FAIR TRADE AND THE MEXICAN ARTISAN.
– Investigation –
The systematic exploitation of the traditional craftsman
Mexican in the Municipality of Taxco de Alarcón, Guerrero
1. Remove a person from your site fraudulently,
occupying his position or position, or assuming his functions.
2. Substitute one thing for another, especially fraudulently.
The Artcamp cooperative was founded in 1973 by Flavio Carteño Díaz as its first president. In 1995, Artcamp was one of the first members of The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) in the United States. At that time, The FTF was a confederation of artisans and international travellers and some small specialized retail stores, in the United States and Canada.
Artcamp paid the membership dues until 2009 when, without prior notice, the cooperative was deleted from the lists of members of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) and Global Crafts became the principle Fair Trade distributor of Artcamp when Kevin Ward and Renice Jones , owners of Global Crafts, of Florida USA, were Directors of The Fair Trade Federation (FTF).
The Fair Trade Federation is a 501c non-profit coporation and accepts donations. The FTF provides its members with a certification of Fair Trade products ensuring that they are imbued with humanitarian qualities, that the artisans who made the items were treated fairly, and that the merchant loyally adheres to the 10 Principles maintained by Fair Trade.
In 2009, the annual sales revenue of the Artcamp cooperative was more than
120,000usd$ / year. Ten families were employed earning a full work income in the production of home-workshop jewelry. After the problems with Global Crafts,
the cooperative’s annual income has collapsed to less than 25,000 usd$ / per year.
IMAGES OF CRAFTSMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES
Global Crafts insisted upon being supplied with images of artisans and their families.
They never took into consideration the fact that images represent a delicate
commitment for people and must be done with kindness, respect and sincerity.
But those of Fair Trade never asked us for the images in a good way. The record of our dialogues by G-mail demonstrates the arrogant attitude they <dopted. One understands that images of the artisans and family are necessary as a condition to receive an order.
The images of authentic artisans and their families began to circulate as the commercial stores of Fair Trade (the clients of Global Crafts) uploaded the personal images of the craftworkers’ families up onto the big screen of Internet.
All these retailers have paid membership in The Fair Trade Federation (FTF). They effectively issue a license for the public to know and assure them of what they themselves declare, Thus, traditional Mexican crafts become vulgar merchandise. With
these harmful practices, the Fair Trade merchants stain the genre of our unique crafts.
The handmade jewelry we make in our homes was acquired by Fair Trade wholesalers (Global Crafts, for example) at a low price unchanged since 2010. Global Crafts was very
a cold and cheap buyer. They never gave us a Christmas gift, nor even a friendly greeting.
Yet they blithely utilize the personal images of artisans and their families to make profits.
(Global Crafts sold more than 1 million usd$ of Artcamp jewelry in the years 2000-2018.)
Global Crafts of Florida, USA abetted by The Fair Trade Federation in the USA,
included a humanitarian component as an value-added, in the wholesale price.
The first artisanal narrations were written in 2000-2002, by young women who worked
in the Artcamp jewelry shop. The stories of their personal lives are innocent and pleasant.
Details of the jewelry manufacturing process are included in the accounts. The personal thoughts of the artisan, including her descriptions of herself and her family, and the circumstances of her inner life as transparent expressions are are vividly compelling.
In those years, Artcamp was a member of FTF and contributed to Fair Trade, creative collaboration, including the artisan narrations and images of one’s own initiative. The cooperative still possesses the original letters hand written by those hoperful women
Throughout the years, Fair Trade distributors took our letters as models and produced a style of commercial advertising genre entirely based on them. Today, in 2019, hundreds of Fair Trade websites present this style of artisan narrative, for the commercialization of Third World hand craft products.
The mimicking or counterfeting of personal narratives is another telling example of the obsessive Fair Trade practice of supplanting the identity of traditional Mexican artisans.
Along the way, Global Crafts registered the “Artisana” brand. Not only the faulty spelling in Spanish, yet also this name is an intentional plagiarism, indicating a clear intention to seize or kidnap that space in the mind of a potential buyer, where the good opinion and positive image of “Artesanas Campesinas” resides.
It is another example of how Fair Trade merchants systematically impersonate the artisan.
And always leaving the good name of the traditional Mexican artisans lowered in its value.
The identity theft identified by traditional Mexican artisans is not the result of a whim or an accidental case. It is a system of moral theft of the essence of who we really are as human beings. This appropriation is a true conspiratorial crime against the Original People, especially for traditional artisans who exemplify the creative spirit of the mexican people.
Today, in 2019, when Artcamp addresses the Fair Trade market, a negative reply is the result; even some stores that were always good customers and happy, became bitter critics. This, because Artcamp had differences with “Global Crafts”. (Directors of the Fair Trade Federation). These old Artcamp clients have responded to our communication with allegations that we are ungrateful and traitors, all because the owners of Global Crafts
filled their ears with misrepresentations. The Board Chairwoman of The Fair Trade Federation, Patricia Pearson sentenced us as thieves, but without allowing us to testify.
THE FALSIFICATION OF ARTISAN CULTURE
Between March and July of the present year (2019) Global Crafts eliminated the image on its website of an artisan, Adelesia and replaced it with the image of a man polishing a piece of jewelry with a small electric motor on a dirt floor.
The jewelry styles creations of the Artcamp cooperative -now they are accompanied by
a vague statement about the generic craftspeople of Mexico had made them, followed by
a long exposition about the cooperative of the Unión Progresista Artesenal (UPA)
of the neighboring town of Taxco El Viejo, Municipality of Taxco de Alarcón, Guerrero.
The suggestion is that UPA is already in the place of Artcamp, and that the UPA is the current source of the designs. This incident demonstrates the arbitrary and artificial attitude of Fair Trade vendors towards the intellectual property rights of artisans.
The impersonation of Adalesia’s image on the Global Crafts website by an image
of an anonymous artisan shows that Fair Traders employ these practices by system.
On the Internet you can find a number of examples of the impersonation of the
identities of artisans. The victims of Guatemala, Peru, Africa, and all over the world.
Fair Trade’s commercial distributors not only hijack the creations of the artisans,
they also hijack the identities of the artisans themselves. An important element of the offer that Fair Trade offers its clients is that the jewelry can be resold with confidence ,
(FTF wholesalers to > FTF retailers and by the FTF Retailers >to the public)
all the while the consumer is guaranteed that those who made the piece were remunerated and treated with generosity and are able to live as artisans with a minimum of dignity.
Thus, Fair Trade brand jewelry descends the commercial chain with this false guarantee, because the Fair Trade Federation has included this condition as a value-added feature included in the price. Therefore, not only a commercial distributor is considered as the issuer of this humanitarian guarantee, yet also a series of commercial re-sellers take full commercial advantage of this rhetorical humanitarian proclamantions that everything possible has been done to help and benefit the artisans.
THEFT OF CULTURE
Humble people lack financial resources and Fair Trade wholesalers always pay as little as possible for their creative work. Often, apart from one’s hard work, the only thing that the Mexican really has is his or her native culture, and this is recognized as if it were money
by the sophisticated consmopolitan merchants who take-over our culture, as if they own it.
The Aztec and Mayan gods, the Virgin of Guadalupe, everything and anything that makes sense to the common person is taken over by commercial intruders without any payment.
The website of Costello International (an leading member of The Fair Trade Federation) begins as follows: “We distribute a living folk art. Each piece is unique, collectible,
made in the home of an artisan and certified Fair Trade merchandise.
We are the leading global distributor of these traditional Mexican crafts. “
However, Costello is a notorious cheap-payer and has a very bad reputation among artisans. He obtains in the tianguis (flea market) the jewelry that he exports without concern for the cost of production, then he offers it to the market, calling it: “a living art”.
SYSTEMATIC IDENTITY THEFT
The foreign merchant of Fair Trade envies the colorful culture of the Mexican artisan
and for that reason, is always pretending to the prospective client in the market that its particular money-making business were identical in character and in the intentions of the traditional authentic artisans, those persons who create and make the jewelry, and this, while treating people with unfeeling and distant way, as if we were their servants.
COMMON PRACTICES OF BUSINESS MEMBERS OF THE FAIR TRADE FEDERATION
1. Totally arbitrary accounting practices not adhering to ordinary commercial norms.
2. Supplantation of artisan identity and misappropriation of the images of artisan families.
3. Refusal to recognize the right of artisans to rights over their own designs.
4. Gives the public the false assurance that the artisan and his family receive benefits.
5. Demanding artisans to make original models with no intention of paying them.
6. Slander against any artisan who dares to complain.
7. Exclusion of the Mexican artisan from the United States market.