June 30, 2015

The Casa de Salud power struggle

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Casa de Salud

We appreciate reporter Andy Lyman’s framing of the current situation at Casa de Salud as a power struggle. It reminds us of the famous adage: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We encourage those at Casa who are shedding light on the mechanisms operating there that concentrated decision making into the hands of a powerful few. As we understand it, these mechanisms include giving more than 51% voting weight to just two people on the clinic governing team, one of whom is Dr. Ziwasimon­Zeller and having no true voting board of directors member seats for community representation. We hope that, like the phoenix, a restored dream arises from the crisis. We say: let more come to light.

We say so because this incident is an opportunity to restore Casa de Salud to its community roots. Originally in 2005, it was Topahkal (House of Our Medicine) Health Collaborative, a project of the healing center already established in 1996 by traditional healers, Kalpulli (Community) Izkalli (House of the Light/Resurgence).

Many hands and minds poured their labor and sweat into building the Topahkal, not just Dr. Z. We would ask how it came about that the Kalpulli was separated and concentrated power took over the clinic in 2007 when it was reformed as Casa de Salud? In 2009, it became an official non­profit 501(c)3 organization. We ask how could $30,000 be removed from a non­profit account singlehandedly without others in the organization knowing about it? Equally important, how do we keep from repeating the same mistakes that might happen if power is simply handed over to leadership rooted in the old mechanisms and structures when they are the source of the current crisis? Doesn’t it make more sense to change the mechanisms and structures?

Let’s open all those closet doors, take out the calaveras as well as the buenas obras and move collectively to a better healing center than the current model allows. The community deserves a model with its needs first, as defined by the community, and with community at the decision making table. Let’s use this time well for transformation/Xipelotec.

Signed: Allies of the original “Dream” of a community clinic now called Casa de Salud

“Dream” Representatives: Maria Brazil, Carletta Bullock, Amalia Montoya