PHM Latin America Health Assembly - Cuenca 2013 - Towards a fulfilling life and harmony between humanity and Mother Earth!

25 Oct 2013


During the week from 7 to 12 October 2013 in Cuenca, Ecuador, we again had the opportunity to come together and share solidarity and hope, and what it means to be part of our People’s Health Movement in Abya Yala*. From different parts of the continent, the Andes, the valleys, the highlands and the Amazon, hundreds of hearts dedicated to defend the right to health were reunited.


Each day there were several intense moments and despite the fatigue of so many hours of presence and participation, we were always aware of every reunion and contribution that was made during the plenaries. Sad and raging emotions while witnessing the testimonies of the fight and resistance throughout Latin America were mixed with serenades of joy for our reunion and the confidence in new generations of grassroots activists to share the power of the Latino unity towards global unity in the fight for a worthy life for all.


The highest intensities that moved deeply our thoughts and feelings, which for we are grateful and happy beyond words, took place during the opening ceremony, in which, around a big chakana (ancestral andean cross), the 4 elements of life were celebrated: Water, Earth, Air and Fire. Each direction of the square cross was attended by guardians of ancestral traditions in their region: in the north: the Cañari and Saraguro grandmothers from Ecuador, guardians of the water; in the south: the guardians of the wind from Argentina and Uruguay; in the east, from the sacred land of the Mayas, the portal of Grandfather Fire was guarded by our Aikii Mayas together with our Central American brothers; in the west, from the Quechua town from Qollasuyo, Bolivia, together with El Salvador, Brazil and Colombia, Earth was protected. Within the immense circle formed by interlaced hands, containing the heart of heaven and the heart of the earth, each participant expressed, with all their heart, the gratitude for all life on this sacred Pachamama. They asked for guidance, strength and support in all our fights for the protection of water, earth and land. In front of the sacred fire they asked for the social injustices to stop and for respect and dignity for our people. As happiness motivates us to continue doing what is necessary, we danced, celebrating our woven lives in the circle that held us together.



There were several moments in which each and every one of us got deeply motivated to take action, to be solidary and open, only through the words of the speakers.


The first night of the Assembly, Hany Serag, from Egypt, shortly told us about everything that is taking place in the global People’s Health Movement, and sent us strength and support from the global secretary. And with great enthusiasm we got to know new faces who are extending the strong solidary network of our movement. Large groups represented Argentina and amazing examples of self-management of healthcare were given by Laicrimpo, Red Jarilla and the University of Rosario, but also the presence of a large group of courageous colleagues of the Allende group from El Salvador was a delight. With hope we saw the participation of young Colombians, we were thrilled by the large number of Mayan brothers and sisters from Guatemala, the smiles from Brazil and our youngest activist Tomé (1,5 year old) were present, and though few but all very important small delegations from all over Abya Yala attended the assembly: Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba.


We emphasize that the distance was overcome by those unable to be physically present through the digital connection with the facebook page that was specifically opened for this first Latin American PHM Assembly. In that way, nearly 200 extra people participated with big interest and contributed actively.


The participation and attendance with each workshop, each plenary session, every forum, every panel and book presentation was big. And there was the opportunity to share local situations to reinforce the global fight against the hegemonic capitalist economic model that is preying on life.

But there were also moments of tension and discussion that supported the debate necessary to continue walking in the most consistent way as possible from each of our locations.


During a special session within the ReAct-combined event “Restoring the Health of the Ecosystems to restrain the Bacterial Resistance”, the whole auditorium hang on the lips of Satya Sivaranan, from India. He showed his profound respect to the life of bacteria as being sisters and mothers of all life on this planet, making us reflect about the human microbioma and about the metaphors of war between science and Western medicine, demystifying medicine, as it is currently taught, as a big corporate business.


A lot of presentations dealt with the protection of Mother Earth against the megaprojects and gave examples of protests against killer corporations such as Monsanto. They strongly stated the need to turn to a profound transformation of a civilization of devastating extractivism to an urgent harmony between humanity and Mother Earth, which is the conclusion that brings us all together.


The organized reunions of this assembly were largely participated. In which we clarified the terms and positions to join the movement from the own local actions, without having to change who we are and what we do, more to the contrary, having the strength to continue our own battles but knowing that we are part of  a solidarity network that supports and strengthens us. In this respect, we constituted our group of coordinators in 4 regions: Central America and the Caribean, Brazil, the Andes-region and Mercosur.


A very special night was the Official Ceremony and Tribute to people who, by their life, show us the road we have to follow. Their many years of learning and great battles, directly or indirectly helped us by forming what is now the movement in Latin America. Their examples of courage and kindness were recognized: our María Hamlin Zuñiga in Nicaragua (our collective mother), our Julio Monsalvo in Argentina (who continues to share alegremia** and hope), our David Werner from the United States (who we all thank for his writings in ‘Where There Is No Doctor’), our Arturo Quizhpe in Ecuador, also for the combined event with ReAct (Antimicrobial Resistance) and Dr. Otto Cars, who founded the network ReAct.


During the most emotional moments, the plenary sessions, and while we were dancing and singing in the streets, we were accompanied by ‘Cubanos en la Red’, from Cuba. With their music and lyrics, they support our vision of health by solidary supporting other networks and movements who are protecting life, such as MAELA and ASECSA, working towards another world that is possible.


The last day there was a ceremony in Kimsakocha, a sacred place with 3 lakes. It was raining during the whole ritual and thereby we, wet and semi-frozen, thanked Yaku-Mama (Mother of the Water) for her blessings, and asked that the water all over the world should be respected and that it is a respected human right for everyone, that no one should suffer from thirst or die of hunger. Our wishes were expressed most sincerely by every one of us, from the hope and strength transmitted to us by our ancestors.


The last night, we said goodbye with a big party and with a high level of ‘alegremia”. Laughing, we shared our solidary love for life that unites us despite the big distances, knowing that we are brothers and sisters of this Pachamama, comrades who are building every day towards the Other Possible Health, and this Other World we are already making possible with our hands. Confident that perhaps the road is long and it will have many tests and rough times, but knowing deeply that if I do not see the results of my fight, surely my children and grandchildren will see them and will be grateful for the road that we are creating by keeping on fighting for the protection of health and life.



* Abya Yala is the ancient name of the Kuna tribe in Latin America.
** Alegremia: joy + -emia (blood concentration) = level of joy in the blood. Which is socially constructed, based on hope, water, food, air, shelter, education, art and love. It implies a profound social transformation towards a more dignified, more open and more united world.


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