The second day of the Fifth International Slow Food Congress opened today with a focus on youth and solidarity.
Following enthusiastic presentations from an international group of students from Italy’s University of Gastronomic Sciences, and a presentation from young Americans involved in the Slow Food USA Slow Food on Campus program, representatives from the Villahermosa Slow Food food community took the stage, to recount in few but eloquent words the immense disaster – ecological, economic and social – that has battered their region in recent days.
The crisis, described by Mexican President Calderon as “one of the worst natural catastrophies in the history of Mexico”, has impacted 70% of residents of the state of Tabasco. Of the two and a half millioni citizens, many of whom are farmers, half of these have been severely effected by the floods over 20,000 square kilometers. The daily life, economy and hope of an entire region have been submerged by a blanket of water which is up to four meters deep in some points, with more than 300,000 evacuees and an almost total destruction of local agricultural production.
“Dear friends of the community of food production”, began Alma Rosa Garces.
“I come from the most fertile hills of this wonderful country, which has welcomed you with joy and passion. Today, you can no longer see these hills, as they are submerged in the flood-waters and mud”.
In similar words to Carlo Petrini’s speech a day earlier, Alma Rosa stated “we take this tragedy as a sign from nature, that must direct us to developing a relationship with the land which is less negligent and irresponsible”.
“We are here to inform you that this has had a devastating impact on our people and agriculture and to ask for you assistance as we rebuild our future”. Rosa invited the Congress not to forget these friends, who won a Slow Food Prize for Biodiversity in 2001 and today are part of the Terra Madre network.
An initial proposal from the Congress to assist this community, ratified with applause by delegates, is to donate the proceeds of all sales of Slow Food books and merchandise sold during the Congress in Mexico, to this community. Further, Slow Food Switzerland, Slow Food Italy and Slow Food San Francisco immediately announced they would each make a donation of, respectively, 7000 euro, 15000 euro and 7000 dollars. In addition, Congress delegates are making individual donations.
Within the next few days, we will inform you how you can also make a direct contribution to assist the future of farmers in Tabasco.