The Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities or CBDIO) was created in 1993 by the Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB) to serve the indigenous migrant communities from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico that reside in California, United States (US). Different sources affirm that there are more than two hundred thousand indigenous from that State residing in the U.S. Of the more than 60 different indigenous communities that remain alive in Mexico, the following are the ones with the largest representation in California: Zapotecs, Triquis, Chatinos, Chinantecos and Mixes (from the state of Oaxaca), Mixtecs (from the state of Oaxaca and Guerrero) and P’uhrépechas (from Michoacan). Each of our communities have its own language and culture that differentiate us from one another, however all indigenous people face similar problems in our hometowns, as well as to the places we have migrated.

Since its foundation as a non-profit entity, CBDIO has been dedicated to implement projects on worker’s rights, which provides orientation, education, training, counseling and referrals. The organization has also promoted intensive training on professional ethics of indigenous interpreters, to serve as a medium of communication between monolingual indigenous migrants and various government agencies and other entities. Likewise, CBDIO has also worked to increase the participation of indigenous women in the life of the migrant community by providing training and promotion of gender equality, so that they may exercise self-determination in their civic lives. CBDIO also promotes health education on prevention and treatment of different illnesses. This facilitates the access to health and social services and helps the indigenous migrants get the necessary information that drives them to make improvements in their life conditions and to have access to health services as prevention in order to avoid complications in their health.

On the organization’s tenth anniversary, we developed the first strategic plan so it could guide us in the fulfillment of our vision and mission. In the retreat in March of 2007 in Cambria, California, we updated our first Strategic Plan and in July 2010, we conducted a second strategic planning gathering at Three Rivers, California. As a result of such analysis, we decided to work in the next three years in the following strategic areas; Health, Civic and Community Participation, Culture and Education; Capacity Building for the Organization; Economic Development and Youth Development. Months before its 20th anniversary, the CBDIO’s family that consists of the Board of Directors, Staff and Volunteers, met in Cambria, California to analyze the trajectory of the organization and to decide the strategic areas in which to focus our work in the next five years (2013-2018).

It is important to highlight that throughout the two decades that CBDIO has worked for and with the indigenous communities, we have been able to identify the most pressing problems and needs that affect our communities. For example, the changes in life style and the fact that we need to navigate a health system that is so foreign to us, has endangered the individual and community health of indigenous migrants. Not being able to speak English and in many cases not even Spanish, the limited knowledge of the U.S. laws, the lost of our native languages, the discrimination and pressure to assimilate, are some of the many problems that CBDIO has identified.

To cope with these problems, CBDIO leaders selected the aforementioned strategic areas that directly address and put into practice the organization’s mission. Furthermore, such areas are directly related to CBDIO’s vision, since they aim to promote the wellbeing and self-determination of the indigenous communities by developing knowledge and skills in different realms (social, economic, cultural) and by promoting the civic participation. It is worth noting that community civic participation is not only a strategic area with its own goal and objectives, but it is an integral element present in all CBDIO’s programmatic activities.

Likewise, CBDIO has remained attentive to the reality and needs of indigenous immigrants. Hence, to the strategic areas that were included in previous strategic plans (Health, Civic Participation, Education and Culture and Capacity Building) we have added two more areas: Economic Development and Youth Development, as a response to the changes that the indigenous communities have experienced. For example, many of the families who immigrated in the 1980s and 1990s now have children who are youth with very specific needs and interests, such as knowing how to pursue higher education. Moreover, the scarcity of jobs in the agriculture sector that has been aggravated by the national economic crisis, leads to the challenge of finding alternative ways to generate income to support our families.

Retreat in July of 2010: Process of Strategic Planning:

In July 16-18, 2010, we had a strategic planning retreat at Three Rivers, California. The Board of Directors came together with the staff of the offices of Greenfield, Hollister, Fresno and Los Angeles and volunteers. The purpose was to revise the organization’s Strategic Plan and update it based on the experiences of the work that has been done in the prior years. The 2010-2013 Strategic Plan is based on the experiences and the collective vision of all the participants in the gathering. Our board of directors approved this document on September 24, 2011 in the City of Fresno.

Retreat of March 2013:
Strategic Planning Process

In March 22-24 2013, we had a strategic planning retreat in Cambria, California. The Board of Directors convened with the staff and volunteers of the offices in Greenfield, Fresno, Santa Maria and Los Angeles. The purpose was to revise the organization’s Strategic Plan and update it based in the experiences of the work that has been done in the last years and the current community needs. This document reflects the Strategic Plan 2013-2018, which is based in the experiences and the collective vision of all the retreat’s participants. Our Board of Directors approved this plan in April 29, 2013 in the City of Los Angeles, California.

CBDIOs’ Background

Given the challenges faced by Oaxacan indigenous migrants in the United States, leaders of community organizations joined forces to establish in 1991 the organization that is now known as Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations, FIOB). This organization is made up of Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Triquis, and Purepechas; it has carried out a number of activities to defend and advance the rights of indigenous peoples on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border. Although, initially, the FIOB’s work focused on organizing the community to draw attention to the needs of the Oaxacan people, it also had a vision toward providing direct support to the community through specific programs.

For that reason, in December 18, 1993, FIOB’s leaders registered Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, Inc. (CBDIO, Inc.) as a nonprofit organization with the US authorities so it can receive funding to implement, on both sides of the border, projects on education, economic development and training. CBDIO is registered under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS.

Although FIOB and CBDIO coordinate their work together to benefit the indigenous community, an autonomous and independent board of directors governs the CBDIO. The board is formed by four officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer) and five directors, all people who are notable for their leadership skills and deep knowledge of the community’s needs. The CBDIO also has an advisory board made up of individuals of different professional backgrounds including university professors, lawyers and researchers. CBDIO’s staff consists of an Executive Director, an Accountant Manager, Programa Coordinators, Community Workers and volunteers.

With regards to CBDIO’s legal office, it was initially located in San Jose, California. In 1994, the organization’s office moved to Santa Cruz, where it remained until 1998 when it moved to Fresno. Other important milestone in CBDIO’s organizational structure was the creation in 2001 of the Executive Director position. In March 2003, an office was opened in Los Angeles. Years later CBDIO opened two more offices to serve the needs of the growing indigenous community. On October 15 2004 the Santa Maria office was opened and in September 13 2006 the Greenfield office.