The Tumin Project and The Tlaloc Barters Group ∗ Mexico

The Tumin Project 
Mercado Alternativo y Economia Solidaria (El Tumin) 
Alternative Barter System for local development
Espinal, Veracruz, Mexico

The Tlaloc Barters Group
Red de Multitrueque Tlaloc (Red Tlaloc)
Alternative Barter System for local development 
Mexico City, Mexico

The Tumin and the Tlaloc are vouchers that are complementary to the peso, the Mexican currency. They seek to support family income, serving to help the development of an alternative exchange dynamic: the barter system (which used to be the traditional exchange system in the region).

Both the Tumin Project and The Tlaloc Barters Group’ central objective is reducing their communities’ dependency on the peso-based national economy, which doesn’t guarantee that resources flow into their localities, pushing their inhabitants to migrate or live in poverty.

By capitalizing on and promoting social trust and solidarity through the use of alternative currencies, the aim of their projects is to enhance social cohesion to improve the lives of the communities— which made these two cases of great help for exploring the significance and means for self-sufficiency.

The Tumin project operates in a rural area of Veracruz, Mexico, deeply affected by poverty and its cyclical causes and consequences, meaning: the dependence resulting from the lack of means of production (people work lands that are not theirs or sell foreign products to survive), the violence permeating the State in the context of the country’s war on drugs, social divisiveness based on class, ethnicity, etc.

All this persists, despite the extensive intervention in the area of various poverty reduction government programs. For that reason, in 2010 local university teachers created an alternative market project popularly known as “The Tumin Project” as a tool to boost the local economy. This was inspired by the Tlaloc Barters Group, which has operated from Mexico City since 1996 promoting alternative barter markets (of products and services). The project promotes the circulation of goods which had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place, and reduces external dependence on resources and on the values from the printing and distribution of economic currency.

The Tumin is a voucher complementary to the peso, the Mexican currency. It seeks to support family income and serves aid the development of an alternative exchange dynamic: the barter system (which actually used to be the traditional exchange system in the region).

Vouchers are used to exchange goods with value equal to (but not worth) 1 Mexican Peso ($ 0.08 USD approx.), backed up by the goods and services offered by its partners, which are listed in a directory so that its members can compromise to support each other. A coordinating team, which is rotatory (ensuring the equitable representation of and responsibilization of all of the members) monitors and evaluates the project. It is made up of Commissions (education, communication, etc.) that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the project, ensuring its integrative character.

The community contributes with volunteer work (e.g. the promoters), the payment and collection of Tumins, facilities for holding the assemblies, a space for Tumin’s House (the project’s head office), and 5% of the value of the partners’ products sold at the Tumin’s House to cover administrative costs. They also contribute with their participation in assemblies and other meetings, and with the payment of the Tumin house’s staff. This participation has enabled the project to sustain itself so far, despite the organizers’ complaint about the difficulties they have had in gaining the trust of the people and enhancing their solidarity and participation, which they claim to be the result, mainly, of people’s habituation to government’s “welfarist” assistance, the corruption that permeated them, local cultural/class/ethnic-based divisionism, and people’s lack of clarity on concrete means to participate.