Photo: Patrick O´Heffernan.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic, Jal) Last weekend Ajijicans joined with over 8 million people who thronged streets in capitals around the world to demand action to slow climate change. The march was organized by the Lake Chapala Chapter of Democrats Abroad, the largest of the 7 Mexican Chapters of the global organization Democrats Abroad. The march in Ajijic along the Carretera paralleled marches, demonstrations and strikes organized by Global Climate Strike, a worldwide coalition of hundreds of organizations and spearheaded by 16-year old Greta Thunberg of Sweden.
Seminario Laguna talked separately with the organizers of the Ajijic March, Democrats Abroad Executive Committee Member Stephanie Sedway and Board Chairman John Boothby
Ajijic’s march to stop climate change.
Laguna. Stephanie, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. How did you go about organizing the march in Ajijic?
Stephanie Sedway. It was not difficult. The national Climate Strike organization provided us with graphics and information. We posted them to social media, to all of the Ajijic/Chapala Facebook groups, and some of our members even made presentations in schools.
Laguna. How many people turned out?
Stephanie. I don’t know exactly, but when I did a head count there were 125. More may have joined, as we walked by.
Laguna. Were you in touch with the national Climate Strike organization?
Ajijic’s march to stop climate change.
Stephanie. Yes. Like I said they provided graphics and information. They have a very useful organizing website ( https://globalclimatestrike.net/). I send them photos of our march, but I have not seen them on their follow up posts yet. (Climate Strike continues to post photos and videos from marches around the world, so Ajijic may be on the site at some point.)
Laguna. Were any local Mexicans involved in the organizing or in the March?
Stephanie. Not in the organizing, but we did see some Mexicans at the March, although they may have already been there and joined us. Some of our members did make presentations at local schools.
Laguna. What can people in Ajijic do to slow climate change?
Stephanie. I preach against single use plastic and try to do my part avoiding plastic bottles, straws plastic containers. I try to use electricity and water carefully and encourage recycling. That is a good start.
Laguna. Do you know if climate change has affected Lakeside?
Stephanie. I don’t know about Lakeside but it affected Las Vegas and Los Angeles where I grew up. My friends who used to comment on 102 degrees in Vegas now talk about 115, and the occasional heat waves of my childhood in LA are now almost constant.
Laguna. Is this what motivated you to organize the march?
Stephanie. We each need to take responsibility to do what we can to stop the imminent crisis and save our children and grandchildren.
Laguna. John, you are Chairman of the Lake Chapala Chapter of Democrats Abroad. What is Democrats Abroad?
John Democrats Abroad represents Americans living temporarily or permanently outside of the USA. We are a constituent member of the Democratic Party. We are the 51st state. We have delegates at the Democratic National Convention and we have our own primary.
Laguna. Why did Democrats Abroad take up the issue of climate change and organize a March in Ajijic?
John. Several, if not all, of our board members were aware of the upcoming Climate Strike. At the Executive Committee Meeting we decided that we wanted to have a presence here in Ajijic and to alert the community and educate people about the strike and the global climate crises.
Laguna. Do you know if Lakeside has been affected by climate change?
John. I am not sure we know, but it is logical to say if we don’t feel it now, we will feel an impact in the future. Storms are getting more dangerous and frequent around the world. It will affect us at some point. Reports of serious impacts by 2050 should be sobering to everyone. The current Administration is actively trying to accelerate climate change through regulation rollbacks, policies, and Executive Orders to make the climate crisis worse.
Laguna. What can the people of Lakeside do to slow climate change?
John. Democrats Abroad does not have an official position on that, but the consensus among members was the need for a drastic reduction on the reliance on fossil fuel, the US re-engagement in the Paris Climate Agreement, recycling like Reciclaje Ajijic, and emphasis on renewable energy sources. Being an organization that represents ex-pats, the most important things they can do is register and vote for candidates who will support laws and policies that slow climate change. That is the easy step. We also need to educate ourselves and work with the local Mexican population.
Laguna. Does the Democrats Abroad plan to continue to promote interest in climate change?
John. You can count on it. Many of our members are interested and Stephanie has a passion for it.