American Jewish World Service: Study Tour to Mexico
September 22 – 28, 2024
Welcome to the 2024 Study Tour to Mexico! Starting in Mexico City, you’ll meet with AJWS grantee partners who spearhead the advocacy and justice movements in Mexico for families of the disappeared.
Travel on to Oaxaca where you’ll continue meeting AJWS partners who champion the rights of the indigenous population through the advocation of food sovereignty, defense of culture and tradition, and promotion of resource management.
Please note: The details of this itinerary are subject to change and will be updated throughout the trip-planning process.
Day 1: Sunday, September 22
Arrival and Opening
Bienvenido! Welcome to Mexico! Arrive at Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) in Mexico City where you will be met by a representative who will escort you through immigration and customs before connecting you with your driver who will drive you to your hotel.
Get settled into the hotel, then kick off the Study Tour with an Opening Session and Welcome Dinner this evening.
Overnight: Condesa DF
Day 2: Monday, September 23
Orientation and Partner Visit
After breakfast, you will have an orientation session at the hotel, led by AJWS President and CEO Robert Bank and local colleagues.
Enjoy lunch before departing for your first partner visit with Movimiento por Nuestros Desparecidos en Mexico (MNDM) and SERAPAZ this afternoon.
The Movement for our Disappeared in Mexico (commonly referred to as “el Movimiento”) is one of three large networks of colectivos active at a national level. MNDM receives accompaniment support from national NGOs, including Serapaz (also a partner), and is comprised of more than 80 collectives from 24 states, as well as three from Central America. MNDM is primarily focused on promoting a national and international agenda for families of the disappeared and supports its member colectivos to advocate at the national level (within Mexico), as well as internationally, with the United Nations and Inter-American Commission. Most of the national-level public facing advocacy activities and marches that colectivos participate in, such as the annual Mother’s Day March, are organized through the MNDM space.
After returning from the partner visit, relax and come together for a group dinner this evening.
Overnight: Condesa DF
Day 3: Tuesday, September 24
Have breakfast at the hotel before departing for a full day of partner visits with Enlaces Nacionales and FUNDENL (Fuerzas Unidas por Nuestros Desaparecidos en Nuevo Leon).
Enlaces Nacionales is a national network affiliated with the Colectivo Familiares en Busqueda Maria Herrera, and coordinates approximately 160 colectivos from across Mexico to participate in peer learning exchanges, public actions, as well as to carry out national-level field searches for the disappeared through their annual Brigada Nacional (National Brigade).
Enjoy lunch all together before setting out for this afternoon’s partner visit with FUNDENL.
En route to FUNDENL, pass by a roundabout called “Glorieta de la Palma”, a roundabout that has been taken over by local colectivos as a space to memorialize the victims of disappearances.
Arrive at FUNDENL for your second partner visit of the day. FUNDENL is comprised of approximately 30 families and volunteers who have been searching for over 500 loved ones collectively, since 2012. In addition to actively advocating for truth and justice at local, regional, national, and international levels, the collective is a leader in the field for the creation of their Huellas de Vida online search platform (allowing family members to search case information and forensic finds to assist in identifying those who have disappeared) and for having constituted their own accredited Anthropological and Archeological Forensics Team.
Return to the hotel to rest and refresh before a group dinner tonight.
Overnight: Condesa DF
Day 4: Wednesday, September 25
Travel to Oaxaca and Partner Visit
After breakfast this morning, choose between a sightseeing tour of Mexico City or brief LWCJ orientation (is this happening?). There are two tours being offered that you may choose from:
- Historical Tour
Visit two of Mexico City’s most important attractions; the Chapultepec Castle and the National Museum of Anthropology Museum. Learn about the Castle’s origin as a retreat for Aztec rulers and see art from the Aztecs to present day; the National Museum houses the largest collection of traditional Mexican art in the world.
- Art Tour
Visit the Bellas Aries Palace to enjoy murals of Diego Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco. Afterward, walk around downtown Mexico City to visit the MUNAL (National Museum, colonial palaces, XIC century cathedral, Temple Mayor Museum).
After a group lunch in Mexico City, transfer to the airport for a group flight to Oaxaca. Upon arrival in Oaxaca, transfer either directly to the hotel or to an afternoon site visit with AJWS Partner, Servicios del Pueblo Mixe (SER Mixe).
Servicios del Pueblo Mixe (SER Mixe) is an indigenous organization founded in 1988 with the dual mission of contributing to the processes of autonomy and collective rights of the Ayuuk (Mixe) indigenous people in the Ayuuk region of Oaxaca. SER Mixe is divided into six departments that work on indigenous rights, autonomy, sustainable development, gender and women’s rights, culture and education, and communication. SER Mixe participates in spaces critical to the advancement of indigenous rights at the state, national, and international levels, including the United Nations.
Depending on the timing of the day, the group may check in to the hotel late this afternoon, settle in, and enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Quinta Real
Day 5: Thursday, September 26
Partner Visit and Touring Oaxaca
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for today’s partner visit with UNOSJO.
UNOSJO is a Zapotec Indigenous organization whose influential work on food sovereignty and Indigenous Peoples’ rights extends beyond Oaxaca state. It is one of the leading Indigenous organizations in Latin America working on food sovereignty, particularly in terms of the defense of native corn varieties against GMO crops, and was instrumental in exposing the contamination of native corn by GMO varieties. UNOSJO plays a lead role in the Network in Defense of Heirloom Corn (in 22 Mexican states) and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI). UNOSJO also plays a vital role in supporting Indigenous Peoples to defend their cultures and territories by reviving and using their traditional governance structures and principles.
After this morning’s visit, return to Oaxaca city center for lunch and sightseeing. Choose between:
- Street Art Walking Tour in Jalatlaco (a borough of Oaxaca City)
This outdoor tour will be guided by an artist at his engraving and printing workshop. The artist has “intervened” several of the walls around this quaint borough, which is 15 minutes walking distance from the Quinta Real Hotel. Visit the artists’ beautiful murals representing traditional elements of the Oaxacan culture, Day of the Dead, etc. The artist will explain the story behind the murals, his technique, and the importance this art manifestation on the neighborhood. After visiting the murals, you will gather at his studio for a demonstration of his engraving work.
- Historical Oaxaca City Walking Tour
This tour will take you to a different part of the city than the street art tour. Visit downtown Oaxaca (close to the hotel), the main square, significant historical buildings such as the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, and stroll through vibrant open-air markets.
After your tour, return to the hotel and freshen up before tonight’s group dinner.
Overnight: Quinta Real
Day 6: Friday, September 27
Partner Visit and Optional Touring
After breakfast, visit with COPUDA (Coordinated Committee of Communities in Defense and Protection of Water).
After over a decade of consultations with the federal government, COPUDA became the first Indigenous organization in Oaxaca (and the second one in Mexico) to gain rights to manage their water resources. While the Mexican government grants them this right in perpetuity, they have to implement a series of measures to ensure that water is being properly measured, managed, and distributed across the seventeen communities. After more than thirteen years of supporting Flor y Canto (the state level NGO) to accompany COPUDA (the community-based organization), COPUDA is ready to take ownership of the process and implement it in a way that is culturally acceptable to them.
In the afternoon, return to Oaxaca city center for lunch and optional sightseeing (one of the two options listed under Day 5).
Tonight, come together for a closing session, followed by a Shabbat dinner.
Overnight: Quinta Real
Day 7: Saturday, September 28
Check out after breakfast this morning, and partake in optional touring if time allows before your flight.
Transfer to the Oaxaca International Airport (OAX) for your international flight home, or continue onward with your travels in Mexico.