem to care in the least about the 'invisible' sectors of the world. implicit in my previous arguments. In fact. It is n610nger a ques~ion of correcting what already exists. Transactions and partial solutions are no longer of any use. nor has the capacity to correct itself (in order to provide it) without losing the essence of its identity as a result. None of the present systems provides for this. The kind of de~elopment in which I believe and which I seek. I am still confident that something can be done. It would now be appropriate to indicate a course of action. except when it comes to accusing them of being burdens that should "be treated as expendable. they don't get you to the other bank. the crisis of foundations that affects us all in different respects. So. desirable. they are misleading. as I prefer to call it-is rich. It is no longer a question of 54 . what be done? I hope I have shown. The notion of U topia--or of eutopia. although this is. to pollute or to mislead people a little less is not the equivalent of living a little better or dying a little less. I have ceased to believe in the value of corrective measures. That opportunity was lost long ago. because it transcends the forms of crumbling eclecticisms within which the present search for solutions is carried out. It seems to me that. satisfactorily. from a humanist perspective. And since I do not believe that any of the existing systems will work itself out of business. we find ourselves once again before 'the beginning of Utopia'. It will become explicit in the following chapters. I would like tomake some additional disquisitions. to a large degree.would also be so illuminating a statistical illustration that it could act as a persuasion to implement more humanistic international policies. in view of the overall crisis we are going through.

It is a m~tter of a drastic redistribution of power through the organization of horizontal communal integration. My proposal is geared to current conditions only. and that future could well place us at a new crossroads where everything would once more have to be rethought and reconstructed. if it is the role of humans to establish values. and equally that this must be a conscious relationship. It is a matter of passing from the pure exploitation of nature and of the poorer people of the world. It is a matter of passing from destructive giantism to creative smallness. consolidates. Such an eutopic society. It is a question of remaking many things from scratch and of conceiving radically different possibilities. must maintain a relationship of interdependence and not of competition with nature and the rest of mankind. finally. which I conceive as oriented by a political philosophy which I would identify (for the sake of giving it a name) as 'humanist eco-anarchism'. then it is the role of· nature to establish many of the rules. My philosophy is ecological in the sense that it is based on the conviction that human beings. many of the possibilities for an adequate solution of the problem. It also states that ecological balance cannot be left to automatism. but must be subject to human 55 . It is a question of understanding that. long-term flexibility and the willingness to change is built into my philosophy. to a creative and organic integration and interdependence. because the ecological perspective projected on the natural environment provides fertile analogies for social ordering. Let it simply be stated that I personally do not believe in any type of permanent solution. But at this stage we cannot preoccupy ourselves with concerns not yet conceived.adding new variables to old mechanistic models. It is a matter of bringing the 'invisible' sectors into the forefront of life and of letting them. But there can be nothing definite or permanent about even this attempt. in my opinion. It is a humanistic philosophy in that it maintains that humans are self-conscious and carry out their relationships with nature and with other human beings through culture. have their say and 'do their thing'. in order to realize themselves. We have more than enough to do with the challenges facing us right now. for there lies a future beyond the future I can conceive.

an ecological conscience supported by humanistic behaviour. but in as much as it is based on the conviction that every form of concentration of power (and all the present systems lead to this) alienates people from their environment-both natural and human-and limits or annuls their direct participation and sense of responsibility. Yet it proved to me that it can be done and. communication. judgement and will. Finally. in terms of conscious political action. that it must be done. it is anarchistic. not in the vulgar sense. 56 . critical capacity and creativity. 17 My beliefs are strongly held. These last conditions I consider essential for the realization of the two preceding conditions: that is. above all. It is a major experiment in the participation of and between horizontally interdependent communities that contained altogether more than one hundred thousand economically 'invisible' people. the traditional holders of power became afraid of it. restricting their imagination. It was such a successful experiment that it failed.knowledge. The story that follows reveals my own experience of working and living within the 'invisible' sector. so I have tried to put them into practice and live according to them. information.

flanked by tropical lowlands to the east and west. Despite the extent to 57 . in turn. The population of the Sierra-especially in the rural areas-is composed mainly of Indians belonging to the Quechua cultural branch. many tribal differences notwithstanding. However. The Quechua language is still predominant. The larger urban centres of the Sierra itself and of the tropical lowlands have seen a continual increase in the proportion of migrant Indians coming from the impoverished rural areas of the Sierra. In the coastal lowlands a high proportion of blacks and mulattos is to be found. The lowlands include large virgin jungle forests.Reconaissance region The political and administrative division of Ecuador is into provinces divided into cantons which. The eastern lowlands contain a population of several tribes of non-Quechua Indians as well. the latter largely in the forest areas. a multitude of languages and dialects prevail. Peru and Bolivia as well as the northernmost highlands of Chile. with minor regional variations. are subdivided into 'parroquias'. These Indians are united by a common language and a cultural tradition that originated in the integration of many tribes under the Inca hegemony known as the 'Tahuantinsuyo'. Whites and mestizos are to be found in all three regions. The country contains a high Sierra that is part of the chain of the Andes mountains. in not only Ecuador but the south of Colombia. in addition to some Indian tribes not related to the Quechua culture. in the jungle regions.

The total population amounted to 356. but they can be summarized as follows: (1) the north-west is a region of Ecuador that allows for economic integration. 73 per cent of whom were rural inhabitants (see Table 4). Ecuador does not legally recognize itself as a bilingual country. hut only one WClS included in the Project's ClreCl. Despite the fact that.600 square kilometres.500 metres-the Eloy Alfaro canton in the coastal lowlands was included. (see Tables 2 and 3). The total area covered approximately 16. Esmeraldas* "1 Total 95 * The province of EsmerzlldCls hCls four CC-1ntons. Antonio Ante Cotacachi Ibarra Otavalo Eloy Alfaro 6 10 20 19. Spanish alone being accepted as the official language . according to its mandate.5 people per square kilometre. the MAE was supposed to concentrate its work in the Sierra-specifically above an elevation of 1. the lowest density of 5. between four ethnic groups: Indians from the Sierra. and increased interrelationships in general. The reasons invoked in favour of the chosen area were numerous. which the Quechua language is spoken. The region comprised eight cantons which. the north-western segment of the country.Table 1 Provinces Carchi Political sub-division of Project's area Cantons Espejo Montufar Pcuroquias 8 11 10 Tulcan Imbabura . in turn. This is composed of the provinces of Carchi. After several months of study and analysis. following some important considerations which will be explained later. Indians from the coastal tropical forests. contained 95 parroquias (see Table 1).593 people. the Project chose as a priority area for its activities. Imbabura and the Eloy Alfaro canton of the province of Esmeraldas. blacks and mesti- 58 .3 people per square kilometre being in the Eloy Alfaro canton. with an average population density of 21.

on the other hand. (3) fewer groups-private or public. since there are natural links in terms of trade and migration with the neighbouring lowlands.5 Total * Estimated area.5 5.6 37. (2) the region is geographically and naturally integrated through the basins of the Mira. 59 . national or international-were engaged in development promotion and aid than in any other region of the country. Table 3 Population density of Project/s area Area (km 2 ) Population Density per km 2 Carchi Imbabura Eloy Alfaro 4/138 5/469 7/000* 16/607 114/328 205/059 37/206 356/593 27. zos. was based on the finding that many of the problems that arise in the Sierra cannot be solved in situ.3 21. Cayapas and Santiago rivers. no evidence of such conflicts were to be found in the north-west.Table 2 Province Population of Project/s area* CJnton Urhan Rural Total Carchi Espejo Montufar Tulcan Sub Total Imbabura Antonio Ante Cotacachi Ibarra Otavalo 4/304 7/410 21/025 32/739 11/750 4/507 34/189 9/018 59/464 4/043 96/246 25/037 30/993 25/559 81/589 12/084 25/318 68/193 40/000 145/595 33/163 ~60/347 29/341 38/403 46/584 114/328 23/834 29/825 102/382 49/018 205/059 37/206 356/593 Sub Total Esmeraldas Eloy Alfaro Total * Estimates for 1968 according to the Secretarfa General de Planeacion Economica. The inclusion of the Eloy Alfa~o canton. Although there are many complex and serious rivalries and antagonisms between the Sierra and the coast in most parts of Ecuador".

I will never forget a scandal I provoked after delivering a paper at a conference on development.3 80.6 49. humiliation and exploitation. i. A common allegation among the more reactionary segments of the dominant society is that the number of Indians in the country has held back its development.0 Ever since the Spanish conquerors and early colonizers smashed the Inca civilization to its very foundations. its descendants have suffered.4 29. Although the episode occurred in Peru. the remaining 40 per cent? It was reluctantly admitted that the country 60 . adding insult to injury. with perhaps the sole exception of Mexico. for telluric or magical reasons. and the Indians represent a dead weight on the national economy'. In this respect. as I saw it. After the instant outrage caused by my remark had calmed down somewhat.1 33.3 45. I proposed two imaginary scenarios.1 28.7 19.0 10. M. up to the present day.4 50. Their voice and their most legitimate claims have been ruthlessly silenced time and time again. the main problem was the 40 per cent of the population that was not Indian.Table 4 Provinces Percentages of urban and rural populations Cantons Uroan Rural Carchi Imbabura Espejo Montufar Tulcan Average Antonio Ante Cotacachi Ibarra Otavalo Average Eloy Alfaro Esmeraldas Project Average 14.e.4 18.6 71.1 84.0 89. In the first it was assumed that. The question posed was: what would happen to the country.9 66.9 71.0 85.y answer was that. it could have happened in any Indian country of Latin America. discrimination.6 81. During question time. someone pointed out to me that I had overlooked the fact that the cOl!ntry's main problem was that it had a population which was '60 per cent Indian. every form of servitude.7 54. They have been robbed of their land and.9 27. they have been continually accused of being lazy.9 15. untrustworthy and vicious. indolent.1 73. the Indian population totally disappeared overnight.

the exploited can do better without the exploiters than vice versa. The Sierra is a tragic environment. they were never engaged in slave labour. It therefore requires much effort. He has been deceived so many times by so many people. that words no longer suffice to convince him of one's good intenti~ns. dedication and. But what I am saying is that those who do hold such opinions have dominated the political and economic scene and hence determined the style of so'cial interaction. 61 .would collapse. T. What happened is quite fascinating. The black inhabitants of this region must be absolutely unique in the American context. I am not saying that the above attitude is typical of all members of the white society. The accumulated resentment is so great that any person with a degree of sensibility can feel it surfacing through even the apparently passive and humble mien of the Indian peasant. After all. In the second scenario it was assumed that exactly the opposite occurred: the members of the dominant society magically vanished from the face of the earth overnight. it is probably not even typical of the majority. a society built on exploitation cannot"' manage without the exploited. have a different tale to tell. above all. This was the situation that prevailed in the Ecuadorean Sierra. sincerity to gain his confidence. The tropical lowlands of the province of Esmeraldas. Despite the fact that their forefathers arrived in the sixteenth century. feelings and reactions bred by more than four centuries of injustice were extant. notwithstanding some short praiseworthy interludes prompted by well-intentioned governments. thanks to the sensibility and devotion of many of the MAE field workers. and some MAE members had b~en killed in their attemptsmistaken for land robbers or potential exploiters. although improved interrelationships had been established with a number of Indian communities.e. the 60 per cent of Indians? Again it was recognized with reluctance-although by this stage some members of the audience had left the room in disgust-that probably nothing would happen! After all.he new question posed was: what would happen to the country. and particularly the Eloy Alfaro canton which is mostly jungle. i. In other communities the distrust had not yet been overcome. In such communities.

was in the successful Spanish group. which was quickly abandoned by its inhabitants. The survivors had no choice but to search for civilization through an unknown and virtually impenetrable landscape. New skirmishes ensued but the blacks were finally victorious and occupied the land. the Sevillian Alonso de Illescas was transporting a cargo of African slaves to Peru. went on shore in order to look for food. under Andres Contero and his son-in-law Martin Carranza. In 1568 a new expedition was sent.In a ship that sailed from Panama in October. 1553. who by now had become allies of the blacks. At this stage their leader was Alonso Illescas. Illescas married the daughter of the Cacique (cheif) of the Nigua Indians. it was already 30 days behind schedule. they were defeated by the blacks under the leadership of Anton. until news of the existence of a band of rebel blacks reached the Spaniards. by the name of Escobar. Having run short of provisions. sudden winds and waves tore the ship from her moorings and smashed her against the rocks. together with the sailors. While ashore. They too were defeated by the black-Indian alliance. A few of the whites survived the long ordeal and finally reached Spanish settlements with a rich silver custody which they had brought from Spain for the M0t:lastery of Santo Domingo in the City of the Kings (Cuzco). The captain. a native of Cape Verde. leaving seven men and three women. When the Indians tried to recover their settlement. much more at ease in an environment that was more 'their own'. the blacks. It is clear that he must have decided to adopt the name of the captain of the ill-fated ship. ventured into the forests until they reached a town named Pidi. It was only in 1570 that Illescas was finally captured. Anton died shortly after the confrontation. Strengthened by this alliance.' 62 . Captain Alvaro de Figueroa left Guayaquil in order to attack Illescas. totally destroying her. A young novice of the order of the 'Mercedarios'. He was unsuccessful. seventeen black men and six black women. began their conquest of neighbouring territories. together with his family. Unfavourable currents slowed down their passage to such an extent that by the time the ship reached the coast of Esmeraldas. the captain sailed into the Cape of San Francisco and touched land in the inlet of Portete. in Portete. The blacks.

The people are tall. 63 . who later continued their voyage to Quito where they informed the authorities of Illescas' desire to enter the service'of the King. So it is not exactly surprising that Escobar helped the Illescas family to escape. became a legendary figure. they are open. whom he later married.As fate would have it. proud and somewhat pompous despite their extreme poverty. on grounds of fear. one of the Spanish soldiers who had. in the meantime. highly respected and beloved by the Indians and the blacks alike. were once again one of the most neglected and isolated groups in Ecuador. He returned with Fra Pedro Romero. converted them to Christianity and. the other surviving group at the time of our arrival. after having found himself abandoned (why and how is not known) in the Bay of San Mateo. Such were the people of the Project's chosen region. Their Spanish is beautiful: baroque and full of metaphors. After several more years had passed without any new contact. Among those saved by Illescas was Juan de Reina and his wife Maria Becerra. notably their houses and other buildings. in 1577. at the time of the initiation of the ECU-28 Project. Its heterogeneous character made it a fascinating challenge. and treated with kindness. to enter Illescas' territory. Through the years they have established a peaceful co-existence with the Cayapa Indians. He was aided by Gonzalo de Avila. fallen in love with Illescas' daughter. Many of their African traditions have been preserved in their purest forms. The district court (Audiencia) and the bishop sent the presbyter Miguel de Cabello Valboa to make the arrangements. A second visit by a party led by the Deacon Caceres also failed. who settled among the Esmeraldeiios. the Esmeraldeiios decided to go to Quito themselves. he had earlier been saved by Illescas. a new sh~pwreck occurred in the area. helped them construct a town where Spanish ships could reach land. The descendants of Alonso Illescas never abandoned the region and. A few years later. dignified. extrovert and like to celebrate their happy moments with colourful fiestas. because the guides refused. The attempt was unsuccessful despite the good disposition of Illescas-some of his people were apparently distrustful of the party. Juan Mangache visited Quito in 1585 and 1586. Very formal and with gracious manners.

4. direct help from the highest political and administrative authorities of the government. and affect a large number of other communities as well. 6. 2. 5. (c) marketing of local products. which therefore require local solutions. Such a continually deteriorating situation could only be overcome through actions and programmes ema- 64 . The government authorities' inability to satisfy these innumerable petitions had provoked frustration among the peasants and aggravated their distrust. to all the national. five areas of general concern were detected after hearing the people's claims in communal meetings that took place all over the region. Consequently. in each case. is non-existent. The traditional means employed to find solutions to their problems has been to request. We were able to count on the help and assistance of some of the MAE field ". They were' essentially the following: 1.:orkers. Thes~ problems were related to the following areas: (a) education. we completed a successful reconnaissance of the region. the notion that basic solutions cannot be sought at the local level. Each community acts as though its problems were exclusive to itself and its members do not perceive that many of the problems are of much greater proportions. The conclusions we reached were duly reported.authorities concerned. The communities had overwhelmed the government authorities by contacting them individually and presenting them with petitions that could not be satisfactorily or coherently dealt with. Each community manifests a clear awareness of a number of problems affecting it. and its members express the felt need that the solution of these pr?blems is often a matter of the greatest urgency.Foundations for a methodology With the efficient cooperation of several of the Project's experts. (b) health and sanitation. (d) roads and communication. in a document dated December 1971. Apart from certain specific problems affecting particular communities. and (e) difficulties faced by small landowners as well as landless peasants. because they must be applied in a wider regional context. 3.

(b) prepare a report (before February 1972) describing all the problems affecting 65 . Such horizontal communication was deemed fundamental to the formation of a regional consciousness. they comple. _ From these observations followed the Project's strategy and methodology. i.e. a 'Committee of Communication. which was then proposed to the government agencies concerned. and (e) agriculture at the peasant level. Each committee would be made up of five people representing: (a) the local administrative authorities. In view of the previous considerations it was proposed that. as well as a clear consciousness of local problems together with sufficient awareness and maturIty to justify active and direct· responsibility in the planning process and action. by people previously imbued with a regional conSCIousness. at grassroots level. on a horizontal level. It should not be the other way around. A coherent Regional Development Plan must result from the direct and active participation of grass-root groups. itself indispensable for the' design of . coherent solutions to be tackled with governmental support. of a non-political structure. 4. The basic functions of the committees would be to: (a) establish contact with the other committees in order to generate awareness of those problems common to the region as a whole. The fundamental ideas were as follows: 1. should be set up. (b) education. using expert assistance only when required. the result of proposals made by technicians and later imposed on the people. (d) small businesses. 2. Contrary to the belief held by technicians who have avoided direct or frequent contact with rural people.tely lacked similar communication channels between themselves. a willingness of the people to participate was detected. Information and Relations' (CCIR). 7. While all the different communities had established their individual channels of communication with higher government authorities. 3.nating from coherent and coordinated partIcIpation. in each parroquia of the north-west. (c) craftsmanships.

The experts would make a synthesis. the text divided into chapters according to instructions to be handed out beforehand. would be the first of its kind in Latin America. and c'ould serve as a model at international levels . designed directly by representatives elected by the people for the purpose and in permanent consultation with them via the committees. This Commission. as a second and decisive step in the formation of a regional consciousness. and not as interpreted by professionals. (c) serve as permanent points of contact between the MAE and ECU-28 on the one hand. Such a plan. 5. ensuring the people's participation 66 . aided by the national and international experts. from the reports to be prepared by each parroquia. so that any development actions decided upon might have the backing of the people. and (d) establish cooperation on a permanent basis with the technicians so that the projects are sufficiently realistic to win the support of the local population. These Encounters would provoke a joint discussion between the region's representatives. thus guaranteeing their success. The participants in the Encounters would elect a group of 15 persons (five for each province) in order to become members of the Regional Planning Commission to be created. 6. tools and other equipment. Later it would serve in the organization of Peasants Encounters in which all the committees would participate. 7. and the parroquia on the other. that would serve as a socio-economic diagnosis of the Region. identifying concrete projects as well as priorities. The document with the diagnosis would be distributed to all the committees so that it could be read and discussed in communal assemblies. in the sense that it would present the situation as felt by the people themselves.their parroquia. as a first step towards the formation of a regional consciousness. Such a diagnosis would differ from those normally prepared by technicians. and giving details of the availability of local inputs such as voluntary labour. would design the basis of a Regional Development Plan. ECU-28 was a programme designed to promote the development of a large rural region of the country.

one of their most respected representatives. the tangible possibilities of its realization remained to be seen. The idea was officially well received and was endorsed by the MAE authorities. Within the scheme. As the focal point of interrelationships. In this respect the CCIRs were also destined to play an important role. they were to generate a common code of communication. I should mention at this point that the foundations for the methodology were conceived during a discussion meeting with the peasants of the community of Borb6n in Eloy Alfaro. they were to fulfil similar functions at intra. Such a network was to form the structure of the Project. On the one hand they were to serve the MAE and ECU-28. The final organization 67 . The really novel aspect of our guiding concept was the fact that the peasants. Yet in private we received a lot of very sceptical comments. Communication between the two sectors is therefore often difficult. but actually became the focal point of the entire process. through their CCIRs. interpretation and constructive criticism. It was felt by many that we were overestimating the capacity of the peasants to organize and respond. were no longer the passive recipients of decisions and actions channelled down from a distant and unknown summit. in theory at least. Since participation is a function of communication. The language of experts is laced with obscure expressions. acting as both filter and processor of information originating at the two extremities of the chain. reached the point of no return. in terms of information. We had. This invested the overall scheme with coherency as well as. particularly their experts. the CCIRs had to fulfil a bipolar and catalytic role. were decisive. especially the imaginative contributions of Mr Caicedo. On the other. The language of peasants has its own particular terms and expressions.in the process. so we decided to proceed.and inter-community levels. the scheme proposed represented the creation of a complete and efficient communication network. however. efficiency. The peasants' ideas. many Although we felt satisfied with our theoretical construction.

of the communication system that ensued was fundamentally the brainchild of Gonzalo de Freitas. Our guide was an unforgettable person. and second because it was the most isolated segment of the region and totally lacked any form of assistance. in addition to de Freitas. We began our work in the Eloy Alfaro canton. i. dances and brandy. the Community Development expert of the Project. marimbas. The reception was enthusiastic. I cannot mention every one. His name was 68 . in 50 per cent of the total. drums. The 54 parroquias that were chosen were almost exclusively rural and represented 67 per cent of all the rural parroquias in the region. Later on. first because it was there that the methodology had been conceived. 1972.and the next day the first CCIR had been created. and his wife Ursula. a hamlet surrounded by jungle and river. Although she had not been hired by ECU-28 she steadily collaborated as though she was a formal member.e. the Project's Communication expert. Both Theissen and the Brunkens had previously worked in the area. Jorge Teran of MAE. we chose 54 in the hope of succeeding in at least 47 of them. In some areas they had not seen visitors for years. Action began on the 16th of November. It was celebrated with a fiesta full of laughter. Yet four of them. Then followed trips along the rivers to the most remote and isolated human settlements. just as we expected. Heiko Brunken. The idea was that each CCIR organized at this preliminary stage would later promote the organization of a second in the neighbouring' parroquia. deserve to be singled out at this stage: Andre Theissen. thus achieving a regional target as close as possible to 100 per cent. who transformed the ideas into a viable scheme. during the long journeys that were undertaken in order to get the peasants organized. as volunteers from Belgium and Germany respectively. the Project's Marketing expert. In many places our arrival seemed like a miracle to the people. Since we felt that it was physically and logistically impossible to directly promote the organization of CCIRs in every one of the region's 94 parroquias. The first meeting took place in Borb6n. success was achieved due to the dedication and persuasiveness of a number of people. although my appreciation extends to them all. The misery was sometimes almost overwhelming.

I thought. Our labours continued for two months in the rest of the region. had been in the area for almost 20 years. but an increase between 0 and 1 is infinite. in their bearing. I had never seen misery borne with so much dignity. They should say what they wanted in the way that they wanted. their movements. he regarded it as a lot for people who had nothing. We had success in every parroquia. We asked no questions whatsoever. There was something regal. we had promoted 270 electoral processes. However. we could not get rid of our mental images. witnessing absolutely inhuman desolation. We requested only one thing. and this merely for practical purposes: they should divide their report 69 . having refused all promotions or transfers to better places. In addition we had instructed the members of each committee as to what was expected of them. At the end of that period we felt we had completed a major task. No matter how small his contribution had to be. we fully appreciated his point. I hope he is still doing well. the peasant by all the peasants). Any comment would have sounded frivolous. he would say. their way of walking and of speaking. All the CCIRs of Eloy Alfaro were created. is 100 per cent. in the best possible sense. An increase between 1 and 2. we had asked them to produce the Project's most important input: their report on the living conditions and problems of their parroquia.Angel Guevara. gestures. the artisan by all the artisans. they should do so . Furthermore. We asked them to write with absolute freedom on whatever subjects they deemed of interest. We had insisted that the CCIRs were comprised of equals. because the world. He was a school teacher in his late forties or early fifties who. Perhaps we all felt that what we had experienced and seen was beyond words. The 54 CCIRs had been organized. After days of navigation in canoes and boats. Since each member of a CCIR was elected by his peers (the teacher by all the teachers. For the first time in my life I felt that some people can be superior even when surrounded by obscene misery. If they wanted to relate the people's personal experiences. so no one member was to preside over the others. especially the 'invisible' sector. Each of those tall thin blacks. We said nothing for many days. could make any aristocrat feel inferior after a while. is in need of people like him. so we left the area-relieved but taciturn.

Such a division was necessary for the comparative analysis we would make during the preparation of the synthesis that was to serve as the Region's Felt Diagnosis. it contained a wealth of information. Health. Our consciences were disturbed at every page. and Problems of Landless Peasants. especially among the sceptics. Our reaction when the mailman walked into the offices and delivered a large envelope addressed to the Project in a cursive and uneven handwriting. we had been accomplices for too long to stereotypes and myths such as 'those p·eople do not understand their problems'. coming in from Borb6n in Eloy Alfaro. 'they must undergo con- 70 . was exhilaration almost beyond belief. They could also freely add chapters on other subjects. willingly or not. There were ironical smiles everywhere. This was beyond our wildest expectations and it caused a degree of perplexity. discussed and approved in communal assemblies. We avoided talking about the subject. we discovered an unsuspected world. more reports came through the mail practically every day. The many signatures and fingerprints on the last page were proof that the report had been approved in a communal assembly. Problems of Small Landowners. thus giving the people the opportunity to add to or subtract from the contents. perhaps because we did not want to frighten one another even more. These were: Education. Completely handwritten.into certain chapters. We felt confused and we suddenly realized that. Problems of Artisans. After six weeks we had received every single one of the 54 reports we had requested. Communications. and we were just a bunch of naive outsiders. When we started reading the reports. From that point on. In a way we were frightened. We went about our routine chores. We also indicated that their reports should be read. Upon our return we had to face the sceptics once again. It was the first report. We asked them to mail the reports to our office in Quito within 30 days. perhaps they were right after all. but I know that all of us endured the wait in a state of great anxiety.

theirs was the only opinion that really mattered. was distributed to government authorities and among the peasants themselves. The so-called technicians. I have encountered it so many times. what we had was the best possible representation. sentences and ideas. All the peasants felt that the book represented their reality with great fidelity and. We decided that a sample of the testimonies contained in the reports should be dispersed as widely as possible. are always ready to criticize the methodological inaccuracies of those who are willing tQ step into the mud. 'This cannot be true'. In other words. 'Probably all the reports have been written by the teachers who imposed their opinions'. far from their comfortable air-conditioned offices. they told us.scientization'. so profound and yet simple. who consistently avoid being contaminated by life as it really is out there. However. 71 . We first put together a selection of paragraphs. In these reports we were faced with descriptions and definitions that were so vivid. that no expert with all his formal knowledge could have improved upon them. those who wrote these reports. so true. malnutrition and diseases of the people described. and 'they are ignorant. We were not disturbed by these 'arm-chair' perfectionists and produced a book containing the peasants' testimonies entitled En El Mundo Aparte (In A World Apart). What better representation could we have obtained in a parroquia of 500 inhabitants in which only two were literate. than a report written. have the moral representativity that comes from sharing the misery-. or rather technocrats. yet typical. part of which is reproduced in the next chapter. Some were truly moved. 'Those who wrote this are not representative of the communities'. with enormous difficulty. upon their arrival in Quito for the Encounters. by those two people? The criticism was strange. torpid and lazy'. The publication. which also contained relevant photographs. whoever they were. to us. but others reacted critically and with typical scepticism. and circulated it among lots of people in order to get their reaction. Faced with such criticism we had only one answer: the way to achieve genuine representation has not been solved even in our own milieu.

eventually. we hoped that. In addition. We had been educated to know. Apart from our technical functions we now had to become the voice of those who live and die in a world apart. we had learned very little ourselves. we had developed techniques in order to raise the consciousness of the 'others'. the rural inhabitants would take their first step towards the formation of a regional consciousness. We belonged to a species called 'experts'. Whether nationals or internationals.The reports had a great impact on us. exactly as we had requested. our profession was the same. In order to do this. we understood very little. We felt that. and so we had become important. We suddenly felt that those who had elevated us to a position of importance were not those who really mattered. of ourselves and of our role. the claims that were common to all. So we decided to modify things. We discovered that. and was to serve as the basic 72 . Since all of them had been divided into chapters. in case we had misinterpreted any of their contributions. suggestions and correction. or to the majority. incorporating the amendments suggested by some of the CCIRs. they somehow provoked a change in our outlook. The Diagnosis was reproduced and sent to all the CCIRs for comment. Once each subject had been summarized in this manner. of interpreting realities and problems in order to. were separated from those which were unique or special cases. The final version. This facilitated a satisfactory hierarchy of claims in the summaries. in which nothing was left out. of diagnosing situations. they were combined in one coherent document that became the final Regional Felt Diagnosis. the spokesmen for their rights and the lessons they had to offer. was reproduced once again. by reading the document in communal assemblies. offer solutions. we were taught to articulate. health. we were t9-ught to teach. But something strange happened to us after reading the reports. The reports were thoroughly analysed and then summarized. although we knew a lot. having taught others so much.) was written as a separate document. etc. It was the profession of knowing things. each subject (education.

also in Spanish. both of which are described in Chapter 6. were confiscated by the military authorities because they apparently felt that the process was potentially dangerous. The text linking the different quotations was originally written. The quotations are absolutely textual. However. It is very unfortunate that this is no longer possible. be taken in good faith. the summaries and the Diagnosis. i. only spelling mistakes have been corrected in order to facilitate the reading. therefore. I will explain why in detail in Chapter 7. 73 . The same happened to the documents that emanated from the Peasants' Encounters and a later Congress. the CCIR reports. They are'reproduced in the next chapter and should suffice to give"the reader at least an idea of the richness of the materials with which we worked.unters that were planned to take place in Quito a few weeks later. What were possible to save were the peasant's contributions to the book In A World Apart. In translating from the Spanish every effort has been made to maintain the flavour of the original. The photographs / were taken by Pierre Adamini. a young French freelancer at the time. In view of this. the only contribution that this book can make is of a methodological nature. at this stage. The author's evaluation and interpretation of events and results-lacking documentary support-must.document for the Peasants' Enco. with good reason. suffice it to say that all the fundamental documents. I imagine that the reader of this book will expect. to be 'informed of the main contents of the Diagnosis. by Gonzalo de Freitas.e.

Immediately I give him certain pastilles and one injection and left with them from the house of the child. spoke with the father that was of very scarce economic resources in order to transfer him until the city of Limones where there is one physician. Every house the same. I had not charged him yet. descended to the house of the ailing child. he is yours. after two hours of choppy and dirty river. ) The boat cuts through the heavy current of the Santiago and heads towards the wooden hamlet perched on the islet. that after five days he came until my house where I lived and said to me teacher I give you the boy as a present. Dugouts have been placed over the swamp so that we can reach the shore. I got up. resorted to my medical chest. about the year 1963. Esmeraldas. Here at last is the village. and listening until after one hour more or less. where it was a community of 93 pupils with one teacher only that had up to three grades. looked for certain pastilles and injections. 74 . raising their hands. when about at two in the morning a pupil was dying with loud cries oh I am dying. the syringe all my equipment necessary. (From the report of Anchayacu. Through the narrow alleys the latecomers come running. As his father had nothing to give me. and with which words I told him thank you don Marcelino Ortiz you don't have to worry.One time ago I worked in the precinct of Colon de Onzole. I went back the next day and give him the same dose until that he was healthy completely again. The little black children greet us. but so much was his happiness that he felt that father. standing like animals with long legs nailed into the edge of the river. when enormous was the satisfaction to listen about one hO'ur or so that passed that the child was not lamenting any more.

U >rv 75 ..Q) -:S c ~ ~ E rv rv 0.

When the 'gringos' leave their boat. H'e whp goes to cut a tree. few survivors into old age. Tpe sick have no means to get to the centres.:. they look like conquerors of a place that has just emerged from the depths of the earth. . lining the dry and scaly hands of the woodcutters. Everywhere the mud. is 25 sucres to 1 US dollar.and swallows the 'concheras' up to their waists. which applies to all references made in Ecuadorian currency. their lazy Virginia tobacco is sniffed and then the smiles break out in tired faces that still seem clouded by the stupor of the siesta. Dysentery. fever.) On the shores of the Santiago. ~:. Esmeraldas. while waiting. They are travellers to be closely scrutinized. cures his. ~:-~:. of tetanu's. parasites. the Onzole. and dulls the pain of 'pian' . that rots the finger-' nails. ~:-~:. The waiting was for a boat to take him to . of diarrhoea. the Mira.. 76 . which then sucks it away. he ran out of it'. Children die of anaemia.At the end of this chapter is a glossary defining the terms that appear in quotation marks. 'machete' wound with a piece of· viper on the witch-doctor's recommendation. where they charge 40 sucres. Blacks sleeping in the mud under the scorching midday sun. on the banks of all the rivers and streams of the Eloy Alfaro canton in the province of Esmeraldas.· their rubber boots are touched.The prevailing exchange rate.(From the report of Carondelet. had little blood-they tell us-so. earning 15 sucres for the three days it takes him. brought in by the river. the huts of the Indians and the blacks alternate against a landscape of impenetrable jungle. tetanus.the distant hospital. misery. and having to pay up 200 sucres whep it is an urgency. where the syringes are sterilized in a tin can. Naked children. A little boy died from a small injury to his eyebrow: 'He.The jungle traps the people against the coast. in contaminated water boiled over the feeble heat of a handful of charcoal stones. it forces them to live with the mud as their second skin. clinging like a thin film on the faces of the children who paint themselves with mud when they play at being whites. Rubbish under the houses. because in matters of transportation you make it in two hours of rowing to San Lorenzo or Limones. There has never been a doctor.

::j All houses the same. standing like animals with long legs nailed into the edge of the river. .

the whole family will have to go out to earn its livelihood. Cusin-Pamba and Tunaguano Alto. Esmeraldas.400 inhabitants. Only two hours ago. and that is the reason why children mortality due to parasitarian diseases here is one of the highest in the country. And in the rainy seasons they consume water that they store in big holes they make in the ground "in front of their houses. What happened is that when they went to monitor the attendance. At that time I let the children go to the jungle to cut some sugar cane for their lunch. (From the report of Tambillo. senor. The men as 'peones' in a hacienda earn miserable salaries that take care of the most pressing needs in infrahuman conditions. He asked: 'Why are there 120 childreI). Indian communities of Abatag. '1 am the teacher of that school. someone was closely observing the numbers written on the blackboard. since the great majority of family heads receive a salary that fluctuates between 10 and 15 sucres per day.) The teacher. of a people that is starving to death. (From the report of U rcuqui.' The picture is really dreadful and horrifying. on the other side one notices the waste and luxury of a few feudals that dispose of thousands and thousands of hectares of uncultivated lands on top. it was midday. up to 5 kilometres. (From the report of San Pablo del Lago. Imbabura. a short. that is to say that he and his family are sentenced to live eternally as slaves. As soon as the child has grown enough. we come here to share the misery of these people. Imbabura. It is easily concluded that it is consumed a terribly contaminated water and in awful hygienic conditions. At present they provide themselves ·with water by carrying it from long distances. The father wants his child to grow up fast so that he can help to sustain the household. during the popular assembly gathered in the school building.The people drink water from a hole made in the earth.) . If we know that the greatest part of the households are numerous. Imbaburita.) 78 . and their parasites as well. of course'. While this is the picture that represents the great majority. so he continues being exploited by the patron. we can already think how they resign themselves to live in dreadful conditions. During harvest periods. The women threshing maize earn the astronomic sum of 3 sucres per day. These Indian communities represent a total of approximately 1. In "Tinter you can drink rain water. if he was in school they take him out of it. registered in this school and only 28 attending?' A courteous man with a dusty head stood up and asked permission to speak. dirty water. smiles in front of his plate of hot food: 'Yes. diligent man.

c j2 C 'i:: U C Q) :Q . u 79 .2 ro ~ U Q) ~ c E ro C o u b[.r:::..

A frantic rhythm shakes the blacks in a sort of hypnotic trance for hours.) The inhabitant of the coast is loquacious. while the drums hit the night. the white booze. the 'will' of the river. thrust out from under his poncho. He laughs frequently and is always willing to talk in a baroque prose full of tropical metaphors. the miserable pay. There are curtsies and bows. becomes deadly ill in Esmeraldas where the jungle storms into the Pacific. emptying their echoes along the river. be surprised when. Both have their share of merry-making that allow them to live in a world apart: in Esmeraldas the 'marimba' and the drums. trash. but at an early age. therefore. on the only pieces of soil that nourish them. The peasant does not want to trust in foreigners or in sterile promises. extrovert and courteous. upon arrival at a peasant village. the coconut water for the newly born. ignorance. an Indian greets you with his hand twisted to the inside as if it were a stump. ancestral rites. the fevers. fear. bare feet on the wooden floor in which the nails that begin to surface with the vibrations of the dance are hit back into 80 . the leg~ndary mountain. (From the report of La Esperanza. coloured shirts. The Indian needs the alphabet with urgency. the lack of work. miserable huts. His smile is short and solemn.Anaemia. One should not. the 'marimba' or the band. static and immutable. on the verge of the abyss. the inevitable banana. where the silent work of the Indian peasants takes place. The Sierra-with the Indian who fuels his ancient and patient hatred. white hats. battered by forced labour and annihilated by the vice of the 'guarapo'. hunger. the mat shared with the dog and the pigs. exploitation. but only in his own resources and authentic values which they feel in their own flesh as the motor of creative reaction. the almost vertical hollows where the maize grows. his agony begins in the inexorable unfolding of involution. The Indian from the Sierra is introverted. the 'chuchaqui'. the 'chicha' for Sundays. when his mind is unobstructed and open and not when overwhelmed by age. the inhabitable paramo. the dramatic geography of the mountains. potatoes and lima beans. soaked with sweat· and white booze. thus showing h~s distrust. Imbabura. A whole region of the country that springs from the Sierras of Imbabura and Carchi.

A little bit of sugarcane. that's all he'll have for lunch. 81 .

The jars of 'chicha' are never still. They dance to the tune of flutes and little drums. heads stretched out and bodies stiff. he fell ill of the liver and of great gravity. The dance is an amorous conquest. It rains outside and they gather and dance around a fire that throws flashes of flamelight against the wall of the room where the priest and the other players surround the only remaining candle. the joyous shouts of the priest-who is winning-can be heard. but since he lacked to pay the freight of one. I t is the case of a man who had Maclovio Cortes as his name. insinuation and retreats. he waited for the boats to arrive.place by a boy who walks around with a hammer. The singing and shouting strengthen the curiosity of those who are afraid to go in. Because here is no physician he decided to travel to Limones and cure himself. 82 . The women dance with their sleeping children suspended . Blacks and Indians dance and play: checkers in Borb6n and 'cuarenta' in Mariano Acosta where. Shouts and music intermingle. using metaphors that stick in the mind like the colours of their party clothes. the doctor was away from the place. but there was no boat leaving for that place and he had himself waiting for the ship to Esmeraldas until five in the morning of the day Friday. or to rent a canoe and pay for a rower. twisting sentences with a fantasy as rich as the infinite forms of the jungle itself. They dance with hands crossed behind their backs. fun is a family affair in which children and elders are never separated. although their hearts burn with the rhythm of the Colombian 'cumbia'. On Thursday that means of transportation was already there and he found himself in a more delicate state of health. through the open window of his house. full of courtesy. weaving rich and ancient words around everything. Politeness of language prevails even when describing the ugliest of events. And the Indian also dances. He wanted to travel to San Lorenzo. Music of their forebears. a century-old heritage which the young admire. He undertook the journey. For the Indians. In the afternoon he attended the hospital even more prostrated so that after those two days he was reposing asleep in the eternity. but when arriving at Limones. The blacks know how to relate their joys and sorrows. farmer and of scarce economic resources. music with a nostalgic rhythm that seems to come from the wind.from their backs. arriving at the above mentioned city after eight hours of navigation.

83 .

but many children. the Indian is always followed by his impassive wife. extravasates the liquid in order to satisfy her curiosity.This is in the case of ~:. Walking with short.In this way the owner of a hacienda. (From the report of Borb6n. ~:. and since there was none in the house. reduced to a barely human condition. carrying heavy bundles on his back.) All that the landless Indian can rely on for survival is the power of his arms. Thus one finds him in the suburbs of Quito and Guayaquil. privations and needs. In other areas it may be a number of days monthly. rapid steps. After the first few gulps she feels that her lips are caressed by something already solid. Returns the girl in darkness and the lady requests to drink from the calabash. He emigrates when crop failures hit his community and exchanges his worn out strength for a plate of food. just drifting and drugged with resignation. when he wakes up. while others in the (toilet) services are throwing their wastes into the estimable liquid as if fulfilling or closing an ecologic cycle. Esmeraldas. can count on a high number of free man-hours. in infrahuman conditions without any comfort and abandoned to his own destiny. considering the number of men available in the neighbouring community. The day labourer has a pay of 10 sucres per day without food. Day labourer is he who owns no land for cultivation..It is painful to see children without care and elder people on occasions adhering to the river to calm their thirst. which one is enhanced when "a masterpiece of the digestive apparatus is seen to drop from the container. she is surprised. sometimes sober. When he arrives in the city he accomodates himself to 'live-if it can be called that-in miserable shanties. the obligation is three days annually. A long line of landless Indians-the day labourer-stretches like a frieze from the tiny door of the mountain hut to the solid doors of the city. for having used roads. profession. It is a class that is silent and mute. habitation. He does not know. grass and wood from the mount. and 8 sucres with it. if he works in the town. which open onto exploitation. sometimes drunk. The case of a lady whose name for reasons of delicacy will not be disclosed: she asks a girl to give her water. if he will be able to conquer the day's bitter bread to take to his malnourished and ragged family. little or no instruction. without any hopes of vindication. - 84 . Annually every man I1)ust work three days of 'yanapa' (compulsory free labour) in the hacienda closest to his community. According to this report. But when they work in the haciendas the salary is 6 sucres with food. the little one takes the road to the river and provides herself with water in a calabash.

Peasant from the Sierra. 85 .

'It's not true that they are lazy. Other Indians who do not dispose of this help from the animals dedicate themselves to theft. chickens and other animals. wide feet with toenails rotted by the mud. Little to eat and too little space for cultivation. Imbabura. (From the report of San Roque. just to see!' The child runs with twisted feet. Imbabura. and it is in this manner that we make it known that in Sigsipamba exists the minifundia. stand stiff as if n'ailed into the patience of the icy drizzle. Clean jar!' 'I have been here four years. you know?' Lemon-coloured skin. Small hands.1 86 . Imbabura. worn out cassock and eagle eyes. Can you imagine?' 'Just one drink.' Dirty shirt. and with their perseverance and sacrifice managed to acquire a parcel of 5 hectares of farming land. like dark . but gross.' 'Give me. Long poncho. Drunk and laughing.) 'Glad to meet you. like the damned. helps himself with the sale of his domestic animals like guinea pigs. (From the report of La Esperanza. Proud President. Naked and skinny chest. Brown gums stained by tobacco. Village hanging from the mountain.. humble and poor people. Eyes opaque from the 'chuchaqui'. scarfs and blankets. Pigs fastened to the door and grubbing in the mud. Dry and darkened skin.those Indians who are not 'huasipungueros'. (From the report of San Francisco. Barefoot children. Indian President. hiding the present he received from the white girl under his poncho. ' The others. Barefoot President. 'As Pres. 'Glad to meet you.) Square of mud. History of the region ~ fifty years ago a handful of adventurers invaded these mountains. Church of mud and straw. in order to solve his daily subsistence. with sodden shirts barely covering their navels. 'Chicha. you know?' The Indian producer of ponchos.' 'It's the Reverend. etc.) President of Puetaqui. doctorcito... doctorcito.ident of the Cabildo I want to tell you . No teeth.

87 .Peasant woman from the Sierra.

Not like here. ' 'Everything grows in the Chota valley.. the old school of Bareque is at the point of falling down because it cannot resist any more its many years of existence.' Earth floor. doctor. between the broken teeth. 'Sorry. its ygienic conditions are deplorable with a floor of earth that produces much dust and also provokes illnesses in the children. A smile full of white maize. I gave you some already. you know?' 'Nice fiesta!' 'Take that dog away! And leave the light. besides.'. yes. 'The chicha in clean jar" doctor. 'They want to look at you. will you? Don't forget that school over there. (From the report of Chuga. Gazes sliding over the plates. Now go!' 'More guinea pig. there it's raining. They want to see you because they want to believe. She made it. Three hours they walk to the school. It smells of wet earth and sleeping animals. papaya. Yes. Here! No.) 'Come to eat! Please. Come on. You will not forget this poor Indian. The present gets warm in their hands and seems to melt against the empty stomachs. The chair for you. eh patron?' 'I am the coordinator here. 'No. Cracked board and a few benches. for you. but I have seen so many people .' 'Nice. See that mountain? From there come 30 children to the school.stones hidden behind the back.' . under the stubby hat like a dead leaf. doctorcito..' 88 . Sixty-year-old Indian. you too.. patroncito?' The hand goes to the mouth and remains. Swollen bellies and fever. grapes. The holes in the door covered with wet ponchos. and then it represents in this manner a constant danger. plums. the fiesta.' 'Now you get out because we are fucked if the candle goes out! You hear?' 'You got your presents. as if stuck. hurry up! Here. Did you have a bad trip?' 'Let the children come. doctor. you go first.. brother: tomatoes. Imbabura. You bring the road. no.

89 .Peasant from the coast of Esmeraldas.

' 'Yes. roof and health. father priest. (From the report of La Esperanza. He is sitting on a step in front of his hut. the thin and erect body make him look still young. the black hair. but it is not Quechua language. A girl stirs the coals in the brazier where the 90 . by chickens and by pigs.' The Church still has done nothing. by dogs.' 'In the Chota you find blacks that are two metres tall.) He must be some 50 years of age but the flat and coppet-coloured face. the Chota valley is the stomach of Ecuador. It really cries.' 'It's the wind over the stones.' 'I don't know what Imbabura means. The Church must help to get what is humanly necessary: bread. not as a gift or as charity that are humiliating offers. it's true!' Little snatches of fiesta behind the door. But they come with bulldozers to take away the archaeological gold. It's Atahualpa's bride who has taken off her gold and silver garments to s~ve his life. 'It cries. It only offers the salvation of the soul and the happiness in a non-terrestrial life. The hamlet unfolds along the only street. there are other things that we need here. that is the product of old beliefs and of a malnourished religion.' 'We have no means to build the road.' 'Chicha.' 'Besides God. hidden behind his black crushed wool hat. Smoke escapes through the windows. Silence in the rain that falls over the majestic Imbabura that crIes.unched sugar cane on the "floor. Imbabura. without a glance beyond his absorbing task.' 'No.'Yes. from there come the best domestic servants. But with that fatalism. but getting rid of its properties that are so extensive and sell them with good credit that will allow the peasants to cease to be pariahs and become productive elements. without a greeting. makes them an easy prey in the hands of evil-intentioned exploiters like the colonial conquistador who made believe that he was 'Wiracocha'. sometimes crossed by coloured papers. patroncito. M. but never managed to get as far as here in Mariano Acosta.' 'The Mount Imbabura cries at night.' 'Jesus Christ was born in the Chota.

Peasant woman from the coast of Esmeraldas. 91 .

For a few sucres. one poncho. Schools are almost empty in many places. A flag. rest his wounded hand for a little while. selling to the intermediary for 200 sucres and then the intermediary res ells it. It seems as if nothing could ever happen here. someone will prove that the cobbler is still alive and bleeding. Some benches of rough wood. No printed pieces of paper anywhere. said some peasants who were leaving. with the palm of his hand. a washbowl in a corner-an attempt at hygiene for the children. Someone asked about a president who had died 12 years ago. for work. in cotton 4 pounds with a value of 16 sucres. (From the report of San Roque. In Esmeraldas. he must work for 13 days. to remind them of the location of their world apart. That man over there looks as though he is the only one trying to prove that the people are alive. to produce one poncho and a half. Imbabura. buy his patience. They fall asleep while one is talking to them. he strokes some wet leather. ' Most suffer from first or second degree malnutrition. some rice. lima beans. coconuts and some fish when the Santiago river allows some fishing. He is a cobbler. a blackboard for the teacher. Scraps of clothing and always bare feet. So that it can go into the market. The Indian worker. Someone will come to buy his work. The Indian 92 . obtaining already a profit of 50 sucres or much more. which amounts to a daily rate of approximately 4 sucres. without breakfast. while the producer earns in 13 days 45 sucres.maize and the potatoes are boiling for lunch. with an open wound in his hand. without food. without roads. in this lost mountain village without water. Sugar cane. on top of a wooden block. Hat and poncho. invests in raw material: 25 pounds of wool that cost 220 sucres.) In the Sierra the illiteracy rate reaches 50 per cent and it increases on the coast. oppressed by a weakness that cannot be eliminated by eating sugar cane and bananas. Sometimes the owner of the transistor radio passes on the news that seems important to him. whole villages are to be found without a single person who knows how to read or write. 'We eat what the earth gives us'. But what the earth gives is always the same: potatoes. With great vigour and precision and much patience.

93 .

sheep. A man came slowly forward and raised his head towards the place where the visitors were standing.peasant works from sunrise to sunset. in the paramo. look a full two hours to cross a single hacienda. The peasants distribute it according to the exigencies of the period. they lend money for planting and then keep most of the harvest for themselves. the food was prepared for the guests. Another part is left for food. In an improvised hut. There are no roads where the women herd their goats. weaving wool at the same time. especially the tenacity required for work in the highlands. litigations. And the remainder. The harvests of the peasants in their small parcels of land are reduced to: some cereals. We were providing the few machines and the 'minga' was organized. It is thus that of their harvest one part is sold 'in green' to satisfy emergency needs: feasts. soaking wet. obviously insignificant. The 'chulqueros' buy their harvest 'in green'. behind the mule when they have one. Small but imposing. worn out strength and no resources. scarce cattle. the other for seeds. with coconut trees and diseased cattle. but one never sees him idle. They listened in silence. chickens and guinea pigs. (From the report of La Esperanza. Our jeep. a pig. Hot anisette was being circulated for the cold. uncultivated. flowers and coloured papers. baptisms. is sold to the speculators who arbitrarily impose the price in the market without control from any authority. their children on their backs. At the future road's starting point. The 'chulqueros' fix the prices. Over the cliff. Imbabura. tubercles. 94 . illnesses or urgent acquisitions. and auscultating the time and the future according to their experience. a triumphal arch had been erected from tree branches. Along the Andean abysses they walk for days. The peasant's work recalls biblical passages to us. in Esmeraldas. The ritual of the speeches was faithfully carried out under the rain of the paramo. that is to say. to reach the market where their products will always be sold at a loss. An Indian band played the same tune over and over again. tied to a pole. It is said that he is indolent. hung the flag of Ecuador. with primitive instruments.) The work on the construction of the road from Mariano Acosta to Ibarra was ready to start. leaning on their shovels and 'machetes'.

aj -::L ro c E (J) -£ c Q) E o S 95 .

It can be a number of days or weeks per year. Also name given to the Spanish conquistadors. firewood or pastures. YANAPA: Compulsory free labour in a hacienda. MACHETERO: A man who works with the machete. QUECHUA: Predominant language of the Indian populations of the Andean region in Ecuador. CUARENTA: Popular Ecuadorean card game. GUARAPO: Fermented beverage. especially if they are of light complexion and blond. HUASIPUNGUERO: Indian who works. GRINGO: Name given to foreigners. MARIMBA: Musical instrument similar to the xylophone. Shouting and 'insulting' the other players is all part of the game. It is an ancient Indian institution in the Andes. PIAN: A skin disease that can be quite painful. PEON: A day labourer. irrigation systems. MINGA: Group of voluntary workers who gather together to carry out tasks of benefit to the community such as road building. He has no contract and receives daily wages without having any form of social security or other rights. as a share-cropper. CUMBIA: Popular dance in Colombia. CHICHA: Alcoholic beverage made of fermented maize. When played in the coastal jungle it is normally accompanied with drums. made of wood. He is generally a migrant labourer. often quite toxic.holding his horse's bridle in one hand. a small piece of land given to him by the owner of the hacienda. which the peasant uses for his work and for clearing jungle paths. Peru and north of Chile. CHULQUERO: Intermediary. WIRAKOCHA: An Indian god. MACHETE: Knife with a short handle and long and wide blade. he raised the other as if wanting to touch the sky and then shouted at the top of ~is voice: 'At last we are going to see the face of God!' Glossary CONCHERA: A woman who gathers molluscs. 96 . It can also be used in fights and duels. CHUCHAQUI: Hangover after heavy drinking-. Bolivia. school buildings and housing. from the Indian peasants for having used roads.

97 .

wearing frayed-off trousers and naked from the waist up. Delegates from most of the CCIRs of Eloy Alfaro were gathered here to receive instructions as to when and where they were to meet in order to be transported to Quito for the Encounters. left his primitive craft and walked through the swamp. his body covered with dried mud. Around noon someone announced that a canoe could be seen in the distance. reaching the gathering point implied a journey of several days-sometimes more. Sitting soaked with perspiration and half drowsy.000 square kilometres. depending on the 'will' of the river-navigating in canoes or dugouts. A few delegates were missing. black and extremely slim. all we got was the nauseating odour of methane coming from the surrounding swamp. It was a sizeable operation to mobilize some 300 people distributed over an area of more than 16. About half an hour later the rower reached the shore. the words of Gonzalo de Freitas.e G er Logistics for mobilization It was a terribly hot and humid morning. The task was even more complicated in the jungle area because of the lack of internal transportation. They had made that sacrifice to attend this meeting. We ha/d left the door and windows of the old and decrepit wooden buildin'g open. but instead of the hoped-for breeze. explaining the reasons for the meeting. 98 . seemed to come from a great distance. For some. Tall. and they were to repeat it if they wanted to get to the capital two weeks later.

he had a ghostly appearance. he spoke the words he had come to speak.' Looking at us. 1 am sure. Now you are saying that we will go to the great capital of Quito and I believe you. he must have repeated to himself over and over again during his solitary days and nights along the hostile river. We belong to the forgotten people of this land. But now it seems that you are people who keep their promises. Yau did come back and invited us to this reunion where 1 see many brothers that are poor as well. Our dear teacher. because his dugout had capsized and tipped his supplies into the river. You went to our village and told us interesting things. and we believe in our ECU-28. He remained standing and requested permission to speak. But just as quickly we were back to intense concentration. he also told us that you were good people. We have been betrayed so many times that 1 cannot remember. and we listened. "As he stretched out his long arm to greet us. You say that important senores will really listen to us this time and 1 believe you. and y6u said that you would come back. his eyes half closed. senor Guevara. he told us that he had been rowing without food for two days. We are all very poor in my village .' 99 .' We flashed a surprised glance at each other when we heard him use the possessive in relation to ECU-28 . When he entered the room everyone fell silent. with his head stretched back. 'a very poor man. Words. '1 am'. After he had recovered. Not a single promise made to us by important senores who have visited us has ever been fulfilled. some soup and sandwiches so he could join the meeting later. because you kept your promise. he slowly extended his arm with a raised finger and in a sad and very low voice he added: 'We have been told lies so many times that 1 cannot remember . he collapsed in a faint. That is the reason why I am here. We thought of it as a good omen. he continued: '1 am here because we believe in you. in beautifully modulated Spanish. With a deep and solemn voice. After a moment of tense silence. 1 am so poor that the day 1 die 1 will have to look around myself and be careful not to fall dead on a piece of someone else's earth. We gave him strong coffee. he said. as if making an invocation. So now we believe.

he finished in a tone of warning: 'But I must say one word more. We left the old building with our thoughts burning. We felt that little could be added. so after a few additional instructions we adjourned the session. including a centre for the reproduction of documents. he looked around the audience as if accepting a tacit approval from his peers. the second from the province of Carchi and. as well as members of a number of other public institutions and Ministries. the delegates being divided into commissions dealing with education. The logistics were difficult and complex. Each group met for two days. as well as an internal information network. finally. Similar meetings to instruct the people about their journey to Quito took place in many parts of the region. If we are betrayed once more. In Quito the delegates were to be lodged and hold their meetings in the Colegio Normal Manuela Caiiizares. However. The first group came from the province of Imbabura. so we were all very excited when the day finally arrived. More than 300 peasants attended since. A medical system was set up. He sat down and remained silent for the rest of the meeting. a number came as observers. I promise you this: no stranger shall ever set foot on the shores of our village again!' Nodding his head very slowly. of the army and the air force in bringing the delegates to the capital. marketing. we were fortunate to have the full support. agriculture and communications. Most of the people from the MAE were helping. There was frantic activity at headquarters. It seemed that no detail had been overlooked. health. Encounters The three provincial Encounters and later a Peasants' Congress took place between the 19th of July and the 6th of August. both technical and material. 100 . The kitchens were amply supplied and two administrative offices were organized. A pool of secretaries was at the disposal of the delegates. from Eloy Alfaro canton of the province of Esmeraldas. crafts.Raising his voice quite suddenly while pointing his finger at those of us sitting at the main table. in addition to the delegates. 1972.

101 . All the delegates. being among equals and sharing mutual problems. in a common front. Prior to the Encounters. were reaching a stage in which they realized that the only way of satisfying their most basic needs was by acting together. they were capable of achieving more than they had ever imagined. after realizing the potential of their newly acquired horizontal communication. together with three elected members from among the delegates..Each commission used as a ·basic document for the sessions. the synthesis that had been prepared. So it was fascinating to discover. as well as in governmental institutions. The second condition especially generated great doubts among the CCIRs on the grounds of the existing poverty. It was amazing to observe how the traditional way of perceiving problems as strictly local was dramatically changed. A regional awareness soon begun to emerge and specific projects were outlined and priorities were established. had been afraid that the output of the event would consist of a collection of petitions which would leave the government in a very difficult position. some people in the MAE. The discussions were lively and problems were analysed in great depth. through mutual cooperation and a dynamic organization. using the CCIR reports. We had often insisted to the members of the CCIRs. they had to draft the final report of the corresponding commISSIon. and (b) incorporate the maximum possible input of locally generated resources. The role of the advisors was to intervene only when requested by the delegates to clarify technical matters or doubts that might arise as a result of the discussions and proposals. In addition they acted as rapporteurs and. in the course of our organizational journeys. For every commission there were three advisors present: one international expert. This emerged with the utmost clarity in all of the commission reports. the final outcome was a package of admirably coherent projects and proposals . However. they also came to realize that. Such fears turned out to be groundless since. by the MAE and ECU-28 experts. one expert from the MAE and an additional one appointed by the relevant Ministry. instead of petitions. that all proposals to be eventually approved during the Encounters should (a) take account of the very limited financial resources available.

.. Every delegate was paid a fixed sum in order to compensate him for any loss of income during his attendance. several members of the diplomatic corps requested permission to attend as observers. The delegates. (c) division of the province into zones of priority... and (f) appraisal of necessary external inputs. Peasants' Congress During the Encounters it was decided that each of the CCIRs should select one of their members to participate in a Regional Congress. When the Encounters were over. (d) list of proposed projects in order of priority... tools and machinery. The Congress held its meetings between the 4th and 6th of August... or currently under way. this represented three reports on each subject.. Each provincial group met for two days....J ... After that. elected as their President the only Cayapa Indian 102 . The main purpose of the event was to produce the foundations of a Regional Rural Development Plan. Fifty-four delegates were present. A number of high-level government officials participated in different sessions...... especially financial and technical assistance..... plus a number of regional observers.... in a moving statement of their newly acquired regional solidarity. in addition to the international and national experts.. including some of the cabinet Ministers... exchange of experiences). . three days were devoted to the drafting of the final reports. Each report was divided into: (a) description and diagnosis of the problem... At the regional level. (b) critical appraisal of actions taken in the past.. A new synthesis of the reports was produced by the experts as a basic document for a Regional Peasants' Congress that took place immediately after the three Encounters . covering the different areas of concern into which the Encounters had been divided.. before the next group arrived..that most of the proposed projects were of low cost and certainly less onerous than most projects prepared in a national planning office. 18 specialized reports had been produced. six for each province..... Due to the interest that the Encounters had provoked in different circles. to solve the problems. (e) inputs expected to be generated locally (voluntary labour..

as shall be reported in a later chapter. It was a dynamic process at its best and the results were of the same standard. in accordance with the established priorities. the plenary elected 15 members (five for each province) to make up the Regional Planning Commission. at this stage. In order to guarantee maximum efficiency of action. A man of singular intelligence. One was to be placed at the MAE headquarters and the rest in different points of the region. Representing the most isolated Indian group of the region-a group of jungle dwellers in Eloy Alfaro-he was the first in his tribe to have become an elementary school teacher. so that each of the 12 zones would have its own equipment. in cooperation with the national and int~rnational experts. After long discussions it was agreed that the region should be divided into 12 zones. 103 .that had remained for the Congress. All the individual projects . proposals were drafted in the haUways. In addition. proposed by the Encounter commissions were discussed. His ability proved to be a decisive factor during some very difficult moments. argumentatior and paper-work had been completed. ECU-28 had decided to contribute 11 radio transmitters. It was understood that all the parroquias comprising a zone were to act as a common front in the execution of the different projects. This Commission was to be in charge of the final version of the Regional Rural Development Plan. In this manner daily communication would be established. it would supervise the execution of the projects and act as a channel ferall the necessary feedback. he assumed his role with great efficiency and dignity. and up-to-date information about the progress and problems of each particular project would be readily available. For each zone. The delegates to the Congress were. group strategies and tactics were agreed upon for the plenary sessions. a development Sub-Plan was to be designed. After all the revision. It was hoped to increase the number later. acting and behaving like 'old timers': agreements were reached over coffee. As a permanent body it would act as a link between the national authorities and the CCIRs of the region. until a list of final priorities was produced which tied in with the new zonal sub-division of the region.

We were ready for celebration and then .The sites for the equipment were decided by the members of the Regional Planning Commission. Although the venture had been a success.. Harmful myths about the peasants had been destroyed.. the warning of our black friend came constantly to my mind during those days: 'If we are betrayed once more. The rural delegates were mainly responsible for that success. and Gonzalo de Freitas. The most exhausting and devastating experience lay still ahead. would be a difficult task for any team of experts. once more. and we felt that the outcome had exceeded even our most optimistic expectations. the expert in Communication. Nineteen days of an important experience came to an end. greatly facilitated the smooth and profitable development of the proceedings. Nevertheless-and thinking of ECU-28-I wish to single out the dedication and efficiency of a few in particular: Samuel Ruiz Lujan. The quality of their work as well as their devotion to the task. the expert in Cooperatives. For some strange reason. I could not name them all. just around the corner.. rest. I promise you this: no stranger shall ever set foot on the shores of our village again!' And what lay ahead. The event had b~en a total success. our wish was not to be fulfilled. Carlos Arguello. However.. as some of us already suspected. we had exhausted ourselves in the process. We thought that to produce inputs for the preparation of a Regional Rural Development Plan more coherent than those produced by the rural inhabitants during the Quito gatherings. was betrayal . Months of preparation. as we were soon to discover. ( 104 . In the very success of the meetings lay its vulnerability. our Administrative Officer. but the enthusiastic cooperation of many other people had been decisive as well. planning and travelling plus 19 days of intense concentration and activity had left us worn out. They had proven their worth and nobody could argue any longer that they were not prepared for full participation.

105 . hence my interpretation of the facts may be incomplete. How this disaster came about is the subject of this chapter. such as the MAE. there is sufficient food for thought in the story which follows. During the first government. with all the political and ideological changes that such a process implies. Some experts stayed on for a few months after my departure. a number of department heads. The shift of government represented a dramatic transition from a strong civil authoritarianism to a military dictatorship.7 rl r Instability and anxiety The Project. However. but the second phase was never initiated. was to last five years. The changes affected not only the higher echelons of national institutions. four Ministers of Labour and Social Welfare. During my 18-month stay. My own stay had a duration of 18 months. we had two governments. divided into two phases of two and three years respectively. Not only was the Project destroyed and the MAE absorbed by a number of Ministries. but often the technical personnel as well. the second being the result of a military take-over. The Project had to operate under very difficult conditions. I do not have answers to all the questions raised by this issue. but the process of peasants' participation that had been so successfully stimulated was later utterly destroyed. four Executive Directors of the MAE and four Co-Directors of ECU-28. while ECU-28 was still in its organizational and research stage. as originally conceived.

Similar dismissals occurred when the military government took over.his personal concern. he authorized the proposed publication of the book In A World Apart. largely due to . this came as a considerable surprise. we were able to carry out our tasks under almost ideal conditions. We had got so far ahead in our activities that the Peasants' Encounters had been scheduled to take place in April and May. especially the Co-Director. Since both of them. had been directly involved in the entire process. not only of the organization and purposes of the MAE but also of the reasons and purposes behind the UNDP/ILO Project. ~here was 106 . Indeed he went beyond a formal ratification and became. During the six months of his administration. Our impression was confirmed when he instructed the institution's technical personnel to cooperate fully with us. It was at this point that unexpected hostility to our work began to surface. While we feared for the outcome of all our efforts. All our activities had to be slowed down until the new Director had been fully informed.perts-one of them the Co-Director of ECU-28-suddenly raised their doubts with respect to the representativity of the members that made up the newly created CCIRs. Dr. It was during his directorship that the CCIR reports began to arrive. open to the kind of ideas that the Project was trying to advance. It was at one of these meetings that two of the MAE ex. an ardent supporter of the Project's philosophy. so that we were never able to rely on the slightest degree of continuity. Every Monday those ECU-28 and MAE experts attached to the Project held a meeting with the Executive Director. in theory and in practice. one month later an Air Force Colonel was appointed as the MAE's new chief executive. Eduardo Borja. It was during this period that the numerous field trips were undertaken and the CCIRs were organized. A new tentative date for the peasants' meetings was set. were dismissed. The Project's methodology had been approved by the MAE's first Executive Director and was later ratified by the second.together with the MAE's Executive Director. Impressed by the contents and quality of the reports. We had the impression that Colonel Carlos Banderas Roman was a sensible person. The military take-over of the government occurred in February 1972.

nothing that we could do. It was finally decided that both objectors
wer~ to make a trip through the region and determine the representa-

tivity of each CCIR. They probably did not expect such a decision from the Executive Director. When faced with it, they pointed out that they had no objections to the CCIRs from Carchi and Eloy Alfaro (curiously enough the two most inaccessible areas) but only to those of Imbabura. The result of their trip was that~ out of a total of 160 CCIR representatives, only six were substituted. This apparent blunder was later transformed into a series of most effective intrigues. Two weeks prior to the planned initiation of the Peasants' Encounters, Colonel Banderas was transferred to the United States, and a new Executive Director was appointed; this time an Air Force Major. Once again activities had to grind to a halt and meetings were postponed. It was another couple of months before we were ready to continue again. Having obtained the support of the new chief executive, the dates for the meetings were now finalised. The peasants, as was reported in the previous chapter, met in Quito between July 19 and August 6,1972. Most of the experts-both national and international, myself included-were so heavily involved in the preparations for the event, that we had neither the time nor inclination to think about anything else, or even to be a'Yare of anything not directly related to the task in hand. This narrowness of perception and concern proved to be disastrous.

Persona grata

In A World Apart came off the printing press ten days before the
Quito Encounters. Copies were distributed to many authorities, including cabinet Ministers. The first copy was reserved for the President of the Republic, General Rodriguez Lara. It was at this time that the Head of State sent me an invitation to visit him, together with the Project's experts, at the presidential palace. When we entered his office he greeted us with great cordiality and invited us to sit down in comfortable armchairs surrounding his desk. He was in full uniform and on top of his desk we could see the copy of the

107

book. After a few minutes of small talk he lifted the book above his head and said, 'It is shameful that at this stage of the twentieth century, a World Apart like this still e'xists in our country. Y et it is a reality and every effort mus't be undertaken in order to put an end to it. In this sense you have my backing for the work you are carrying out. I want to thank you personally, in the name of my government and in the name of the Ecuadorean people, for what you are doing.' I mentioned that the participation network we had organized, and expected to see consolidated during the peasants' meetings, was totally congruent with what he had outlined in his 'Plan and Philosophy of the Nationalist Revolutionary Government'. This seemed to please him, and then he added: 'I cannot think of a better way of planning than the one you have designed'. He addressed his satisfaction not only to me and my team, but to· the Director of the MAE who was also present. We left his office very satisfied. and with our optimism greatly strengthened. We thought that the Peasants' Encounters could not start under more favourable auspices. However, such optimism was soon to prove cruelly unfounded.

Intrigue and betrayal
Four days before the first encounter was to take place, I received a laconic memorandum from the Director of the MAE in the following terms: I hereby let you know that, following superior orders, the following dispositions are to be observed during the Peasants' Encounters: 1. No publicity or information of any kind must be handed out. 2. All acts are forbidden outside the premises of the technical meetings. 3. All acts must take place inside the Colegio Normal, and space for any forms of enterta.inmeJ}t must be found inside. We were certainly surprised, but went along without any objections .. Later on we were informed, in a personal conversation with the Director, that it was feared that the Ecuadorean Indian Federation woulq infiltrate the meeting, or influence the delegates if they left the

108

premises. In other words it was believed that the occasion might be used. for political purposes by institutions alien to the encounters.- I was also informed that police control would be permanent during the meetings. I had a reunion with my experts and insisted that everything had to be done with utmost care in order to avoid problems or misinterpretations. I had a pretty uneasy feeling and began to have a strong premonition of impending danger. . The first encounter was of the delegates from the province of Imbabura. The results were beyond our expectations. All delegates worked with great dedication, and not one instance occurred that had any implications of a political nature: The success, in this respect, was so complete, that the last night the Director of the MAE himself participated actively in a party, singing and playing the guitar. We were all very relieved and looked forward. to the coming encounters with greater peace of mind. The second encounter-that of the delegates of the province of Carchi-followed the same rhythm and style as the previous one. Once again a merry party was thrown. A competition of 'cuarenta' (card game) was organized, in which the Director of the MAE and I were partners. Much laughter and enjoyment followed. It turned out, however, to be the last time that I ever saw the Director. From then on I was not even allowed to enter his office. We were supposed to see each other again at the start of the third encounter, this time of ~he delegates coming from Eloy Alfaro. He did not show up at the inaugural session. Later I learned that at the very same. hour a meeting was taking plaFe in the office of the Resident Representative of the UNDP, Dr. Erich Lang, in which the ~xecutives of the MAE were informing him that my departure from the- country would be requested. When Dr. Lang informed me of the situation, it came as the most unexpected blow, in the midst of a process that was succeeding in a quite spectacular manner. I informed the Project's experts of the situation, but decided that everything had to proceed as if nothing had happened. In this manner, the third encounter was completed to the satisfaction of all concerned, and three days later the Peasants' Congress was inaugurated.

109

While we were intensely busy in the organization of the meetings, a whole network of intrigue had been mobilized, reaching all the government institutions that had dir'ect or indirect relations with the Proj ect's activities . It became quite clear as a re sult that a decision had been taken about my situation and that I would have to leave the country. Dr. Lang made all the efforts to provoke a meeting between myself and the Director of the MAE for a joint discussion of the matter. His efforts were carried out to no avail and, after having insisted several times, he was told that any further insistence could determine that I would be forced to leave the country within 24 hours. Other unpleasant occurrences and situations began to come to my attention. My discovery that one of my own experts-the one I had appointed as Deputy Director~had been directly and actively involved in the intrigues, was very disappointing indeed. Whatever the accusations brought up against me, I have a good reason for neither enumerating nor analyzing them here, using simple common sense; let it suffice to say that had the project continued to function normally, after my removal and the appointment of a new Project Manager, it could be assumed that the reasons for requesting my removal might have been well founded. This was, however, not the case. As already stated, a few months after my departure the project came to an end, and even the MAE ceased to exist as an independent institution, its personnel having been absorbed by several Ministries. Looking back after nine years, it has become quite clear in my mind that the target of the intrigues was the neutralization of the entire process unleashed by ECU -28. I represented, in the game, nothing but an obstacle that had to be removed.

Persona non grata
It is extremely difficult to describe the feeling of betrayal. Suddenly everything collapses. One feels overwhelmed with accusations, without being given any opportunity to confront one's accusers. One feels' betrayed, yet powerless against the betrayers. One feels that everything has turned upside down: logic, values, behaviour, perceptions~one's whole world. Bad is good, dishonesty is honesty, lies

110

Everything collapses. word had reached. The dedication to what we did was so intense that it has become verY difficult to forget what happened. begged me to stand up. in the name of the peasants of the north-west of Ecuador. through channels unknown to me. The President asked for other opinions. One of the delegates from the floor requested permission to speak. including oneself. and a number of delegates seconded the motion. The gesture had been worth a thousand words. A few months later I met one of my former experts in Chile. when something quite unforgettable happened. nine years have elapsed. because our friends deserve it. I have a proposal to make. The reaction of the peasants Although the situation went unnoticed during the Encounter of the delegates of Eloy Alfaro. So I propose that we do this: let us all gather a small contribution from our villages so that we can buy a ticket for our President to go to the United Nations in New York and visit the Secretary-General in order to thank him. His words were more or le'ss as follows: 'Companeros. during one of the last plenary sessions. A standing ovation followed and the meeting was adjourned. But we have also learned that there is much that we can do together. It was finally unanimously approved.become the truth and treason becomes a virtue. We all know that our communities are very poor. At the time of writing.' We were deeply moved by his short speech. walking over to where I was sitting. And above all one feels very isolated. Nobody can share one's situation. No amount of understanding or moral support makes any sense of what has happened. I know that we can do this. and was informed by him that the government had denied the President a 111 . and embraced me. those peasants who had remained for the final Congress. for what the United Nations through the ECU-28 Project has done for us. The President-the young Cayapa school teacher-abandoned speech and. Few events in my life have left marks as deep as this one. I was sitting at the podium along with other peasant authorities.

one of the most distinguished old ladies of Ecuador. the Project's driver and Carmen Collahuaso. Certain members of the government gave me their moral support. And last but not least. the trip was never : made. only two weeks had elapsed since the President of the Republic had sanctioned our work: two weeks . offered her unconditional support and possible influence at higher levels. but I have always felt grateful to her. stood so solidly at my side that their support turned into everlasting friendship. Julio Galer. they are the only two friends in Ecuador with whom I still maintain permanent correspondence. they considered the Project to have been a success. assured me that. Dona Maria Cecilia de Navarro. Other reactions Many people apart from the peasants were surprised and shocked at the unexpected outcome. the Regional Director of the ILO and his Deputy. My chief in Lima-and my mentor in many important ways-don Carlos D'Ugard. 112 .between the status of 'persona grata' and 'persona non grata'. Captain Reyes of the Air Force. Abraham Guachamin.passport so that. was a reliable and devoted friend during the entire process. despite the peasants' sacrifices. I declined the offer. one of the MAE executives. As a matter of fact. took pains to make his disgust with the situation evident. despite the disaster. Eduardo Ribeiro de Carvalho. My gratitude to him remains. our maid. After all.

I believed that my discipline was evolving very fast. This was successively followed by concepts such as social development pure and simple. 'integral development' (some called it 'integrated development') ._"''''''. to the disdain of orthodox economists. At that time and a little later. 113 . In the late fifties and early sixties there was talk about social 'aspects' of economic development.: in South America.o1t''Il1l'" and illusions During my initial years as an economist. some iconoclasts-myself included-were talking and writing.olr1. while in the School of Economics of the University of Chile. when I was 'from the inside looking out'. writer and naturalist. whose account of his early life in Argentina with the same title has long been a classi<. the central issuoe was economic development-basically understood as economic growth. Hudson.H. Then came the period of economic and social development. Having written my dissertation on 'Social Structure and Economic Development' I managed to gain my degree.F r g 1. I remained part of the 'in group' until 1960. In the early fifties. the 'unified approach to development' and-as advanced mainly by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in its 1975 Report What Now-'Another Development'. At that time-a period of great economic chauvinism in Chile-subjects like the ones with whi'ch I had conI have borrowed the title of this chapter from W. but was no longer well received by the members of my profession. about sociology of development.o"'lT.

is something that remains to be seen. There was a richer vocabulary but. I lived and worked for years among them and became aware of how dismally inadequate my discipline was when it came to interpreting the invisible reality. It is assumed that they can wait. and the chosen style will be that imposed by the dominant class. During my years of peregrination I slowly evolved into what I call a 'barefoot economist'. basic needs and human needs in general. As a result I left my country. building 'damn big dams'. Development-whether as a concept or as concrete action -can never assume the existence of a class harmony. as someone once put it. as far as the invisible sectors were concerned. such as poverty. that seemed to be the extent of the evolution. if not all.:nere charlatanism. at last. This is not only true historically. I have become aware of facts which had never claimed my attention before. I believe that to assume goodwill on the part of governments to really improve the lot of the invisible sectors is naive.cerned myself were considered to be-. It is true that some economists today are concerned with several fundamental issues. It strongly represents class interests. and must wait. the discipline is slowly getting closer to a reality that really matters. The fact that most agreements -as I have mentioned in the Introduction-are couched in 'pro- 114 . Most. Their misery and neglect were as obscene as ever. since unexpected political circumstances led to my voluntary departure again in early 1974. and then only for a short time. Hence technical and financial assistance for development will always be a business conducted between the development agencies and the ruling class. Ever since I have been 'from the outside looking in'. They will get their turn once the country has become economically strong. despite the insistence on yet newer words and concepts such as 'social justice' and 'participation'. The invisible sectors are treated as expendable sectors. for instance. It would seem that. to return 12 years later. I discovered the 'invisible people'. Yet whether research. have more urgent priorities such as. theory and positive action in the field will ever converge. whom I mentioned in Chapters 2 and 3. it is a matter of common sense. What I had earlier interpreted as the evolution of economics turned out to be an evolution only in words.

ideological positions are ultimately reconcilable. A few things are much clearer in my mind and I would like to devote some lines to them. We did exactly what the Plan of Operations requested us to do: to guarantee the full participation of the peasants in the development process. '20 What happened with the ECU-28 Project is a concrete example. Hence diversified regional development 115 . while institutional continuity. represents the true intentions of the holders of power. if ever. sanctioned internationally and hence faithfully followed. forms of social action that have emerged painfully from revolutionary struggles in specific national societies are discussed as if they were promising prescriptions that might be adopted at the will of any r~gime along with a selection from the m<?re conventional tools of social action. the heterogeneity of the regimes participating in it. vested interests in on-going programmes. too harsh to be camouflaged by discreet reports. and that. they represent the interests of the dominant class. practically. means that I know better now. The realities of the world.gressive' terminology and are conceived to enhance 'participation' and 'social justice'. or at least that states mean what they sign. That experience. National development styles wrongly assume that a country is a homogeneous unity and. Perhaps I was still inexperienced. One outcome is the proliferation of what I have labelled "utopias devised by committees" . The language becomes eclectic in an attempt to reconcile irreconcilable positions. Thus. and government admonitions to be 'practical' continually force them to try to pour the new wine into their old bottles. as a consequence. and still believed that 'states mean well'. continually press the international organizations in this direction. It is a ritual. generate serious and harmful regional imbalances. Marshall Wolfe has stressed this point very clearly: 'The eclecticism of international discourse. plus other observations made during the last nine years. seldom. to assume that all states mean well. the pervasive dissatisfaction with what has been done in the name of development and the quest for policy innovations have increasingly blurred the dividing line between developmentalist and revolutionary ideologies. and brought about an ambivalent receptivity to radical questioning of the articles of faith. Furthermore.

The final result of such a situation is that. Development strategies and' survival strategies' must not be understood as processes that merely co-exist. in the great majority of cases. unfavourable wage 'relationships. which are unlikely to occur. 21 Another wrong assumption is to believe that many of the problems affecting the invisible sectors are either special cases or isolated phenomena.nal and local autonomies have really been enhanced. the growing 'industrialization of agriculture' tends to destroy existing traditional skills. current development strategies tend not only to circumvent such sectors.processes can only come about as a consequence of power redistribution and decentralization. In most Third World countries the development styles imposed tend to increase the marginalization of the peasants without generating alternatives for employment. the same groups at national levels. the invisible sectors are left alone to design their own 'survival strategies'. while the dominant class designs its own development strategy. The truth of the matter is that the poor are once again trapped by the system. is an intrinsic part of the economic system of most Third World countries. The situation becomes paradoxical. The result is that the possibilities for the poor to improve their living conditions as a consequence of the nationally designed development strategies. The only-alarmingly few-exceptions to be found are in countries where regio. The truth is that poverty. Yet-as Marshall Wolfe has stressed-'in practice such participation has remained elusive and ephemeral. Their survival will often depend on exploitative relationships such as share-cropping. Since it is often not recognized as a structural component of the system. both for the state-dominated development strategies and for the revolutionary countermobilizers'. both rural and urban. Furthermore. has proved. How can ~uch a vicious circle be broken? Much time and effort may still have to elapse before we find the most 116 . Furthermore. There is no truly effective or valid way of promoting human welfare and social justice if not through real participation. to be nil. although it is possible to strengthen participation at the local level. this will never imply enhanced participation of. debt-bondage and other forms of patron-client relationships. but often to worsen their living conditions.

In the meantime. The second part of this book relates an attempt to follow this path. The path. So what next? My reply is this: if national systems have learned to circumvent the poor. Whatever cannot be achieved with national systems must necessarily assume the many forms of local self-reliance. must be done at local levels. I also know that one must do what one can do. For instance. since my concern is with the people of the invisible sectors that account for more than half of the world's population. as long as they are not based on greed or personal ambition for power. I have already made it clear that. I do not even believe in 'national identities'. This is what can be done and. however. situations and circumstances. but in as many places as possible. Think small and act small. I know that waiting for grandiose solutions to come from the top is not only self-defeating. Testimony as an alternative I am far away from my peasant friends. it is the turn of the poor to learn how to circumvent the national systems. This exercise has induced me to re-evaluate places. nutshell-in any form of giantism. No matter how little it is. as well as my own participation in them. but turns me into a passive accomplice of a situation I dislike. I do not believe-to put it in a. can have unexpected positive effects. It is only in such environments that human creativity and meaningful identities can truly surface and flourish. 117 .satisfactory answers. in my opinion. is what should be done at local levels. I believe in local action and in small dimensions. I have reached a stage in my life in which I have many more questions than answers. there are things that can and should be done. Therefore. a~ a barefoot economist. it seems to me. I no longer believe in 'national solutions' or 'national styles'. Everything that can be done at local levels. writing of an episode long past. Hence. it is nonetheless a human testimony and human testimonies. must go from the village to a global order. But the few answers'that I do have are proving to be useful.

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.

.

A few hours earlier I had delivered my paper to a Latin American audience gathered together for the annual meeting of CINTERFOR.The Latin American Vocational Training Research and Documentation Centre (CINTERFOR) is an ILO specialized agency set up in 1964. deteriorating and decayed small cities-my conclusion was that there is an urgent need for the revitalization of small urban centres. and that a new orientation in styles of vocational training was paramount to the achievement of such an objective. Furthermore.~:-My main argument had been that vocational training. towns and villages. organizations and agencies involved in vocational training. the orientation and content of any vocational training curricula had to be determined by-and adapted to-regional and local characteristics. Paraguay. was discriminate in the sense that it tended to benefit the large metropolitan areas more than the small cities. In view of the irregular demographic distribution which affects the majority of Latin American nations-proof of which is the hyper-urbanization of a few: centres in comparison with a huge number of deprived.o A It all began over evening cocktails in a beautiful garden in Asunci6n. A new orientation which took account of regional and local potential ::. I argued. in the spring of 1977. and not by the extrapolation of national and global trends. with the aim of encouraging and coordinating the action of the Latin American institutes. 121 . as traditionally practiced in most countries of the region.

as a general rule. in the State of Minas Gerais. 122 .SENAC is the Brazilian Vocational Training Service for the tertiary sector. I had insisted that it was necessary to bear in mind that. but also to enhance the quality of life in small cities and therefore their value as legitimate and attractive urban alternatives. but because of the voracity of the metropolitan centres that deploy.~:. It was the first time that I became aware of the existence of the town to which I was later to find myself devoting two intense and eventful years of my life: Tiradentes. the Director General of SENAC. The possibilities seemed endless. or another proposal. small cities are depressed not because they are small.and need. 23 Our enthusiasm about the subject and its potential increased to almost wild proportions. When I' finally went to sleep my mind was drowsy. I had the feeling that my interlocutor. There exists a universal ritual known to all those who have participated in international meetings. a good portion of the surplus generated in the periphery. which is the most expedient passport into the blissful realm of eternal oblivion. in Brazil. The next day. Something seemed to be different this time. the plenary session approved. he spoke. into the proceedings of the meeting. to carry out a revitalization experiment. after one's performance. Carried away by romantic and utopian scenarios. not so much from the drinks (which had nonetheless contributed) as from the wanderings of my imagination let loose. Stimulated. might serve-it seemed to me-not only to reduce the trend of forced migration. In the presence of Eduardo Ribeiro de Carvalho. for their own benefit. of an ideal place.22 who was at the time Director of CINTERFOR and was sharing the conversation. A few hours pass and all is forgotten. . The Director General was Mauricio de Magalhaes Carvalho. perhaps by the colourful and tasty tropical drinks. There goes another pape~. the conversation took us deep into the night. namely the claps in the back and all the nice words. for the ~:.was genuinely interested in the presentation of my arguments. Cards and addresses are exchanged and promises are made to remain in permanent contact. thanks to the outstanding diplomatic abilities of Eduardo Ribeiro de Carvalho.

who had been ~nvited by CINTERFOR to contribute with written essays and to address the audience through lectures ~nd panels. The idea. The first day and a half turned into a sort of brainstorming.meeting that was to take place in Mexico the following year. Reactions very soon made themselves felt: what did CINTERFOR. It was hoped that all delegations. All the others had-in congruence with Latin American predictability-lost their jobs in the meantime. once aware of the aims. and for that matter the Vocational Training Institutions. but with the wrong audience? The reactions were not unexpected for the organizers of the seminar. only three of the many executives visited were present. So. Apart fr0Il?. almost any institution could find reasons to 123 . Preparing the ground My first duty-for which I was hired by CINTERFOR-was to undertake a trip through most of the Latin American countries in order to discuss the meaning and purposes of the seminar with the heads of the vocational training institutio~s. the Seminar's contents and final purposes were an unknown quantity for the great majority of those present~ It was October. A mass of unorthodox presentations.the numerous country delegations. would contribute experiences or ideas about the subject at the Mexico meeting. "In reality. there were a number of high-ranking experts and authors from different parts of the world. apart from the explanation contained in the title. an interesting meeting. perhaps. 1978. had had a timely birth. the protesters had a point and deserved good answers. Vocational Training and Quality of Life in Small Cities' which I was to coordinate. so we thought. although the efforts to gather interest and support were carried out in vain. have to do with revitalization of small cities? Was it not a problem to be dealt with by the Planning Ministeries or the national urban authorities? Was this not. proposal~ and alternative development visions began to disconcert part of the audience. the"· organization of a seminar on the subject of 'Work. Furthermore. The visits proved to be highly stimulating. At the time of the reunion.

might therefore be the adequ. Such a concept implies the emergence of positive forces from within the city dwellers themselves. One is not often given the opportunity to put one's theories and beliefs into practice. Others. the case had been made and important support had been gathered. It could be the educational authorities. behind benevolent smiles. of course. But. remained silent and uncommitted. Some of the delegates thought the ideas were valid and worth giving a try. thanks to the brilliant presentations of the invited authors and speakers plus the persuasiveness of the Director of CINTERFOR. It was the Brazilian delegation of SENAC which accepted the challenge and decided to invite me for an initial period of six months. It was officially approved that CINTERFOR should try to promote a project along the propose'd lines. because it is under exactly such circumstances that. However. Arguments and counter-arguments continued to wage to and fro. A critically revised style of vocational training determined according to local existing or potential skills and respecting cultural identities. because there are serious health and sanitary problems in small cities. as is usually the case.initiate such a programme of action. after 124 . romantic and utopian. although indispensable. itself a result of new possibilities and opportunities that accurately reflect local or regional conditions and characteristics. such sectoral initiatives. in the State of Minas Gerais. towns and villages and. in order to explore the possibilities of undertaking a demonstrative revitalization project in the city of Tiradentes. because educational facilities tend to be poor in small cities. stimulated by their collective awareness of a new significance to a long dormant local or regional identity. and so on. and I was now being offered that very challenge and chance. It was in fact quite alarming. do not provoke the desired effects implicit in the concept of revitalization. their rural enVIronment. The majority. By the same token. it could be the planning or the agricultural authorities. It could be the health authorities.ate (but not the sole) vehicle to initiate a revitalization process in small cities. I was both happy and preoccupied. thought that the whole idea was impractical.

having felt very strong and sure about one's own way of thinking.tions from the seventeenth. Gonzalo Alcafno and Leopold Kohr. Congonhas do Campo.I must. express my special gratitude to Professors Carlos Mallmann. Isidro Suarez. Sabara. Sergio Montero. After having completed the exercize. Ouro Preto. in this respect. This stimulated the development of cities of opulence and culture. one is suddenly overwhelmed with uncertainty and doubt. Mariana. It meant questioning the predominant opinions and tendencies. i". which was for some time the capital of Minas Gerais. and the extensive dialogues I had with the others. as well as iron 'ore. mainly due to its enormous mineral wealth. had provided. of this I had no doubt. Gold was to be found in abundance. it turned out that I had confirmed my agreement with several of the main ideas contained in some of my previous writings. was in 1980 declared a World Monument by UNESCO. and in a convincing manner. Diamantina. I therefore felt a strong need to thoroughly revise my theoretical framework. Ouro Preto. were invaluable and enriching experiences for me. tin and precious and semiprecious stones. Discussions with colleagues were also very decisive~:-. Considerations traditionally absent from the preponderant development theories had to be brought into light. Oscar Nudler. was more than just concrete and sensible actions to improve local living conditions. but several of them still contain invaluable treasures and tradi. Prados. Fortunately some years of research and thought into a subject of no interest for most economists. eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Luis Izquierdo. The chosen area The state of Minas Gerais was of' great importance during colonial times. 125 . architects and musicians. me with a good deal of pertinent material from which to draw in order to undertake this task. The opportunity I had to work with the first two. ~:. as well as a concentration of highly talented plastic artists. Many of these cities have deteriorated quite considerably over the years. It implied a whole philosophy for alternative life styles. Sao Joao del Rei and Tiradentes are the most important. Revitalization of small cities.

Their influence is very considerable since they penetrate every aspect of communallife. gold became exhausted. in addition to its religious preoccupations. yet survived.on. . where small scarcely subsistence holdings are predominant. All the building and artistic creation generated some highly refined craftmanship. The Municipality of Tiradentes. in a predominantly baroque style. The quality of many of the works compares well with those of some of the best European composers of the same period. During more than half of this century it decayed. traditional mining activities were mostly discontinued and Tiradentes slowly vanished into oblivion. To this very day. and each of the cities has one or more orchestras which still perform the music of the region. 250 from Belo Horizonte and 500 from Sao Paulo. carvings and architectural achievements of Aleijadinho are to be found. After a long period of great splendour. At a certain point in the historical development of Minas Gerais. and help and support to those in difficulties.000. It was only in the 126 . remnants of which are still to be found among isolated artisans. sculpture and architecture reached high levels of accomplishment. is located at 350 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro. of poor soils. each church has its own 'Cofraria' which. Particularly interesting-and relatively unknown in Latin America and the rest of the world-was the musical creativity and development. The musical tradition has survived up to the present day. acts as a welfare institution for those in need.The art of goldsmiths and silversmiths. the church hierarchy lost its influence-and the churches fell under the control of 'Cofrarias' (Lay Brotherhoods)-who would even hire and pay for the priest whom they themselves selected. It is divided into two urban districts and a rural area. providi~g emergency food and housing. It is in these cities that the sculptures. New composers are still being discovered. A great number of composers produced important music during these centuries. He was probably the gre~test artist of his type in all of Latin America. especially for church services and notable occasions. elementary health facilities. and a large number of scores are yet to be classified. with an approximate population of 10. in almost total isolati.

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standing. of its architectural and artistic treasures. the remnants of the old institutions.. 128 . their evident decay notwith. as well as traditional institutions. represent an area rich in opportunities f<?r revitalization. Hence. to be preserved. it was the town's impoverishment and isolation that allowed for most.life and the achievement of a greater local self-reliance. traditions and crafts. Paradoxically. wherein lies a great deal of potential for an improvement in the city's quality of .late sixties that. through the construction of a 5 kilometres paved road linking the town with the Sao Paulo-Belo Horizonte highway. that Tiradentes was 'rediscovered'. Tiradentes has seven 'Cofrarias' and many craftsmen.

as when 129 . in the name of efficiency. and about output conducted in a manner that minimizes costs and maximizes profits. are conspicuous cases in point. Indeed. especially of artificial systems such as businesses. it is such systems that have to be favoured and promoted. Economies of scale. I have long been tempted to explore this subject. it is one of its central preoccupations. Although I am an economist myself. firms and other different kinds of enterprise. economics does deal with the concept of well-being.an issue in economics only in relation to the efficiency of productive 'units.1 eo cal I rl e (Ill) The problem of size The size of systems. The fact that it handles it in a mechanistic way. and has been. even giantism. does not impede an attempt to approach it in a -non-mechanistic manner. despite the fact that it is not considered to be part of my discipline. The fact that bigness--or giantism-of systems may in itself have an adverse effect on the relative well-being of the people who are a part of them. in many cases. Efficiency is about output. The so-called economies of scale and the corresponding law of diminishing returns. As a matter of fact. as well as cities. I somehow cannot agree with this view. tend to favour bigness and. for example assuming the existence of a people whose economic behaviour is generally rational. If large-scale production and huge metropolitan centres facilitate the satisfaction of such a formula of efficiency. has been . a subject of no concern to economists. is.

if ever. there must be a limit. where they do not possess this knowledge. But. be well governed. was once an issue of central importance. For both governors and governed have duties to perform. they have no idea what is a large and what is a small city. 25 Even before Aristotle. When the population i? very large they are manifestly settled at haphazard. and that city which is best adapted to the fulfillment of its work is to be deemed greatest. has a work to do.assuming the existence of a people whose economic behaviour is also influenced by emotion and intuition and characterised by unpredictable reactions and feelings. the special functions of a governor are to command and judge. both the election to offices and the decision of lawsuits will be wrong. 24 The fact is that what receives scant attention today. Clearly then the best limit of the population of a city is the largest number which suffices for the purposes of life. not their number. For they judge of the size of the city by the number of inhabitants. then. we should pay some attenion to the words of Aristotle: First among the materials required by the statesman is population: he will consider what should be the number and character of the citizens. only begins to exist when it has attained a population sufficient for a good life in the political community: it may indeed. if it somewhat exceed this number. but as a physician. whereas they ought to regard. and then what should be the size and character of the city. than some one else who was taller. which clearly ought not to be. What should be the limit will be easily ascertained by experience. On the subject of human beings and the size of their cities. be a greater city. but even if they are right. A city too. his master Plato had stated as a fundamental principle that: 'The city should grow only as long as it can do so 130 . Beauty is realised in number and magnitude. A city. experience shows that a very populous city can rarely. since all cities which have a reputation for good government have a limit of population. but their power. not as a man. But if the citizens of a city ~re to judge and to distribute offices according to merit. they must know each other's characters. in the same sense of the word great in wliich Hippocrates might be called greater. like an individual. Most persons think that a city in order to be happy ought to be large. and can be taken in at a single view. Moreover. and the city which combines magnitude with good order must necessarily be the most beautiful. as I was saying.

was clearly something to be avoided. City States in the Italian Renaissance followed the same example to varying degrees.. to a relatively small scale. When choosing. we have an effective substitute in modern forms of imperialism. The phalansteries of Fourier did not exceed 1. They represent different options and as such they involve 'costs and benefits'. 26.without impairing its unity'. Unitarianism or federalism.000 years the empire and the city. The parallelograms of Robert Owen received from 500 to 2. one should be 131 . while living in Tiradentes.000 families. and the other isolates the importance of unity. For more than 2. When one states that 'the citizens . and more concretely. I was later. which finally collapsed under the weight of its absurd and humanly unsustainable proportions. Such ideals are clearly related to an idea of scale. ruled by justice and virtue. they were the ones that produced wealth and cultural diversity in spite of the hegemonic impulse of such great empires as the Holy Roman Empire. integration or balkanisation. centralisation or decentralisation. in their minds.. have confronted each other as alternative ways of living and forms of identity. and the same was the case with the cooperative associations of Horace Greeley. must know each other's characters'. as did the' notably prosperous free cities of the Hanseatic League. both considered in their broadest terms. Thomas More proposed an ideal community of 6. although we lack empires. None of the later utopias ever succumbed to the temptation of granting merit to giantism. One could say that they considered true communication between citizens a condition sine qua non for the attainment of a good life. Giantism. It is interesting to note that not only the Greek masters related quality of life with social units of comparatively small scale. nationalism or regional-' ism: all these are manifestations of alternative preferences as valid today as they were yesterday.600 people. This is still the case today for. In each case the reasons are the same: Plato'nic unity and the Aristotelian need for citizens to know 'each other's characters'. to bear witness to the importance and immense contemporary value of these principles. As cities. The advantages of a social dimension on the human scale were maintained both in Athens and in Sparta.000 members. they reveal a common preoccupation.

in turn. In the first the development of people is possible. Within one. depend on the degree to which they feel integrated with their environment. their evolution is possible only in terms of becoming even larger. both at the collective and individual level. This depends. on the dimension and homogeneity or heterogeneity of the same. spatial. only the development of objects. And once dimensions of large scale have been consolidated. Human Beings and Technology-which is. and on its behalf we have evolved from economies of scale to what I would like to call'diseconomies of uncontrollable dimensions'. humans are able to achieve a sense of identity and integration. as well as their alienation. It seems quite indisputable to me that human beings develop according to the relations they maintain with their environmen·t.quite clear as to tpe implications of that choice. it is people who consume 132 . then giantism should be avoided by all means possible. All their integrity. The system no longer expands to meet the consumption needs of people. political. of course. In the first. The attainment of a dynamic equilibrium between Nature. feel themselves directly responsible for the consequences of their actions within their environment. Every type of environment-economic. while within the second they can only choose to endorse their individual integrity. let me go back and analyse its implications a little further. a highly desirable goal-is only possible when humans. I identify the first as 'humanising' and the second as 'alienating'. and this can only happen if the dimension of that environment remains within the human scale. a person feels the consequences of whatever he or she does and decides. Since the scale of economic activity has a direct influence on the scale of other systems such as cities. its capacity to pollute and its contribution to the rise in heart attacks and hypertension. cultural and natural-may have both an optimum dimension and a critical dimension. If the intention is human communication and participation. Economics has worshipped efficiency. their inner and external equilibrium. within the other. within the second. The economic efficiency of this process is incontestable and so is its power to pillage natural resources. the human being resigns himself to letting others act and decide for him.

anxiety and. powerful evidence already exists to the effect that 'the improvement of living standards (basic needs and luxuries) constitutes a diminishing fraction of each new unit of increased per capita GNP. boredom. have not yet been able to rediscover their own dimension. However. people merely strengthen the fallacy. finally. as it includes any activity. They participate less and less and allow themselves to be led more and more. 133 . It should be recognized once and for all that a measure as abstract as the per capita Gross National Product (GNP) is a highly misleading indicator of the standard and quality of life. even though they may not be legal. one could conclude that humans.in order to meet the system's requirements of growth. ~:. turns into fertile ground for the few to gain even more ~:. it is an error'. when the function of people and their environment is only that of serving the system. Inertia their only impetus. the rest is spent on the structural changes required by growth itself. it will continue to be seen as positive. 27 On the other hand.As long as alienation. Under present conditions. rural and urban decay. 28 It should thus be clear that the constant increase in the scale of economic activity alienates those participating in it and destroys the human element in the surrounding framework. And so this lack of participation. dissatisfaction. on its side effects and on managing wastes'.I strongly believe that as long as a system serves people and their environment. efficient and successful in terms of the traditional criteria by which it is judged. to maintain such enormously onerous systems while anxiously seeking some sort of equilibrium. while having been increasingly affected and impressed by large dimensions. In the words of Fouche: 'It is worse than a crime. only to continue paying homage to the 'religion of efficiency' is-to say the least-extremely ill-advised. its existence is morally justified. insecurity. From what has already been said on the problem of dimension. regardless of whether or not it is beneficial to society. the latter ceases to be in the human interest and all efforts geared towards its fundamental reformulation are legitimate. which is partly a product of the alienating dimensions into which we have fallen. pollution. dehumanisation are not measured as costs of the process.

when we gave way to some voices from the past. and ask ourselves what its functions are supposed to be. It might now be appropriate to explain. the people are the elements or the sub-systems. wellbeing. The other elements may be natural or artificial objects. Now. if a city is a system whose function is to pro~ide its inhabitants with sociability. And not even suicide committed on behalf of a superior ideal. the fulfilment of such objectives will depend on the way in which its citizens (or elements) interrelate. necessary or useless. communication as a function of human space and time. in theoretical terms. bad. Subjective human space Every system comprises a set of interrelated elements that operate together for a common purpose. security and culture. well-being. indifference and the inability to react have become a form of suicide. or person to object) as a bond of communication. as well as other living things such as animals and plants. We will define in the broadest sense any interrelation of elements in which one or more persons intervene (person to person. security and culture. It does not matter whether the resulting communication is good. that of fulfilling or realizing a particular goal. Communication and participation were the original preoccupations of this chapter. An individual human being may be studied as a system. both among themselves and with the other elements that make up the system (or city). Without a condition of finality it is merely a set. Such 134 . responsible and effective. as can a society or a city. but not a system. based on recognised historical and cultural evidence. In the case of a city viewed as a system. and participation is complete. I should like to make the proposal. that there are at least four functions expected of a city: it should provide its members with sociability. Let us now return to the city. Such functions can only be fulfilled as long as human communication between citizens is satisfactory and genuine.e. i. but suicide in defense of stupidity and obduracy.power over the many. And if we remember Lord Acton's warning that: 'Power corrupts and total power corrupts totally'. we should realize that we are at a crossroads where negligence.

Wittgenstein states that: 'Just as we are quite unable 'to imagine spatial objects outside space or temporal objects outside time. This space I can imagine empty. distance.. all of which presume the existence of other objects. size is 'larger. The notions put forward so far are sufficient to open the debate with which I am here concerned. I propose'the following definition: space (as perceived) is the set of abstract relations that define an object. Their bond with space is therefore a bond with a reality that is perceived subj ectively. we have the strange sensation that the rooms have grown. in a space of possible states of affairs. Metric spaces are only conventions that are useful for measuring. they look smaller than when they are 135 . evaluating and classifying those changes and distortions that affect subj ective human spaces.. creating themfor themselves. For example. When we look at the outline of the foundations. An object cannot be defined and has no meaning without reference to something else. when the rooms are finished but empty. distance is 'distance with regard to . they are actually creating them or. size. Beginning with space. let us define both space and time as subjective human phenomena.value judgements do not concern us for the moment.. Once the walls are up. To say that every human communication takes place in a time and in a space seems an all too obvious truth-and it would indeed be so. but I cannot in1agine the thing without the space'. Let us illustrate this with some simple examples. although they will later. 29 He adds later that: 'Each thing is. in perceiving them. the future rooms seem smaller than we had imagined when the plan was drawn up. But as we are concerned with more subjective meanings.. '.. This is the way they perceive spaces and. as it were. Similarly. '. The relations may be classified according to form. proximity.. the statement has a special significance.. if we were referring solely to chronological time and metrical space. proximity is 'proximity from . 30 Human beings are responsible for classifications and thus for the abstract relations that define objects. For that purpose. equal or smaller than . '. to be more precise. Anyone who has seen a house under construction will have witnessed the following phenomenon. so too there is no object that we can imagine excluded from the possibility of combining with others'. depth etc.

as the brain stores an increased amount of information. Finally. but in effect the amount of spatial information is so vast. a negative exponential. we perceive an immense space.furnished. In other words ~n empty room. The huge number of stars represents an enormous amount of information. If we lie on our backs to look at a night sky profusely studded with stars. Let us explore another example. although I cannot. verify it with proven evidence. What is the reason for this phenomenon? Perhaps the most plausible hypothesis is that: perception of spatial magnitude is a function of the amount of information that the brain receives and stores with respect to the space in question. if there is some point of saturation. These speculations may seem an unnecessary digression. The furnished room increases the number of abstract relations and so. if we were'surrounded by total and absolute darkness. for subjective space influences people'·s behaviour in a very determinant way. If we saw nothing but one star. the relationship I am proposing seems to be less than linear. that bonds of communication become very difficult or 136 . In any case. provided that-and this is important-the number of objects and pieces of furniture is not excessive. That is. They are. as the simultaneous perception of their huge number engages almost all our attention. the sensation of the immensity of space would drastically diminish. but on the amount of information that such space delivers to the brain. Thus the spatial magnitude perceived does not depend on the metric distance in which the objects being observed· are located. but with less intensity than the latter. The human agglomeration of large metropolitan centres may merely imply small metrical distances between people. The function could perhaps be logarithmic or. the se~sation of space would disappear almost completely. The existence of a relationship between the spatial magnitude perceived and the amount of information stored by the brain seems a probable hypothesis to me. with its limited amount of information. essential to the central topic. the space is perceived as being larger. however. the sensation of spatial magnitude grows with the increase of information. imposes upon the brain a minimum of abstract relations. at this stage.

impossible. People. are, in fact, separated by large subjective spaces. In small towns the opposite is the case, as anyone's experience will confirm. I therefore conclude that for the purposes of both analysis and planning, urban solutions which start from exclusively metric spatial conceptions do not correspond to the real pro?lems affecting people. Subjective human time

A successful attempt to define time and to penetrate its essence, has been the etern2J aspiration of countless philosophers and scientists. I would not be so intellectually arrogant as to attempt to offer an answer here. In fact, I shall confine myself to the suggestion that, just as we can refer to a chronological or astral time, we can also speak of a subjective human time. By this I mean the sensation of duration that we as people have of a given event. Over the same chronological period, let us say five minutes, two different events may pro'duce upon us varying sensations of duration. Five minutes of toothache appears to be longer than five minutes spent in pleasant company. So, for our purposes, I would define subjective human time as a set of abstract relations that link the being with the coming about. Robert Ornstein defines this form of temporal experience when he says: ' ... our normal experience of time passing, of hours lengthening or shortening, of a recent event seeming "a long time ago", of one interval passing more quickly for one person than another or more quickly for one person at one instance than another. It is the contin~ing, persevering, time in which we live our lives'. 31 Throughout his book, in which a large number of experiments are examined, we see a clear confirmation of the subjectivity of people's temporal experiences. He demonstrates the validity of what he calls the 'Storage Size Metaphor', and defines it as one which '... relates the experience of duration of a given interval to the size of the storage space for that interval in general information processing terms. In the storage' of a given interval, either increasing the number of stored events or the complexity of those events' will increase the size of storage, and as storage size increases, the experience of duration
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lengthens'. We may add that the same may well happen with what I have called the 'intensity' of information, and that has to do neither with the number of stored events nor with their complexity. A good example is the inordinately long time that it takes a pot of water to boil when we are watching it and waiting for it to come to the boil. The impatience with which one awaits some determined event represents an increase in the size of storage that the brain has designated for processing the information. It is my assumption that the storage size does effectively grow, because impatience involves reprocessing the same information many times. It is my hypothesis that processing, in ~ determined interval of time, n quantity of different events is more or less equivalent to processing, in the same interval, the same event n number of times. Leniz and Alcaino, taking a different approach, suggest that in planning the well-being of people, subjective and not chronological time must be considered. 32 They state in this regard that a year 'passes slowly', full of changes and impressions, for children, while it has a tendency to 'pass quickly' as age increases. According to the authors this is so, and it is due to comparisons of anyone interval with intervals already lived, not with mechanical units of measure. They propose that time, as perceived by any person, seems to be proportional to the square root of the person's chronological age. Ornstein's observations concern micro-experiences, i.e. singular occurrences, while Leniz and Alcaino's approach is concerned with the overall life macro-experience. In this sense both contributions complement each other. In the course of studying and analysing these investigations, Professor Carlos Mallmann, from the Bariloche Foundation in Argentina, and I, came to the conclusion that an additional element had to be taken into consideration. It seemed to us that a cultural constant had to be included in any formula that attempted to interpret a person's sensation of the passing of time . We identified it as the 'cultural constant of time valuation'. Its justification as a necessary component of any general formula comes from the fact that different cultures, even different environments, determine different types of links between the being and the coming about. Cultural anthropology has evidence to corroborate this. The bond,

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for want of a better word, that places a person in a temporal continuum that involves, carries and determines him or her in his or her own and shared coming about is different for a sedentary country dweller than for a nomadic person. Similarly, the bond of the peasant with time is different, and has different meanings and consequences, from that of the urban individual, especially one who lives in a metropolitan business/industrial environment. There is no doubt that the famous (and very destructive) slogan 'time is money' has no meaning whatsoever for a peasant. The latter is bound to a time that is determined by the metabolism of natural systems; the former, to "a time determined by the 'industrial metabolism'. As the next chapter reveals, I came across vivid evidence of these different bonds whilst living in Tiradentes. In fact, the process of understanding, and integrating with, notions and treatments of time and space that were alien to me, proved to be as important as it was difficult, in spite of all my theories on the subject.

Space-time disruptions
We have already stated that a city is a system whose function is, at the very least, to provide its inhabitants with sociability, well-being, security and culture." The nature and quality of the communication bonds that people establish between themselves and with the other elements that constitute the city and its environs, are subjacent to the possibility ~f fulfilling such 'a function. We have also stated that these communication bonds take place in subjective time and space. While it was not necessary to qualify these bonds earlier, it is now appropriate to do so. The purpose is to furnish some arguments in order to establish some characteristics of and conditions for a city that may be more than human (for they are all human)-a city that may be humanizing. The theory (not yet fully developed) that I intend to propose I have called the 'theory of space-time disruptions'. It runs along the following lines. People who live in a city live in a space. This presents them with two alternatives: to be in the space or to integrate themselves into the space. To integr~te themselves means to be a part of a space that

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coincides with the space perceived; that is, with the space which oneself contributes to generate as a determining part of the same and, therefore, creates for oneself. I identify such a condition as a 'human state of spatial synspacy'.~:- In o'ther words: 'I am part (object/element) of a space that is my space, because as long as I contribute to its creation just by being present and make it definable through my presence, by being an element that, in it is ~:-~:-, I attain and acquire identity' . Simply to be in a space represents an absence of identity. In other words: 'I walk in and move around, float, so to say, in a spatial magnitude that I cannot comprehend, and in which I am too insignificant to aspire to be a necessarily definable "element", able to generate space'. I identify this situation. as a 'human state of spatial asynspacy' . People who live in a city live in a time. This means they are permanently exposed to temporal micro- and macro-experienc·es. The subjective element of both is influenced by the type and quality of the bonds of communication allowed by the environment. When subjective time, lived over a determined period, inhibits the possibility of creating and satisfactorily completing a bond of communication that the person considers objectively possible for that period (chronological period), I would define that as a 'human state of temporal asynchrony'. These asynchronies produce varying degre~s of anguish and anxiety, according ~o the importance given by the person concernedto the' bonds 6f frustrated communication. It is, in this respect, deeply moving to read Franz Kafka's entry in his Diary for the 16th of January: 'This last week was like a total breakdown. Impossible to sleep, impossible to wake, impossible to bear life, or more accurately, to bear the continuity of life. The clocks .do not synchronize, the inner one chases in a devilish or demoniac, or at any rate inhuman manner; the outer one goes haltingly at its usual pace'. 33 Subjective time and subjective space might be considered separate
~:. Just as 'synchrony' is derived from the Greek syn = together and chronos = time; I have constructed'synspacy' from syn = together and spaein = space. ~:.~:. The word is has here the sense of the German dasein, which is closer to the notion of existence than of mere physical presence.

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,fields of enquiry. However, when a city is the issue, such separation would not make sense, as both influence' each other. Out of many examples, I have chosen only two. The first refers to relations between space and temporal micro-experiences, and is relatively trivial; the second refers to space in connection with the temporal . . macro-experIence. Let us imagine a traffic jam on a metropolitan super-highway. Moreover, let us imagine ourselves to be in one of the vehicles. Finally, let us consider all that happens in the light of the concepts recently explained: (1) a metrically large space becomes subjectively small for us; (2) the subjective reduction of the space produces impatience in us; (3) impatience determines a constant reprocessing of the same information, i.e. the information that our brain processes is monotonic but of high 'intensity'; (4) the 'intensity' of the information prolongs our sensation of the duration of the event; (5) this (unwanted) prolongation of the event blocks our capacity to establish and diversify our possible bonds of communication with either other people, the landscape or ourselves; (6) such a blockade causes a degeneration into bonds of anti-communication as we honk our horns, shout and insult others; (7). this anti-communication generates even more impatience, and the circuit repeats itself with increasing intensity. We finally ·gethome-and we all know what happens then. Everything disturbs us, there is no time to chat to our daughters and sons, and the most ininor problems become disproportionately IiTltatlng. This app'arently frivolous model describes the consequences of a 'human state of space-time disruption'. I suspect that these states of space-time disruption are responsible for many a family crisis in large cities. The resulting stress severely hinders the successful achievement of those bonds of communication that are indispensable to the maintenance of balanced human relationships. Taken in isolation the model described may seem somewhat trivial. Yet, h'owever trivial these types of disruptions may be in themselves, they are systematically repeated, day after day, in most big cities, so that their detrimental effects are cumulative. The second example deals with the temporal macro-experience.

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Or to put it another way. If we consider habits of life as a part of culture. may begin to consider her a nuisance and so. if retirement is accompanied by lack of alternative activities. You feel it by the way society treats you and especially by the increasing amount of opportunities no longer open to you. agree that· biological ageing i·s accelerated if a person feels redundant and useless. since the first is important mostly for legal and bureaucratic purposes. in actuality and in attitude. The practice is less prevalent in rural areas. It is that which society assigns you. eventually. environment and habits of lif~. biological ageing and social ageing. is simultaneously affected by three forms of ageing: chronological ageing. among other factors. They remain active. the person may feel useless and a burden to her family who. If biological ageing and social ageing are not synchronized. Such feelings of redundancy are certainly more common in large urban centres than in a 142 . Anyone who has lived in both a large metropolitan centre and in a rural community or small city. the implications are not the same. in turn.Every one. Social ageing is influeilced mainly by environmental and cultural factors. In a business/industrial environment. it normally happens that a person of advanced social age becomes respected for his or her wisdom. This sort of social ageing can dramatically accelerate the process of biological ageIng. Biological age is comparatively straightforward and does not require much explanation. feel integrated into' society. He or she is listened to and actively participates in and influences decision-making. and hence useful. Social age. the result can be deeply disturbing. Gerontologists and psychologists. In rural communities and small cities. and this is precisely what I wish to analyse. another inmate for an old people's home is packed off. and is granted new functions. must have noticed that there is a subtle difference to the process of ageing in the former as compared to the latter category. then the influences of culture and environment are common to both forms of ageing. is more complex. I shall concern myself with the last two. heredity. Biological ageing may be influenced by. the institution of forced retirement is society's official sanction of old age. on the other hand. Furthermore. no matter where he or she lives.

We can therefore say that if social ageing is more rapid than biological ageing. yet I felt that the four exigencies I have enumerated were fully satisfied. well-being. As' far ~s I know-. Let me explain. Well-being was to be felt in the relatively modest material ambitions characteristic of most Uruguayans when compared to other n~tionalities. against these four conditions. We feel better in some than in others. if social ageing tends to be more rapid in metropolitan centres than in small cities or rural communities. A city for human beings Now I do not wish to give the impression that I am some sort of 'smallness' fanatic. At the risk of being repetitious. It is interesting to speculate oil the reasons why. housing half the country's population. When I lived there. large cities and large cities.small cities or rural areas. if the four conditions are satisfied in his large city. even there. we are faced with a situation where 'space-time disruption' is affecting the large urban conglomerates. One of the happiest periods of my life was the years that I lived in Montevideo. Moreover. since in recent years my visits have -turned out to be quite disappointing. security and culture. sociability was to be found on every block and in every corner bar or cafe. Cultural factors are also important. Security was guaranteed by an almost over-extensive welfare system and by a relatively low rate of criminality compared to other Latin American 143 . we have a 'human state of temporal asynchrony'. There is a relativity to everything. it will turn out to be a city with smallness inside its bigness. I would be willing to bet that. There are. social ageing in Oriental and African countries is not as dramatic an experience as it is for Western people but. however similar in size. This was fifteen years ago. Uruguay. It is a large city. drawing on my personal experience. it may be better to be old in a small environment than in a very large one. let me state once again the four minimal conditions that a city is supposed to fulfil: sociability. an important point. in his own city. And now let me ask the reader to examine his own experience of life. for instance.

or one which offers the alternative of smallness inside bigness. In addition there are many cities-Sao Paulo being a case in point-where all the pre-industrial charm was simply bulldozed away in the name of progress. But why are such characteristics to be found in some large cities and not in others? It seems to me that if one were to pick out some other cities that reflect the same image as the one I have just described. or barrio in Spanish) that have their own characters. and preserve a flavour of intimacy. the sensible thing to do is to revitalize the small cities that are struggling to survive-victims of a mistaken concept of progress. There is a sense of diversity that avoids monotony. conserve their own identities and traditional ways. It was full of mysteries. There were theatres and concerts sufficient to satisfy anyone's needs. then. held a considerable attraction for me. 144 . where people were to be seen at all times of the day and night. An attempt along these lines is contained in the story which unfolds in the following chapters. are large yet contain a lot of smallness. above all.capital cities. yet invited discovery. iIt was a city in which one felt in a 'state of space-time coherence'. of a city for human beings is either one which is small. My conclusion is that the large cities I have liked. This would certainly be true of Latin America. by which I mean the cities where I have felt good. Poverty existed. one would probably find that all of them had become big before the period of rapid industrialization. Culture was accessible in all its manifestations and in great quantity. but not intolerable misery. I have given these experiences a good deal of thought. Since 'humanising' dimensions are small dimensions. A city such as Montevideo is comprised of many small quarters (quartier in French. liveable in. in the past. Cities which grew as a consequence of industrialization tend to lack character and seem oppressively monotonous. There was a public library which never closed. at least. My image. Buenos Aires has also. wherever'there are insufficient large cities with this internal smallness. That is what makes them attractive and. especially 'Yhen I've found myself reacting very negatively to other metropolitan centres in which I have lived. It was a city where w~lking was a pleasure.

it is like hearing a violin . This does not disturb me in the least. some of the events related may turn out to be rather more how I felt them to be. I had the sensation. long ago'. that I will probably be writing like an old man trying to recollect memories of his youth. being well aware of this human weakness. that distance and past are one and the same. I must presume some indulgence from other witnesses to the story since. However. And strangely enough. here follows my version of the story to which I contributed two im- 145 . I aim to ensure that any distortions will be never more than slight. while writing those words. perhaps because I am so far away and this distance implies separation from something that was-and therefore is-intense'..11 E co r Ii The City: its space and its time Some years ago. in the distance . when I think of Tiradentes I feel that 'suddenly all seems so long ago. instead of what they actually were in cold and unemotional terms. being alone and lonely-a situation in which I often find myself-I wrote the following line while thinking of my daughter Magdalena: 'When you are not there. as long as .. since no other outcome can be expected when we are relating a story in which' we are involved.. This sensation is very real indeed. Relations that were interrupted only one month ago seem suddenly so remote. now that I am solitary once again. as befits 'my adopted role of an old man recalling his past.distance implies separation from someone or something you hold very dear.. So.

each an existence of its own. I had gone to bed but was having trouble getting to sleep. So it is not surprising that. By the time this account approaches its end. be watchful and see. magic 146 . I thought. and all of them together had a sort of magic significance. I hope it 'Yill be clear to the reader why I call these years immense. An odd combination. At a distance impossible to determine. ~:~:~:- Being a musician I am very sensitive to sounds. The next day. I remembered the old Indian in the far south of my country who. She is always trying to give you a message'. I discovered that I could choose anyone of them and follow it along its inner and outermost expressions without being disturbed by the rest. but worth listening to. followed by more and more. when I was seventeen years old.. Comfortably installed in the attractive hotel of friends of the friend who was responsible for my having come to Tiradentes. by a fascinating hierarchy of sounds that allowed. for me. After a while I was able to distinguish six. Only then did I discover why I was unable to fall asleep. There were hundreds. It was not a cacophony. I was surrounded. Whenever' he referred to Nature. had told me so many things about the sounds and the many languages of Nature. There was no noise. and I classified them as one soprano. and all together a . Sheer coincidence. one baritone and one bass. I concentrated hard in order to detect how many there were. in the midst of the many.mense years of my life. three tenors. He had said to me on several occasions. I decided that there was a message contained in two of my impressions: ' . My mind was wandering and my senses were unusually alert. he simply called her 'She'.. hearing Tiradentes took precedence over really seeing it. inst~ad. I became aware of a group of dogs that were howling simultaneously-as if combining in some sort of surrealistic choir. while walking along the seashore: 'Remain silent and listen. Then other sounds came to my attention. each individuality to be preserved. perhaps thousands of sounds yet each had an existence of its own. the truth or wishful thinking? It did not matter. but a very discreet and subtle symphony... still under the influence of my experience of the previous night.

built by sla~es for their exclusive use. its iron-barred cells. overlooking the street so that the inmates can chat to their friends standing outside.l ~ The ancient jail...... In the background the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks. .. '-....

These sentences. After my nightly silen~e had allowed me to hear. The spectacular Sierra de Sao Jose. its iron-barred cells overlooking the street so that the inmates can chat to their friends standing outside. I decided to drink from the one on the right.significance'... The elegant and ill-prepared metropolitan lady trying to keep her high-heeled balance while walking like a tight-rope walker along the uneven stone-paved streets. Half a block down. like a cyclopean wall. A boy showing me the two-and-a-half centuries old Chafariz. which I begun to repeat in my mind. Tourists from Rio de Janeiro in a late model Passat. narrow street full of greenery.a is a brandy made from sugar cane. ~~~~ and telling me: 'If you drink from the faucets of the sides you will always return to Tiradentes. Children playing their important games with home-made toys. if there ever are any. Being happily married.Cachac. Up the steep street that leads to the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks I see the ancient jail. are taken to the big city where the cells look onto the inside of the prison. 148 . Another peasant selling fresh country cheese on a bicycle. it seems to me. I find the stone mason carving a big piece of blue-grey granite into the most beautiful sun-dial I have ever seen. 'in the midst of the many . mainly for minor drunken quarrels. ~t~t Chafariz is the town fountain. dreaming and nostalgia may become a normal state of mind for the outsider. The best is normally home-made. A group of old men drinking their 'cacha~a'~~ while watching television in the bar. Bells from one of the seven churches tolling in the distance. ~:. Nobody stays there for more than one or two days. define its stYle for the years that' lay ahead. More serio~s cases. through a tiny. turned into a dictum that was to influence the orientation and activities of the Project and. A man carrying two big milk containers on a mule. seems to protect this little jewel where. In strength it resembles Akvavit. looking for bargain antiques and clicking away with their cameras at the sadly deteriorated remains of an opulent eighteenth century. moreover. I was now ready to watch in order to see. It has been in use since 1749. and if you drink from the one in the centre you will marry here'. each individuality to be preserved'.

) -£ o :~ Q.) -£ -£ .~ c Q.~ 149 .

Time was there. modern life going on at its usual rapid pace in museum-like surroundings. but there was something different as well. trying to grasp what I had seen and felt. when I discovered that people's time was regulated by events. and my sensation was almost always 'time asynchronic': i. A person's involvement with the preparation of a feast is a duty that takes precedence over any other type of commitment. by daily events: things are done before or after mass. I liked what I perceived. and so on. watch schedules. It . I was often irritated by what I interpreted as irresponsibility on the part of others for not keeping pre-arranged _time schedules. suddenly occurred to me that it was probably very difficult to develop gastric ulcers in a place of this kind. The mules and the cars. In the short term. '"Times seemed to be synchronized because of the basically tranquil pace and style of the people's forms of human interaction. befo~e or after school classes. Being probably the only person in the town who regularly adhered to the dictates of a watch. I later corrected my attitude. Here it was different.I sat down in the plaza under a shady roof formed by the branches of five gigantic ficus trees. of course. the Chafariz and the television. and so was space. The long term is planned and regulated in tune with the religious and patriotic feasts of which there are. When I had 150 . a lot. although it took me quite a long time to adapt to it. They defined their own space and made up their own time. I remembered having been in many old cities before. or. of course. This kind of relationship between people and time influences the overall environment in so decisive a manner that-as one inevitably becomes part of it-one has some unusual experiences. after the Town Hall meeting. I had the strong sensation that I was living a 'contemporaneousness of the not-c9ntemporary'. yet this initial impression remained the overriding one for as long as I lived in Tiradentes. rather. Sometime later I was to discover several forms of space-time disruption. the sun-dial and my Casio lithium watch. thus generating a splendid space-time coherence. People were not in a space. they integrated into their space. All widely diverging eras co-existing in the midst of a space of incredibly generous' perspective.e.

151 .The 'Chafariz' (the town fountain) in uninterrupted use since 1749.

as it is in big cities. being 1. In addition. and the experience was often repeated. Given such a situation. Spatial closeness was a highly educational experience. have done anything or nothing. an extremely difficult task. I had been through similar experiences and took the situation for granted. I must have looked a very odd character in the midst of this small and traditional town of the interior. no matter what his status. during the initial period. 152 . There are no quarters designed to separate the rich from the poor. at the time. Furthermore. I lacked. Anyone. with a project that existed only in my mind and in the mind of the Director General of SENAC (who had extended the invitation) and with no office or help or infrastructure of any kind. which made direct communication with the people. remained basically unknown. Poverty may be startling. but it has a certain dignity. subjectively-felt. get used to me. it happened consistently that after a. however. in fact. my first move was to involve myself in an understanding of the environment. and was to stay there for six months. I was there alone. The physical environment.metropolitan friends visiting me.96 metres tall and having a beard and a Viking appearance. I was trying to get used to the town and the town would. Incredulity was the reaction every time. I suspect that I was the cause of many hours of speculation and gossip in bars and other meeting places. but a heavy burden when dealing with loneliness. for I did not even have any terms of reference. as already described. from the 'sensitive' eyes of the well-to-do. hours-long conversation we suddenly realized that only three-quarters of an hour had passed. Having worked in rural areas and Indian communities before. Here is a small city in which space is integrated in all its human diversity. I had begun to grasp after a short period. proper command of the Portuguese language. The human factor. I was very attracted by the social distribution of space. Poverty is not hidden. It proved to be a marvellous bonus when in good company. can and does live next door to anyone else. I could. The role of informants and a lesson in perception I had arrived in Tiradentes without any pre-arranged programme. eventually.

The 'Chafariz' with the Matrix Church of Santa Antonio in the background. 153 .

Despite my previous field experiences. much to my regret. the rupture may be just around the corner. however. The relationship should. for the very valuable data. The uninvited epilogue of this relationship taught me one lesson. could never be healed. And so this is where a very important element enters the scene: the informant. a harmful and undesirable rupture may result. and communicated experiences. but rather allowing oneself to converge towards a continually freshly-created reality. during an important period. the relationship established with informants is of an extremely delicate nature. They are. The mere fact of being where I am. but what I shall be ~s a consequence of 154 . quite subjective and should be left to the recipient's intuition. our only lines of good communication.and their answers and observations' are ·determinant inputs for the construction of our model of reality. background information about culture and traditions. As any field anthropologist will confirm. however. the informant tends to become increasingly possessive. This is the moment when one should either move on. with my informant's interpretation of them. but I could not agree. We have to rely on them. such as simple and uncompromising friendship if that is applicable. changes me and changes everything else. Discovery is not seeing what there is (that is impossible at any level). be short-lived. I committed that very mistake. If discrepancies then arise between the received input and the independently perceived reality. I am no longer what I was. at a certain point. I was grateful. No place can really be a place if the life experience of one person is to be the life experience for the other.The problem is that during the '-running-in period'. or establish a different kind of relationship. I placed great value on the reported facts. in many instances. some concrete signs of danger may appear: when the recipient has become excessively dependent. of course. one cannot simply sit down. my initial informant and I reached a breaking point which. What constitutes too long a period is. When the ties between recipient and informant are extended over too long a period. Probably due to a lack of sensitivity on the part of both parties. Otherwise there comes a stage in which the informant informs less and less and manipulates more and more. N evertheless. relax and wait.

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but it can reach destructive proportions if we experience it in an alien environment. Moreover. I even went as far as to give loneliness a concrete form. sometimes with dramatic consequences. in turn. I was undergoing voluntary solitude. I was alone and thrown totally onto my own resources. and was of incalculable help during the discovery process. thus dignifying her existence. Loneliness can be a very heavy burden under any circumstances. My closest contacts became a young couple-she was Norma. after the ill-fated relationship just described. would let me go as unharmed as possible. on what was basically a solitary journey. So I decided to take precautions by building up my self-defence. What I have just described. a musician-whose recent arrival in the city disqualified them from being my new informants.in a loud voice. However. instead of suffering an enforced loneliness. I talked . and drew inspiration from. and he was Ademar. I had seen crack up.everything else ceasing to be what it was and becoming what it will be in a constantly renewed dialectical synthesis. as if to a living interlocutor. I felt that with their help the ice was slowly melting. my newly acquired solitude. especially before goi!1g to sleep. because they could not take it. I was reminded of those w'hom. turning her into a dramatis persona and staging an act between her and myself. in my many years of field experience. and I soon felt very much at ease with. although there was still a long way to go. may seem to some totally irrelevant and 156 . What I did was simply to persuade myself that. But now. This small yet important psychological game worked wonders. The risk of this happening weighed heavily on me. I achieved this by repeating the idea over and over again to myself. and proposed a truce: I would draw the most positive elements out of her presence. Solitude and perception My wife had accompanied me for two months of the initial period. she. a psychologist. we could communicate extremely well and they turned into the most able and willing intermediaries during my efforts to establish communication ~it~ the local population at large.

157 .

My experience has taught me that many projects' failures must be attributed precisely. Indeed. or intending to engage. When I was commissioned to write this book. in field ventures of a similar nature. 158 . It was at this stage. This episode. I had already started some interesting work. and often solely. I saw things much more clearly and began to interact with the people in a stimulating and increasingly natural way. which I shall describe later. no longer just in my mind.out of context. It was decided that I should stay for an additional six months in order to put my prop. meant that I was accepted. I finally felt that I was stepping on solid ground. to uncontrollable mental and psychological processes. In addition to the Project document. Yet I would hope to find in those who feel that way.osals into practice. than what is going on in the field worker's mind and psyche. The high point came late one night when. with the help of the young couple mentioned earlier in this chapter. especially whenever my wife came to stay. which was repeated many times. that the entire Project began to take concrete shape. Five months had passed and I was making a lot of ·friends. The document with the proposals for a Project was completed and approved in an ad hoc meeting. a willingness to give the subject a second thought. in which a number of representatives of potentially interested public and private institutions participated. action and outcome of the Project itself. but on paper. I was wakened by a serenade staged in my honour in front of my house. and as a result of my new disposition. Having acquired a new state of mind-equilibrium with dynar:nism-I discovered the amazing potential of a true compatibility with solitude: it heightens our senses and sharpens our perception. which affect the participants and go unreported and unperceived in the final evaluation. I can think of nothing more important in a field experience. and was integrating smoothly and successfully. I feel that in making these intimate confessions I may be doing a valuable service to others engaged. fast asleep and totally unsuspecting. I had a definite feeling that I had ceased to be the odd one out. it was understood that my inner experience should emerge with the same intensity as the purposes.

or it is here where their inflexible effects reflect themselves. All the immensity is contained in the small. of love and anguish. it is also true that the world unfolds itself to find a total place in every house. of humility and vanity. first. I am surrounded by all forms of life and death. inside my house. the habits of my dog and the skin of my dog. To know the world means to know.The dimension discovered I strongly believe that all the mysteries of the world are within reach of my hand. They are right here. the birds that wake me in the morning. Smallness is nothing but immensity on the human scale. Human laws are here. the flower buds and the roqts. This infinitesimal grain of the Universe is. in every pathway and in every garden. the voices and the silences of my friends. the food we share at our table. I am surrounded by the soil. the sounds of my piano. after all. or it is here where their fallacies reflect themselves. My quota of light and colours. I have my own piece of sky and my parcel of air. the letters and greetings which come from other homes. of glory and decay. the fragrance of coffee. the house where one lives. Because if it is true that all the houses and~ll the pathways and all the gardens make up a world. a Universe. I have approached the immensity of this small town. the anxieties of my daughters. the walls and barks. the air itself. the ideas for the construction of a better world that are discussed at night in my library. of despair and hope. one that may never be achieved in its entirety by 159 . To try to understand it is a gigantic task. The laws of Nature are here. the spider that I don't see but know is there and which disturbs me by its presence. in the surrounding pathways and in the corners of my garden. The Universe-I discover-is threshed into infinite Universes within personal reach. of my sensibility or of my inquisitive powers. my books. the sorrows of my wife and my own sorrows. the infallibility of the medicinal herbs that are in the pantry and the ants that always manage to find their way into the pantry. Confident. the raisons d'etre of the painter and the poet and the artisan who come to have a drink with us. yet with the necessary dose of humility. my dreams and the mosquito that curtails my dreams. its pathways and its garden.

for better or worse.anyone. I found them more preoccupied with the preservation and restoration of buildings than with the quality of the life of the people who inhabited the buildings. In fact. It can be depressing. And what is the case with Tiradentes. Virtue and evii are visible: they have a face and a name. least of all by myself. for instance. but you learn to distinguish those concerned with the needs of others from those concerned only with their own greed. Whenever I got in touch with informed and concerned outsiders. There is friendship and intrigu'e. Is that not one of the most valuable human conditions we could regain? Then why not preserve it and eI?-hance it in those places where it still exists? 160 . that small is not necessarily beautiful. I was told of its beauty. I know. Tiradentes is a small town where people-according to the Aristotelian dictum-know each other's character. so eagerly photographed by tourists. destructive and burdensome. I knew 'nothing of its people. Whatever is contained in smallness is within the human scale . one overwhelming advantage over giantism. It has. despite the fact that they may be some of the last places left where people have managed to preserve their own identity. of its marvellous colonial architecture and of its fascinating history. It is from there that one can build. It can be monotonous and boring. After five months I had become aware of the human drama behind these walls. but you get to know who is who. makes humans more human. is also the case with thousands of small cities. This is the essence of its beauty. a few things I do know. without identity. Tiradentes is no exception. however. Before arriving in Tiradentes I had been told many things about it. however. It can be ugly and evil. smallness can contain any and every natural and human quality-good or bad. In the blue-prints of the planners they become small featureless dots. It is in this respect that smallness. There are. The true dimension of Tiradentes-the dimension discovered-is the human dimension. 'There is solidarity and exploitation.

A rich and powerful industrial south co-exists with a depleted and impoverished north-east. in many cases. become more acute as a result of the application of the rapid industrialization model. intended to fulfil the following fundamental objectives: 1.12 A Sch e for Actio The outlines of the Project Serious and harmful regional imbalances prevail in most Latin American countries. 2. based on the potential of a properly adapted style of vocational training. Although these imbalances already eiisted in colonial times they have. It was with such a situation in mind that the Tiradentes Project. studying its manifestations and stimulating the action and potential of local representatives. of the great metropolitan areas. allowing for an improvem~nt in the quality of life and the productivity of the informal economic' sectors'. It was to be a demonstrative model with the purpose of 'promoting the revitalization of small urban centres as alternative s~cieties vis a vis the increasing disfunction. Some of the largest metro-polises of the world are to be found in the same country where thousands of small cities languish and deteriorate due to lack of resources. The Project was conceived ·as a transdis4iplinary exercise and. To develop forms of mutual·cooperation between the members of the community. To promote the development of the region's cultural life. Brazil is a dramatic example of this.was conceived.1 . as well as a more harmonious and organic inter- 16.

both urban and rural. but maintaining representatives in Brazil as well as in other Latin American countries. First of all national and international cooperation was to ~e gathered from both public and private institutions. as well as evaluate. thus allowing for an occupational structure within which work may become an authentic vehicle for the person's self-realization. and thus the exchange of ideas. in Tiradentes.The CEPAUR was created in January. 5. the actions of the project. of a 'Centre for the Study and Promotion of Urban and Rural Alternatives' (CEPAUR). with headquarters in Santiago. interested in.relationship between the community and its' cultural and natural environment. the project was to be carried out within the context of some special considerations. 7. 6. To promote the necessary conditions for the survival and improved productivity of small and family enterprises. To organize a marketing process for the articles produced by artisans and small and family enterprises.. 8. To develop a vocational training style that makes use of the potential and existing skills of the members of the community. stimulate an increased output and pursue the preservation of traditional forms of production while maintaining a high quality. To pursue the achievement of acceptable degrees of equivalence between fundamental human needs and their satisfaction for all members of the community. 162 . To develop the technical capacity and productivity of artisan units. Chile. 34 3. the revitalization of small cities and their rural environments. The national contributing agencies were to combine in a Consultative Council in order to stimulate. 1982. 4. the design of strategies and the diffusion of the accumulated experiences and achievements. with the purpose-among others-of promoting the regular meeting of experts from different parts of the world. ~:Given its demonstrative characteristics. To prepare the ground for the creation. The main activities were to be designed in such a manner as to allow the lower income level inhabitants to acquire knowledge and ~:.

The project was to give preference to training that would not require an input of expensive equipment. To organize the pr~cess of vocational training in such a manner that it will pot be the mere reproduction of those processes applied in large cities. The reality and exigencies of small cities being different from those of the big centres.techniqu~s immediat.rican area. were. To promote and stimulate th~ forms of participation in such a manner that "they include all sectors of the community. 3. revitalized. but rather use and build up already existing skills. and thus avoid forced migration due to lack of opportunity. By the same token. it may determine the regional style of development and generate wor~ing opportunities.ely applicable within their traditional crafts. emanate from local skills so as to diminish local and regional dependence on metropolitan areas. with adaptations to the regional reality of this Latin Ame. Finally. especially women. 6. 5. as far as possible. In a way. among which the following were the most important: 1. creative opportunities were to be offered to children and youngsters through the installation of creative ateliers. Special attention was to be given to the training of women. To carry out the actions in such a manner that they may reinforce the roots of the people. the $ystem to be adopted should not impose the acquisitio~ of new' skills. certain mechanisms had to be favoured. and consistent with the project's philosophy. 4. To integrate the children as active subjects. 163 . youths and children. beyond those areas traditionally considered as feminine. also to be given preference. and training was to be combined with marketable production. stimulating their creative capacities and thus making them part of a permanent and fertile process of vocational training that enhances revealed skills and talents. instead of passive objects. To reinforce and stimulate the region's cultural potential in such a manner that. the intention was to adopt the principle of 'education with production as promoted in some African regions. To introduce and stimulate the use of alternative technologies that. chosen from distinguished artisans and craftsmen. 2. Local instructors.

Reality turned out to contradict this pessimistic outlook. given the many adverse conditions and circum'stances which are reported later. In other words. They represented more a frame of reference and a set of . The sub-set of the possible was totally contained by the set of the desirable: It should. the Tiradentes Project revealed its weakest flank: objectives too ambitious. furthermore. essentially. After the fundamental objectives and special considerations of the Project had obtained the approval of the executive authorities of SENAC. as I later discovered. as conceived. a list of concrete and specific actions for the fulfilment of each objective was produced. what was finally achieved was beyond my initi~l expectations. At the time. I have simply ceased to believe in rigid terms of reference. if not officially declared. All actions should be inspired by the idea of a development for regional and local self-reliance. than actual obligations. so I had to rely on perception and common sense. on the one hand. I lacked the opportunity to carry out any formal and scientific field re~earch. guidelines. the gamut of what was desirable embraced what was possible. so suffice it to say that they amounted to a total of 25. Once the Project Document had been completed and circulated among those interested and concerned. The con~inuous exploration of the local actuality and character will provide the indicators of any necessary adaptations and reorientations. Based on my previous field experiences and on the many mistakes I have committed. Experience showed the approach to have been correct. It would be tedious and unnecessary to enumerate them here. and an excessive amount of action on the other. that. the proje'ct was condemned to failure from the very start. 164 . were part of the objectives that had originally been proposed. be added. Not all objectives were fulfilled but all those that were.7. by several people that. of my five months of observation. I believe rather in the utility of a wide and ample gamut of objectives and proposed actions acting as a frame of orientation. it was believed. They were the product.

. In 1970 the Third World had only 16 cities with more than 4 million people. in Brazil. the small cities deteriorate and the rural areas become even poorer. However. The immoderate urban growth that accompanies an equally rapid decline of small cities and impoverishment of rural areas.Justification of the project The big cities in Third World countries are growing at such a fast pace that they are becoming burdensome and unmanageable. Sao Paulo. The unforeseen consequence was a hyper-urbanization. will be the second with 26 million and Rio de Janeiro the seventh with 19 million. The existing-and alarming-tendencies are the product of a development strategy that failed. By the year 2000 it will have 61. There seems to be no doubt that the development criteria which originated after the Second World 'War ar'e still predominant the world over. By the year 2000 it will be 12! The largest will be Mexico City. Unempl~yment and squatter settlements increase at alarming rates. represents. for the poorer nations. When considering the possibilities that exist for t~e efficient solution of the problems which affect the metropolitan areas. The process has no precedent in history. In 1950. only two of the world's 15 largest cities were located in the Third World. as a consequence of the seemingly endless waves of migration that originate in rural areas and small cities. inasmuch as it emphasized rapid industrialization at the expense of rural development. acc6rding to population studies carried out by the United Nations. One' truth seems evident. At the same time. one can only conclude that the main development effort-and this is the paradox-must be reoriented for the benefit of the rural areas and the small cities. the debilitation of agriculture has reached such appalling proportions in many parts of the world that vigorous efforts and action geared towards rural improvement and revitalization of small cities appear to be the most sensible and urgent priorities for the immediate future. despite the efforts of certain concerned and conscientious groups. problem of incalculable' proportions for which no adequate and practical solutions have been designed. with 31 million inhabitants. Almost all Third World countries a 165 .

there is no way of measuring hyper-urbanization and.. It is due mainly. scientific point of view. a number of intricate self-regulating mechanisms (or planned controls) were supposed to make the development process 'tend' towards a relative globa~ equilibrium. since the theoretical-tools necessary for its analysis and ~riterpretation are not yet at our disposal. an argument that appears time and again as a justification for the lack of corrective action. Furthermore. On . The reason for this lack of interest is somewhat bizarre. therefore. it is endlessly repeated. because we lack a convincing alternative development theory. particularly in Sweden.have expressed their concern with the way hyper-urbanization is affecting them. it is impossible to establish when it begins or what its magnitude may be at a given point in time. from a . Ninety-four of those governments claimed that they were engaged-or were intending to engage~in finding solutions to the problem The possibilities of finding' solutions-at least for the time being-are not great. which revealed that from a total of 119 governments interviewed. a problem which we still do not quite know how to handle. The United Nations carried out an enquiry into the subject. 35 The problem has not so far attracted sufficient or widespread interest on the part of economists and other social scientists of the Third World. we are faced with. completely unconvincing. The fact that such mechanisms refused to function has disconcerted the Third World theoreticians. While awaiting the manifestation of such a new grand theory. and this is for a very curious reason. We know what should be done but we still do not know how to do' it. 113 considereq that their demographic distribution was unacceptable. We find ourselves at a crossroads . So.heory (or theories)"and. little or nothing is done. is that. to the fact that the phenomenon of hyper-urbanization affecting the poorer countries was never anticipated in' development t. Hence political leaders and administrators have lacked the necessary support to penetrate the question in depth and search for feasible solutions. in 1977. Yet the strange 1 • 166 . therefore. the contrary. Although such an argument is. it was not supposed to occur. despite some corrective efforts undertaken in some First World countries.

is a purpose. so that the rural zones and the smaller cities have no possibility of appearing valid and attractive altern~tives against the metropolitan areas.'36 The need to vigorously intensify rural development (and revitalize small cities) is accepted in the majority of countries. Subsidized employment. through multi-level action processes. although it is not practised. starting at grass-root levels and stretching from the village to the global order. fiscal incentives and the greatest share of amenities continue to favour the large urban centres. Procrastination is suicidal. Looking for support It has been my experience that. All benefits may be cancelled out by the chronic urban problems. an imperative duty. which states that 'starting from the base of society.perspective of primary communities would be solved by larger units according to the nature of the task and in such a manner as to ensure the participation of those concerned. for the governments of the poorer nations. The reduction-and perhaps even the elimination-of such preferential treatments is. Probably what we need instead of a theory. Problems beyond the reach and . Grand theories have failed too often. despite the fact that it may require the enacting of some radical and unpopular measures. The greatest absurdity may be-and in many cases already is-that the economic benefits accruing from the development process are used in the solution of those severe problems created by the same development process. in Latin America. A purpose in the spirit of the Third System Project. Action is urgently needed. A purpose that allows for peoples' full participation. and solve all the problems it is able to solve. support is easily 167 . If the current procrastination persists. as well as the accountability of those exercizing power. higher incomes. A new orientation is required. each unit should be able to initiate its own course of acti_on.thing is that maybe a new grand theory is what we least need. the Third World countries may never reach the levels of well-being to which they aspire and which rapid industrialization was supposed to bring about. This is the essence' of self-reliance and self-management.

I was neither able nor willing to provide. The chronograms and detailed proposals that he requested. neither concrete aid. During the initial months a private foundation. As can be seen. the rental of a used car. of course. nor the participation of the organizations represented at the meeting ever crystallized. activities. the Fundacao Roberto Marinho. Some concrete measures such as vocational training courses were financed through SENAC's regular budget as part of their normal. and I even organized-under the sponsorship of the Director General of SENAC-a meeting in Tiradentes with executives of those federal and state agencies and private institutions which should be interested in an undertaking like the Tiradentes Project. the bare minimum: office space. For some photographic work we were offered the free use of the laboratory and materials of the Secretariat of the National Historic and Artistic Patrimony (SPHAN). what SENAC could provide was. some office equipment of which the most important piece :was a mimeograph. 37 Hence financial support during the entire life of the Project. Faithfully I followed the same old ritual. provided some money towards the payment of my salary plus minor materials for th~ Project's office. namely that of informing all sorts of agencies about our purposes. seldom committed and rarely concretized. including my salary (with the sole exception of three months in which it was covered by CINTERFOR/ILO). a secretary and-during the last 12 months-the salaries of the three young local collaborators I had managed to find.promised. basically for the reasons I have already stated in the previous section. Apart from my salary. and the office boy. The Bamerindus Bank and Kodak of Brazil also contributed to the printing of a catalogue and a poster for one of the exhibitions organized by the Project. contributions were sparse and 168 . and I was to suffer it one more time. however. was provided almost exclusively by SENAC. After six months their support was discontinued. mainly because the official in charge of the matter considered that the Project was too vague. I had suffered this problem before. apart from SENAC. and courses taught by local artisans were financed through a grant from the Ministry of Labour. Interest was aroused and encouragement was received.

The continuous critical lack of resources was discouraging but. The rest were PFomises. It all worked out in the end.' It forced us to develop oUF imagination and ingenuity in order to do as much as possible with the little we had. 169 ..way below what we had initially expected as additional support. What the Project lacked in money was compensated for by the high motivation and dedication of those involved·in it. paradoxically. it had its positive side. and we can look back at the achievements with great satisfaction. constantly renewed but never substantiated.

In fact. This strength was acquired. and it had been strongly recom~ended that international financial contributions should be negotiated. allowed for great freedom and creativity as well as speed of action. Its apparent weakness turned into its strength. Its coming about was more the result of the convergence of ideas of individuals. while our efforts at the lowest level were already bearing fruit. We carried on in the permanent expectation of stronger support. while we were stretching our imaginations for means of survival and positive output. It did not follow the traditional rules laid down for projects that have the participation of international agencies. In one sense it represented the formalization of th·e informal.13 e Actio Starts The unorthodoxy of the Project The Project had been conceived in an unusual manner. The absence of clearly formalized institutional ties generated a chronic deficiency of material· and financial resources but. since it generated solida~ity and esprit de corps among its members. at considerable emotional and psychological cost. and remained unorthodox to the end. on the other hand. the CINTERFOR/ILO general meetings of 1979 and 1980 had confirmed the interest in the Tiradentes Project as a demonstrative undertaking for the Latin American vocational training institutions. Efforts at the top were exercized to no avail. 170 . however. than of institutional interests and policies. So negotiations were going on all the time at the highest levels.

had it not been carried out in this unorthodox manner. to have found collaborators capable of so much attachment to and passion for their work and my gratitude goes out to them.A cause for permanent anxiety was the fact that we were never able to envisage the complete duration of. then the most fundamental and pressing problems of their society could be exposed in the purest possible way. I feel convinced-because there is the evidence-that such love can perform wonders. I felt strongly about the validity of this hypothesis. 38 In the end we felt-and made. Our feeling of being abandoned and misunderstood provoked the response: we'll show them how foolish they are by demonstrating what we are capable of doing even without their help. Our constant anxiety became a sort of challenge. But human reactions are strange and unpredictable. because 'children can 171 . I discussed the matter with several qualified persons in relevant institutions. of course. My own stay was renewed seven times during two years. the Project. but with a great amount of love. because they allow the ultimate achievements to be evaluated in their true human perspective. I think it is important to stress these factors. Phase One: the children speak their minds A central preoccupation of mine during the Initial months was to find a way to secure the participation of children in the revitalization process. would have remained forever in the realm of ideas. Such insecurity is mentally exhausting and caused many periods of . of work and of the worst. it public-that the Project. of school. This was also the case ~ith the three. They felt that it was an Interesting idea. It seemed to me that if children could be made to reveal freely their visions of society. Probably the most unorthodox component of the Tiradentes Project was the fact that it was carried out successfully with meagre resources.acute depression. Looking back. I was lucky. of authority. the outcome might be dubious. best and most likely futures. but a difficult task. Furthermore.assistants who worked with me during the last 12 months. Our motivation and belief in the value of what was being done became the driving force behind all our efforts.

and usually do. Complete transcriptions were also made for anyone to study or analyse further. both urban and rural. It was decided to try out a sample of 20 per cent of the children of Tiradentes. and most likely future. I believe that children can. and both revealed an interest in children. 2) child172 . work and working conditions. often surpris~ng and very useful indeed. or because 'you can make children say what you want'. while keeping th'eir convictions to themselves. I had the good fortu. My feeling about children was. The dialogues were repeated and for each child there was a considerable amount of recorded material. There was no hope of me carrying out the task on my' own. and persisted in my idea. Since not all the material can be reproduced here.be so easily influenced'. the mO$t important findings follow. the city. 39 What follows in this section is the product of her co~tribution . and the best. A. The areas to be studied were their visions of: school and education. They were divided into three categories. I was able to hire her for some months in order to carry out the experiment and her good communication with children gave me confidence. and remains. The age bracket was between 7 and 12 years of age. She was a psychologist and he a musician. However. The material collected proved to 'be highly revealing. because it is in their in~erest to maintain favourable relations with their elders. This was very important in case any qoubts or misunderstandings arose later. I was not very convinced by these observations. newly-arrived couple. which I thought highly unlikely. accc. worst. They may only superficially give in. The most important revelations were then extracted from the tapes and classified.ne-as mentioned earlier-to meet a young. Hence a 'neutral' person might well work as a positive catalyst for the revelation of their inner world.>rding to the socioeconomic status of their parents: 1) ~hildren of employers. I had to find exactly the right person. The method consisted of free conversations which were recorded. total of 107 children were interviewed: 51 boys and 56 girls. quite different. despite the fact that they may often appear to give in. stick very strongly to their feelings and beliefs. at least in Tiradentes. .

they wanted a library. When the results of the interviews were revealed in a seminar. Authoritarianism is disliked.ren of employees. lessons in musical instruments. many thought that they were good. Despite many critical revelations and complaints. The division into three groups was not particularly sophisticated. We felt that we were really in trQ-uble: it was the Project's first and most serious crisis. The rest thought that school should be abolished. especially in the case of group 3 which could include children of a lawyer as well as of an artisan. When asked how they would improve it. Complaints were made to-the effect that the research was biased. Thirty-five children came from the rural area. The first topic to be investigated was the childrens' relationship with school and education. 3) children of self-employed or autonomous people. I came to the conclusion that the method of communicating the results had been too harsh. It produced some very interesting contrasts. while only 51 per cent of the rural children revealed the same characteristic. despite complaining about punishments. the reactions of the teachers and educational authorities were adverse in the extreme. An interesting outcome was the fact that. These apparent contradictions are clearly the outcome of a tr~ditional patriarchal society. Asking mys~lf later what went wrong. and 72 from the urban environment. The remainder did not denounce any form of clear authoritarianism. A great 173 . -85 per cent of the answers given by urban children revealed it to be of a highly authoritarian nature. horticulture and free painting. The poorer children wanted lunch and jobs. Their dislike of the school building was almost unanimous. With respect to the teacher-pupil relationship. yet accepted and sanctioned as the only possibility. As to other improvements for the school in general. and we were just starting. and that the teacher should also hit them when necessary'. Several children even considered that 'shouting and insulting was not enough. that many revelations had been fabricated and that some were simply libellous. but it was sufficient for our purposes. the great majority asked for trees and flowers and for the walls to be painted with nice colours. 8~ per cent of those urban and 74 per cent of those rural considered school 'a good thing'.

i.ly. domestic service. a growing amount of working responsibility is taken up by children as young as those we were studying. It was discovered that 76 per cent of the urban children and 66 per cent of those from rural areas were carrying out regular work. The other outcomes of the study did not provoke any adverse reactions or. about 80 per cent received an average of 15 dollars per month. Fortunate. but making them public without the teachers having had any previous say in the matter was considered offensive. we were never made aware of them. Many of them were working for their parents and the rest away from home. The findings were probably valid. close ties were re-established between the Project and the school and its teachers. were thinking of leaving the area when somewhat older. only a surprising 21 per cent of the urban children and 34 per cent of those rural. cheese-making. It should be pointed out that child malnutrition is 174 . Working schedules were between 3 and 5 hours a day for the great majority. and worked just for food. Despite such exploitative conditions. the monthly incomes for their work (expressed in dollar equivalents) fluctuated between a minimum of 50 cents and a maximum of 40 dollars. baby-sitting. Their activities were mainly helping their parents with their work: door to door and street selling of food products or bijouterie.number of direct quotations-some extremely critical-had been read at the Seminar in front of an international audience.e. and such an error was never committed again. This error on our part impeded any constructive analysis of the findings made together with the teachers. if they did. Of those who received payment. after a while. family income. acting as a guide in museums and places of interest. but the subject was never touched upon again. making fireworks. in order to make improvements. between 7 and 12 years old. assisting stone masons. due to the migration of young people. The second subject was work and wor~ing conditions. It was established that in practically all cases the money received was a contribution to the. We had learned a lesson. laundry work. However. and other menial tasks. 4o The teachers' feelings had been hurt quite badly. assisting silversmiths. Others did not receive pay. It should be pointed out that.

were it not for the character and beauty of its antiquities. although badly deteriorated. some iQteresting observations came to light.ch materials. who will one day be responsible for the town. a confirmation that any process of revitalization must concentrate on the betterment of the people's quality of life. were giving a very clear warning. who are mainly artisans and indepe'ndent labourers. Quite logically. The future adults. Skin problems are also to be found. As far as their perception of the city goes. is of great artistic value and remains the city's main attraction. Tiradentes contains a predominantly colonial style of architecture which. the vast majority have either lost their teeth by the time they are 15 years of age or these are in an advanced stage of decay. In this instance. They see that those who live {n 'modernose' houses do not suffer their distress and privation. Hence. Furthermore. If a beautiful old town is to be saved-and it must be saved-it is imperative to save the people first. that exist behind their walls. bearing this in mind. so called because of their aggressiveness yet lack of identifiable style-except for the conspicuous presence of expensive kits. the children identify the old with the misery. Those for total modernization were 73 per cent of children of employers.prevalent. So. classifying the opinions according to the status of parents turned out to be significant. Only then will the important preservation and revitalization of the physical environment have any meaning. antiquity means deprivation. 175 . c:y This finding was. for us. it was somewhat surprising that a large amount of children wanted to get rid of the old and see the town full of those 'modernose' houses. Indeed. and often misery. Although constructions of a tasteless yet aggressive modernistic style are beginning to appear in many pla~es. The long dialogues with the children were sufficient to discover the reasons behind their visions of modernization. and only 43 per cent of those of autonomous workers. no one sees the poverty. mainly due to lack of vitamins and proteins. in the region. 71 per cent of \children of employees. as mentioned in a previo~s chapter. The old constructions are extremely attractive for any outsider yet. the town w~uld have died out quite some time ago.

no wars. 68 per cent of the urban children had an optimistic outlook. that their notion of the future had. a collective vision characterized 49 per cent of the rural children when it came to describing the worst possible future. when referring to the best possible future. they did not perceive it in a particularly individu~l way. less inequality. They spoke (using these terms) of more social justice. 71 per cent had a collective vision. as already indicated. Several answers revealed a desire for the disappearance of repressive systems and local hierarchies. The best future for urban children comprised basically the following components: less violence (which included people shouting less at each other). Traditional religious images retained 176 . The first enquiry was: what were their images of the best and worst possible futures? It transpired. In the rural milieu. One-as a means to overcome his needs -wanted to become a cow 'because cows are fine just eating grass'. the answers are notably consistent as opposites of the best imaginable future. a lot to do with collective processes. Having looked at the statistics. an improved environment and the world 'not coming to an end'. saw the best possible future in more individual terms and. perhaps? the most fascinating of all: the children's visions of the future. As to the worst possible future. in general. Their predominant vision was: having food.· Some were very specific and said that the best that could happen to them would be to eat sardines. it is interesting to see the future in terms of the childrens' own images. no 'exploitation' of the poor and no street quarrels. The next step was to ask them what they thought was the most probable future. They envisaged playgrounds for themselves and even 'a shower of roses' . In the rural area only 29 per cent had a collective vision when thinking of the best possible future. and 61 per cent maintained such a vision when describing the worst possible future. Y et curiously enough.41 This. however. Here. . optimism characterized 51 per cent. In the urban case. for good reasons. some additions worth mentioning came to light. among the urban children. However. was not the case among rural children.The next subject was. In other words. as shall be seen. Their vision was of a more individual nature. Rural children. firewood and water.

177 .The children speak their minds.

Apart from some minor methodological shortcomings. and teachers. we came to the conclusion that the exercise "'had been illuminating and I m~intain today that every development effort to be carried out in any region. In addition there was the fear of losing a job or being forced to ~ecome a beggar. but rather appeared to conform to what society had reserved for them. Images of hell. They showed no rebellious attitude. the extinction of the human race and the final judgement. the end of the world. Only 23 per cent of the urban children showed great faith in their personal capacity to overcome their currently undesirable situation. was detected in 77 per cent of " the urban children and 46 per cent of those from rural areas. city. as a counterpart to the shower of roses. we should also give them the opportunity to do something for us. a fear-obviously influenced by television-that the remains of Skylab might fall over Tiradentes. and would. The final stage was to enquire whether a distinction existed in their minds between the desired personal future and the probable personal future. A disparity. And what could be better than the gift of their truth? While the research was going on. a universal punishment. generated a lot of fear. They were devoted to musical. Rural children were even more accepting of their destiny. And. in turn. Different forms of craftsmanship were included under visual expression.a strong influence. The fundamental purpose of this "structure was to" allow individual skills and abilities to surface in order to stimulate their development. ( 178 . four creative ateliers for children were organized. and the mistake committed 9ver the handling of the information about school . when the children became ready for vocational training. In all these cases they wanted to be something which they knew to be impossible. this would allow them to choose a speciality for which their skills had already been revealed. We should not be preoccupied only in doing things for the children. visual. Thus it was hoped that. surprising to us. allow the vocational training efforts to be consistent with local potential. It is an immensely rich and unexplored world. literary and corporal expression. town or village ought to be preceded by an enquiry into the children's minds. The facts and food for thought that it provides are very useful.

under the leadership of four unpaid voluntary workers. a little more than . make itself felt in a not too distant future. the painter who was one of my collaborators. the Children's Centre for Crafts and Horticulture was organized. Still working with unpaid volunteers. Under the dynamic sponsorship of Dr. although only one-a famous ceramist-was registered as belonging to the Tiradentes district. For this purpose. had completed a . but with close ties of reciprocal cooperation.a year later. In April of this year the first exhibition of children's arts and crafts was inaugurated and revealed the existence of talent and creativity. produced a large number of designs that showed everything from the most minute component of the construction to the original plans and 179 . The true impact of such an initiative will.The ateliers functioned quite well for three months. A great number had been detected. all the crafts and specialities that had gone into its construction were brought to light. it was possible to reconstruct a picture of the manor as it had looked originally.kind of census of the artisans and craftsmen of the Region of the Rio das Mortes (River of Deaths) to which the municipality of Tiradentes belongs. All our efforts to gather even the most basic support for the initiative were to no avail and it had to be terminated. The first step was to attempt a classification of traditional crafts. we selected s>ne of the most important and beautiful buildings of the town-semi-abandoned and in a very advanced state of decay-and studied it down to its finest detail. We left out nothing and through research into archives and the testimonies of old people. Professor Sebastiao Rocha. a high ranking executive from Sao Paulo who had decided to abandon the large metropolis in order to settle in Tiradentes. Yves Ferreira Alves. and the idea has proved to be a great success. the experience was revived by another group-one not related to the Project. undoubtedly. Fernando Rocha Pitta. By doing this. we decided to look deeper into the subject. Fortunately. One of the experts 'of SENAC. and with a house and adequate resources.

and it turned out to be impressive. for the first time in their lives. to classify.sification at our disposal. In this sense. eight painters were· invited-two. thus satisfying the underlying philosophy of the Project-a philosophy shared by several concerned people outside the Project. The comments about the quality of the exhibits were very encouraging and the artisans of the district. Our classification and publication completed. The main idea behind the scheme was that any restoration-and several such projects are now underway-should originate in the revitalization of the relevant traditional crafts.perspective. with such a clas. In addition. so the week of Easter was selected as the best date. which we identified as a 'document for seduction'. all the traditional crafts that went ip. in order to tempt either public or private institutions to undertake the restoration or at least contribute to it. Olinto Rodrigues dos Santos Filho. We wanted to make as much impact as possible with the exhibition. We had three purposes in mind when we undertook this scheme. intended to overcome their natural distrust. and was reported in the main newspapers and filmed by television. felt their work 180 . local historian and another collaborator. the search for craftsmen began.a and Roberto Vieira. physical and human revitalization could go hand in hand. using a direct approach. Contact with a good number of artisans was established and after long dialogues. went into the history of the building. ·Both contributions combined to make a very fine publication. Third. in order to contribute to an improvement in the quality of life of the craftsmen and their families. of international renown-to exhibit their works together with the 14 artisans that made up our list. It had national impact. they were persuaded to participate in an exhibition to be sponsored and organized by the Project. which was intended to be the first of a series. First. The exhibition was th·e first of its type ever in Tiradentes.to the construction. Second. to try to find the people in whose hands such crafts were still survIvIng. Mario Mendons. to produce the publication. All the painters had to pres~nt work produced in Tiradentes.

Dr. As a result they had panicked and. A few of them revealed themselves to be extremely frightened. Others had been recriminated for having sold directly at the exhibition and told that they were fools. Many of them could hardly believe it and some had never had so much money in their hands. this satisfaction did not last very long. We were shocked and disillusioned. b\lt a long journey lay ahead. and so on and so forth. But. felt resentful towards us. and the reason soon emerged. Aloisio Magalhaes. we discovered to our great satisfaction that his philosophy had many fundamental elements in common with that of our Project.had been publicly dignified and admired. Many of the artisans had sold a lot during the exhibition and had received numerous commissions. that they would need licences that were difficult to get (which was totally untrue). and the sensation of their newly-acquired independence. A further outcome of the scheme was the good relations that were consequently established with the chief executive of the Secretariat of the National Historic and Artistic Patrimony. and disgusted by the be- 181 . Phase Three: fear of freedom We were satisfied and so were the artisans. Moreover. Most of them were selling directly for the first time. Rescued from their traditional anonymity. Practically everything was sold and all the money handed over to the craftsmen. A new stage in those people's lives had begun. in addition. and that government inspectors could come and fine them. and we had a number of very worried craftsmen in our office. plus the commissions. Less than a week passed. human nature being as unpredictable as it is. They had been told that working on their own was an illusion. They had been threatened-by employers in some cases and by intermediaries in others. they were gaining confidence and pride in their work. had left them a little perplexed-but happy. The first step had been taken. His institution cooperated with the Project in other important undertakings later. because some sinister scheme of exploitation was in the back of the minds of those involved in the Tiradentes Project.

Courses were organized in four areas: health and sanitation. They see him as 'their' artisan. there are those who take 'possession' of the artisan in a strange way. We were quite surprised with the number of registrations. hygiene and body care. some were lost to the cause and returned to a state of total dependence. tourism. 'succeeded in regaining the confidence of the majority. and 430 diplomas were finally distributed. buy his products. A total of 442 people registered. After printing a list of all the courses that could be made available. so recently acquired. we ask~d the 'Cofrarias' (Lay Brotherhoods) to circulate it among the families of their members to see if there was sufficient interest. Through SENAC we had the chance to organize vocational training courses in areas of the tertiary sector. like his work. Any work to be carried out with artisans must take account of their existence. and convinced them that their freedom. It was a long and difficult task b~t we . but keep him 'secret' by creating an air of inaccessibility around him. We had discovered that we had enemies.haviour of such sick people. was not something to be afraid of. Certain people hold very strange attitudes towards artisans. These ideas may be nonsense but they are held by a number of people who could develop into quite serious adversaries. and hospitality. In that sense the intriguers did us a favour! A few reflections may be pertinent at this point. The small 182 . One thing was clear: the worst thing we could do would be to show fear or weakness. and decided to proceed. Apart from the different types of exploiter. Inevitably. and so apparently claim exclusive rights over him. They discover him or her. 'their' discovery. They even justify such actions with claims that they are 'preserving the purity' of the craftsman and his work by keeping them in a healthy seclusion. much to the satisfaction-I imagine-of the troublemakers. which are well-known everywhere. and we had to organize ourselves accordingly. We felt even more str~ngly committed to our task than before.

Some of the courses fulfilled this requirement. but in neighbouring towns and cities as well. others even three. no migration took place. Their village lacks all the most basic amenities. We were so moved by this that after two weeks I arranged with our mayor for the Town Hall vehicle to drive them home each day. from a place that is totally cutoff after even light rainfall. It contributed to a better understandi~g and better integration. Once the courses were finished we had not only newly trained people. The courses that were given were not of the kind we had had in mind when discussing a vocational training system adapted to local needs. This by-product was probably as important as the product itself. Furthermore. It should also be pointed out that the distance covered was through rugged terrain. For them. without once missing a class. we had learned a lesson: the people respond avidly and overwhelmingly to any chance of self-improvement. no other possibilities were available at the time. 8 kilometres from Tiradentes. The satisfaction of the people was our own satisfaction. Thus their effort was reduced to 8 kilometres daily. their journeys being paid for by their clients. A number of young women frQm a tiny and extremely poor village. had also registered. Despite such difficulties they walked 16 kilometres every day. It was interesting to discover that most people were using their knowledge in order to improve their family life and conditions. Some took two courses. They have no electricity or running water and no regular means of transport to Tiradentes. Despite the fact that Tiradentes does not have the market to absorb so many newly trained people. others seemed less appropriate. on the other hand. However. A relatively 183 . increased their income after a short period. began to exercise their new-founds skills not only in Tiradentes. we had a group of individuals who felt happy and fulfilled. The courses changed their forms of social interaction. however. and one went as far as to take four courses and finished as the top student in all of them. A good number.proportion of drop-outs is an indication of the people's thirst for knowledge and advancement. the most important element had been the ~hance to share with others in a classroom. Many families.

whose Director I met at a seminar in Bariloche. in Mexico. to discover that the ILO authorities in Brasilia had never even heard of the Project. that is exactly what happened. Interest from abroad was a means of strengthening the Project internally and. The ILO office in Brasilia decided to come to the aid of the Project in a different form. served to arouse the interest of the CEESTEM~:. This was later to bear fruit. In addition I was not registered. and his second in command. we (the Project and I) were declared into official existence. Centro de Estudios Economicos y Sociales del Tercer Mundo. so both the Proj~ct's and my existence came as a big surprise. I had never visited the office in Brasilia and I decided to do so. and a not unimportant one. a reassurance that. Carlos Alberto de Brito. which is an ILO specialized agency. Phase Five: Project is discovered Starting in September 1980.and of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. to Mexico and Argentina. '184 . Mr. who after eight months ~:. a series of events took place which had important ramifications for us. It was the time when the Tiradentes Project was 'discovered internationally'. despite our local successes. as is outlined in the corresponding section. The relations established with both institutions meant the future possibility of widening the scope of the Project. Anthony Travers. in view of the persistent lack of internal support. Two trips which I had to make at the time. we badly needed. One of those results. Dr. Argentina.small amount of effort at low cost can bring about great results. Our new international relations were a reassurance for us. was the increased sympathy for the Project in the minds of the people. Phase Six: an appointment with the past For the past eight months my co~laborators. in away. Despite the fact that I had signed my contract with CINTERFOR. It was surprising. After a warm reception on the part of the Director. and even amusing.

185 .The town's photographer and friends at the beginning of the century.

came to this appointment with the past. The material covered exactly one hundred years.of voluntary work were now receiving a salary. we had come up with a very ingenious idea: an exhibition of One Century of Photography in Tiradentes. and I had been busy with a fascinating scheme that was on the point of successful completion. the oldest photograph being dated 1880. old trunks and forgotten corners. Religious Events. including the oldest people. made all the enlargements at their own expense. family groups. following instructions from the Secretary General. Many old and some younger people had tears in their eyes. narrowed this down to 300. The latter included hunting parties. Architecture and Environment. 186 . people could be heard exclaiming as they recognized an ancestor or were reminded of some long forgottenevent. Aloisio Magalhaes. weddings. It was no easy task but we approached it with great enthusiasm. carnivals. The methodology was simple yet slow and sensitive. The collection was divided into a number of basic subjects: Musical Culture. 1981. picnics and funerals. but actually mounting the exhibition was an expensive affair. Dr. and made a final choice of 120 for the exhibition. after m~ch conversation. some unable to walk. persuaded them to look into their attics. and Social Events. We made an initial selection of 600 photos. financed the printing of several hundred beautiful posters. The Secretariat of the National Historic and Artistic Patrimony. while Kodak of Brasil took over the cost of printing the catalogue. Bamerindus. It was a marvellous illustration of one hundred years of the city's life and history. We visited family after family and. sports. Wanting to do something around which the entire community could be united. We had unearthed the photographs. So we went searching for support. the local bank. We dedicated several months to this research and extraordinary photographic documents of the past began to appear. Practically everybody. in the building of the Old Forum. Every few seconds. The exhibition was inaugurated on the 5th·of February. Many of the photos had deteriorated and all of them had to be enlarged. and see what they could discover in terms of photographs . important visitors.

187 .A patriarch and his family in 1880.

Their enthusiasm was greatly enhanced. Two important exhibitions had been organized in Belo Horizonte. on the 22nd of April. it is highly likely that similar exercises will be carried out in other small Brazilian cities.People stayed until very late that night and kept returning each day. Thus the exhibition proved to be a great contribution not only to the people. the 'Corporacao' was officially inaugurated. Professor Roberto Whitaker-Penteado. A ~eeting was held between the artisans and the experts. The artisans appointed a committee in order to draw up the statutes f9r t~e future 'Corporacao dos Artesaos de Tiradentes'. in the presence of many authorities and of other distinguished guests. Mr. Furthermore. in order to discuss with the artisans all the necessary' features of such an organization. and finally the time seemed ripe for the creation of a guild. Ivan Hasslocher. Some of the artisans went personally to the exhibitions and witnessed the successful sales. and another in Juiz de F'ora. The ILO office in Brasilia sent an expert. Phase Seven: a guild of artisans Meetings continued on a regular basis with the artisans and the possibility of some form of organization was slowly taking shap'e in their minds. one of the State's most important cities. the Project began receiving assistance from one of ILO's Regional . The exhibition achieved national fame and it was decided that it should visit other cities. and after having dealt satisfactorily with all questions and worries. The work was carried out to the satisfaction of all concerned and. All the negatives went into the National Historic and Artistic Archives because they were considered such invaluable assets. 1981. The presence of both men proved to be important to the successful launch of our scheme. 188 . They had two weeks to report their results to the assembly. In addition.Counsellors. of Tiradentes but to the whole country. in view of the valuable historical and sociological documents that can be unearthed using such a simple methodology. the final decision was taken. the State capital.

189 .

were barely-making a living. their first decision was to appoint as Honorary Members of the guild. wood. Yves Ferreira Alves.This was another emotional occasion. Dr. who was about to quit his post as Busines·s Director of the Globo Television Network. only a year earlier. Each student chooses an area and once he has been approved. metal and textiles. the three oldest artisans of the community. The structure of the courses was to be ·very functional. After the newly elected executive members had taken up their posts. as part-time instructors for young people. The new 'Corporacao' will give the artisans not only a number of social benefits but will allow them. With wisdom. Those who were present as guests during the installation left with the sensation that a considerable number of people who. Four areas were established: stone. had reached a stage in which their work was finally recognized. A committee of qual~ty control will monitor all the qualifications of new members and the requirements that all members' products must satisfy. which is the largest and most influential in Brasil. they appointed as head of their public relations. so that the establishment of the courses became the first concrete activity of the new guild. isolated in their anonymity. They could not have found anyone more qualified than him for this post. The approval came through in time. respected and dignified. the only one requiring a non-artisan. Each medium is covered by several teachers whose styles and products differ. to have a working capital at their disposal. through a contribution from the Ministry of Labour. Agostinho Miguel Pardini. Dr. This grant would allow the payment of the most distinguished craftsmen for a few months. This will put an end to their constant problem of haying to sell a piece before being able to afford new raw materials. artisans become masters For seven months I had been negotiating a grant with one of the Departments of the M~nistry of Labour through the Regional Office of SENAC and with the efficient help of its Director. he must first 190 .

~ Q) u Q) « n. 0- 191 .'0 32 :::J « '-E ~ c V) U Q) -£ '0 V) .

and from there to the fbrmation of an organization of their own and now to the perpetuation of the creative process through a younger generation. The Seminar was sponsored by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. as well as representatives of the ILO and those national institutions that had maintained relations with us. because it signifies the completion of a human cycle. the scheme is conceived in terms of education with production. Fortunately we received private reassurance from the Regional Director. 192 . ' In view of the circumstances we decided to· organize a seminar of evaluation by the people of Tiradentes. Nine: an ev~alu. Furthermore. on the very day of the inauguration of the photographic exhibition. The interim Director came to visit us and announced that no more funds were available and that the Project had to come to an end. since the most important activities that had been undertaken (as already reported) were just on the point of successful completion.atlLon In February 1981. We were in despair. as often happens with those who have had only one master. The idea behind having different instructors in the same field is to stimulate the student's creativity by avoiding the tendency to copy. Dr. From isolation and anonymity to public recognition.take two obligatory courses in drawing and design. A great many of the population were invited. The courses went well. Mauricio Carvalho. that he would try everything within his power to guarantee the Project's survival for another two or three months. we received an almost fatal blow. had left his post a few weeks earlier. Finishing the Project virtually then and there was. with whom the idea for the Project had been conceived that distant night in Asunci6n. a total and tragic disaster. in our minds and hearts. the Director General of SENAC. This is a good feeling. After that he studies with three instructors in his chosen field. one after another. Pardini. as an input to its phased seminar 'From the Village to the Global Order'. and unsuspected talents made themselves apparent.

painter.)--ol. .0 VJ Apprentices of the Guild of Artisans preparing their home-made forge to melt some silver. Fernando Rocha Pitta. \. On the right. member of the Project's team and coordinator of all the courses.

Master craftsman 'Baba' carving one of his granite sun clocks. 194 .

Master craftsman Tadeu Silva working on a commissioned sculpture of Saint Michael. 195 .

I have learned that success is not enough to prevent the failure of such an enterprise. had generated concrete and tangible actions that had greatly benefited the community. It remained to be seen whether it was a transition towards its end. ture was a success. I have seen others fail precisely because they had succeeded. The ven-.Every one of the more than 40 people present gave their opinions and spoke their minds. or towards the gestation of something that can give new force and greater dispersion to the philosophy of revitalization of small cities for self-reliance. 196 . as opposed to so many other plans and promises. Time would tell. The Project went into a'transitional phase. It was their unanimous plea that the Project should continue and it was this testimony that allo~ed it to survive. At this stage I could only hope. but in all my years as a barefoot economist. for at least an additional short period. The most important and relevant aspect that was constantly stressed by the people was that the Tiradentes Project.

decorating one of his cabinets.~ ~ Master craftsman Fernando Rosa. President of the Guild' of Artisans. .

on· the. Many thought that disillusion and eventual collapse might follow. thus avoiding their disintegration during the vital period of transition into consolidation and maturity. His dedication. as a consequence of the enthusiastic support dispensed by Carlos de Brito and Anthony Travers. a small grant had been obtained from the ILO in Geneva in order to carry out a field research into working conditions and quality of life of the region's inhabitants. I had the feeling that. it was e~actly those attitudes and manifestations that convinced me that the time was ripe for me to l~ave. Furthermore. was rooted in the fear expressed by many people. heads of· the ILO office in Brasilia. The funds guaranteed a modest income for the local members of the team until the end of the year. who thought that my departure-at what they perceived to be a critical momentwould leave them perhaps dangerously unprotected·.1 a Ten: severing In the first week of May-after several farewell ceremonies and parties-I left Tiradentes with mixed feelings of hope and anxiety. at the time the ILO Regional Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean. My anxiety. the work and activities during the months that lay ahead. were to be guided and supervised by Roberto Whitaker-Penteado. experience and sincere commitment to the project's philosophy proved to be a decisive element in its final success. at least for 198 . Paradoxically. Hope was based on the fact that. including members of the Project's team. other hand.

the quality of life of a given group of people. I had turned into a sort of father figure that provided security and protection. However. confrontations and disputes between the team mem. but apparently not the majority.those who expressed their concern. Ideally. and. consolidation and greater self-reliance. A digression at this point is in order. or of increasing submission and dependency of the people with respect to the project 199 . The limit cannot be established a priori. sufficiently enriching and stimulating for the people. first. My friend Roberto Whitaker-Penteado was particularly helpful during those days. including the creation of an increasing awareness and transformation. Time was to prove us right. there are symptoms. In the latter case. however. a decision will depend-among other things-on the type of project under consideration. by its very nature. is a very sensitive and subtle question. Assuming a successful integration during this middle phase. since he pointed out to them more than once. There is an optimal duration for every project. through participatory action. It must be the work 'and achievement of the people themselves. that the promoter of a project could be considered to have succeeded precisely when his presence was no longer necessary. that should finally and. that should be foilowed by a phase of true integration between the outsiders that are members of the team. not extended beyond the limit of its critical duration. Hence I was convinced that this image had to be destroyed-or should at least disappear-for the sake of stimulating their own potential for human growth and greater self-reliance. after a certain len'gth of time a crisis will inevitably surface. lead naturally into the final phase of maturity. second. First of all. It may take the shape of growing disagreements. There are no fixed rules. quite different from a project conceived to improve.bers and the people (which may be a healthy sign). This is supposed to be the period of creativity. But exactly how long that is. This last phase. this can only come about if the middle phase is. must necessarily be reached after the project promoters have departed. most importantly. A project to build a bridge or to construct a dam is. convinced a few. Our arguments to the effect that such a time had arrived for me. and the local people for whose benefit the project has been organized. Now. there is a first phase of discovery. although there are no rules.

Durations are rigidly fixed in advance. The final outcome in such cases is always the same: it is neither what the technocrats proposed or predicted. one fact should remain beyond dispute: that this is the moment when it is imperative for the 'umbilical cord'. as 'catalysts'. Unfortunately in most projects these subtle. goals and outcomes are predetermined by technocrats without any consultation of the people concerned. collapse. again to believe. these considerations weighed heavily on my mind when I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to bid farewell. that is. to be severed. One of those days in which we are willing. It was one of those late spring mornings of almost unreal nordic luminosity. Beyond that point there is nothing positive that an outside expert could or should do. yet important. in order to write this book. Whatever the alternative may be in the case of any given project. that is. Despite the fact that our project had been flexible and had promoted full participation. Phase Eleven: satisfaction from afar Two months had elapsed since the misty evening of my arrival in Uppsala. eventually. unable to write. as 'doers' of things that are often not desired. So I did. and two weeks later-my anxiety notwithstanding-I had settled in Uppsala. nay. anxious once . nor what the people would have wished. psychological manifestations are not taken into account. The discreet approaching steps of Kerstin brought my entire exist- 200 . the chosen future and the chosen paths belong exclusively and inalienablely to the people. It was one of those days without room for darkness. instead of acting as they should. act as they should not.(which is a definitely unhealthy and undesirable sign). The experts of such projects. as a guest of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. and 'desirable' aims. Beyond the window. I just sat at my desk. for the development of hidden potential. either in the atmosphere or in the mind. From there on. my eyes played hide-and-seek with Uppsala castle through the nodding branches of the luxuriant maple tree. It is simply failure and.

my life had something in common with that of the seasons: it was an interminable chain of arrivals and farewells. I pulled my senses together and forced them to converge on what I was holding with my hands. '.. the summer and I had accomplished our respective missions. Two aeroplanes and one bus took 20 hours to get me from Paris to Tiradentes. Others from members of the Town Hall. This trip was going to be an exception. One letter from the Mayor of Tiradentes. pulled out all the sheets. I left the office.ence back into the room. and a line of a poem my mother had read to me while I was still a child. I put down the last letter. I looked in the envelope and found six letters. did not allow me to organize them into a neat congruent pile. and place. I thought this was fun. During the transit it occurred to me that. and when I realized that it was impossible to submerge myself once more into the vanished enchantment of a moment ago. told me about the progress that was taking place through the project and assured me that Tiradentes would always be open for me as a home. my hands (not me) tore open the envelope. Phase Twelwe: six months later. All wished me well. and together we headed towards the south. We both bade farewell to Uppsala. it seemed to me. because she simply looked at me.d them one on top of the other. handed me a large envelope saying 'For you'. Contrary to any normal habit. streched myself in my chair. I looked out through the window again. I opened all of them at once. only in my case there was seldom a return. I had to laugh at myself when I discovered that. I had written my book and he had delivered all his light. Tiradentes revisited One day in mid-September. and the rest from some citizens of the town. and spent the rest of the day walking in the woods. The expression on my face must have been somewhat strange. I felt a bit silly. Only then did I take the first letter and began to read. for a moment. in some respects.. because I wanted to enjoy the 201 . in haste. suddenly came to my mind: 'This is the end of a perfect day . Mechanically. I had been disturbed by the fact that the sheets being of different sizes. and left.

The first person to greet me. My good friend Roberto Whitaker-Penteado and 'my kids' from the project.total contrast without any transItIon. Later came the many embraces and the interminable welcoming toasts with home-distilled 'cachas. We simply kept conjugating the verb 'to be': I am fine. with guttural laughter and happy gesticulations. The final structure that the Guild· was naturally adopting was interesting and quite unique. Vania. Furthermore. Ann Mary. and what I discovered was very· pleasing indeed. a lovely old man. who probably was' not half the fool many people thought him to be. you are fine. F ernando and Olinto. both national and foreign. we are fine. the neighbour city of Tiradentes.a'. This deserves some additional comment. acute problems that were detected were going to be the basis of community action programmes sponsored by the Guild. for the new products being made. three centres-in addition to the apprentices' School·that was already functioning to the satisfaction of all concerned-were to 202 . revealing many new creative talents. were waiting for me at the bus terminal in Sao Joao del Rei. since he was surely the only one in town who registered everything about everyone. This allowed for increased markets. when I got off the car was '0 Preto'. It always happens on such occasions. when we all have too many things to report. . It was not just a guild of artisans for artisans. I stayed for one week. During the 15 kilometre drive home our conversation was mere trivia. Quite drowsy. it was slowly turning into a vital nucleus of revitalization for Tiradentes as a whole. as well as of interesting and intelligent plans for the future. and the most. they are fine. The results of the field research into quality of life were being tabulated at the time. The school of the Guild was functioning smoothly. the village fool. I went to bed to enjoy my first night ever as a guest of Tiradentes. The Guild of the Artisans had achieved official recognition from the federal government through its National Artisanship Development Pr~gramme. According to the plans under consideration at the time. I became aware not only of tasks that had been completed but also of processes in the course of consolidation. financial support for the purchase of raw materials was now possible.

The CEPAC originated as a felt need following the results of the field research previously mentioned. Its function is to carry out similar surveys periodically and then design concrete action programmes to solve the most pressing problems that are detected. These were a Centre for Study and Promotion of Community Actions (CEPAC). has developed well under the generous sponsorship of Ives Ferreira Alves and with the cooperation of the local school. Furthermore. Sorrow for the fine people and the valuable human experiences I was leaving behind. a Centre of Popufar Arts and Traditions. In this manner. oral stories and legends through recordings. and to house . and a Children's Centre of Crafts and Horticulture. Any technical as well as financial aid beyond local capabilities must be negotiated between the Guild and the corresponding state or federal agencies. I was also satisfied because 'my kids' in the project were all integrated· into the process by the wish and will of the people themselves: Fernando Rocha Pitta as coordinator of the courses of the Guild's school. will hopefully become' part of the Guild as well. The functions of the Centre of Popular Arts and Traditions are to revitalize and diffuse regional musical folklore as well as formal music. dances. had now becom'e important for their community and very visible indeed. having been invisible not long ago. this time perhaps forever.be integrated into the Guild. cuisine. Vania Lima Barbosa as head of the CEPAC. talents revealed arid stimulated during childhood may later find appropriate outlets for f~rther growth and development in the apprentices' school of the Guild. Finally.as well as to expand the collection <?f one century of photography in Tiradentes. Olinto Rodrigues dos Santos Filho as future coordinator of the Centre of Popular Arts and Tradi- 203 . . with the support of the local authorities for whom this new grassroots organization has become a corJ. Six months earlier I had left Tiradentes with mixed feelings of hope and anxiety.1er-stone. perhaps a little bit of a promoter-to a significant metamorphosis 'of people who. Satisfaction because I had had the privilege of being a witness-and. the Children's Centre of Crafts and Horticulture which. This time I left with mixed feelings of sorrow and satisfaction. as reported in the previous chapter.

Since financial resources are always scarce. Immensely costly and laborious national development programmes have done little or nothing for the people living on the national peripheries. are the lessons that can be drawn from it. Probably not. in a place called Tiradentes. Policy makers and planners are too busy with the big problems. at the local level. however small. Afterthoughts I am certainly not of the opinion that the Tiradentes Project was in itself a project of a spectacular nature. came about in such a short period and with such minimal resources. What are important. get the chance or the necessary direction. however. are stimulated by being given some opportunities themselves. After all. However. every process of human growth generates its own contradictions. Young people can be found in every region and in every town with the motivation. there are some people whose life today is a bit better than it was. it should be noted that a lot can be done with remarkably little at local and region~llevels. somewhere in the world. In fact. I don't believe in the validity of such a dictum any longer. and Ann Mary Fighiera Perpetuo-her 22 years of age and her four children notwithstanding-as the dedicated secretary of it all. I do not know. as long as people. is well worth further consideration. if ever. That one fact is legitimate cause for satisfaction. imagination and will to promote the revitalization of their birthplaces rather than emigrating from them. a rich and honest experience in grass-roots organization with full participation is taking place. As a consequence. The problem is that they seldom. I am quite sure that 'big' problems require a great number of small solutions'. Perhaps not I 204 .tions. In many cases their situation has worsened as a conse. quence of the kind of development programme that is applied on a national basis without any consideration of local or regional needs and characteristics. There is still a predominant belief to the effect that 'big problems require big solutions'. The fact that considerable improvements. Whether everything continues and is consolidated according to wishes and plans.

i'. the result would be quite spectacular. with local people. a new local confidence has emerged. Furthermore. smallness is not. 430 people attended training courses and a further \80 were Cl:t the time of this writing studying in the School of the Guild of the Artisans of Tiradentes. If such outcomes could be calculated in terms of capital/output ratio. Exhibitions were organized and the traditional artisans have at least tripled their sales if not more. which may lead to many additional improvements in the near future. after all. Not only the Project but other local institutions that have developed in the meantime. can be solved at the local level. represent a new life and greater hopes for the city and its environment. Some disruptive elements notwithstanding. the people increased their participation in the life of the community as well as their sense of unity.hing but immensity on the human scale. This should not be surprising. The annual cost of the Project (my personal salary excluded) was less than US$ 30. So much can be achieved when thinking and acting small. Such a project is a good investrrient because it works. With such an amount.000.i everything but nevertheless more than one would be willing to believe at first. 205 . because. and I feel convinced that it is for the better. The lethargy that resulted from depression and a sense of having been abandoned has given way to a new dynamism and a renewed confidence in the community's potential. Tiradentes has changed. such as the Society of Friends of Tiradantes.

Spring. op. 'Toward a World of Natural Communities'.. pp. Cambridge.. Chapter 1. . p. The 1975 Dag Hammarskjold Rep'ort on Development and International Cooperation. 8. 15. verse 28. For the fjrst two points I have taken ideas from Ferkiss. Alternatives IV. A History of the Swedish People. Mass.A. Some of the most interesting proposals are contained in What Now: Another Development. N. See Moberg.. 4. p. Georgescu-Roegen.. The Entropy Law and the Economic Process.. 3. Ibid. Georgescu-Roegen. p. Garret. The Future of Technological Civilization. 2. I. p.. (The italics are mine.. Ibid. Psychology Today. N. New York.. p. op~ cit. Friedrich. because I identified with them even before reading him. Vilhelm. 17. cit.p. cit...68. Ferkiss. 2. 11. 2. 7. 1940. Victor. N. p. Vo!. N. 6. Christian. op. I have added the third 206 . N. Uppsala. No. op. Ibid. 1970. 2. P. 4. 6. George Braziller. 12. 19. cit. Ferkiss. 2. op. 63. 1974. 1. 2. The Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. Dialectics of Nature. Norstedt & Saners Forlag. 16. Hardin. 291-292 ...1. Georgescu-Roegen. p. Harvard University Press.. 1974.. cit. p. 1981.. Georgescu-Ro~gen. Genesis. p. 9.) 5. p. Victor. See Ferkiss. 7. Stockholm. 'Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor'. For good criticism of Ha'rdin's ideas see Bay. 1974. International Publishers. cit. 68. 14. 8. 1975. 13. 'p. 10. op. New York. Victor. Engels. Georgescu-Roegen.

His body was dismembered and the head and limbs were exhibited in the main towns of the area as a warning to the population.013.. leader of the first independence attempt in Brazil. in his early fifties. 207 . 423b. (The italics are mine. It was the nickname of J oaquim Jose de Silva Xavier. 1977. we can certainly not perceive an empty space. who were painted. Science. He does not concern himself with the problem of size as I do here. Proposition 2. something rarely found in international organizations. 25. 4. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Aristotle. The Republic. Energy and Resources. His untimely death represented an irreparable loss to all those who. Guayaquil. Juan Mangache made his second visit to Quito in 1598. a fundamental contribution has been made by Tibor Scitovsky in The Joyless Economy. Ibid.18. 1326a and 1326b. The detailed information of this history has been taken from Julio Estrada Ycaza. 26. 30. accompanied by his two sons. pp. I have added it because I consider it logical and essential to consolidate the factual possibility of the other two. Publishers. 20. Plato. Publicaciones del Archivo Historico de Guayas.. Eduardo Ribeiro de Carvalho died in 1979. Ludwig Wittgenstein. Ecuador. et aI. Bent Sorensen. See Valaskakis.. 27. Pedro and Domingo. He was born close to the town that today bears his nickname. Ibid. 29.) I agree with Wittgenstein that we can imagine an empty space. Proposition 2. VoI. were allowed to advance and promote the most audacious and innovative ideas. 24. although with some difficulty. aspect (which he ignores as do most) for reasons that I consider quite obvious. No form of humanism makes any sense to me without a drastic redistribution of power. July. Regionalismo y Migraci6n. Their portrait is to be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Madrid. New York. Oxford University Press. fourth phrase. under his stimuh-:ts. K. 28.012. since some form of object will tend to appear as a boundary or limit of that imagined empty space. In this respect.199. but he does 'look deep into the consumer's soul'. Politics. published in 1982 by the UN Reserarch Institute for Social Development and the Economic Commission for Latin America. 21. No. However. The Conserver Society. 1975. Harper & Row. 1976. Tiradentes was executed in Ouro Preto after the movement was crushed. 23. 1979. 22. The attempt was known as the 'Inconfidencia Mineira'. 19. 255-260. The quotation has been taken from the first chapter of Marshall Wolfe's Elusive Development. 189. Tiradentes means literally 'Toothpuller'. in the late eighteenth century.

It was the Third Latin American Meeting on Research and Human Needs. 1980. May/June. All the information and data that follows about children has been taken from a preliminary (unpublished) version of her paper 'Visoes da Infancia. Olinto Rodrigues dos Santos Filho. pp. economist. sponsored by UNESCO. New York. Tiradentes itself contains an invaluable colonial cultural heritage.31. in spite of its long abandonment. pp. hence the presentation of our research on that occasion. 1979. Ann Mary Fighiera Perpetuo. 1981. They were: Fernando Rocha Pitta Sampaio. 1980. The subject of the meeting of that year was 'Human Needs and Childhood'. New York. see Michael Todaro. 36. 33. in Tiradentes in October. City Bias and Rural Neglect) The Population Council. Robert Ornstein. 38. 1979. 1975. Quality of Life and Social Development'. For an interesting exposition of the idea that follows.· ° 39. Although I was coordinator of the meeting. See IFDA Dossier 17) International Foundation for Development Alternatives. This version was produced in 1980. Norma Nasser and Ademar Salomao. 0 Caso de Tiradentes'. Their ages ranged from 19 to 28 years. Leniz and Alcaino)s paper was presented at °the Seminar on 'Time. 41. secretary. painter. in constant danger of depletion and destruction. Argentina. it was not properly an action of the Project. 40. Edson dos Santos. Some species have already vanished. Vania Lima Barbosa. deterioration and decay. 208 . office boy. The embryonic theory that I am presenting here was greatly inspired by this dramatic paragraph of Kafk~)s. October. ° 34. 21-22. presented at the Seminar mentioned in notes 37 and 40. On the Experience of Time) Penguin Books. Her research was contained in her paper 'The role of childhood in different development styles'. and still is. sponsored by UNESCO and carried out in Tiradentes in October. It has been. regional historian. Bariloche. Tiradentes is located at the base of the Sao Jose Sierra which is a haven of spectacular and rare flora as well as interesting fauna. The Foundation contributed to the financing of the Third Latin American Meeting on Research and Human Needs. 37. 32. 35. Exactly the opposite had been the finding of Eleonora Masini who had studied children in small towns of Italy. 11-13 and Development Dialogue 1981:1.

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