Taxco el Viejo is a small village in the mountains of the state of Guerrero and is home to the jewelry cooperative Union Progresista Artesanal (UPA). Because farming and the occasional sale of a piece of jewelry did not provide enough income to support a family, in 1987 the original members of UPA founded the cooperative with a commitment to raise family incomes by producing and marketing their products collectively and to promote community development projects.
Today, UPA has become a successful fair trade cooperative. While many people in the surrounding area of Guerrero have been forced to migrate in search of work, the members of UPA are able to earn a living wage and have stable work throughout the year. UPA focuses on supporting impoverished single mothers from their community through training, with the goal of full time employment. UPA also supports the community by responding to needs as they arise. In the past, they have initiated garbage collection campaigns, school donations, and youth programs.
Manuel Alvarez, jewelry maker and current president of the cooperative, says about his work with UPA, 'We have the basics of what we need like food and schooling. Now we can look for other activities, have more choices. I like working here because this work has a meaning. I can see the cause and the effect of what we are doing, and that is gratifying."
Meet artisans who work with UPA (printable PDFs and videos):