The fight to save Casco Viejo from the Cinta Costera III continued into December, with a few things becoming much more clear, though there is still a lot to be decided and a lot left to fight for.
Where We Are Today
What is clear, and what everyone who has pitched in on this fight should be proud of, is that the worst case scenario, a landfill around Casco Viejo, looks to have been averted. This was the government's first option and without the groups and individuals who came together at critical moments we are quite sure it would have become a reality. The final version is moving ahead quickly and it will be an elevated viaduct just off the coast. It is still about as mediocre as infrastructure gets, but much, much better than the alternative.
UNESCO's technical and advisory bodies issued their annual State of Conservation report taking the government and Odebrecht to task for pushing ahead without considering alternatives and indicating that a delisting at the June 2013 meeting of the World Heritage Committee is a real possibility. While we appreciate UNESCO finally acknowleding that the project is moving forward (six months after it began), we cannot help feeling somewhat betrayed by UNESCO's inability to use its strongest weapon--the voice of its Executive Director--to denouce the project. We wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, requesting that the Security Council itself take up the matter, as we believe that the right of peoples to protect their heritage when their governmetns fail to do so is a fundamental human right and therefore within the Security Council's purvue.
Where We Are Headed
Stopping the completion of the project now looks next to impossible, however, there is still a lot to fight for. Our two primary goals now are to keep the project from creeping back to a landfill (see the jaw dropping newly proposed "Presidential Island" below) and to begin to lay the legal foundation for the eventual removal of the viaduct at some point in the future. Removal is not something we expect to happen for many years, but history has shown that one generation's misconcieved highway is often removed by later generations so preparing the groundwork now is key. At a more philisophical level, we hope that by continuing to push we send a message to future governments that destroying cultural heritage has consequences.
Your donations have been key to keeping us in this struggle and averting the worst case scenario. Being able to have lawyers on call, send messags to the public and be ready with materials for peaceful protests at critical moments made the difference and we are grateful.
On December 4th, the Theatre Guild of Ancon, a historic community theatre established in 1950, was the perfect stage for the kids of the Enlaces Program of Fundación Calicanto to make their debut. The end of the year show was called “Un Pequeño Gran Equipo”, The Great Small Ensemble, name chosen by these little artists to portray how much greatness they can give to the artistic world, even though they are young and beginning their paths as performers. This was their very first exclusive performance, where some kids had never even been inside a theatre nor performed in front of an audience. Backstage they were uneasy, excited by their costumes, the theatre lights and the whispering of the audience coming in.The show was a brief manifestation of this restless creative energy that Calicanto wants the community to know and promote. It was a collective work between the students and their teachers and within themselves. The movements and concepts were proposed by the kids, organized in five acts of contemporary dance, silent theatre and experimental performance (one solo and four group pieces).
We end the year with this wonderful performance and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
If you don't know Carmela, she graduated back in July and I promised to update you on her progress.
A few weeks after Carmela graduated from the CAPTA program, she worked for one month in "Las Clementinas," a Casco Antiguo hotel. For one month, she developed excellent relationships with her co-workers, superiors, as well as the hotel's frequent clients. Unfortunately, after just one month, Carmela had to quit her job.
Carmela tells us that the reason she had to leave was because she was thrown out of the place where she lived. In urban cities it is very common for gang members to take over abandoned buildings but other people such as Carmela, who have no training, employment and 4 children to look after also live in these buildings and daily take on the risk of living among gang members. Due to escalating conflicts related to the gang members who occupied the building, Carmela was faced with the decision to leave her home to better safeguard herself and her children.
Soon after she made the decision to leave, she found another abandoned building where she could live with her children; but just two weeks after, the building collapsed and she was forced once again to go back to the building she left filled with gang members.
Carmela is now looking for employment, she has applied to several places and is waiting for one to call back. "Life continues to put obstacles in my way; the difference now is that I've been through CAPTA and I know how to make better decisions." "I have learned to think first and not do the crazy things I used to do."
Even though she isn’t working, Carmela thinks about projects that she could do in her community. For example, she sought out our dance instructor for the ENLACES program which teaches at risk children modern dance and suggested a dancing project in her community with the children that live in her building. She hopes that this initiative will bring positive new activities to her community.
During December you can help Carmela by making a recurring donation to this program or to our CONEXION program. A recurring donation of only $20 will be matched by a Global Giving secret donor and you can secure Carmela the constant follow up visits she needs to succeed. We will continue to visit Carmela and help her as much as we can, but we need your continued support for this to happen.
From Fundacion Calicanto: Happy Holidays and thank you for all the support you have already given!!