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David pretends to stumble behind seated nuns

Chiapas 2002

Tour Overview

Clowns Without Borders presented 16 shows over 12 days, in three different regions of Chiapas. The tour was organized by the Alianza Civica. This tour reached members of Mexico’s Indigenous Mayan population, who live via subsistence farming in the steep mountains of Chiapas.

Tour Context

The Indigenous communities of Chiapas have fought to preserve their culture and languages for 500 years. Some of the people CWB served on this tour speak Spanish, but most villagers only speak the Mayan languages of Tzotzil or Tzeltal. Their tenuous existence is exacerbated by the influx of thousands of refugees fleeing violent conflict in surrounding regions of Chiapas.

CWB has a longstanding relationship with Chiapas, and the situation on the ground seems to have improved slightly since our most recent tour. There has been little violence in the past two years, and a small number of refugees have successfully returned to to their original villages.

Mexico’s president, Vicente Fox, made a few “good-will” concessions toward the Zapatistas, including removing most of the military road blocks and removing two conspicuous military camps. In response, the Zapatistas staged a well publicized caravan to Mexico City, to pass an Indigenous Bill of Rights and ask the government to abide by the San Andrés Accords. Despite massive rallies of support, the Zaptistas came home empty handed. The military presence in Chiapas remains very heavy.

The Team

The clowns on this tour included Chiapas veterans David Lichtenstein and Rudi Gallindo, along with newcomer Rock. It was a family trip, as David brought his two children, James, 10, and Lela, nine, who clowned in his solo shows. Rudi brought his 15-year-old son Izzi, who helped with music and sound effects, and clowned quite a bit during some of the shows.

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