flesl.net paired stories: conversation: Felipe Arreaga

web address: flesl.net/Reading/Stories/Series2/Felipe_A/FelipeA_conversation.php

in the long/short run:
period of time extending into distant/near future

back (vb):
support, help, protect

surroundings, nature

fight, try very hard

large company

beat, win a victory over

use (usually negative connotation)

doomed (vb):
not able to survive (exist) for long

make modern

rich, wealthy

in the country

not possible to avoid

go in the direction of

done in the old way

(in someone’s) interest (n):
to someone’s advantage, benefit

run out of:
have no more of

cut down trees

keep at same level (so it will last forever)

small farmer

• conversation activities for ‘Felipe Arreaga’

• Discuss the following question with the other members of your group.

In the long run who will win, big international logging companies like Boise or small farmers like Felipe? And will life in places like the Petatlán mountains be better or worse as a result? :

possible “arguments”:

- the big companies will always win in the long run because they are backed by powerful people who are making a lot of money through them; those people don’t care about the environment and they don’t care about weak people like poor farmers.

- even if poor people struggling to defend their way of life against international corporations are defeated in the short run, they will win in the long run because their governments will realize that the environment must be protected.

- whether or not large corporations are allowed to continue exploiting the environment, the way of life of peasant farmers like Felipe and his friends is doomed. As poor countries modernise and become more prosperous, fewer and fewer poor farmers will be satisfied with a quiet rural life. They will inevitably develop different tastes and values and gravitate toward cities in the hopes of finding an easier and more interesting life.

- it’s important to see that the protecting the environment and protecting simple, traditional ways of life are two different things. Sooner or later corporations will see that it’s in their own, selfish interest to protect the environment (so they won’t run out of trees to cut down etc). But this doesn’t mean that people like Felipe and his fellow farmers will be protected. (For example, a logging company might buy the entire Petatlán region and log it sustainably while at the same time forcing all the peasants to leave.)

• Comparison

- read the story “Dorothy Stang” at:
then make a list of the similarities and differences between the two situations.

-discuss your list with other members of your group

• possible points of comparison:

-the location (climate, geography etc)

-the relative strength and determination of the the farmers

-the relative strength and determination of the businessmen

-the dependence of the farmers on outside help

-the attitudes of the Brazilian and Mexican governments

-the expertise and experience of the farmers