page updated April 14, 1998
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Text of AAWS Inc. Copyright License Agreement with Central Mexicana
1. AA MEXICO/TWO FACTIONS...a brief summary
3. Enclosed letter to Central Mexico - Letter sent to Central Mexicana on February 17, 1994
4. July 25, 1994 letter from Dr. Jose Ignacio Guzman Mejia, Chairman of Section Mexico General Service Board, to Chairman of A.A. World Services, Inc.
7. August 10, 1994 letter to the General Service Conference from the Chair of the General Service Board, Jim Estelle.
8. August 15, 1994 letter from Saul ., Class B Trustee of Section Mexico to George D., General Manager, GSO,
This is a long documentation. For fast download and off-line study Click here!
10. Highlights from the A.A.W.S. Board meeting, October 27, 1994
12. August 24, 1994 letter from Dennis B., past delegate, to Xavier M., Section Mexico.
14. History of Mexican Copyright Licenses distributed by the General Service Office in New York.
15. A Letter Written by a Delegate that attended the 1987 General Service Conference - at this Conference Article Two was Changed to reflect the Policy of AAWS to grant exclusive licesing to One Service Structure per Country.
16. A Letter from A Class B Regional Trustee to the General Service Board Regarding the "Mexican Situation." Northeast Regional Trustee
17. A Letter from a past Delegate to a member of Section Mexico, dated October 4, 1994
18. A letter, dated December 23, 1994, from a then current Delegate to the Chairperson of the Report and Charter Committee Chairperson Regarding Article Two, Paragraph 4 of the Current Conference Charter.
20. Document in which Wayne P.'s name appears as the "Author" of our AA literature.
21. Highlights from A.A.W.S. - December 15, 1994
24. "AA As A Whole" - Presentation given by Dennis B., presented at 10:30 AM on November 26, 1994 - Cuemavaca, Mexico
25. A letter, dated December 7, 1994, to the General Manager of GSO, George D. from a past Delegate concerning a AA Worldwide literature `Cartel.'
27. Dr. Guzman, Chairman of the General Service Board of Section Mexico to Jim Estelle, Chairman of the General Service Board of US/Canada - dated February 8, 1995
29. January 6, 1995 letter to Jim Estelle, Chairman of the General Service Board US/Canada from a Region Trustee member of the General Service Board regarding Section Mexico's "Petition of Grievance" to be placed on the Agenda of the General Service Conference.
30. February 12, 1995 letter from the Trustees' Conference Committee Secretary to the Regional Trustee regarding his request for the "Grievance Petition" from Section Mexico to be placed on the Conference Agenda.
31. February 22, 1995 letter from Regional Trustee, Jake H. to Secretary of the Trustees' Conference Committee/GSO Staff/Conference Coordinator, Valerie O'N.
32. The Chairman of the General Service Board reply back to the Regional Trustee in regard to his request for transcripts of the 1987-1988 General Service Conference-Article Two change.
34. January 6, 1995 letter from the then currant Delegate of Panel 45/Area 65 to Valerie, Secretary of the Trustees Conference Committee/Conference Coordinator, regarding Section Mexico's "Petition of Grievance."
35. March 2, 1995 letter to the General Service Conference from a past Delegate regarding Article Two of the Conference Charter.
36. 1995 letter from the then current Delegate from Virginia to the Chairman of the General Service Board, Jim Estelle (note: the only last names used are those of non-alcoholics; for the sake of anonymity, only first names, last initials of A.A. members are used.
37. April 6, 1995 letter from past General Service Trustee Harold G. to then current General Service Trustee, Mike McP. Regarding the Article Two change in 1987.
38. Letter, dated April 14, 1995 from a past Delegate to Harold G. past General Service Trustee regarding Harold's April 6th letter to General Service Trustee, Mike McP.
39. May 8, 1995 letter from former General Service Trustee, Harold G. in answer to letter write him on April 14, 1995.
42. The 1995 General Service Conference's action, or more exact, inaction, on the "Petition of Grievance" from Section Mexico.
48. August 24, 1995 letter to James A., DCM from Area 72 from Alberto P., AA Magazine Controller, Section Mexico
49. September 16, 1995 letter from Dr. Guzman, Chairman of the General Service Board, Section Mexico to the members of the General Service Conference US/Canada
50. October 16, 1995 letter, from then current Delegate from Panel 45/Area 65 to the Conference Coordinator/GSO Staff, Richard B.
51. December 24, 1995 letter from past Delegate, Annemarie M., Panel 39-Area 30, to Dr. Guzman, Chairman of the General Service Board, Section Mexico and AA members
52. PRESENTATION ON UNITY, MEXICO - JUNE 11, 1995, Given by past Delegate from Area 65/Panel 41
53. A Panel 45 Delegate's Report on the 1996 General Service Conference, As Report in their Area Newsletter
54. From a talk given to Section Mexico in November, 1996 by a Panel 45-Area 65 Delegate
55. Our Primary Purpose Forum Newsletter Article, Written by Dennis McB.
56. Taken from the January, 1997 General Service Board Minutes Trustees' Committee on the General Service Conference
57. February 17, 1997 letter to the Chairman of the General Service Board from the Trustees' on the General Service Board, Section Mexico
59. AGENDA ITEM from the Maine AA Area Newsletter, The Boomerang
60. FIRST A.A. WORLD SERVICE INTERNATIONAL MEETING IN MEXICO June 6, 7, 8, 1997
62. The February 18, 1998 "Petition of Grievance" from Section Mexico to the 1998 General Service Conference
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MEXICO/TWO FACTIONS...a brief summary
The 1st faction, Central Mexicana, obtained permission to exercise its legal right against the infringing faction, Section Mexico, from A.A. World Services, Inc. in February of 1994. After the Mexican authorities confiscated the literature from Section Mexico, Section Mexico wrote a letter to the General Service Conference, USA/Canada, petitioning for the redress of a personal grievance. A response was not immediately forthcoming. The General Service Board decided that it was an "internal problem" in Mexico-they believed that everything was `legal'; the Spiritual intent of Concept V was not considered. An interesting question arises; if we have taken the authority by changing the Conference Charter, Article II, do we not also have to take the responsible? This also brings up whether or not, by this change in the Conference Charter, we have gone against Warranty Six in Concept XII.
The following background information has been re-typed, verbatim, from various letters, documents, and other supporting materials in regard to the issue of, "Mexico - Two Factions."
The material is presented in chronological order.
We hope this material will help clarify the, "Mexico Situation."
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February 10, 1994 - Letter from the General Manager of GSO to the A.A. World Service, Inc. Directors
To: AAWS Directors
After further communication between our attorneys and the attorneys for the (Central) Mexican General Service Board, as well as between GSO and GSO (Central) Mexico, it has been clarified that a letter as per the attached should suffice to permit the (Central) Mexican General Service Board to proceed as is authorized by the License Agreement that we gave them. Please note that the letter does not ask them to proceed but simply states that we have "no objection" to their taking action.
The (Central) Mexican General Service Board meets on February 26 and they would very much like to have the letter from us as it will be their last meeting before the (Central) Mexican General Service Conference. Their Conference, last year, asked the Board to take appropriate steps to protect copyrighted material. Tom (GSO Services Director) or I will try to be in touch with each of you. If there appears to be a problem, we can try to arrange a conference call. We would, in any event, like to have a definite response to our Mexican friends by the end of the next week.
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Enclosed letter to Central Mexico - Letter sent to Central Mexicana on February 17, 1994
Central Mexicana de Cervicios Generales
We understand that you wish to take appropriate legal action for copyright and trademark infringement against infringers in Mexico. As you know, A.A.W.S. Inc., the trademark and copyright owner, has licensed its trademarks and copyrights to you. Paragraph 7 of the copyright license provides that you, as the Licensee, may take appropriate legal action regarding infringement in your own name. The purpose of this letter is to formally advise your that A.A.W.S, Inc. has no objection to your starting any legal action that you deem necessary to protect the copyrights and trademarks which have been licensed to you before any judicial or administrative authority, including but not limited to the Attorney General's Office, the Mexican
Trademark Office of the Commerce Department and the Copyright Office of the Commerce Department and the Copyright Office. Any such action will of course be at your cost.
Very truly yours,
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Mr. George D. General Manager
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July 25, 1994 letter from Dr. Jose Ignacio Guzman Mejia, Chairman of Section Mexico General Service Board, to Chairman of A.A. World Services, Inc.To: Michael McP.
July 25, 1994
Dear Fellow A.A.:
We're glad to say hi and afterwards we would like you to know about the events we have been going through, and which have just resulted in a crisis.
Since the beginning of the AA program in Mexico, a service structure named Central Mexicana de Servicios Generales, A.C. had been in charge of providing the general service to the groups in this country. However, on account of motives of money and power, the structure dangerously deviated from the AA traditions and principles. Notwithstanding, our efforts and requests to get Back to Basics, we weren't ever heard by the authorities, yes, the authorities within AA. All these facts have been gathered and are verbatim contained in our booklet, Regreso a lo Fundamental (Back to Basics). We named our withdrawal and new service structure movement after this expression.
Effective August 24th, 1986, about fifteen hundred AA groups in this country decided not to keep in with Central Mexicana de Servicios Generales, A.C., and simultaneously, we all approved the creation of a new general service structure, named General Service Conference, Mexico Section (Seccion Mexico de la Conferencia de Servicios Generales), as well as its two operating entities; the General Service Office and "Dimension" Magazine.
Through correspondence issued since 1984, addressed to the General Service Office and to the General Service Board in New York, all of the antecedents and the facts that came about were properly informed by us. For most of these letters we are certain that the same were received, but for the rest we still don't know about since we never got a response, not even as an acknowledgment of receipt.
In a reiterative way the reply from New York, particularly at the beginning, was in the sense of not getting involved in this matter. There was an emphasis on the fact that this structural problem would have to be solved internally, this is, in Mexico itself. However, sometime later and in an unusual and mysterious way, some letters from New York GSO asked us to refrain from printing and distributing any AA literature. Coincidentally, there was some correspondence through which NY GSO was granting the legal rights to Central Mexicana de Servicios Generales, so as to use, print and distribute the publications from AA World Services, Inc., as well as the granting of the license to Central Mexicana so as to register the trademarks, the logos and the name of Alcoholics Anonymous before the Mexican Government dependencies. It's clear that this sides-taking attitude by NY GSO, generated serious conflicts and confusion.
As per the agreement of both the AA groups and the Section Mexico of the Conference, the legal Chart for the General Service Board, as well as the two entities of service (General Service Office and "Dimension" Magazine) were duly legalized. Under this chart, the General Service Board has the duty of looking after the spiritual aspects and message of AA publications for its printing and distribution to the alcoholic members. The GSO has the responsibility to provide services as per The AA Service Manual, and the Dimension" Magazine publishes a bi-monthly magazine. The Trustees service committees are a vital importance in providing service to the members. All of this structural service keeps itself abiding by the principles from the Twelve Concepts for World Service and the Twelve Traditions of AA.
There are currently twenty-four hundred AA groups supporting our Section Mexico and this figure keeps increasingly growing and interested in the services that this Section Mexico provides.
We have deemed necessary this introduction, whereas through correspondence issued on February 19th, 1994 from AA World Service, Inc., subscribed by Thomas J., Service Director, Central Mexicana, A.C. was approved to sue our service entity, in care of printing and distributing AA literature, suing us also for using the name, "Alcoholics Anonymous" and for using the AA logo. An action thoroughly contradictory to one of the 43rd US/Canada General Service Conference conclusions about the AA logo, in which one paragraph states: "In the end, the Committee was in doubt about suing - `What would the benefit be in suing? We guess that the damage inside our Fellowship would be much worse than the harm done out of AA." (This is an indirect translation for where we got this quotation from was a Spanish version from the 43rd General Service Conference Final Conference Report) Anyway, isn't it this harm the same that has been done to the 2,400 AA groups we serve?
This last point of view is based on the trust we have toward the very same AA bedrock principles as well as our God-trusting way, which we have as the principle for our AA program, and also of our lives. We do also hope that the AA principles will serve t protect our beloved name. Warranty Five in one paragraph reads, "It seemed certain that we could confidently trust AA opinion, public opinion, and God Himself to take care of Alcoholics Anonymous in this respect.
Having this principle in mind, we don't get to understand the NY GSO attitude, which, in every aspect, seems to us to be out of AA Tradition spirit. Last July 5th, Central Mexicana sued criminally our service entity, Section Mexico (that is, the Section Mexico GSO) and in a shameful action, some Mexican law-enforcers, accompanied by several loaders, and two truck impounded our AA literature. It's a pity that our principles had been so abused. What about our Fifth Warranty? What about the money contributions according to Tradition Seven from the groups which, instead of being channeled to reach the still suffering alcoholic, will surely have to be paid as attorney's legal fees and expenses for both Central Mexicana, ourselves, and yet the ones yourselves might sometime need, due to this legal action?
For the above mentioned reasons and motives, and bearing in mind the important service that minorities achieve within AA as a whole, and abiding to the "Right of Appeal and the redress of personal grievance, we respectfully beg your to take into consideration, as well as to make way to our following petitions:
1. A redress of personal grievance for the facts and consequences which, painfully, took place because of the criminal suit from Central Mexicana, supported by A.A. World Services, Inc.2. A petition for your contribution in order to re-establish the unity of AA in Mexico, forfeiting every criminal suit against us through Central Mexicana.
3. To terminate the authorship license agreement between Central Mexicana and A.A. World Services, Inc.
4. Your issuing of a letter to Mexican prosecutors in the sense that A.A.World Services, Inc. does not legally protect any longer the use of Alcoholics Anonymous logo.
5. To submit for further analysis and discussion all the procedures that have been established through A.A. World Services, Inc. oriented to the granting or denying of the rights to print AA literature, considering that such literature is the sole patrimony of AA as a whole. This way, no service committee, no matter its responsibility level, shouldn't be ever able to regulate nor to pre-establish the groups' behavior, whereas otherwise is a flagrant violation to the Conference General Warranties.
6. To instruct the service premises (in this case the General Service Office) so that the letters and correspondence addressed to that section members will effectively be handed in to the consignees.
This is an emergency breakdown for Alcoholics Anonymous so if you deem it adequate, you may hold an extraordinary General Service Conference meeting, according to the procedures contained in Article IX of the Current Conference Charter.
We want you, fellow AAs, to take into account that the service structure of Section Mexico Conference is supported by and fully trained to service 2,400 AA groups; that the criminal suit filed by Central Mexicana, supported by A.A. World Services, Inc. is not but delaying the structural problem-solution in this country, whereas hindering the life message to the still suffering alcoholic.
We wouldn't like to say this but, if we don't get an adequate response to our Petition, we would be in the situation to consult the New York Bar of Attorneys, so we could have the advice in authorial-laws from those professionals, since not having your support, we'd be in a position of a legitimate defense.
Concept V says, "The well heard minority, therefore, our chief protection against an uninformed, misinformed, hasty or angry majority."
"All around us in the world today we are witnessing the tyranny of majorities and even worse, tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power. De Tocqueville would have neither, and we A.A.'s can heartily agree with him."
CONFERENCE: ALWAYS A GUARDIAN, NEVER A GOVERNMENT FOR A.A.
SERVICIOS GENERALES DE A.A. SECCION MEXICO
Dr. Ignacio Guzman Mejia - Chairman of the Section Mexico General Service Board, Fernado Iglesias Valdes - Secretary of the General Service Board Section Mexico-Trustee, Jose Antonio Villela Frutos-Treasurer of the General Service Board Section Mexico , Class A Trustee, Saul Castorena Monterrubio - Coordinator of Committee Section Mexico Class B Trustee
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July 25, 1994 letter from Dr. Jose Ignacio Guzman Mejia, Chairman of Section Mexico General Service Board, to the General Service Conference US/Canada.General Service Conference
E.E.U.U. & Canada Sections
By means of a letter addressed to the A.A. World Services, Inc. signed by Thomas J., we obtained information that the Service Director (Thomas J.) gave permission or authorizing the Central Mexicana de Servicios Generales de Alcoholicos Anonimos Section Mexico, A.C. to initiate legal actions VS. our Junta de Servicios Generales de Alcoholicos Anonimos Seccion Mexico, A.C. "accusing the organization for the responsibility of the utilization to authors rights gave to AA, and at the same time the "logo" and literature distribution of AA provokes public opinion antagonism that violates "principles that no government for AA."
By means of this on July the 5th, to the present year, in a poor, shameful action, they sent a judge order to enter to our offices, utilizing aggressively and violence to obtain our literature (policemen, chargers, lawyers at the control office and other people.)
Because of this on July the 9th, of the present year, we had an Extraordinary meeting of the General Service Conference, Section Mexico to valorate and send to you in an advise action, the document that avalate this and a legal inquire done to E.E.U. U. and Canada based on the Fifth Concept, copy of the legal edict that they presented versus our subsidiary, copy circumstantial act copy (in which we turned the actions done by the authorities brought by them).
If you need more information or ampliation of these inform we will send to you. If you want more comments to the present one, please communicate it to us and with pleasure we will ampliate to you.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Conference: "Always Guardian, Never Government to A.A."
Dr. Jose Ignacio Guzman Mejia
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August 9, 1994 letter from George D., General Manager of GSO to Dr. Guzman regarding Dr. Guzman's July 25, 1994 letter to the Chairman of A.A. World Services, Inc.
August 9, 1994
Dr. Ignacio Guzman
Dear Dr. Guzman,
We have received and reviewed the communication you sent to members of our Board and our Conference. We also acknowledge and appreciate the visit of Saul Castorena Monterrubio and Xavier Maza to GSO today and their explanation of your position.
At this time we are not in a position to respond to the statements or requests that you have made in any way. We are, as I indicated, giving this situation serious review and consideration and will further respond as soon as possible.
As we talked about during the visit, we hope and pray that all concerned in Mexico will strive with all their hearts to achieve unity and to preserve the loving and vital A.A. Fellowship that exists throughout your country. As I indicated to you, and have offered to Central Mexico, we would be willing to do anything we could to assist our Mexican brothers and sisters in their search for unity.
Yours very truly,
cc: Central Mexicana de Servicios Generales de A.A., A.C.
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August 10, 1994 letter to the General Service Conference from the Chair of the General Service Board, Jim Estelle.August 10, 1994
To: All Conference Members
From: W. J. (Jim) Estelle, Jr. - Chairman, General Service BoardRe: Mexican Copyright Situation
By now, most of you have probably received a package of mail from Mexico. The mailing list may have been taken from a 1993 Conference Report, as we believe the package was not sent to Panel 44 delegates and if any others of you did not receive the mailing, contact Pat at GSO for copies. As briefly as possible, this is the background of the situation:
· The Conference Charter of the United States and Canada provides (The A.A. Service Manual, S31), "In countries where a General Service Structure exists, the United States/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of that structure." Complying with the Charter, AAWS has historically granted licenses to foreign General Service Boards to publish approved translations of AAWS copyrighted literature. The exclusive licenses carry with them the right to protect the licenses (copyrights) in their countries. Without this right the exclusive license would afford no protection.
· We have been aware of Mexican unity problems since the mid-1980's when "Section Mexico" was formed as a new service board out of what had been some areas in their Mexican General Service Conference (Central Mexicana) structure. Since this occurred, we have continually appealed to the Mexican A.A.s to work towards resolving their differences and achieve unity. Three of our general managers - John B., Wayne P., and George D. - have urged them to come together and attempt to resolve their difficulties.
· Board members from Section Mexico visited GSO (in the late 1980's) regarding permission to publish AAWS-copyrighted literature. The request was declined on the basis that the preexisting service board held the exclusive license.
· Section Mexico proceeded to publish AAWS-copyrighted material. Wayne P. and John B. before him, wrote Section Mexico regarding the copyright violations. Section Mexico refused to discontinue the sale of the materials.
· AAWS took no action absent an indication as to what the Central Mexicana Conference wanted to do-again feeling it was a Mexican problem and hoping they would find a way to resolve it. In late 1993, the Central Mexicana Board advised GSO that their Conference had requested that they take action to stop Section Mexico's publication of materials for which Central Mexicana possessed the exclusive license.
· The Central Mexicana Board was advised by their lawyers that the Mexican courts would require a letter from AAWS requesting or authorizing legal action. AAWS balked at the proposed language and finally sent a letter stating simply that AAWS had "no objection" to
· action taken in their own name to protect the copyrights licensed to them. Had this not been done, the exclusive license AAWS had given the Central Mexicana Board and the position they had taken regarding their role as sole publisher in Mexico would have been ineffective.
· *AAWS was not a party to the Mexican legal action, did not pay for it, or control it. AAWS receives no income from literature published by Central Mexicana.
· In conversations with the general manager of GSO, Central Mexicana and with their board members, we have continuously counseled restraint and repeatedly offered whatever help we could give to resolve differences. We have had no communication with or appeal from Section Mexico since they rejected Wayne P.'s request prior to the package sent to Conference members.
A present and former board member of Section Mexico visited GSO and met with the general manager on August 9, 1994. They delivered the enclosed letter (the following letter-number 8). The response, also attached (included in number 8), was given to them before they left.
We believe that this is an internal Mexican AA problem. We are gathering input to determine what response should be made. We do not feel that any of us should jump to conclusions, take precipitous action, or do much else at this point but pray for the continued sobriety and improved unity of our friends in Mexico.
We have once again made known our offer to be of any possible assistance, whatever, that could be of help to our Mexican friends in resolving their differences. You can be sure our Conference members will be kept informed.
With warm regards,
* (note from editor)...this is not true. Consider the following quote from AAWS General Manager George D. concerning the foreign licensing agreements, "Our licensing agreements have also included a REQUIREMENT that the necessary actions to protect the copyrights which were licensed." So, contrary to AAWS statement that they had no part in Central Mexicana's suing Section Mexico, this is not true...Central Mexicana had to sue, according to AAWS's licensing agreement.
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August 15, 1994 letter from Saul ., Class B Trustee of Section Mexico to George D., General Manager, GSOGeorge D.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc.
Grand Central Station
P.O. Box 459
New York, NY 10163
August 15, 1994
Thank you again for your kind reception and please accept our apologies for not having been able to announce our visit.
It's always a great pleasure to be in the cordial and warm atmosphere of the GSO. Please extend our thanks to everyone who helped us and made our visit so pleasant.
We will be waiting with great expectation the communication announced in your letter delivered to us an dated August 9. We do hope that together we might avoid a shameful public confrontation derived from a criminal legal process between brothers.
Following please find and extract of the main points of our conversation. We hope to have made a faithful synthesis. If not, please let us know and we will certainly correct any misinterpretations in which we might have undeliberately (sic) occur.· We learned from you that A.A. World Services, Inc. was not aware of any criminal legal process versus the Junta de Servicios Generales. The term legal action meant to World Services legal copyrights protection only. Also, you did not have any intentions of criminal pursuance.
· We leaned from you that in accordance with the Conference Charter, A.A. World Services policy is to have one literature publisher per country. Since you have already authorized Central Mexicana, you do not advise or accept that other Service Structure print and distribute A.A. literature.
· We informed you that the legal criminal process already launched against the Junta de Servicios Generales means prosecution by law and therefore there is no legal withdraw or withhold from the part of the complainant. This also means that the Junta de Servicios Generales will have to defend itself by all the means within its reach.
· We informed you that given the circumstances described above, the only way not to harm thousands of members affiliated to the Conferencia Seccion Mexico, the only way not to harm the Service Structure and to protect the liberty and integrity of persons as well as to avoid public confrontation is to agree to the petition of the Junta de Servicios Generales, to permit the use of symbols and literature within the Service universal standards. All this in the benefit of Alcoholics Anonymous and the suffering Alcoholics.
Is in the sense if this last paragraph that the Junta has asked your prompt and determined intervention. The petition makes more sense since the Junta de Servicios Generales, according to the Conference Charter, is a well organized Service Structure, based on the AA Service Manual principles, on the AA Traditions, on the 12 Concepts for World Service, and in the Conference Structure..
· We insisted that the criminal process launched by Central Mexicana will lead us all to a public confrontation that nobody wants and that only AA World Services, Inc. can stop this aberrant initiative since Thomas J.'s letter served as the foundation for Central Mexicana's denunciation.
· Full of hope and optimism, we are glad to transmit your offer to mediate between Junta de Servicios Generales Section Mexico and Central Mexicana. Thank you. We reiterate the Recommendation of the Conference Seccion Mexico position: "The Conference Seccion Mexico continues to be willing and open to dialog between delegates of both service structures.
Receive again our sincere thanks for your hospitality and fraternal affection together with our best regards in the service spirit that inspire us all.
Saul C. M. Class B Trustee General Service Board Section Mexico
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September 28, 1994 letter from George D., General Manager, GSO to Saul C. M., Class B Trustee General Service Board Section Mexico & Xavier M.September 28, 1994
Saul C. M.
Dear Saul and Xavier,
We appreciated and thank you for your letter of August 15, 1994, and the very kind and warm things you had to say about your visit to GSO. You may be sure that you will always be welcomed in the same spirit.
We discussed your letters at the September 15 meeting of the AAWS Board of Directors and would like to report to you concerning AAWS' position.
As we have previously advised you, from the time that countries other than the U.S./Canada first became capable of publishing AA literature, our policy has been to grant the sole right to publish AAWS copyrighted literature to only one service structure in each country. Our licensing agreements have also included a requirement that the licensee take the necessary action to protect the copyrights which were licensed. Changing the policy at this time could have a serious effect on Alcoholics Anonymous worldwide.For these reasons AAWS does not believe it can reverse its historic position regarding licensing only one entity in a country, nor can it intervene in the legal action concerning the license in your country.
While we cannot take sides in an internal dispute, we are, as I indicated during your visit, deeply concerned for AA unity in your country. As all of us know, AA unity is our most precious possession and vital to our mission and primary purpose - carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
The Central Mexicana Board has told us that they have an earnest desire to meet with you to attempt to discuss and resolve differences. You indicate that your delegates are "open to dialogue." We sincerely and prayerfully hope that a way can be found whereby some discussion can commence.
With warm regards,
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Highlights from the A.A.W.S. Board meeting, October 27, 1994
There was discussion during the week regarding AAWS' copyright and licensing policy. The World Service Meeting delegate unanimously accepted the report of their Literature Committee as follows:
"Copyrights were brought up under new business. It was felt the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous belongs to AA as a whole and AAWS, Inc. (U.S./Canada) holds these copyright in trust for all of us. The committee recommended that AAWS, Inc., should continue to grant exclusive licenses to one service structure per country. Giving licenses to two entities in one country could weaken the unity of AA in that country. It was suggested that future World Service Meetings be kept aware of problems regarding copyrights in AA."
George stated that he was profoundly moved by the sense that, not withstanding enormous differences in language, religion, culture and political systems, we all identified with each other so well. Similarly, with our service efforts to reach the suffering alcoholic, our successes and our problems are remarkably similar throughout the world. Larry N. (US Trustee-at-Large/World Service delegate) added that attending the World Service Meeting was a tremendous personal experience and source of gratitude for the privilege of participating in this meeting.
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August 15, 1994 letter to Mike McP., Chair of AAWS, from Jake H., Northeast Regional Trustee.To: Mike McP./Chairperson AAWS
From: Jacob B. H./Northeast Regional Trustee
August 15, 1994
In reading the Final Conference Report for this year, I noticed that the license agreement to Central Mexicana was dated October 4, 1990. Jim Estelle's letter of August 10, 1994 states, "We have been aware of the Mexican unity problems since the mid-1980's when Section Mexico was formed as a new Service Board..."
My question is, how was the decision made to license one AA service entity over another? What criterion was used to determine which AA was the valid AA?
Also, for my information, please provide me with a copy of the letter - "AAWS authorized a letter expressing no objection to the Central Mexicana General Service Board taking action, as necessary to prevent infringement of copyrighted literature in that country." (AKA Thomas J. letter of February, 1994)
Thank you for this information,
Love in Service,
cc Members of the AAWS Board, Jim Estelle - Chairperson General Service Board
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August 24, 1994 letter from Dennis B., past delegate, to Xavier M., Section Mexico.August 24, 1994
Mr. Xavier M.
Junta de Servicios Generales de AA, A.C.
06000 Mexico, D.F.
Dear Mr. M.
I have received copies of the material you sent to some of the delegates of our General Service Conference. Upon receiving them I called your office on or about the 11th of this month (August). I believe it was you with whom I spoke.
You mentioned that you had been to our GSO and had talked with George D., who requested more information - which you were gathering and preparing to send. I also requested a copy of the letter by Thomas J. and you were kind enough to agree to send this to me, along with copies of the material you were sending to George D.
Since that time, I have found someone who can translate some of the material you have already sent in the packet to the delegates. There is one set of documents which we are finding hard to read. Therefore, I would like to request a translated copy of what appears to be minutes of a meeting. The notation at the top left of the page is:
The copies I have received are very hard to read and the person translating is not able to complete the work. Your assistance would be very much appreciated.
I would also like to inform you regarding what has taken place since your material has arrived. However, before I do so, it would be helpful for me to point out that we are currently having many of the same kinds of problems which may have been your experience prior to the formation of your service organization, Section Mexico.
Since we have received your material, a move to censure (determine wrong-doing) of our General Service Board has been attempted. While a substantial number of our delegates would not support this - by signature - there is a growing unrest about how our business is being conducted. Many of us, who have been working to bring about a change of course in our General Service Board's actions, feel a deep brotherhood to you in your struggle.
I have enclosed a copy of the letters and written material which grew out of your mailing to us. A review of it will give you a sense of what is being attempted by a small group of concerned folks.
Of course, as can be expected, we are under much pressure to stop. The delegate who first sent me the material has received many phone calls in an attempt to scare or negotiate him away from this course. We are, however, gathered around him for support and he remains strong - as do we all.
Yours in Love and Service,
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An excerpt from the 12th World Service Meeting Report - 1992
Page 52: "Also on the subject of trademark registration and copyrights, an Irish delegate noted that, following the 1990 World Service Meeting, Ireland had registered our A.A. logos. One delegate stated that, at the Eleventh World Service Meeting, the delegates were told that they would be sent international treaties to be signed pertaining to trademarks and logos. The delegate from Central America, expressing some confusion on the issue, also reported having heard that delegates would receive copies of an international treaty with a list of countries that have already signed. It was pointed out that laws regarding the registration of trademarks vary considerably from country to country and that therefore it is presently impossible for all countries to sign an international treaty.
"A Mexican delegate shared that in his country some AA groups have separated from the service structure and are printing literature copyrighted by A.A. World Service, Inc. The Mexican General Service Office, having requested and received a list of titles that Mexico had been granted permission to reprint, proceeded to register the trademarks and obtained copyrights in Mexico and were then able to take action against the violators."
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History of Mexican Copyright Licenses distributed by the General Service Office in New York.7/70 - The newly formed Mexican GSO (hereafter, "Central") was given permission in July, 1970 to print and distribute a Spanish language edition of the Big Book, and the agreement provided that Central agreed to take any steps necessary, to prevent infringement of our copyright. Licenses previously granted to the Mexican intergroup were to be transferred to the GSO.
2/86-General Manager, John B., reported to AAWS Board that an element of Mexican general service structure had spun off and created a separate structure, hereafter, "the Section group," which was publishing an exact duplicate of Central's literature without permission either from us or from Central. John also reported that our exclusive licenses to the General Service Boards of other countries would be revised so as to grant each the authority to police infringements its own country.
11/86- A new form of license agreement was developed giving licensees authority to sue, and Central executed the revised agreements in connection with 41 books and pamphlets, effective December 4, 1986.
4/87- In 1987, John wrote to the Section Mexico group in response to a letter to him advising of a complete separation from Central. His letter shared our experience regarding the need for unity, asked that they discontinue their unauthorized publishing activities, and noted that it had been the policy of the Board to grant licenses to only one entity in a country, the established General Service Board. It was also noted that we were unable to become involved in local problems. A second letter was written in July, 1987. There is no indication that the Section group ever responded to the General Manager or that they made application for a license.
4/87- The 37th General Service Conference amended the Conference Charter to provide that, "...in countries where a General Service structure exists, the US/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of the structure."
6/89- A letter from the General Manager of Central's GSO to John pointed out that Central had not yet taken action so as to avoid controversy; that their legal counsel had suggested meetings between Central and Section in order to negotiate an agreement; and that the existence of the second structure was increasingly disruptive and the cause of a great deal of confusion, and the general service structure was seeking some kind of board action to halt the unauthorized publishing, even if it meant a lawsuit. The Mexican General Manager once again requested us to ask that the Section group to discontinue their unauthorized publishing activities.
7/89- The new General Manager, Wayne P., wrote to the Section group in July, 1989 advocating unity, insisting that the Section group discontinue the unauthorized publication of our literature, and confirming that Central had full authority to undertake any action they felt necessary to halt the unauthorized publishing activities.
8/89- The Section group responded and stated unequivocally that they had no intention of halting the unauthorized printing and distribution of AA literature.
1/90- The Chairman of Central's Board wrote to Wayne stating that the Board of Directors had required him to take prompt action to stop the unlawful use of trademarks, logos and copyrights, including legal action, if necessary.
4/90- Central's attorneys wrote Section group advising that they had been retained; and advising the Section group that they had 15 days to comply with a request to discontinue the unauthorized publication.
5/90- A month later the Section group responded to the attorneys saying that any request for discontinuance of publication would have to be referred to the AA groups in their structure-it would be up to the groups.
10/93- A law firm retained by Central's Board requested a letter restating the authority reflected in the clause of the Licensing Agreement which authorized Central's Board to conduct copyright infringement litigation. After several months of back and forth discussions, a letter was drafted by the General Manager, George D., approved by the AAWS Board, and was forwarded to Central's General Service Board in February, in 1994. Since Central's Board was due to meet at the end of February, George, who was away from the office, asked the Services Director, Tom Jasper, to execute the letter (which required a notarized signature) and sent it to Central.
10/93- The discussions with Central were reported in the minutes of the Oct. and Dec, 1993 meetings of the AAWS Board; in the "Highlights From AAWS," reflecting those 2 meetings; in the AAWS Chair's report to the General Service Board at its Oct. meeting; and in the AAWS Chair's report to the General Service Conference.
7/94- A letter from the Section group informed us that a civil and criminal action had been brought by Central because of the continuing infringement activities, and that Section's office was the subject of a search by local authorities pursuant to a search warrant. The letter, together with a number of other documents was distributed to some members of the US/Canada General Service Conference.
8/94- In discussions with Central and its legal counsel, they informed us that prior to instituting legal action, Central sought to have the matter arbitrated before the copyright office, consistent with procedure provided for under Mexican law. While the Section group attended three such meetings along with the representatives of Central, the Section group refused to agree to be bound by any decision the arbitrator might render. Additionally, we learned that the infringing literature that had been seized would be held until the matter was finally adjudicated; that no one had been arrested or detained; that, while Section had initially failed to appear in court on 2 scheduled dates, they had subsequently appeared on August 31, 1994; and, that Section had reserved its right to submit a written answer to the charges.
As early as 1986, we took the position that Section printing of copyrighted literature without permission was an infringement, and that we supported Central as our exclusive licensee.
Thereafter, from 1987 through 1990, we worked with Central to ensure their exclusive license position was properly documented, and would enable them to proceed against Section in their own name. *The General Service Conference appeared to agree with this general policy, evidenced by the 1987 revision of the Conference Charter.
The Mexican situation may be unique in that there are two AA entities purporting to be general service structures. This raises the question as to whether we should consider amending our present policy, i.e., should we license both Mexican entities?
*A "Delegate's letter" from that 1987 Conference follows next.
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A Letter Written by a Delegate that attended the 1987 General Service Conference - at this Conference Article Two was Changed to reflect the Policy of AAWS to grant exclusive licesing to One Service Structure per Country.February 14, 1996
RE: Article Two of Conference Charter
Dear Pat and Richard,
I am at a loss as to whom I should write this letter on this subject matter. I know others have tried the GSB, George D., etc. and when serving as Trustees or past Delegates, they were ignored, or worse, name-called, labeled, or whatever - the same as I was by a Board Chairman on the subject of Grapevine and Concepts. All of this does not put the Conference and AA as a whole in the best light. We all need to remember the goal is "best." Anything less, with perhaps the exception of compromise, when improving circumstances will not do and it reflects unfavorably as we forget principles and get lost in "money, property, and prestige." Corporate entities are no exception and can also go on extensive and damaging "dry drunks." None of us is exempt. So while I may end up copying everyone in the world on this long letter, I am writing to you both and want you to consider this letter from the perspective of a Panel 45 Delegates, attending the 1987 General Service Conference which John B. and Bob P. chaired. I am asking a great deal because the result of reflection from 10 years ago may provide a solution. I also know you will quickly correct my impressions but that is the basis for this letter. We know there are reports and tapes of all these proceedings but these do not capture the feelings or impressions created in that conference setting in the room at the Roosevelt Hotel. We were there.
There also is another method of checking our thinking and it would not be too difficult for GSO to contact all past Delegates attending the 1986 & 1987 Conference for their impressions on this matter. In fact, when Frank M. suggested something on the nature of a "gathering," such a use as this was what I envisioned. It is an untapped wealth the Fellowship has at its disposal. It is not used and in a sense, the mechanism is in place with things such as NERASSA and PRASSE, NERD, Forums, etc.
It pains me to think that we, as a fellowship, have not been doing what we say we do - that is, carry, or make it possible for the groups to carry the message to the alcoholic. We are hypocrites. We have erected barriers. Literature is part and parcel the message as well as the medium at the disposal of groups and group members. We all know and accept that. In this Conference of US/Canada, we spend a great deal of time and effort keeping the cost of literature down so it is affordable and available to all. In fact, we pride ourselves in a sense on how cheap it is for us to sell and produce this literature when we compare prices to the real publishing world. In fact, our history and impression, given through the years, is to reduce the price to at or near cost. In our groups, the group or individual will even give the book(s) away if the person can't afford it. We say we in AA are different and often the reverse of the real world; we created the Conference and legal entities to serve us. These were accepted in 1955. Maybe this is why it may be time to separate GSO from AAWS, Inc. which will be a topic for another lengthy letter. In any case, the Fellowship, through the Conference, accepted the responsibility for these corporate entities and the overall setting of Policy for these entities and AA. The Conference is involved with Policy. To look at the 1995 Conference and the gloating over how spiritual it was, with little or no Advisory Actions (21?) and a flat out refusal by most to even consider, much less discuss and table until later, four items, reveals to the Fellowship how moribund and self-serving we have become. It is especially irking because these issues are all related and serious. A few years ago, the Conference Theme was "AA Takes Its Inventory - The General Service Conference Structure." Maybe it better do so again - a serious, critical look.
In thinking back, I recall John B. talking at great length that it was time to reword this section (Article Two) as it no longer seem to fit what was occurring, although in this rewording, there is no intent to alter the implied meaning in the original, of senior section, etc. The intent in paragraphs one, two, and three, were to remain. The reason cited for this change was in Australia where two entities had been given (licensed?) the right to print in a parallel situation, of an Intergroup occurring first followed years later by a Conference Structure, to what occurred in the US in the early years and post-Conference years when many Intergroups did their own printing. Isn't that one of the reasons behind ultimately the Circle and Triangle sign, "Conference Approved," etc.? The rewording took place so licensing would be to a Conference Structure. As I remember, progress was also being made in the USSR, as well as Eastern Europe, and Africa and South Africa. At the time, Mexico, it was reported, was encountering some local opposition from a few dissident groups - what the opposition was about was never mentioned, but that it was the normal growth process and the Mexican General Service Conference Structure would cope with it (did they?). With these events occurring, no where was it expressed or implied in the Article Two discussion that the attempt would be made to enforce or even imply that the "one Conference to one Country" principal was to apply precisely because of language or location. Isn't that Politics? AAWS and the General Service Board erred in their interpretation. More to the point, they failed to consult when it was obvious consultation with the Conference was necessary, as not a a simple "OK to print with our permission" but a licensed agreement was used which categorically violates the principles imbedded in the older Conference Charter in paragraph three. While pricing itself was not an issue, the thinking was that the pricing structure would be similar in thinking to that in the US/ Canada, and so available to the AA member at the lowest possible price. We apparently don't adhere or follow the dictate of one country, one Conference, for instead of Great Britain GSO for England, Ireland, South Africa, and Australia, we have separate Conference Structures. Geography may play a role but would not apply to the British Isles.
Hence for Mexico to decide to have two Conference structures is their decision. And therefore, if one can print, both should print unless one decides not to do printing of literature. It disturbs me that while it is OK for us to purchase literature as cheaply as possible, we evidently don't encourage this thinking in helping to establish service structures and literature printing. Rather then emphasizing Self-Support through contributions, the sale of literature is seen as the source of funding, hence the high prices as is the practice among some central service/intergroup offices.
The stock answer given by AAWS and the General Service Board for encouraging the growth of the General Service Structures in other countries has been to indicate that growth occurs faster with a structure in place. However, perhaps we are too quick to jump to this conclusion. We know how slowly the growth and development has been in our Areas as awareness and need grow from a meeting to a group. It usually takes this process years to develop, here in the states. I suspect the process is not that much faster overseas. So why is AAWS and the GS Board so quick to jump in and encourage growth of structures rather than work through the surer and safer nearest structure? We have done it in Eastern Europe and the former USSR, which has since fragmented into many republics, which according to current thinking would mean many GSO's and printing literature privileges where there was one. Has this happened and why not? The same is occurring in Cuba. Is this wise or is it fraught with danger as these areas need more time in absorbing the import of the Traditions and Concepts and principles involved? If our concern is to carry the message then surely the cheapest and most effective way would be to make the price of literature as low as possible. Exclusive agreements, the word "exclusive" itself is not in our vocabulary, with other entities is not, repeat, not, the way to cheapest anything. It is a franchise and a way to more profit. At whose expense? Those we would help? If we had known that when we showed up at the doors of AA, would we be here now? I suspect we would have been out the door as we discovered there was an angle or way out. We are violating our own purpose. Conferences have repeatedly said that the loss of copyright (to the Big Book) was no big deal, and as the ideas themselves were copied from so many different sources, that the ideas are universal. These copyright losses were a big deal to those who would profit from the money lost - namely royalty beneficiaries and AAWS.
Another trueism known among those of us in service is that about the nature of questions and trust. Sometimes we will get an answer to our questions and more information will be volunteered. However, that is not usually or always the case. The question may be answered, but if there is a better question or answer, that is not answered or given. Another given is that we drunks are naive, and are quick to make assumptions which are not true but are part of deception which might be included with trust. Such a question arises when we look at licensing, and more dangerously, "exclusive licensing" when it comes to the perception of property and who owns what in the sense "custodialship" and "guardianship." What was never spelled out or presented by AAWS to the Conference was their understanding of "exclusive" and how much their understanding differed from Conference thinking, hence no policy was developed by the Conference as guidance. Certainly information has been played down and tossed off as normal business practice for a corporation, when closer examination was needed by the Conference. AAWS certainly did not present both sides or all sides of the issue. I, for one, would like to see a copy of a generic licensing agreement and a specific instance - say, with Mexico, England, Germany, so I can compare these documents myself. Where are these registered? With whom? What is the document fee?? Who pays it? Remuneration in some form is usually required by the grantor? What is it and how much? Is this remuneration payable yearly from "profits" akin even to royalties? Is this why AAWS is concerned? Where in the mass of budget figures is this amount hidden? Somewhere in the publications division? Warehousing fees? Is that why they were excluded? Are we, as AA members, and the Conference given full information so decisions can be made?
Most groups and members take AA seriously and accept the implications of the Traditions to heart. They want their funds used to help carry the message as prudently as possible, which is why some groups support the higher priced central office prices on literature when it would be more prudent to wait three weeks and order from GSO at lower prices. This custom, so firmly imbedded in AA, is not followed apparently on the International or multi-GSO structure level as on this level exclusive agreements seem to abound, which when all is considered, translates not "more bang for the buck" but rather how much can we charge and get away with. If literature can be bought cheaper from this Conference by someone in another Conference, then why can't they buy it? We are making decisions for someone that we have no right to make. I shudder to think that with our crass, opportunistic attitude towards licensing - exclusive - that the struggling and new groups reportedly increasing in Cuba are going to have to pay, as individuals, the higher priced Mexican literature, rather than AAWS in US? Or, for that matter, IWS, if the price is right? The message is in the book but if it is too high priced, then we are at loggerheads with ourselves. Does AAWS, as a corporation, have the Conference interest at heart? I'm not talking individuals. An entity, any entity, is interested in self-reservation. Only in AA do we ask ourselves to give up for the greater good - reorganization, rotation?
Frankly, I don't know if the Conference has the guts to take back its responsibility of providing policy direction and doing the reorganization that may be necessary. I do not believe too many AA members and those in service are too familiar with the Service Manual and the Concepts. 1955 was serious. Bill, like the rest of us, was not too thrilled with the tensions in his own heart, else why would he feel that AA and the Conference were finally safe, even from himself. The Conference always has to think in terms of the best. I hope these issues surface on the Conference floor if the Agenda Committee chooses to ignore them. Many of these questions and concerns have arisen from various Area Committee people and, more importantly and independently, from the GSR's who attend the District VIII monthly meetings as we go through the Service Manual in a workshop. I hate to write letters such as this as there is no quick answer - typical?
I would appreciate it if you could send me a copy of the past two World Service Meeting Reports so I could attempt to determine the thinking the Delegates had in their support of AAWS which appears to be so adamant. If no one questioned these matters, or if they were but weren't reported, then that is evidence enough that something is wrong, that AAWS sees the World Service Meeting as another extension of itself as glorified "bookstores" similar to central offices as literature outlets. In fact, there were so many GSO and AAWS members at this World Service Meeting, it is not surprising the thinking and decisions paralleled AAWS. They were overwhelmed or perhaps, intimidated. Sort of like a treatment facility sending 20 clients to a small group such as Stonington.
I suspect the Fellowship has grown through the Coming of Age Stage. Perhaps the title and directional sense in the perennial updated AA history book should be approached from the theme of AA Matures and Accepts Its Responsibility. The issues and principles of Article II and Licensing must be addressed, honestly, trustingly, with no secrets held back because we
(can not handle the truth, with full information from all perspectives, and full debate. Decisions should be delayed until the next Conference so that the Fellowship, worldwide, has a chance to reflect. Wouldn't this Panel/Presentation be a better use in the Wednesday AM time slot presently used for a Spiritual Meeting? (In fact, the daily early AM meeting, prior to the Conference convening, might think about disbanding, and joining, rather than separating from, other surrounding established early AM meetings - what is our primary purpose?)
Along with the requested last two World Service Reports, completed and uncompleted licensing form and agreements, I would also appreciate a copy of the report on the last Northeast Regional Forum held this past August. I couldn't attend as I was too busy innkeeping with out much help! Thank you both for listening. If I can be of any help in any of the above, please let me know.
Love through Service,
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A Letter from A Class B Regional Trustee to the General Service Board Regarding the "Mexican Situation."September 14, 1994
Dear Board Members,
I have not heard from any member of the General Service Board in regard to my query concerning the Mexico situation. Did you know that members of Section Mexico are being sued on criminal charges? Once again, are we going to respond to the Section Mexico grievance as was their "Right to Petition" to the General Service Board under Concept V?
Do you anticipate that the General Service Board, as required by the 4th Warranty, will discuss policy in regard to public relation/public controversy, anonymity, as they relate to litigation? Are a few hours on a Sunday night adequate to address these grave issues which vitally affect Alcoholics Anonymous?
I look forward to your response in regard to these issues. If we are indeed committed to free and open communication, then it is incumbent on us to commence the dialog amongst ourselves, the Conference and the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
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A Letter from a past Delegate to a member of Section Mexico, dated October 4, 1994
To: Alberto P.
I attach a copy of the material recently sent to all the delegates of our General Service Conference. [referring to the "History of Mexican Copyright Licenses" sent to all Conference members by the Chairman of the General Service Board, Jim E.] I suspect his is in response to a number of things. First, the move to Censure, and second a growing concern in our structure that things have gotten out of hand. We now have at least one other trustee who feels that a change of some kind must take place. The progress is slow, but we keep acting on our faith of AA principles and a loving God.
Mentioned in the material sent is the fact that in 1987 our General Service Conference approved a change to the Conference Charter, Article Two. This change seemed to be a "maintenance" type of legality change when it occurred. I don't even recall our delegate reporting on it. At the time we were engaged in a debate over the use of surveys within our society and whether "specialty" pamphlets were proper, as well as the controversy over Merit Pay for the office staff.
This change, however, lies at the heart of both your current difficulty and ours. Prior to the change we had been operating on a "one world" basis. All persons, committees, boards and entities in AA were on equal footing. No single entity or service group held any authority or power over any other. With the approval of the change in the Conference Charter, Article Two, that was all reversed. In fact, looking at the change one can easily see that it is in direct conflict with the original intention in two ways. First, it sets on AA person/group/entity in authority over another. Second, it establishes the opportunity for "acts of government" (Warranty Six) to become a part of the AA service structure.
As has been my custom, when I stumble across this kind of new understanding, I will be writing a paper on this new perception of mine. It will address what appears to have been the true intention of the Conference Charter (i.e. our service structure) and how the change has led us on a path which can only end in destruction or dissolution.
May God be with you until we meet
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A letter, dated December 23, 1994, from a then current Delegate to the Chairperson of the Report and Charter Committee Chairperson Regarding Article Two, Paragraph 4 of the Current Conference Charter.To: Betty J. and Bruce B. Chairperson and alternate, 1995 Report and Charter Committee
Jim E. General Service Board Chairperson
RE: Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Current Conference Charter
Dear Betty, Bruce, Jim and Mike,
At the recent Southeast Regional Forum in Biloxi, Mississippi, December 2-4th, 1994, I shared my concerns with this issue with the Southeast Regional Trustee (and AAWS, Inc. member), Gay G.
Gay's comment was that the issue would be addressed if a current Conference member *requested that it be placed on the 1995 Agenda.
Therefore, after several weeks of research, prayer, and consultation, as a still current Conference member, I would request that:
The 1995 Report and Charter Committee review Article 2 of the Current Conference Charter,
paragraph 4, page S31 (1994-1995) The A.A. Service Manual, for consideration of a conflict with
Tradition Four (Long Form) and Warranties Three, Four, Five and Six.
While the Advisory Actions (#53) of 1987 and (#6) of 1988 appeared to be in the best interests of AA in the US/Canada and Worldwide, is this a case of the seeming good being the enemy of the best? The actions, in effect policy changes, did negatively affect AA in Mexico. Did we have the spiritual authority to do this?
I would add to this Rationale the last paragraph and six questions raised by the current General Service Office General Manager in the "Timeline" on Mexico that he compiled and mailed to all Conference members as part of the September 23, 1994 AAWS, Inc. "Highlights" : (I quote)
· "The Mexican situation may be unique in that there are two AA entities purporting to be general service structures. This raises the question as to whether we should consider amending our present policy, i.e. should we license both Mexican entities?"
To continue the Rationale, the situation in Mexico is NOT an "outside issue." Almost nine years after their formation, the "new" General Service Structure of Section Mexico still exists and is
growing. As we step into 1995, the legal and spiritual entanglements in Mexico are the direct consequences of actions taken by the US/Canada Conference and our involvement is not over yet. There is more to come.
Please believe me when I say that requesting this to be added to your already full Agenda did not come easily. The softer easier thing to do would have been to just walk away and use the cop out, "well, I'm rotating out; not my problem anymore!"
I can't d that. I was invited to spend Thanksgiving Weekend with the General Service Board of Section Mexico and 7,000 sober GSR's, DCMs and AA group members representing 2,400 groups were present. They are as much "AA" as we are. I don't pretend to have the perfect solution for a very complicated issue, but I would sincerely ask that all of you consider this Agenda request carefully. Perhaps a look at the principles in Steps 10 and 11 can guide us all.
To be of help, I hope, knowing how long it took me to track down and research all the information, I've added a brief "Background" summary for you.
I would appreciate hearing from you,
Bob Panel 43
*Editor's note: The Agenda Item request never got out of Report and Charter for Conference discussion.
1985, Staff report, International/World Service Meeting stated: "To protect AA's copyright, careful consideration is given to granting overseas boards and centers permission to print AA Conference approved literature. A request should come from the board; and before any printing begins, GSO first explores the way the material will be financed and distributed. The request for permission to print of reprint is then presented to AAWS." (Not a Conference Action)
In February of 1986, General Manager, John B. reported to AAWS that AAWS's exclusive licenses to the General Service Boards of other countries would be revised so as to grant each the authority to police infringements in its own country. In November of that same year, a new form of license agreement was developed giving licensees authority to sue. (Please note: there are no 1986 Conference Advisory Actions to support these policy changes, nor any reference in the General Service Board's report that it was consulted.)
I have been informed that the "Background" for Advisory Action #53 (1987) came from a sub-committee of the General Service Office, the primary focus being paragraphs 2 and 3. However, a 4th paragraph was added which put into place an important new policy statement:
"In countries where a General Service Structure exists, the US/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of that structure."
(note: Again, the background material is not clear as to whether the General Service Board voted to support this policy change before it was referred to Report and Charter.)
In 1988, Report and Charter had 16 Advisory Actions, among them #60.
At the risk of offending a number of people, I would take exception to the conclusion reached in the September 23rds "History of Mexican Copyright Licenses":
"There after, from 1987 through 1990, we worked with Central Mexicana to ensure their exclusive license position was properly documented, and would enable them to proceed against Section Mexico in their own name. The General Service Conference appeared to agree with this general policy, evidence by the 1987 revision of the Conference Charter."
That is like saying it "appeared" that the 1989 Conference "agreed" with the now infamous Merit Pay footnote, when in fact, most members of that Conference have readily admitted that the issue blew right by them (rubber stamped) only to resurface over the next three years and create a considerable amount of controversy.
In looking over the 1995 Agenda request and this background summary, I would ask that you also consider Tradition Four, Long Form and Warranties Three, Four, Five and Six.
Bob McE. Panel 43
Addition Background for Report and Charter:
To: All members of the 1994 Thirteenth World Service Meeting
October 9-13, 1994
The enclosed copies are for your review and comment, if you wish. I am sending them to all of you because of the unanimous acceptance of the report of your Literature Committee:
"Copyrights were brought up under new business. It was felt the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous belongs to AA as a whole and AAWS, Inc. (US/Canada) holds these copyrights in trust for all of us. The committee recommended that AAWS should continue to grant exclusive licenses to one service structure per country. Giving licenses to two entities in one country could weaken the unity of AA in that country. It was suggested that future World Service Meetings be kept aware of problems regarding copyrights in AA."
Based on the enclosed information and the Statement of Censure presented to the General Service Board (US/Canada) this year, in a small part because of AAWS' "handling" of the situation in Mexico, I cannot help but wonder what was used as "background" for your Literature Committee's recommendation.
Thank you for the time taken to read this correspondence. *I look forward to hearing from you.
With Love in Service,
* No member of the World Service Meeting responded to the above letter.
Chairperson: Dr. Jose Ignacio Guzman Mejia - General Service Board Section Mexico
1. According to the communications we have just received from the United States/Canada, we have been watching several inconsistencies in the actions from the General Service Board in New York, with which some service delegates do not agree. My question is: "What has the Conference position been in regard with this attitudes from the General Service Board?"
2. The A.A.World Service, Inc. board has been acting in opposition to the Alcoholics Anonymous principles. In a thumbnail, I mean the possession of the literature, as well as some lawsuits filed against several associations outside of Alcoholics Anonymous. What is the position from the Conference in relation to the General Service Board on these matters?
3. I would just want to know about the opinion that the AA groups in the US/Canada have about this so important matter, and also whether the groups have discussed this with their delegates.
4. As a former Delegate in Central, I noted that the Consulting Board-the equivalent to the General Service Board-were deviating us from AA principle. I would like to know if situations as these happen also in the United States, for instance: Does the GSB own the building where the service entities work? Even as a Conference, Central has sometimes expressed its willingness to legally incorporate Alcoholics Anonymous, something Bill said we ought never to permit to happen.
5. According to the modified Article Two of the Conference Charter, do you believe that any situation like ours should-to name it somehow-regulated by the delegates at the world level, or should it have to be solved by the Conference of each country. I thought the World Service Meeting never made policy.
6. What impression has Section Mexico caused on the US/Canada delegates, in respect to our actions aimed to form a new service structure, which we name as Back to Basics? Why did GSO members approved a lawsuit versus an Alcoholics Anonymous section, without being expressly authorized for such action, which has affected more than forty thousand sober alcoholics in Mexico?
7. As far as I know, the amendment to Article Two was made in 1987-why in that moment-when it came to light-the Conference didn't foresee the future problems we currently face, or what was in their minds when they accepted such a change?
8. Why have so many sensitive subjects have been escaping from the Delegates control, like someone giving permission to sue a section of Alcoholics Anonymous, the register of trademarks, and logos, and lawsuits? What's the matter with the US/Canada Conference, isn't it as reliable as it has always been?
9. What information did you have from us-before our fellow attorneys visited you in New York last August-since this problem has existed since 1986?
10. Have the delegates in the US/Canada Conference taken note of this problem, so as to discuss it during the next Service Conference Meeting, because besides Mexico, there are perhaps more problems like this?
11. It sounds that there is a Recommended Action from the Conference so to authorize Central Mexicana to print and distribute literature. What year did the US/Canada Conference issue this action? What is the future you foresee for Section Mexico?
12. How long has it been since the delegates lost the control of things and let the General Service Board and AAWS to take over? Why did the legal poser come first rather than the spiritual one?
Additional Background for the 1995 Report & Charter Committee: Letter from an AA member of Section Mexico to a Panel 43 Delegate:Dear Bob,
As soon as I received your information request of 12-20, I immediately asked the Ad-Hoc Committee and we then met, and afterwards with the General Service Board and contacted the Delegates, so as to have the info requested ready as soon as possible, about the "Situation in Mexico." My fellows and myself appreciate very much your leadership and valuable help you're giving to our troubled AA service structure. Following the same order of your letter, we are providing the information requested, namely:
The status of the legal procedures.
1. Since the conflict began, we have always been willing to settle the differences with the plaintiff (Central Mexicana). However, this has not been possible since the only way to have this dispute settled, has always been on a basis according to AA Tradition and principle. I mean, any agreement must be reached by the Service Delegates from both Section Mexico and Central Mexicana. This latter has always rejected this proposal. About this position, there are already some facts, which we made Mr. George D. aware of, opportunely:
a) When we were summoned by the Central's attorneys our reply to them was that this was a problem, which had to be Traditionally solved by the Service Delegates.
b) On September 8th, 1992, we addressed a letter to the Mexicana Government agency for Copyrights, and asked for the same Traditional solution.
c) On August 9, 1994, our trusted servants, Saul C. and Xavier M. met with Mr. Dorsey, personally, in New York, and he was given a copy of the letters described in a) and b).
2. We have asked the Attorney General for subpoenas for only Messers. Wayne P. and Thomas J. The first because he appears as the primogenial (sic)-original-author of all the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, at the National Information Center of Copyrights of the SEP (Public Education Secretariat) in Mexico. Please find attached two pages (they're originals and are in Spanish, issued by SEP in August 17, 1989). These pages are only an example, and they're about the copyright of the booklet, "A.A. Tradition-How It Was Developed," you can see that Wyne (sic)-Wayne- P. appears as the author (Spanish author or author primigenio)
About Mr. Thomas J. we petitioned for a subpoena because he issued an authorization in behalf of Central Mexicana so this one by itself or on behalf of AAWS would be able to denounce Section Mexico for infringement of the Federal Copyright Law and Industrial Property Law on Patents and Trademarks, action which has put us in this current plight to us all. We feel this is a very serious accusation about the Services Director for Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.-Mr. Thomas J.-so I'm enclosing you the letter in two pages, dated February 17, 1994, by which you can see that this gentleman issued a formal authorization to Central Mexicana to start ANY legal action to protect the copyrights and trademarks before ANY judicial or administrative authority in our country.
We want to tell you that we didn't ask for any subpoena for Mr. George D. However, this gentleman is fully aware of the legal conflict currently in Mexico, for our representatives in the visit they made to New York as I've told you in point 1-c. He, though, has said that he felt that the authorization to file suit against Section Mexico would only be civil and never criminal. You can judge by the letter that it clearly involves the General Attorney's Office, so we don't get to understand George's statement. Furthermore, we somehow got the Spanish translation of a letter to the Conference members from AAWS, signed by Mr. W. J. E. (Chairman of the General Service Board, US/Canada), dated August 10th, 1994, stating that they had only issued a letter stating that they had no objection so that Central Mexicana could file any action against on their behalf, so to protect the copyright. We deem both Mr. D.'s and Mr. E.'s statements highly inconsistent.
These subpoenas, as well as the audits have been asked for by our fellow alcoholic attorneys as a defense only, against the criminal charges made by the Central's legal office attorneys. The only one we want to defeat is John Barleycorn.
3. Concerning this point, we can just say that we don't have the answer, for this depends on the resolution given by the authority who knows of the accusation, this is, the Attorney General. The possibilities are as follows:
a) The declaring of no-criminal prosecution by the Attorney General-In this case our literature would be returned on a short term.
b) The declaring of an investigation reserve-It would take longer than a year.
c) The consigning of accusation to a criminal court-It would mean a long-term suit (years), it would then depend on the judge's sentence.
As you see, the only short-term possibility if the first one. Otherwise, our literature would be ruined due to humidity or poor handling, or the only passage of time. The books, booklets, leaflets, etc. are now inside the Depository for Crime Objects. These objects are mainly drugs, weapons, firearms, narcotics, vehicles employed in criminal activities, and the like. It's sad, very sad, to know where is now, and where still has to stay the Alcoholics message.
B. Affordability of literature in Mexico
1. Please, find attached a comparative list of publications costs to fellow AA's both from Central Mexicana and from Section Mexico.
2. The result of the external audits from both Section Mexico and Central, will be requested by the Mexican IRS if the procedure follows the course I mentioned above in alternatives 3-b and 3-c. So, the audit results from Central are still not publicly known, and nobody can state yet whether it's a for-profit group.
At this juncture, we need to express some concerns about this matter.
The Mexican law grants a special tax-free status to an association which do not make any financial profits through its activities. However, when someone fails to comply with this requirement, he has fouled this benefit and is then subject to criminal prosecution. Supposing Central had played foul, it worries us a lot, because it implies the AA name to be tainted.
We of Section Mexico periodically have to display letters in several newspapers concerning our principles of Self-Support and Anonymity because, beside Central, there are other groups (they name themselves 24 Hours) who use the name of Alcoholics Anonymous. They have made a wonderful job in giving medicines, shelter, clothing and food to alcoholic brothers and sisters who otherwise would die in the streets, because there's no public welfare for them. I have myself taken fellows under delirium tremens to 25-Hour Groups, and miraculously my fellows have gotten well. But, you'll surely understand that they have to hold these insane fellows, sometimes with a chain so the drunks do not kill themselves. There have been those who have died in the process. The tabloids usually make a big fuss of these situations, and the public in general sometimes associate us to these group for they name themselves AA, which they are not.
Financially, they have to receive outside contributions so they can support themselves.
We have lived with this, and have learned how to answer to questions from the public concerning these groups. We also have wonderful friends in the media. This image-crafting has been a task that we the AA's in Section Mexico have all endeavored and fought for as our main target and like 0ne-man's task.
I then wonder what would happen to AA as a whole, in Mexico, if Central had in any time to face criminal charges for tax-evasion and fiscal fraud.
We have made our best in order to avoid that the public controversy started by Central Mexicana and AAWS gets to the media, taking care of not violating the Fifth Warranty of the Twelfth Concept for World Service. However, we must admit that the inertia of this legal conflict makes for us harder to stick to this principle.
The irresponsibility and absence of AA principles from your Chairman of the Board, Mr. E. in telling half truths to the group conscience, from Wayne P. lying to Mexican official agencies about his authorship of AA literature, and from George D. in pretending innocence when he said that he expected the litigation t be civil and instructing Tom J. to sign a letter which clearly states the Attorney General Office, are behaviors hardly conceivable in people drinking and afflicted by alcoholism. We ask ourselves why, for God's sake, have these men, besides hindering the AA message, provoked an International legal conflict?
As your wise judgment will tell you, we feel there is much at risk in this problem, than the "controlling" of copyrights, licenses and the stuff of any other for-profit entity, but not the spiritual gift of Alcoholics Anonymous, so, please, let me know about whatever you need from me so to keep our folks' conscience in your area well informed.
Yours in Love and Service
Alberto P. Member of the Ad-Hoc Committee for the "Situation in Mexico."
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Document in which Wayne P.'s name appears as the "Author" of our AA literature
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Highlights from A.A.W.S. - December 15, 1994
Copyright and Licensing Agreements: The trustees' International Committee had suggested that GSO develop a "cohesive record on all copyrights and licensing agreements through the world." Our Publishing Department expects to have the following research completed by mid-January utilizing temporary help.
· Searching archives and "active" foreign GSO files for licensing agreements and permissions given on behalf of AAWS.
· Creating master files on computer of copyrights and licensing agreements cross referenced by:
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A Letter to the US/Canada Delegates from Dr. Guzman, Chairman of the General Service Board, Section Mexico.
(This "Petition of Grievance " was never answered by the Conference Delegates nor addressed at the General Service Conference.
October 10, 1994
Dear Fellow Service Delegates,
God's will has always expressed itself in the way of having all AA members united through Love and Service; so it is with these facts in our hearts and minds, that we wish to say, "Hi" to all of you.
This letter is intent in taking to light and to your kind knowledge those spiritual grounds and motivations we experienced several years ago, and which encouraged us to make a hard decision in creating a new AA Service Structure in this country; this is, the General Service Conference, Section Mexico.
The necessity to constitute a service structure alike the US/Canada General Service Conference surged since the beginnings of AA in Mexico, so it was then that the structure "Central Mexicana de Servicios Generales de AA" was legally created. Being its sole object the providing of the general service to the young Mexican fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymus, so as to serve them with its primary purpose of carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic. Time passed and gradually Central Mexicana came to be the only service entity in charge of providing all the general service. This is, neither a General Service Office, nor an operating entity for the AA magazine were ever created. Meantime, the corporation began to be itself monopolistic and approriating of all the power either financial as organizational, and it eventually became despotic and imperious toward the fellowship which had created it, and to which it was supposed to oblige.
To every alcoholic person it has been true that the only way to arrest the disease is to honestly face the fact that one is afflicted by this baffling, mortal h had created it, and to which it was supposed to oblige.
To every alcoholic person it has been true that the only way to arrest the disease is to honestly face the fact that one is afflicted by this baffling, mortal disease of alcoholism. And the same facing of facts has proved to be true for the rest of our affairs, if we are to enjoy a life full or purpose and peace of mind. It was then that we had to face the facts about Central Mexicana. We indeed had the hope of getting things settled in unity; however, we were powerless to straighten things up, according to AA principle, namely:
The delegates were never given the financial statements and none of us was able to know about the situation of the structure; the legal Charter of Central Mexicana was modified without even informing the Asamblea Mexicana (Spanish for Mexican Assembly, which pretended to be a Mexican version of the US/Canada General Service Conference); ample powers of attorney were given to an individual. And a lot more of serious actions like these ones took place. There was a growing concern and unrest among the members about this state of things, but our queries were never even taken into account; they were always barred and never discussed in the Assembly Annual Meeting. The regional trustees acquiesced and connived at the Central's misdoing since they had been legally appointed under Central Mexicana's modified Charter statutes.
It was then that after enduring from the General Service Board acts of government as well as a lot of hostile and punitive actions toward eight Areas of the Center-Eastern region; after the disregarding of suggestions from AA groups and from the Structure entities and even the denial to have these suggestions discussed in four annual meetings of the Assembly; after the dismissal of a delegate from the Assembly (a fact which may be unique in AA's history all over the world), the group conscience of these eight service Areas-following a close and direct consultation before the groups they represented-made the decision to secede and to stop recognizing the Central Mexicana de Servicios Generales as their chief service arm and decided also to create the General Service Conference, Section Mexico, the General Service Board (the Trustees) along with its two operating entities, always abiding to the traditional principles and the Twelve Concepts for World Service as a base. This historic event in Alcoholics Anonymous in Mexico happened in August the 24th, 1986.
According to the will of about 1,500 AA groups in the eight service Areas, three class A Trustees, and four class B Trustees were elected so as to be in a position to create the General Service Board and one operating entity, the GSO. Before the first twelve months of independence two more Areas joined us, and we afterwards appointed two class B Regional Trustees. This newly-born structure was given a DIs 480.00 to begin its operations. This tiny sum had been gathered through group contributions for the Central mexicana originally and that we had withheld because of our difficulties we had with Central.
A special meeting of the General Service Conference, Section Mexico was called for September, 19, 1986 and then the General Service Board was given a special advisory action in order to constitute one operating entity, the restoring of Public Information service and the editing and printing of 10 titles of Conference-approved AA literature, identical to those copies available in the US/Canada.
Through this eight-year service period, the following actions have been achieved according to our General Service Conference Advisory Actions:
· Our General Service Office was started in 1986. It is in charge of the services to AA groups and also of reprinting literature copies edited by A.A. World Services, Inc.
· The General Service Conference issued the pricing policy for the literature titles distributed to AA groups. The cost is added a 60% for all the titles, excluding those for Public Information which are added only 12%. This procedure allows only to cover the cost plus overhead expenses, and a tiny remnant applied for our Prudent Reserve Fund. Section Mexico's prices for AA literature copies are 250% less expensive than those of Central Mexicana.
· The General Service Board and the General Service Office are always to meet their expenses through the money contributions from the AA groups, according to Tradition Seven guidelines.
· With the basis on Concept Twelve, the Reserve Fund has been created. It is being capitalized through contributions from the groups, as well as through remnants from literature distribution. This way the General Service Board doesn't allow the GSO any more money than necessary to fulfill its operational needs.
· An aggressive Public Information program is being transmitted through the massive media. Our spots are transmitted through the massive media. Our spots are transmitted continuously through television networks and through radio stations. This has been done at a minimal cost. Some of the interviews have been internationally transmitted to several Spanish-speaking countries, and even by local US stations for the Hispanic audiences. These are the first transmissions ever in this country. We must say here that Central Mexicana always argued that the costs would be very high in transmitting our AA message this way. And then they did nothing.
A.A. World Services, Inc. has always been informed by us since the very beginning of our predicaments. Furthermore, our General Service Trustees Board requested New York GSO' good-willed intercession so our Area delegates and Central Mexicana's Assembly could get to meet and then have an understanding. On request we were always swiftly told that Mexico was autonomous, and that the GSO could not interfere in other countries' business.
However, A.A. World Service, Inc. inconsistently with the latter assertion, and unconsciously for they were fully aware of the two year old Section Mexico service structure, AAWS legally accorded the Central mexicana the privilege to be its sole agent in Mexico. AAWS acted even oblivious of two decisive facts: the Central Mexicana's Charter and service structure did not accord with the Service Manual suggested points and, in the other hand, the predicament of the many folks reunited as Section Mexico. Furthermore, AAWS authorized its chosen service structure to criminally sue us, the alcoholic AA members in Section Mexico. We do believe that consistency between one's worlds and acts is the vital requisite of good will and integrity.
In virtue of the agreement between AAWS and Central Mexicana, and the current lawsuit, we have been summoned to appear before criminal courts, concerning AA copyrights. We have proposed Central Mexicana to have the Area Delegates of both fighting parties to have as many meeting as necessary, so as to reach an agreement, since they are the representatives of the collective group conscience. As it is stated in official court documents, their answers have been that: "Their delegates lack the training to carry on such discussions (sic). Their Board of Trustees are the final authority (sic). Only the members of those groups adhered to Central Mexicana are AA's (sic).
We would like you to include some of the next reflections we make ourselves about this bizarre situations we are living-and that, in a way or another, each of us is being a witness-in your daily meditation and prayer.
What would the Lord say when He sees us fighting each other for nobody-knows-what-motives while the life giving words inside AA of "love Thy brothers and sisters" are in risk of becoming lip service? Is it fair, folks, that the precious AA message-carrier and God-inspired literature, inherited to the alcoholic members in this country by our older AA brothers in the US had been confiscated by the police and be now in court for we dared to print and distribute it to the still suffering alcoholic, helping save his/her life?
As a leader in service, what would you answer to those who you serve, when they asked you about this mess, and the AA principles so viciously abused? What would you do, besides praying the Lord for His help, when you wouldn't have even a hundred sheets of "Is A.A. for You?" to carry the message, supposing you were the still suffering alcoholic to be informed? Come November, the Month of Gratitude and honoring of Dr. Bob's passing away anniversary, and Thanksgiving; and what about those troubled and "troublerousers" AAs in Section Mexico? Is this problem in AA as a whole just a sliding snow ball or-the unthinkable-the tip of an iceberg? Never mind it hasn't even been licensed to carry the AA message, but an AA service structure has reached out to your for help, so doesn't it recall you on the "I am responsible" Declaration of Service? Tempus fugit says the Latin proverb, "times flies." We mean, since last July 5th when the police seized our facilities, to this date, no matter what efforts we have made, but things haven't progressed the least. We wonder whether this state of things is to last for ever and ever. Under the Aa principle light, we can hardly imagine an action more punitive than this one, inflicted on our Section Mexico.
Just a few more words, folks:
Let's not let God's works be barred to go on saving the life of the next suffering alcoholic! What was so freely given to us through Bill's spiritual experience, let's give it back freely too! Let's not let anybody warp our Back to Basics, for it is our back to God! Let's not let power, property and prestige take over our cherished principles! To each of us all we say: Let us all be the instruments of the Lord's peace!
Sincerely yours in the Spirit of Service,
CONFERENCE: ALWAYS A GUARDIAN, NEVER A GOVERNMENT FOR AA.
Junta de Servicios Generales de AA Seccion Mexico, A.C.
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SECTION MEXICO -- A Past Delegate VisitsWhy would anyone want to create a new General Service Area where one already exists? How can two GSO's exist in the same country? How can two groups of AA's who see things very differently, find a way to coexist? These were the thoughts on my mind as the plane flew toward Mexico City. Some had predicted that this trip would be a disaster, while others proclaimed it a victory. Certainly, it placed me at some sort of crossroads of controversy. This trip had grown out of such an innocent beginning.
Sometime last summer (1994) the Panel 43 delegates received, in the mail, a package from Mexico. In this package was information concerning a lawsuit which was taking place between two General Service Areas-Central Mexicana and Section Mexico. Central Mexicana having been the original General Service Office, and Section Mexico being the new General Service Office of the Areas that had split off from Central Mexicana. The reason this was sent to the delegates was two-fold. First, it was the exercise of the Appeal and Petition part of our Twelve Concepts, and secondly, it was to inform the delegates that a criminal lawsuit had been filed against Section Mexico as the direct result of a letter from our General Service Office in New York.
Having been fortunate enough to continue to receive copies of Conference/Delegate material as a past delegate, both from my own current delegate and from other Conference members, I was sent a copy of the Mexican material and attempted to understand what it was reporting. Since some o the material was in Spanish I enlisted the aid of a fellow AA member to attempt a translation. This moved along at a slow pace until I resolved to place a phone call to Mexico to speed up my access to information. This phone call ultimately resulted in much more than an updating /translation of the Mexican material. As the folks from Section Mexico began to provide me with material regarding their situation, I also sent them copies of letters and reports describing difficulties in the US/Canada.
It was this exchange, I believe, that precipitated in the General Service Board of Section Mexico extending a current delegate and myself an invitation to attend their National Forum in Cuernavaca and a request to speak on the topic of AA's principles. The other delegates involvement came about due to his activity with the Statement of Censure directed at the US/Canada General Service Board. Copies of this material was a part of the exchange of information between Section Mexico and myself. Other material that was sent also resulted in an invitation being extended to a Regional Trustee who felt it best to decline at this time due to a discussion with the General Service Board. The trustee has been asked to come to Mexico and visit after his term as trustee has ended and the possibility of it being misunderstood as an "official" visit no longer exists.
THE ARRIVAL & COMMITTEE OF LAWYERS
We arrived on Friday afternoon (11/25/94) in Mexico City and were driven to Cuernavaca. Our host/translator, Alberto, had informed us in advance that the Committee of Lawyers wished to talk with us during the 2 hour drive to our lodgings. This was done in order to allow time for this committee to talk with us since there wasn't any other time available in the weekends schedule. They wished to bring us up to date on the current state of the lawsuit and to ask some questions of us.
The discussion was so intense and interesting that I was totally unaware of the scenery we passed by. It was only on our return trip Sunday that I saw the beautiful countryside we had wound our way through. Once we were on our way Friday, we were asked what we wanted to know about. I asked for an overview of the legal situation. This overview, and the questions all of us had for one another, took the entire two hours to discuss.
We again heard that the lawsuit was indeed a criminal lawsuit and that there were six AA members who were directly affected by this suit. It was also impressed upon us that this had meant the General Service Office of Section Mexico had been visited by the Mexican Police and all literature had been confiscated. Here we ran into the question which would be asked of us time and time again during our stay, "How could the US/Canada Conference allow this to happen? Many asked this question out loud and with obvious attempts to contain strong feelings. In other cases it was a question one could see in the eyes of the people we were surrounded by. To these folks it was beyond comprehension that one AA Service Structure would be an active participant in taking another group of AA servants to court under criminal charges, or keeping them from the use of their own literature. For us it was also strange to feel the deep love AA's have for one another entirely enveloping us, and yet sensing the anger which lay just underneath that love. An anger which had been born out of the apparent disregard the US/Canadian AA's had for their fellows.
Included in this two hour conversation was also some news which was equally incredulous to us. We were told that when AA's literature was copyrighted in Mexico that a former GSO (New York) General Manager had been officially listed as the author of all of AA's literature. I queried the committee about this, thinking that there may be a problem with translation. I asked if possibly it had been certified that AAWS owned the literature and that the General Manager was listed as the president rather than the author. We were told that this was not the case-that the General Manager had indeed certified that he was the author of all AA's literature.
Apparently in Mexico only the actual author of written material can copyright that material. It would appear that AAWS, or the Central Mexicana General Service Board in conjunction with AAWS felt it reasonable to provide the Mexican Copyright Office with his false statement regarding our literature.
As the most poignant counterpart to this obvious falsehood, when one of the lawyers would get excited and begin to talk forcefully about the possible courtroom drama another of them would council for a diligent commitment to principle. There were several points at which we were informed that Section Mexico could file countersuits with a very high likelihood of winning. At every mention of this option, it was clearly noted that this would not be in keeping with AA principles.
Along with legal points of this discussion, we heard about activities of Central Mexicana such as having a General Service Conference delegate thrown out of the Conference and removing a non-alcoholic trustee because he proposed that the by-laws be changed to require the General Service Board of Central Mexicana to follow the directions of its Conference actions (i.e. place the AA groups as the ultimate authority). It made perfect sense when we were told that the unofficial name for Section Mexico is the Back to Basics Movement.
As you can see, our relatively short auto trip was marked with new understandings and a considerable number of shocks. The landscape out the car window fell out of view in relation to the spiritual panorama we were being given a glimpse of.
DELEGATE & TRUSTEE QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION
Upon our arrival in Cuernavaca we were driven to our housing accommodations-the house of an AA member, Xavier. During our short stay we were always with several AA's with whom we were constantly discussing the situation at hand and asking questions of one another. Our accommodations were of the highest order and we were treated with true AA love and consideration.
Shortly after we had gotten familiar with our lodging, we were taken to a hotel in the city. In attendance at the hotel were the current delegates to Section Mexico's General Service Conference, the current trustees of their General Service Board, as well as many past delegates and trustees. This session, as we had been told in advance, would be for those present to ask us any questions they had, and for us to respond or enter into a discussion. Both the other delegate and myself were very interested in the questions we might be called upon to answer.
Chairing this session was Dr. Jose Ignacio Guzman, the General Service Board Chairman, and also in attendance was the immediate past Chairman, Dr. Gillermo Velazquezs (both Class A non-alcoholics). These fine gentlemen took the time to explain to us that approximately 80% of the patients they see, in their hospitals in Mexico, are being treated as a result of alcoholism or its effects.
Perhaps the most profoundly impressive experience I had this entire weekend occurred during this meeting. While virtually all of the questions were a variation of the one noted earlier, "How can you allow this to happen?", there was one delegate whose actions clearly displayed the situation. He came to the microphone, and after introducing himself as we usually do, he turned and looked directly into our eyes. He noted the struggle he and his fellow AA's had gone through to develop a structure that provided for their groups survival; how they had provided information about AA to the general public; and extended the hand of Mexican alocholics who are suffering. He ended this comments by saying that we (the US/Canada Conference) had allowed, if not encouraged others to come and take their literature. This literature was now sitting in a warehouse, and drunks in Mexico were dying as the result. With all the love an compassion of one alcoholic for another in his eyes, he asked, "How can you do this to them and to us?" We had no answer to the man's question.
That man, and that moment, did more to help me understand why Bill Wilson kept encouraging us to "open doors even wider" with regard to our message carrying activities. The very idea that we in Alcoholics Anonymous had done anything that had cheated suffering alcoholics from their opportunity to recover filled me with revulsion. It is without a doubt the greatest tragedy that can befall u s as a society. This is not a failure to carry the message, or to open the doors wider. It is the active slamming of the door in the face of dying men, women and young alcoholics. In the short time that this controversy has raged, there have been many for whom recovery has been forever denied. This is what Dr. Guzman and Dr. Velazquezs were trying to impress upon us. These dear friends from medicine are the witnesses to the horrendous tragedy on a daily basis. And just as our Conference's actions, or lack thereof, baffled this delegate, so, too, it baffled these two fine doctors.
As I have noted, and by this account, you can easily see that I was profoundly affected by this encounter. As far as I am concerned, in that small moment I heard the voice of a Power Greater than all of us.
THE OPENING SESSION
On Saturday the schedule began with the opening of the National Forum at the soccer stadium in Cuemavaca. As much as the comments of the previous evening had affected me in a very profound way, the beginning of this forum impressed me. We had been informed that Session Mexico was comprised of about 2,400 groups in 19 Areas. Based on the usual experience in the US and Canada, I expected about 500/600 people to be in attendance at this Service Forum. As we approached the stadium we began to get some indication that my previous expectations were less than accurate. Outside the stadium we saw bus upon bus parked. We were told that many of the folks had taken these buses from all over Mexico in order to attend the Forum. The number of people in attendance was overwhelming. Later we were to find out that 6,000-7,000 AA's had attended this Forum! That's an average of almost 7 members per group. Imagine if we got that kind of attendance at service events in the US and Canada?
Another very interesting practice surfaced (or, at least I began to notice it at this point) in this session. Virtually all Service meetings have, as a part of their opening items, a reading of Bill W.'s discussion of the history of General Service. At the end of the portion that is read we find the question that Bill suggests is the only one needed for service work. This question is asked of all those present, "Is this service really needed?" At each session we attended the resounding answer was, "Yes!"
As the weekend progressed and as I began to see the dedication to AA principle that we were surrounded by, this simple beginning and response stood in my mind as a shining example of a true attitude of service. Neither the General Service Trustees, the delegates, or GSO staff took any significant actions without first consulting the group members. There was never a question of whether or not the group conscience was the ultimate authority.
When I commented on this it was explained to me that all new Class "A" trustees are required to read a statement which clearly spells out the simple fact that the trustees work for the groups. Upon completing their reading, they are engaged in a discussion in which their understanding of this, and dedication to it, are determined. It is only after a degree of certainty is achieved on this matter that they are accepted as a Class A Trustee of their General Service Board.
I had also been fortunate in being asked t address the opening session. My topic was, "A.A. as a whole" and focused on the spiritual opportunities and responsibilities we all have to protect our "One World" of AA.
THE FORUM WORKSHOPS
The forum workshops were, to some degree, similar to those held at our own Forums. Significant differences could be seen, however. There were approximately 25 different workshop topics, most presented at three different times in order for folks to get to the ones they were most interested in. Each was chaired by a trustee or member of a Trustees Committee. Many were on topics, which have always seemed of little interest to our folks, such as Public Information, being a Group Secretary, and others.
Most were focused on topics of interest to the person involved in General Service work-or at least that's what we would think in our Conference. For Session Mexico it was quite another story. Many, many AA group members crowded the meeting rooms. I had picked out several that I wished to attend. As we approached the rooms in which they were held, all were full. Not only were the seats fully occupied, people were standing at the back of the room; side of the room; and crowded the doorway. Each and every one of them hungry to hear about how their Conference functioned. In all my years in service to AA I have never witnessed this level of intensity or hunger for an understanding of all AA's principles.
We were able to squeeze into a workshop at the far end of the hall. Our new-found friend, Ricardo was chairing a session entitled, "How the Trustees are sought and appointed." It was a very informative session in which many pointed questions were being asked. These folks had suffered through, by their own description, abuses of the privilege of Trusteeship. It was clearly evident that while they would indeed trust their trusted servants, they would be extremely careful in their choosing and would carefully watch their performance.
Time and time again during this brief stay, I was reminded of the beauty of AA's principles. How clearly and closely they hold the human spirit up to the sunlight, and how, when followed, they help to create a warmth and peacefulness that is indescribable.
SUNDAY - THE GENERAL SESSION
On Sunday I gave my talk on, "Principles From Our Past As Guides For Our Future." The day was absolutely clear with a bright sun.
Walking became almost impossible due to so many folks coming up to make contact of some sort. Some had questions they wished to ask. Many of these had taken the time to write them out (or have them written out) in English. Others just wanted to say welcome, and still others wanted, of all things, autographs.
That kind of rattled me for a moment. Then I remembered how many of the delegates, at the General Service Conference in New York, had asked others to sign their Big Book or some other item. Weren't those autographs too? Of course they were! This was not a case of worship, as we often think of in relation to autographs. It was merely one AA member wishing to remember a moment they shared with another member of their Fellowship. It was an act of love, not one of worship. Since returning home I have been reminded that most of our roundups and regional events used to reserve space in their event program for our newfound friends to sign.
Next there was a presentation regarding the history of AA in Mexico. It was made by the first General Service Manager of Session Mexico's GSO. It was a very moving story (translated into my ear) of how the first General Service Office had begun in Mexico and the hopes that grew along with it. He then moved on to relate how he had been fortunate to be a World Service Delegate to the very first World Service Meeting. How he met Bill W. there and began to try and convince people that Mexico should be able to print AA's literature there - rather than relying on New York.
It struck me that this very humble man had been a very close witness to all that had transpired in his country. He was sober long enough to have been among the earliest of Mexican AA members and had labored hard and long. His labors had not only been in the arena of carrying the message to another alcoholic, he had also worked to ensure that AA would be here for those that followed him.
The enormity of the decision to form another Service Structure suddenly became comprehensible to me. The very fact that 2,400 groups and 40 thousand AA members, would find it necessary to form another service structure in a country where one already exists literally shouts out for the review of the matters at hand. These were obviously decisions not made lightly or perhaps even willingly. Undoubtedly, in some cases there appeared no other alternative but to separate. We may not always need to agree with one another - however, when our participation is required for actions we find improper, we may be left with the single option of separation.
In discussions during the weekend, with this man, I learned that he had anguished over where he ought to be - in one Structure or the other. But it had come down to the decision to leave the structure in which he had labored so long, in order to follow the path of his principles. He was ever so grateful to be among others who also believed as he did about the absolute need to practice AA'' principles at all levels of AA service. I shall feel eternally privileged to have met a man of his caliber. In the years to come in my life, when the concept of service to others comes to mind it will be forever linked to a picture of Jorge.
Following this recounting of history was a man from the largest radio station in Mexico City. In the true fashion of many of AA's greatest non-alcoholics friends, he shared with the members gathered there how fortunate the country of Mexico was to have Alcoholics Anonymous in its midst. He spoke of the need for AA to continue to serve the suffering alcoholic. He encouraged all in attendance to be diligent in their efforts to carry the AA message. And he told how grateful he was to have become a friend of this miraculous society. It was clear, from the quiet that fell over the stadium, that this was someone well respected.
In later discussions I was told how the other structure refuses to produce radio and television spots - thinking it to be promotion. Quite a number of radio stations from the U.S. border states have contacted Session Mexico in order to obtain their Public Information material for use in high Spanish speaking areas of the U.S. Prior to the work done by Session Mexico they had been unable to find any material that people responded well to.
The gentleman from the radio station, I was told later, has been recommended as a Class A Trustee for their General Service Board. As of our departure he still needed to go through interviews and a reading of their Charter and Twelve Concepts - along with the attendant "test."
This was followed by Bob's (the Delegate from the U.S.) talk in which he focused on the principles of Unity and Sacrifice.
The final comments of the day came from the Chairman of Session Mexico's General Service Board, Dr. Jose Ignatius Guzman. He spoke eloquently of the steps which had been taken to arrive at this point in time. He then described some difficult steps which would need to be taken in the future. Steps which would require sacrifice, diligent effort, dedication, and above all, faith. Again it was clear that here was a man people could and would follow. Not because of personal charisma or charm, but because he chose the path of principle and because he was striving for the very best effort from all concerned.
This concluded the bulk of our experience with Session Mexico on that weekend in November. Following the Forum we were driven back to Mexico City for a very nice evening meal at our hotel with several members of the Board and members of the Trustees Committees. The final event of the day was an evening tour, given by Armando and Betty, of the architecture of Mexico City. This was a fitting end to our travels since it allowed us to see the physical beauty of Mexico - now that we had gotten a clear view of the spiritual beauty residing there. Needless to say, we were ready for bed and slept well.
"LEARNING FROM OUR EXPERIENCE..."
There are many thoughts and considerations which went through my mind while in Mexico and since returning home. While these are my thoughts at the moment, I would rather that the reader not take them as a "truth" for themselves-but rather that the reader of this report will take the time and make the effort to inform themselves of all the facts available. It is only after a thorough and conscientious review of all perspectives that we will be able to move toward any possible solution.
The situation in Mexico is a very clear example of what can and will happen when the minority opinion is not carefully listened to and considered. When the six Areas broke off from Central Mexicana to form a new Service Structure, they were no doubt in the minority. This, however, did not mean that their point of view was to be ignored. In recent years we in the US and Canada have moved more and more toward the practice of merely "letting them speak their piece" and then let's move on to do what we were going to do anyway. This is far removed from the intention of hearing minority reports sought in our principles.
Minorities are rarely entirely wrong, just as majorities are rarely entirely right. The intention of our principle of minority opinion seeks to find those elements of any opinion that are proper and useful. To do that we must always take the time to properly consider the points - each and every one - of the minority opinion. What happened in Mexico is what happens when that is not done.
There is an analogy in nature to this human experience. When gun powder is allowed to burn without undue restriction it does so with little if any damage. However, once an attempt is made to contain it, it becomes dynamite - a highly explosive substance. So, too, the desire to act on principle of one kind or another c can become an explosive force within a society when attempts are made to control or destroy it. Religion has played out this scene for the world on many occasions.
We, in Alcoholics Anonymous, have an antidote for that particular kind of societal poison - or at least we thought we did. Autonomy, without any act of government to crush it, is truly this antidote. With it in place, all are welcomed to propose, discuss, or operate on any variation or interpretation of AA principles. None can be in our best interest to encourage wide-ranging discussion and debate.
It is, in fact, an "act of government" which provided the catalyst for this turn of events in Mexico. It is quite ironic that an act which seeks to curtail autonomy actually becomes the catalyst for division. It seems, then, that we have two choices: antidote or catalyst. Our actions can never be neutral. As we know from our personal experience, we either move forward or backward.
The "act of government" to which I refer is the changing of the Conference Charter in order for the US/Canada Conference to become the "owner" of AA's literature rights and put in place a policy of restricted granting of license to those rights. Governments divide as a part of their function. By taking this act of government we, too, encouraged division. Once the change was put in place, two structures could no longer coexist. Now they must do battle over the rights to literature, because we in AA rely heavily on our literature. For each side it becomes a matter of survival. Not only is the battle over literature, it also must determine who is the "official" AA in a country - again a division caused by governmental type activities. There is much to learn here for many in the US and Canada.
Another lesson that my Higher Power seems to have provided for me, through this experience, was a very clear example of what success does to collections of AA members. When decisions are made at our General Service Conference, the vast majority of the discussion centers on the goal - whether it be a book, procedure, or change in practice. Watching the Session Mexico folks I realized that their discussions only used the goal as a reference point. Virtually all the discussion centered on the principles involved and how they could be carried out. The goal was only incidental to the discussion. On several occasions the goal changed during the discussion due to a new understanding of principle.
Paradoxically, the very difficulty that was tearing at the hears and minds of my new friends was also what was keeping them focused on God's will for them. Never could they take an action without carefully considering it first, because they were keenly aware that their very lives hung in the balance. There was no resting on past successes; no sense of the idea, "I knew what to do
then - I know what to do now" was driving them onward without careful reflection. Bill warned us about the problems of success. Now Session Mexico has come to provide a real and clear example of what happens when we believe ourselves to be successful and begin to attempt to protect that success - people of principle leave and form a new group.
Another clear lesson to be learned, or perhaps it would be better to say, "an old idea to be unlearned," is the notion that we absolutely must have literature to survive. Obviously the folks of Session Mexico are still carrying the message quite well. They are doing it the "old fashion" way, one drunk talking to another. While there are indeed drunks who are dying as the result of this legal battle for which we have been the catalyst, there are also those who are finding a new life in sobriety.
The whole concept of service, as we in AA need it, was brought into stark relief for me on this trip. Virtually every element of our Service Structure could be reviewed in light of this experience. Who is served in Alcoholics Anonymous and how are they served? How are these services carried out? What is really the most important thing to consider when decisions are made? How do we really know if we are sticking to our principles? Many, many more questions could be brought into light here. Obviously, you will need to ask your own questions and seek out your own facts.
In closing I would suggest that this is the "moment of clarity" for our society on this fast ride to oblivion in which it appears we are currently engaged. I pray that each of us will take this moment to accurately and adequately review our current practices and seek God's will for our future path.
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"AA As A Whole" - Presentation given by Dennis B., presented at 10:30 AM on November 26, 1994 - Cuemavaca, MexicoBefore I begin my comments on the topic of A.A. as a Whole, I wish to express my deep gratitude for several things. Before I received the kind invitation to be with you today I was in contact with two of your trusted servants, Xaviar M. and Alberto P.
Xaviar was so very kind in responding to my phone call to your General Service Office requesting more information on the current situation. His response was unexpected and did much to impress me with the dedication and sincerity of your servants.
Alberto became my guide soon after that first contact. I have come to look forward to his calls and letters, and have been much impressed with his devotion to being of service to his fellows and Fellowship. It is my hope to do, in some small way, as well as Alberto and Xaviar have done. They have indeed set a fine example to follow.
As I noted, my task here is to comment on the topic, "AA as a Whole." I often have difficulty speaking about success, and the world around us certainly sees Alcoholics Anonymous as a success. Early in my sobriety a man named Harlan became my sponsor. It was from him that I learned that any successes I might find in life were not mine to claim. They were actually the visible proof of a God working in my life. On the other hand, the difficulties in my life were truly mine to claim. They were the visible proof of self-centered fear. And so it was his suggestion that I pay close attention to the failures, and little attention to the successes. Due to the process we humans call death, Harlan has graduated to become my Spiritual Advisor. I continue to learn from his spirit and I have no doubt that he will be with us here today.
Alcoholics Anonymous has circled the earth in the last 59 years. It has overcome many kinds of difficulty and trouble. We have fought amongst ourselves about what to do almost every step of the way. When one views our society from this point, it becomes amazingly clear that there is a Divine Presence which guides the direction. In each situation, and for each decision, there have been those who have sacrificed much to move us forward on our path. Some have given greatly of their time, others have contributed money, and still others have been willing to make the ultimate sacrifices-the disapproval of their fellow AA's.
The story is told, in our groups, about when Bill W. was asked to appear on the cover of one of our most famous magazines. Bill later recounted that he and Dr. Bob struggled many hours over the decision. They knew that a number of alcoholics would die if they refused to let the magazine do this. These alcoholics would die because they would not be able to hear about our life-saving message. At the same time, Bill and Bob were certain that if Bill broke his anonymity others would also break theirs. The end result would be chaos and the destruction of our Fellowship. And so, Bill refused to be on the cover of the magazine. He made that decision also knowing that there would be AA members whose friends and family members would die as a result of the decision, and that those folks would not feel kindly toward him again.
Our world wide history has many such stories. There were the Finnish AA members who smuggled the Big Book into Russia in the years before the Iron Curtain collapsed. They were willing to sacrifice their very lives in order to make sure that the drunks in Russia had a chance to hear about a way to find sobriety. This kind of experience has been repeated over and over again in our society. We have always risen to the challenges put before us to carry the AA message.
When my Spiritual Advisor, Harlan, advised me to remember who was responsible for the failures and who achieved the successes, he may well have known a very important thing. Success, even when it is only the illusion of success, is just as intoxicating for an alcoholic like me as any drink of alcohol. It leaves me with a false sense of power and a false sense of righteousness. I begin to think that both I and my actions are perfect and that the world around me must follow my will. I believe this is also something Bill W. knew, not only about himself - but about our society.
In a writing for AA's 25th Anniversary, our co-founder Bill W. wrote the following, and I quote, "For so long as we remain sure that our `one world of AA' is God's gift rather than any virtue earned or created by ourselves; and for so long as our `one world' continues to be ever more inclusive of those in need; and for so long as we speak and try to perfect the language of love - for just so long may we count upon making whatever rendezvous with destiny that God will have us."
As we can tell from this writing, Bill was also very concerned about the problem of success. He knew, from his own experience, just how much trouble it can be. His greatest successes in the stock market had almost cost him his life. In some way this has been true for each and every one of us. In some strange way failure has been the path to freedom for us all.
It is this terrible personal failure each of us has lived through that stands as the very foundation of our `one world of AA.' Your country has many beautiful places to visit, as does every other country in the world. Each of these countries also has places that are ugly and that people stay away from. You and I have been in some of these places, both good and bad. But the real reason we can live in our `one world of AA' is that there are places only we alcoholics have been. These are not places on earth-they are places of the spirit. It is because of this terrible darkness in which we have lived, that we are willing to do what is necessary to build toward the light.
It is this "building toward the light" which is the true topic for this weekend. It is Step by Step that we build for the future. To do this, we must have a vision to guide us. How we arrive at this guidance is of the highest importance. It has been my experience, the experience of those I most admire, that the principles and practices by which we find our path is by far more important than the path or the goal. Let me now share with you the understanding I have come to as a result of that experience.
I will begin by quoting the first and second points in the original Conference Charter for the United States and Canada. I do this because I believe it clearly points the way for AA worldwide to function harmoniously. I quote:
1. Purpose: The General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous is the guardian of the World Services and of the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Conference shall be a service body only; never a government for Alcoholics Anonymous.
2. Composition: The Conference (North American Section)) shall be composed of State and Provincial Delegates, the Trustees of the General Service Board, Directors and staff members of the New York Headquarters and such ex-Trustees or foreign Delegates as the Conference may wish to invite.
Other Sections of the Conference may sometimes be created in foreign lands as the need arises out of language or geographical considerations. The North American Section of the General Service Conference will then become the Senior Section, related to the other Sections by ties of mutual consultation and a cross linking of Delegates.
But no Conference Section shall ever be placed in authority over another. All joint action shall be taken only upon two-thirds vote of the combined Section. Within its boundaries each Conference ought to be autonomous. Only matters seriously affecting AA's world-wide needs shall be the subject of joint consideration."
Just as our own recovery grew out of terrible personal failure, so too, our society marks the beginning of its service structure from the failures of other societies. Failures which, in some societies, has meant their collapse. While in others it has meant changes which have placed the changed society at odds with its beginning principles.
When I looked in the dictionary to lean what was meant by principle, I discovered that a principle was defined as "a truth upon which other truths could be based." In using this definition, I have learned much from the writing I just quoted. These discoveries have clearly pointed to a path we can follow for a safe and secure future. Let me share them with you now.
In the first sentence I find that the General Service Conference is to be a guardian of both World Services and AA's Traditions for unity. It is important to see that the word guardian is used - not the world, owner. This tells me two things. First, that our services and our Traditions are living, flexible things. Whenever and wherever you find a guardian you will also find that what is guarded is not something which can be possessed. Since Alcoholics Anonymous is, in fact, a living, breathing, and constantly moving Fellowship, it is only possible for there to be a guardianship - never an ownership.
There is another aspect to guardianship that also helps to paint a picture for our service structure. Guardians, when acting in the best use of that concept, function in such a way as to ensure that actions taken do not prove harmful to the person or entity that is the focus of the guardianship. Therefore, they must have the ability to listen carefully to the wishes and plans of the person or group for whom they are guardians. Advising the best course of action and assisting in carrying it out. However, they are also responsible to see that learning takes place. In that capacity they must allow the person (s) they serve to fail in order for the learning to take place.
Almost in an attempt to make sure this understanding is reached, the second point is made that the Conference will never be a government for AA. We all understand, regardless of the country in which we live, what it means to have a government. Governments have officials who rule, laws that control, demands for money which must be met and authority which is difficult to keep in reasonable balance. We all know very well, from our own experience, how we rebel at the idea of being forced to do anything. And so Alcoholics Anonymous has decided to avoid these pitfalls in order to provide the most welcome opening for the alcoholic who still suffers. And so our new found vision must come from our collective experience - not from an edict handed down by authorities.
Having decided t draw upon our collective experience in finding the path toward our future, how do we communicate and develop the new understanding? This is our first challenge, and is provided for in the second point of the Charter, entitled, "Composition."
The first five words clearly illustrate the `one world' vision that Bill talked about. It takes little thought to understand that the world "Conference" describes the world-wide collective conscience. This would also be in keeping with the perspective of an old friend of AA, namely Dr. Carl Jung the noted psychiatrist. Dr. Jung figured heavily in the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous and much of his thinking is reflected in our Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts for World Service. It was a part of his perspective that when a collective conscience was developed, this conscience would naturally become the home for the basic principles by which those connected to it would function. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Bill and Bernard Smith would include this concept in the basic framework of our society.
In addition to this, the idea of a collective conscience places everyone as equals. No single person, or collection of persons, holds any more sway or influence than any other. All are equal parts of the whole. If we understand little else, we ought to a least clearly see that just as alcohol treated us equally, so, too, the basis of our society must be equality. Equality in the opportunity for recovery, equality in the responsibility for our survival, and equality in the necessity to serve someone or something greater than ourselves.
As noted in parentheses, the groups in the U.S. and Canada would be considered the North American Section. It is easily understood, from this identification, that a section could be composed of any nations or groups that wished to become a `section.' This emphasis also reinforces the idea that no part of the worldwide Fellowship of AA ought t be considered greater than any other. The only requirement, if it can be called one, would be that a need was felt. This is in keeping with our Third Tradition through which a member becomes one when he or she says so, and when two or three alcoholics who are gathered for the purpose of sobriety can call themselves an AA group. So, too, it would follow, in good order, that this principle (a truth upon which other truths can be based) would also hold true for a general service section. This is a new understanding for me and will require more study and meditation. I share it with you so that you may also find your own understanding of it.
And, finally, we find a few points of principle which, if thoroughly applied, can serve to promote the harmony security that can be found through the contact with a Higher Power we know lives in our collective group conscience. Those points are:
* Equality - no person or group in authority over another.
* Collective conscience - a two-thirds vote required in decision-making
* Autonomy - You are one of us if you say your are.
* Participation - those affected by a decision are part of the voting body.
These points are the cement which can bind a society together, or when ignored, ensure that fragmentation and disintegration will be the experience. They simply cannot be ignored by anyone whose life depends on a unification with their brothers and sisters.
Today, AA as a Whole struggles with this question; "Can we leave behind the laws of human kind and trust the survival of our society on a God that each of us knows personally, but that we aren't' sure of collectively?" The illustration is used, regarding the Third Step, that the Bridge of Reason can only take us so far. At some point we must then take a leap of faith to that distant shore. Perhaps we have come to that point with our society as a whole.
No society, fellowship, or other manmade entity has, to my knowledge, made it beyond this point. Each in turn has cloaked itself in righteousness, shielded itself with rights, and struck out against others with the law. Forsaking the Divine Force that gave it life.
Our challenge is great. We do, however, have the experience of our recovery, and the experience of the unity of our groups and our service structures t use as a guide. You have been kind enough to invite me to come and share with you. Yet, it is I who will benefit the most. For I will be able to lean from the faith you have shown on your journey. And perhaps, if it be God's will, I can work toward connecting those with this faith in Mexico to others who also have a strong faith in my country. When it appears to us that we can not find a truly strong faith in our whole society, the task then becomes finding it in each other.
Faith in a Power Greater than ourselves was what gave birth to all of AA - regardless of where or when it grew. Faith has allowed us to disagree without destroying one another. And it is faith that will lead us to the future. A future, not only for those of us who are already here - but for those who have yet to come.
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A letter, dated December 7, 1994, to the General Manager of GSO, George D. from a past Delegate concerning a AA Worldwide literature 'Cartel.'
December 7, 1994
Mr. George Dorsey
I am writing to you regarding our conversation that took place at the Southeast Regional Forum on Saturday night. This conversation concerned the litigation issue. George, the question I posed to you was, that even if every group in the US and Canada said their "group conscience" was against litigation, would A.A.W.S. continue with litigation as a course of action to take regarding infringements on our Trademarks/copyrights? Your answer was, "Yes."
I said that if that was the case, why don't you tell the Delegates this. It was quite obvious for the discussion on the floor of the Forum and from the letter that the Delegates from the Southeast Region had Gay G. (Southeast Regional Trustee) bring to the last General Service Board weekend that they wanted to gather a "sense of their Areas" in regard to whether or not to litigate.
George, this concerns me very much. As a past Delegate, I know how much time went into gathering the sense of my Area on any given issue. I also know how I would feel if I was to realize that this would all be for naught. I questioned you as to `why' you just didn't inform the Delegates of this and let them put their energies elsewhere. Why get a `group conscience' on an issue that has already been decided by A.A.W.S.? An issue that no amount of `group conscience' would have the power to change.
This brings me to a related subject. There has been talk about an issue that I sincerely hope you can dispel. This is in regard to implementing a "Holding Company, " "Cartel" if you wish; a "God Company," so to speak, that would `control' our publishing in regard to licensing and copyright procedures throughout the world. Tell me, George, that this isn't true.
There have been signs of this, though. The start of this was in the 1987 Conference Charter change. The original Conference Charter stated that, "No Conference Section shall ever be placed in authority over another" and that, "Within its boundaries each Conference ought t be autonomous." In 1987 it was changed to, "In countries where a General Service Structure exists, the United States/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of that Structure." Quite frankly, I see this change as a form of government; placing one service entity over another.
Though what we are `doing' does not yet have a proper name in regard to being a formal `entity' it has all the ear marks of a `company' ready to be formed; a `Cartel' is you wish. And George, this type of set-up would be beyond the Fellowship to control. It would be beyond our First Concept and if what you said regarding `group conscience' on the litigation issue was true then we are already seeing the fruits of such an entity. This should never be! We cannot have any type structure in Alcoholics Anonymous that the Fellowship would not have the `final say' in its matters. But it looks like this is already happening.
What we have right now, quite literally, are franchises (foreign GSO's) which we `control' with our right to delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature. It seems to me that this is an authoritarian setup, placing one group in unqualified authority over another. This is not the democratic concept which calls for "checks and balances" that would prevent unqualified authority from running unrestrained. As the AA Service Manual states, "Well knowing our own propensities for power driving, it is natural and even imperative that our service concepts be based on the system of "checks and balances." How can we continue in the direction of a "Cartel" and stay within the "checks and balances" concept?
Another sign that we may be moving into the concept of a Cartel is the report I the Trustees' International Committee of October 29, 1994 under new business. "The Committee suggested that the General Service Office conduct an overall study of our licensing and copyright procedures with an eye toward keeping a cohesive record of all assignments of copyrights and licenses throughout the world. The Committee also suggested that any extra personnel needed to accomplish this task be employed." Please comment on this, George. We seem to be putting an extraordinary amount of time and effort in controlling foreign licensing.
As reported in the World Service Meeting report, "The World Service Meeting delegates unanimously accepted the report of their literature committee as follows: `Copyrights were brought up under new business. It was felt the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous belongs to AA as a whole and AAWS, Inc. (US/Canada) holds these copyrights in trust for all of us. The committee recommended that AAWS, Inc. should continue to grant exclusive licenses to one service structure per country. Giving licenses to two entities in one country could weaken the unity of AA in that country. It was suggested that future World Service Meetings be kept aware of problems regarding copyrights in AA." To begin with, I though the World Service Meeting was not a decision making body. If the above is true, then this situation, including the litigation issue and how it would pertain to the above, is now placed beyond Concept One. Our General Service Conference would have absolutely no say in these matters. I wonder if the Conference of 1987 knew the extent of their actions when they changed the Conference Charter, Article Two to it's present form. Were they given the whole truth as to where this was leading? Also, would the World Service Meeting be used to set up a Cartel? Just wondering.
George, you said the reason AAWS would continue to litigate as a solution to protect our trademarks/copyrights, even if the `group conscience' voted otherwise was because if AAWS did not `protect' our trademark/copyrights with litigation, "pandemonium would break out with the foreign GSO's." I believe this is controlling with the use of `fear.' Get everyone fearful of all these horrible scenarios and then AAWS can `control.'
At the Southeast Regional Forum last weekend a woman said, from behind the microphone, that she `felt' something was wrong after the finance report from AAWS. She didn't quite know `how' to address her feelings except to say that she perceived that the emphasis was on finances through publishing instead of how GSO serves the groups. I believe she voiced a sentiment that many are feeling in AA today. I was told that the foreign GSOs are dependent on money from publishing to run their General Service Office. If they didn't "protect" their copyrights their GSO wouldn't function. It seems that what they have in place are large `Intergroup' type entities which sustain themselves through literature income. They would have NO choice but to protect their literature through litigation if their GSO's are to survive.
Not once during the reporting on the World Service Meeting did I hear any sharing on the importance of Group Contributions as the way to support GSO's. Not once did I hear the importance of the groups', "Power of the Purse" when they contributed to their GSOs. Not once did I hear sharing on how to achieve `self-supporting' through group contributions instead of relying on publishing income to support their GSO's. I thought this was the ideal? I thought this was one of the important ways the groups had to insure Concept One. Why all the emphasis at the World Service Meeting on granting exclusive licenses and trademark/copyright protection instead of sharing what we know to be our `spiritual solution' in supporting our Service entities, the 7th Tradition?
What direction are we headed in, George? I would like an answer to this. Thank you for your time in reading this and for your answers.
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A letter to Valerie O'N., Conference Coordinator, from Jacob H., Northeast Regional Trustee dated January 10, 1995 RE: Proposed Conference Agenda Item.
To: Valerie O'N. - Conference Coordinator
From: Jacob B. H. - Northeast Regional Trustee
Please accept the following proposed Conference Agenda item, to be placed in the Report and Charter Committee.
The Report and Charter Committee review the suggestion that Article Two, paragraph 4 of the General Service Conference Charter to determine if that paragraph is contrary to the spirit of Warranty Six, Concept12.
It appears that Article Two, paragraph 4 gives the right to the Conference to perform acts of government. This would seem to be a violation of the 6th Warranty, "That though the Conference may act for the service of Alcoholics Anonymous, it shall never perform any acts of government and that, like the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous which it serves, the Conference itself will always remain democratic in action and in spirit."
Paragraph 4, Article Two reads, "In countries where a General Service Structure exists, the United States/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of that structure. Only matters seriously affecting AA's worldwide needs shall be the subject of joint consideration." Current matters concerning this issue seem serious enough for thorough sturdy of this matter by the Report and Charter Committee.
To quote a reading in the 12th Concept, "The Warranties of Article 12 are a series of solemn undertakings which guarantee that the Conference itself will conform to AA's Twelve Traditions; that the Conference can never become the seat of great wealth or government; that its fiscal policy shall ever be prudent; that it will never create any absolute authority;....and that it shall always remain democratic in spirit."
Jacob B. H.
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Dr. Guzman, Chairman of the General Service Board of Section Mexico to Jim Estelle, Chairman of the General Service Board of US/Canada - dated February 8, 1995
RE: "Why Section Mexico's `Petition of Redress' and answers to questions under Concept Five, petitioned through their letter, dated July 25, 1994, to the US/Canada General Service Conference, hadn't been answered by the General Service Conference.
Mr. W. J. (Jim ) Estelle, Jr.
Dear Mr. Estelle,
· I feel I would have always been glad to be able to have exchanged letters with you since the time I began to serve as Chairman for the General Service Board of the Section Mexico of the General Service Conference. This happened about two years ago. However, if one has the AA principles in mind, it is never too late to start doing anything positive.
My profession is as a medical graduate, specialized in the area of microsurgery. In my life as a practitioner, I have had always to take care of a lot of unfortunate cases related to a compulsive drive to alcohol drinking. A long time ago, before I had had the chance to know about Alcoholics Anonymous, the etiology of such a morbid condition shown by a large segment of people sometimes baffled me, and then I would become disappointed at looking how little science could do for these suffering human beings.
As I told you above, about two years ago I made a decision to join my efforts and dedication to the ones of a Fellowship devoted to the carrying of the AA message to the still suffering alcoholic person. These highly dynamic and outstanding people are the Section Mexico of the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous in this country. In those early times when I was beginning to perform inside AA, I was duly informed on the situation in Mexico, due to the fact that two service structures existed. When I became aware of the facts, I was shocked for I would never imagine that a group of recovering alcoholics had to be officially recognized in order to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to a human being afflicted by this health problem. The work achieved by Alcoholics Anonymous has always impressed me positively, and I would like to say that the humanitarian feelings I feel as a medical worker are the same of my fellow AA members; so I didn't hesitate when these men and women invited me to be the Chairperson of the General Service Board.
Last summer I was ashamed of witnessing a humiliating and outrageous fact, done within this philanthropic Society; this is, a criminal prosecution filed against AA itself. What was more shocking to me was the fact that this action was supported and even encouraged by people from an office closely related to the General Service Board that you preside. I'm not going to fill this space up with the facts related to the criminal lawsuit, since you are thoroughly aware of them.
However, I must here zero in on the fact that derived from this action some of our members could have had their liberty in jeopardy. And, for this reason, some fellow AA members themselves attorneys have been defending our cause before the authorities.
The very inertia of this criminal lawsuit has now the authorities to be about to issue subpoenas for Messrs. Wayne P. and Tom K. J., because of their involvement they have had in this mess. It is also possible that the audits for both AA groups finances be ordered. If there appears to be some fiscal discrepancies, there will be a serious criminal prosecution.
Section Mexico made the decision to split up from Central Mexicans almost nine years ago. Their main motives were that this latter service structure was not AA principle-abiding. Through these eight years, Section Mexico has increased its membership to about an estimate of 2,4000 groups and 40,000 sober members. Two trusted servants and members of the General Service Conference US/Canada, Messrs. Bob McE. And Dennis B. accepted an invitation from our Fellowship so as to visit our National Service Forum in the city of Cuernavaca on the last Thanksgiving weekend. The gift from these fine gentlemen has been enormous to our group, since their unity and service message of AA has dramatically united all the members we serve. Bob and Dennis, themselves, have witnessed the trusted way that all our leaders and members of our group attach to the AA principles in all of our Three Legacies of Unity, Recovery, and Service. I mean, the message of unity and service in Mexico has been thoroughly transmitted in the 19 Service Areas of our Section Mexico and, in no way, this increasing membership will ever accept any deviations occurring at their service entities, as it happened before and which caused the split-up.
As you can see, Sir, from this lawsuit there will only be losers, since the AA unity has been definitely fractured in this country. Things will never, ever be the same as they were before Section Mexico was born. But there is indeed a great risk involved; it seems that- according to the way that the General Service Board and AAWS have been acting since nine years ago - they do not mind at all that the good name of Alcoholics Anonymous be stained through a public controversy. This is not about copyrights, trademarks, and logos which you have been fighting in the legal arena, IT MEANS SERIOUS DAMAGE TO AA AS A WHOLE.
Mr. Estelle, I have in my hand a copy of the Spanish translation of your letter dated the 10th of August, 1994 and addressed to all the Conference members. It would have been very good to have this copy from you, and not from another source in Mexico. I understand that when you didn't even have our name on your mailing list it is because you have not taken us into account as a part of AA. Specifically speaking of this letter, it's a pity that the facts had been widely distorted and that even some lies are told to a large group conscience. However, I'm not going to deepen on things that now only belong to the past.
I intend this letter to deal with something much more positive: the future of Alcoholics Anonymous in Mexico.
The purpose to which my AA fellows and myself are devoted is the ultimate one: to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to the still suffering alcoholic, and, never, ever will our purpose be the selling of AA literature. The literature is in itself a means to achieve the Legacies of Unity, Recovery, and Service, but never a final aim in itself.
Our structure has always been open to people locally and internationally. Our fellows from the Area of Tlaxcala are now busy on their task of organizing their local Convention for next June by the AA's 69th Anniversary. The Area officers are going to invite two trusted servants from the US/Canada General Service Conference to come over too. I want to have this opportunity to invite you, Mr. Estelle, in the name of my fellows, so as to come and visit our Section Mexico group of the Alcoholics Anonymous Conference.
As up to this later date we haven't had any reply to our petition of Redress and answers to questions under Concept Five, which we petitioned through our letter of July 25, 1994, and taking into account the pessimistic perspectives of Alcoholics Anonymous in Mexico, due to the lawsuit which has had its origin in the amendment to the Second Article of the Conference Charter by the Senior Section of the AA General Service Conference, THIS SITUATION IS NOT A MEXICAN PROBLEM ANY MORE, IT IS THE US/CANADA GENERAL SERVICE CONFERENCE SPIRITUAL RESPONSIBILITY to settle this international conflict, so I will appreciate your including of our Petition somewhere in the Agenda of the 1995 General Service Conference.
I look forward to hearing from you, and remain,
Ignacio Guzman Mejia, MD
cc: Conference Delegates Panels 44 and 45
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J. Estelle's March 31, 1995 letter in response to Dr. Guzman's letter of February 8, 1995
March 31, 1995
Ignacio Guzman Mejia, M.D.
Dear Dr. Guzman,
Please accept my sincerest apologies for being so late in responding to your welcome letter of last month.
Your background and experience in the medical profession have given you insight and wisdom allowing you to fully appreciate the need for the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to be carried to the still suffering alcoholic.
While my background has been quite different from yours, I came to the same conclusion as you did in offering to serve this life-saving Fellowship. For forty years, I worked as a prison administrator and quickly realized that A.A. was the most effective program available to help alcoholics.
It is not fitting for me to comment on the regrettable lack of harmony within Alcoholics Anonymous in Mexico. I do not know the facts nor the background well enough to make an intelligent assessment. You should know there are many of us praying for the restoration of unity within the Fellowship of Mexico.
Like many other diseases, the physical recovery is sometimes not accompanied immediately or concurrently by emotional and psychological stability. Such situations also occur from time to time in organizations such as A.A., especially when we do not discipline ourselves to adhere to the spiritual foundations of Alcoholics Anonymous. I make these observations without passing any judgment on what has taken place in Mexico.
I agree with you that legal action does not usually bring peace and harmony to the parties involved. Sometimes legal action does not even find justice in the results. Legal entities are not usually sensitive to, nor equipped to take into account spiritual values which continue to give life to our Fellowship.
You mention a letter in your possession which I sent last August to our Conference members. The position of our General Service Board remains the same today as then. We view Mexico's situation as regrettable, but do not believe we should interject our opinions into the issue. We continue to be available to both parties simultaneously if both parties so desire in an effort to mediate, negotiate, or assist in the process of restoring unity. If both parties could possibly agree to such efforts, we stand ready to serve you all.
Your gracious and generous invitation to attend the Convention in the Area of Tlaxcala is most appreciated; however, under present circumstances I must decline lest my presence be misconstrued by others.
To the best of my knowledge the issue of differences in A.A. in Mexico is not scheduled to be addressed at our forthcoming Conference.
I have visited Mexico many times and have always been impressed by the genuine warmth and hospitality of our neighbors there. My previous visits have not been related to the service of our Fellowship. I hope one day to visit Mexico in celebration of a restored unity within our beloved Fellowship.
Very truly yours,
W. J. Estelle
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January 6, 1995 letter to Jim Estelle, Chairman of the General Service Board US/Canada from a Region Trustee member of the General Service Board regarding Section Mexico's "Petition of Grievance" to be placed on the Agenda of the General Service Conference.
January 6, 1995
I recently received my Communications Kit for the General Service Conference and have perused same. I do not see that the Petition of Grievance from Section Mexico is on the Agenda.
Article Two of the Conference Charter gives the Conference the right to enter agreements with other Conferences. This has been accomplished by its delegated entity, A.A.W.S. in the case of Mexico. The Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations are involved with those foreign Conferences when we enter international agreements.
Section Mexico has petitioned the General Service Conference of the US/Canada for redress and answers to questions under their rights as seen in Concept Five. Section Mexico has done so in an appropriate manner and has diligently followed appropriate required process.
The General Service Board has determined the problems to be internal to Mexico. I fail to agree with this rationale when the agreement the A.A.W.S. Board entered into is the crux of the problem. Also, since it is the Conference's ultimate responsibility, in accord with the Conference Charter change in 1987, it is imperative that this be placed on the 1995 Conference Agenda. Although any individual or group can petition under Concept Five, I fail to see how we can ignore a petition representing 2,400 groups with an estimate 40,000 members of Alcoholics Anonymous.
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February 12, 1995 letter from the Trustees' Conference Committee Secretary to the Regional Trustee regarding his request for the "Grievance Petition" from Section Mexico to be placed on the Conference Agenda.Dear Jake,
As I am trying to complete the paperwork from the trustees' Conference Committee meeting of Saturday, January 28th, I am formally reporting on their deliberations:
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February 22, 1995 letter from Regional Trustee, Jake H. to Secretary of the Trustees' Conference Committee/GSO Staff/Conference Coordinator, Valerie O'N.
February 22, 1995
Please make available to me transcripts of the Recommendations, ensuring discussions and vote process regarding Article Two of the Conference Charter from the 1987 and 1988 General Service Conference. I realize that archival tapes will have to be accessed and effort made. I request this in order to complete my background understanding of this vital issue.
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The Chairman of the General Service Board reply back to the Regional Trustee in regard to his request for transcripts of the 1987-1988 General Service Conference-Article Two change.
March 2, 1995
Valerie has passed along to me your request to make transcripts available of the recommendations, ensuing discussions and vote process regarding Article 2 of the Conference Charter from the 1987 and 1988 General Service Conference.
The tapes of these two Conferences will be made available to you at the Archives office at your next visit.
Frank M. has requested that you give him five working days notice so that he can create cassettes of these specific sections of the Conference that you would like to hear. The original Conference tapes are recorded on "reel to reel" and Frank will need to create cassettes for your use in the office so that you can rewind, etc. without damaging the original tapes.
We hope this solution protecting the confidentiality of the Conference discussion will help your understanding and research of this matter.
Jim E. Chairman of the General Service Board.
Cc: Frank M. Archivist
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February 9, 1995 letter from a past Delegate to the Delegate Chairman of the Conference Agenda Committee.
February 9, 1995
What I would like to do, C., is to ask the Agenda Committee to consider putting on the 1995 Conference Agenda the "grievance petition" from Section Mexico. I am very well aware that the Trustees' Conference Committee made the decision that it not be considered by the 1995 General Service Conference. Also, that the Committee requested that the General Service Board communicate again to Section Mexico that this is an internal issue.
I feel so very strongly that this issue is a Conference issue. I will not voice whether or not I think it is an "internal issue." I firmly believe this is up to the General Service Conference to decide. The "grievance petition," from Section Mexico, was addressed to the General Service Conference in both the July 25, 1994 and the October 10, 1994 letters. I believe it goes against the whole Conference idea to have a few decide for the many what will and what will not be addressed at the General Service Conference. If the Conference decides it is an internal issue, so be it. At least the Conference will be the one, and rightly so, to answer this petition which is the right of Section Mexico under our Fifth Concept.
I feel we view each issue through a unique 'window' at the Conference. Each element has its own perspective. If any of the 'perspectives' are missing, we cannot arrive at an informed group conscience on issues involving A.A. as a whole. A.A.W.S. views the Section Mexico situation through a legal 'window' and rightly so. The General Service Board views the issue in terms of overall policy, etc. The GSO Staff add another perspective through their 'windows.' The Delegates to the General Service Conference bring the 'grass roots' perspective. When you add all of the perspectives, as viewed through these unique yet vital windows, a "group conscience" develops and a Power greater than ourselves is allowed to speak through this truly informed group conscience. As it stands now, the triangle has been inverted. A few have decided what is best for A.A. and what A.A. shall and shall not address.
Trust is a two-way street. We have to trust the General Service Conference to have "enough enlightenment, enough responsibility, and enough love of man and God to ensure that our democracy of world service will work under all conditions. We are confident that we can rely upon Tradition Two, our group conscience and its trusted servants. Hence, it is with a sense of great security that we oldtimers have now fully vested in A.A.'s General Service Conference the authority for giving shape-through the labors of its chosen Delegates, Trustees and service workers-to the destiny that we trust God in His wisdom is holding in store for all of us." (Concept One)
So, C., I do hope your Committee will consider this. I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to address this issue with you.
J. Past Delegate Panel 41/Area 65
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January 6, 1995 letter from the then currant Delegate of Panel 45/Area 65 to Valerie, Secretary of the Trustees Conference Committee/Conference Coordinator, regarding Section Mexico's "Petition of Grievance."
I'm sure glad I phoned you today so that I could get this request in the right hands. Its really hard to believe it's been over four years now since you were the 'new kid on the block.'
In looking over the preliminary Conference Agenda you sent me, I noticed that the 'petition of grievance' from Section Mexico was not included. I'm aware of the General Service Board's legal right to do what they did, but we haven't honored Section Mexico's grievance with a fair hearing in regard to Concept V. Since this petition was addressed to the Conference, we need to get it somewhere on the 1995 Agenda.
I understand that, on the surface, Section Mexico's problem appears to be an 'internal one,' (i.e. a local problem for Mexico to work out). But when we, meaning the General Service Conference, took it upon ourselves to change Article II of the Conference Charter in 1987, vesting ourselves with enough authority to control international literature propriety, our responsibility to resolve these matters assumed global proportions. This responsibility is not only legal but must be spiritually addressed, per our Concept. In recent World Service Meetings there has been increased discussion, dialogue and recommendations regarding this policy of literature publishing.
Our Area is discussing this grave issue and becoming more informed. Their feeling is that more and more we seem to be infusing our legal rights, while diffusing our spiritual responsibilities.
I look forward to seeing you at the Conference. I thank you, in advance, for your response to this inquiry.
Love in Service,
Jim T. Panel 45/Area 65
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March 2, 1995 letter to the General Service Conference from a past Delegate regarding Article Two of the Conference Charter.
March 2, 1995
TO: 1995 General Service Conference Members
Dear Conference Members,
As some of you know I have, in the past, addressed issues that concerned me. I feel that, as A.A. members, it is important to keep the dialog going in the Fellowship. I would like to thank you for the time involved in your attention to this letter. I know the Delegates, especially this time of year, have an overwhelming amount of material to read and digest in readiness for the General Service Conference.
The issue I bring before you concerns Article Two of the Current Conference Charter, specifically the 4th paragraph which was changed in 1987 and reaffirmed in 1988 by the General Service Conference. The Original Conference Charter in Article Two, paragraph 4 stated, "No Conference Section shall ever be placed in authority over another" and that "Within its boundaries each Conference ought to be autonomous" was replaced with, "In countries where a General Service Structure exists, the United States/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of that Structure."
The "Mexico Situation", in part, is a result, a symptom if you wish, of a departure from our spiritual principles - the principle of humility in our Sixth Warranty which states, "That though the Conference may act for the service of Alcoholics Anonymous, it shall never perform any acts of government; and that, like the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous which it serves, the Conference itself will always remain democratic in action and in spirit." - and the principle of equality in our Resolution which state, "that none of the Conference Members shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority over any others;" and "that though the Conference may act in the service of Alcoholics Anonymous and may traditionally direct its world services, it shall never enact laws or regulations binding on A.A. as a whole or upon any A.A. group or member thereof, nor shall it perform any other such acts of government; and that, like the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous which it serves, the Conference itself will always remain democratic in thought and action."
Our entire Service Structure is built on the concept of 'checks and balances'; "In the A.A. services we have always had to choose between the authoritarian setup, whereby one group or one person is set in unqualified authority over another, and the democratic concept which calls for "checks and balances" that would prevent unqualified authority from running unrestrained. The first approach is that of the "institutional" or authoritarian type. The second is the method of "constitutional" governments and many large business corporations in their upper echelons. Well knowing our own propensities for power driving, it is natural and even imperative that our service concepts be based on the system of "checks and balances."
By the change in Article Two, paragraph four we have performed an "act of government" by setting up rules and regulations. We have vested ourselves with "rights" that must be enforced. We may have obtained a good "business" method of controlling our literature but have we explored all of the spiritual ramifications of this practice? Have we, by acting in the seemingly "better business sense", set something in granite that cannot bear a change? I have witnessed this through the action or inactions of the General Service Board when they stated that the "Mexican situation" is 'internal' and they would have to work it out themselves and "legally" we are right so we shall not address this issue. Removing the personality of "Mexico" and looking at the fact that we cannot nor will not address any situation in Alcoholics Anonymous because "legally we are right" speaks to the fact that we have placed our policies beyond the purview of reviewing them to see if they are in keeping with our spiritual principles. Does this not go against the idea that we of Alcoholics Anonymous belong to a Fellowship that is ever mindful that we must continue to be open to any actions that may impair or compromise those spiritual principles?
At every level of the A.A. Service Structure we have great liberties. The members, groups, Districts and the Areas have all the autonomy they need to change existing practices. Yet, at the very heart of our General Service Conference Structure we say there can be no autonomy. We hear that licensing only one service entity per country was done, in part, to foster unity when in reality it is control; controlling via our literature. When we licensed only one service entity per country we have created monopolies or franchises in those respective countries. If A.A. in any given country, at the GSO and General Service Board level, went astray, the groups in that country have no choice but to continue supporting that structure if they want to continue to buy our literature. Hopefully, in most foreign countries, this would never be the case because their GSO's and General Service Boards would act in the very best interest of A.A. But this may not always be true. What of the autonomy in any given country if authority runs unrestrained? They have no choice but to fall under a restrictive distribution policy because to do otherwise would hamper their efforts to get literature to the alcoholics. What if a country raises the literature prices to extremes to support their GSO's and it becomes too prohibitive for the AA member to afford literature? Could the licensing policy we instituted affect the "checks and balance" system in foreign countries? With the way the current Conference Charter Article Two reads we have created a totally inflexible method of licensing our literature. If we have assumed the authority to do so, should we not also have the responsibility for looking at each situation that occurs, as in the case of Mexico, and have the pliability to
I think I understand why this whole method of licensing has taken place. It is to control our literature. This is not all bad. We wouldn't want just anyone, in any country, running around willy-nilly producing our literature, so, I suppose, some sort of control needed to be in place. The questions arise when our policy and actions not only control our literature but also
This situation has happened in one country. How many other countries will this happen to before we awaken to the fact that we have created restrictive polices which goes against the very principled soul of AA. Warranty Six states, "Because we set such a high value on our great liberties, and cannot conceive a time when they will need to be limited, we have specially enjoin the General Service Conference to abstain completely from any and all acts of authoritative government which could in any way curtail A.A.'s freedom under God. The maintenance of these freedoms in our Conference is a great and practical guarantee that the Conference itself will always remain democratic in action and in spirit."
It is my hope that the current Conference Delegates will ponder the dilemma the 1987--88 change to the Current Conference Charter has placed the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in. I do not believe that any major change would need to take place to rectify this situation. What it would take is action and responsibility on the part of the Conference to weigh each situation on its own merit to see if indeed two structures can be licensed per country. This would be along the same lines as a new Delegate Area where criterias must be met (number of AA members, size, Conference, GSO, GSB, etc.). As in the case of the Central Mexico agreement, according to the licensing agreement, their license can be revoked in 60 days so this is a possibility. This may be a arduous task at first but was it not ourselves who vested the Conference in this authority and is it not now the Conference that must take the equal responsibility?
This is of the utmost importance. If, in any way, the actions of the Conference have restricted our message, as written in our literature, to even one alcoholic then immediate action must be taken. If any country has, within their rights to autonomy and liberty, decided that they could not longer abide the actions of a service entity and went about to set up a General Service Board, General Service Office and a General Service Conference then how can we, in all good conscience, not look at the situation? Can we decree from our station as 'keeper of the rules' that they cannot or will not have our life giving message as depicted in our Literature? Power and Control cannot be abided in Alcoholics Anonymous, at any level, and certainly not at the Conference Level. May the Conference always act for the very best of Alcoholics Anonymous. We, the members of A.A., have given this trust to you.
With Love in Service,
Jude H. - Past Delegate - Panel 41 Area 65
I would like to add a post script of sorts.
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1995 letter from the then current Delegate from Virginia to the Chairman of the General Service Board, Jim Estelle (note: the only last names used are those of non-alcoholics; for the sake of anonymity, only first names, last initials of A.A. members are used.
Like other Conference members, I have received the letter and information from Section Mexico de la Conferencia de Servicios Generales. It arrived the week before the Virginia Area Convention where I was giving a delegate's report. I included information about this in my report and asked for a group conscience of the DCM's, GSRs, Virginia Area Officers, and other AA members present concerning the matter. This group conscience supports me in sending you this letter.
The Virginia Area urges you as the Chairman of our General Service Board along with other Trustees to offer any and all support and assistance to help resolve the differences between Section Mexico and Central Mexicana.
Although this appears to be a legal problem, it is first and foremost a spiritual one - problem of unity in the name of our common welfare. Because of the spiritual nature of the concern, we believe that it would be more appropriate for our Trustees to be the voice of AA at this time.
I know I do not need to explain to you the depth of my concern about this matter because I know of and trust your love for A.A. Still I will say that this is no longer just a legal matter of who is right and who is wrong, but a deep spiritual issue about AA's staying sober in Mexico. We alcoholics cannot afford those dubious luxuries of
We in Virginia support you in offering whatever help you can to both of the service structures in Mexico.
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April 6, 1995 letter from past General Service Trustee Harold G. to then current General Service Trustee, Mike McP. Regarding the Article Two change in 1987.
Thank you for forwarding to me a copy of Bob McE's Letter. I had received a copy previously and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss it with you as I am in a quandary as you are as to what Bob is making reference to.
The issue at NERAASA (Northeast Regional A.A. Service Assembly) primarily had to do with the history that evolved as a result of the dispute between Central Mexicana and Section Mexico. It had nothing to do with the actual document, how it came about, or the circumstances surrounding it. What I distributed is what Bob indicated - the same document that was distributed to all the delegates from the General Service Office.
The reason the history was distributed at NERAASA was because many of the attendees did not understand the chronological events that surrounded the issue and a distorted view was being used as an example of the broader picture that involved the so-called censure and was being used to justify why the General Service Board should be called to task. The history that I circulated had an historical perspective and illustrated that the General Service Office administered the policy of licensing appropriately and without partiality and had maintained that impartiality up to the present time. In my opinion the issue surrounding the licensing of Mexico to distribute Fellowship literature is inappropriately being used as an example of some malfeasance by the General Service Board and I feel that it should be corrected for the membership at large.
I believe the issue of the licensing of Central Mexicana to distribute AA literature is a distortion. Unfortunately, members of the Fellowship are not plugged into the Service Structure or the attempt to portray the General Service operation unfavorably is a disservice of the many dedicated individuals involved at the General Service Office.
It is critically important that factual information be broadly disseminated in order that rational decisions can be made. It was in that spirit that I circulated that document that was previously distributed to all delegates. It was not new, mysterious, or magical. It was the truth.
I do not know if this helps the situation or not but these are the facts as they occurred. If I can be of any help, or you need any further clarification regarding my role at NERAASA, please feel free to contact me.
Yours in the Fellowship,
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Letter, dated April 14, 1995 from a past Delegate to Harold G. past General Service Trustee regarding Harold's April 6th letter to General Service Trustee, Mike McP.
April 14, 1995
First, a Happy Easter to you and a beautiful Spring. Lucky you! I saw pictures of Washington and everything was in bloom! We, in Maine, are still hoping it doesn't snow and not a bud in sight.
I have no comment about the NERRAASA incident. I would, however, like to share with you my letter, dated March 2, 1995, to the members of the General Service Conference regarding Article II of the Original and Current Conference Charter. That letter is enclosed. I do not believe anyone is 'using' the Mexican situation as an example of some malfeasance by the General Service Board. Quite the contrary. It was the General Service Conference itself that made that change to Article II. Also, it was the General Service Conference that received the "Petition of Grievance" from Section Mexico and it should be the General Service Conference that answers that petition, not the General Service Board.
I don't believe this whole situation is about Mexico, per se, but involves a much larger issue; the change in Article II which, in essence, states we only license one service entity per country. I suppose to make my observation on the current policy simple I could use as an example: What if Maryland could only have one Intergroup/Central Office and all the members of AA in Maryland would have to buy their literature directly from that one Intergroup/Central Office. Suppose they could not order directly from GSO. What would happen if that Intergroup/Central Office, in Maryland, started charging exorbitant prices for literature to keep their Intergroup/Central Office afloat or for any other reason. Suppose the groups in Maryland did not agree with the 'way' the Intergroup/Central Office was handling their affairs and felt that they were no longer abiding by the Traditions, policies, etc. of Alcoholics Anonymous. The groups in Maryland would have no choice other than to pay whatever the Intergroup/Central Office requested because if they didn't, they wouldn't have literature. They would not be able to have the 'autonomy' to 'break off' from that service entity and form another service entity because it wouldn't be licensed to carry Conference-approved Literature. That, in part, is the "Mexican Situation."
Harold, I also included two Maine Area Newsletters; I am currently the editor. In the first issue, on page 6 & &, there is a synopsis of current events. There is a synopsis of the "Statement of Censure" which, I think, is helpful in understanding how it came about. It had nothing to do with the "Mexican Situation" as some people believe. In the April/May issue, on page 5-6, there is a letter from the Chairman of the Board of Section Mexico, Dr. Guzman. This is the third letter from Section Mexico asking for the General Service Conference to put their "Petition of Grievance" on the Conference Agenda, as is their right under our Fifth Concept. You can see why things are a little testy right now regarding the Mexico. According to Concept Five the General Service Conference should respond in some way, don't you think?
Well, Harold, again, Happy Easter and a warm Spring,
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May 8, 1995 letter from former General Service Trustee, Harold G. in answer to letter write him on April 14, 1995.
May 8, 1995
With regard to your letter concerning the issues surrounding the problems in Mexico, I would first like to thank you for giving me a copy of your letter to the Conference members and the two copies of the newsletter. I found them to be informative and trust that you will enjoy further endeavors in the future along those lines.
It appears to me from the letter and the newsletter articles that the difficulty surrounding the issue of licensing of the Mexican General Service Office has to do with what you perceive to be a wrongful act by the General Service Conference of 1987 and 1988. I find that extraordinary. Your letter to the Conference, if nothing else,
The General Service Conference, in my opinion rightly, specifically provided that the members of the country would determine how and when Conference approved literature would be provided. The Conference members of the World Service Conference upheld the decision of the General Service Conference in 1987 and 1988 because it allowed the individual country to determine how to preserve the integrity of the message of our founders.
Far from the notion of an entity becoming dictatorial, the entire process provides the exact opposite that the groups of that country will make a decision the same as the groups of this country make a decision as to who represents them at their General Service structure. As Bill W. aptly describes in every instance that an issue of this type arose in the final analysis, the individual members must make their own determination and they cannot be intimidated by the notion of New York reversing or intervening in a decision for their country.
If we were to make exceptions in Mexico, we would need to make exceptions in every single country where AA literature is distributed. It would allow the total disregard of our traditions by anyone who felt the need to publish AA literature for profit. Our principles of non-intervention in the affairs of individual countries is sound and steeped in the spiritual concepts and follows the principles of our Fellowship in the spirit it was intended by our founders.
I respectfully disagree with your interpretation. I do respect your right to have an opinion but I believe that in this instance you are incorrect and certainly the overwhelming rejection by the Conference of that notion is something everyone should bear in mind in future decisions on this issue.
Thank you for your continued concern for the principles of our Fellowship. I look forward to future discussions of other matters regarding our future.
Always stand in the sunlight of the spirit,
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Past Delegate's response back to Harold G.'s letter dated May 8, 1995
Ah, excuse me for belaboring a point, but I could not resist. First, thank you for your response, Harold. So many times one writes a letter but never sees a responds. Thank you for taking the time and interest.
This will be short. Harold, you stated that, "I respectfully disagree with your interpretation."
In any case, Harold, thank you again for writing. Hope all is well with you and yours.
Love in Service,
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Article from the A.A. Quarterly report from G.S.O. - February, 1995
TRUSTEES CONFERENCE COMMITTEE:
The Committee recommended that the "grievance petition from Section Mexico" not be considered by the 1995 General Service Conference and requested that the General Service Board again communicate to Section Mexico that the issue in question is an internal matter of the Mexican structure.
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The 1995 General Service Conference's action, or more exact, inaction, on the "Petition of Grievance" from Section Mexico.
The 45th General Service Conference Voted Not to Consider ('Discuss' was the actual word used) the Following Proposed Floor Actions:
Floor Action # 1 (proposal not to consider):
That the A.A.W.S. Board's permission to Great Britain to adapt the Twelve Concepts for World Service for their own requirements be withdrawn pending review and recommendation by the Conference Report and Charter Committee at the 1996 General Service Conference.
Floor Action # 2 (proposal not to consider):
Area 44 requests that the 21 Trustees of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous meet with representatives of the two service structures in Mexico (Central and Section). The purpose of this meeting, if needed, is to mediate the conflict and to bring to the 1996 Conference recommendations which would preclude reoccurrence of this type of conflict in any other situation/country.
Floor Action # 3 (proposal not to consider):
Section Mexico has sent three letters to our General Service Conference asking the Conference to review their petitions of grievance, which is their right under Concept V of World Service. To fulfill our spiritual responsibility I propose the following motion: "That this Conference review and discuss these petitions and forward a response to Section Mexico.
Floor Action # 4 (proposal not to consider):
The Conference recommends that the General Service Board and its subsidiary boards, A.A. World Service, Inc., and A.A. Grapevine, Inc., initiate no litigation in defense of copyrights and trademarks, in accordance with Tradition 10 and Warranty 5.
(note: Warranty Four states, in part, "That all important decisions be reached by discussion, vote, and whenever possible, by substantial unanimity. Here on the one hand we erect a safeguard against any hasty or overbearing authority of a simple majority; and on the other hand we take notice of the rights and the frequent wisdom of minorities, however small. This principle further guarantees that all matters of importance, time permitting, will be extensively debated, and that such debates will continue until a really heavy majority can support every critical decision that we are called upon to make in the Conference. The 1995 General Service Conference will go down in Conference history as a lesson in failure of our 4th Warranty. It was a sad day in Conference history.
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July 19, 1995 letter to the members of the General Service Board from a past Regional Trustee.
TO: The General Service Board
I would like to report to you on my recent trip to Mexico. I will be writing a more formal report to the Fellowship later this Summer. For now, I would like to share a few moments of that incredible weekend spent with fellow A.A.'s.
I was invited to speak by Seccion Mexico members. J. and I arrived in Talazacala (a two hour drive from Mexico city) about 10:00 AM. There were about 300 or more people registering. I thought, about right for a Regional Forum. Then they started to come - they came 6-8 in the back of old pickups - they came in overcrowded and overheated buses - they came on foot and they came by car. When the Service Round-up started at noon four thousand people were in the armory. And, believe me, they didn't come to hear me! This is the normal amount present at their Service Round-ups.
There was no need for preliminary presentations describing the functions of various Boards and GSO. It was obvious from the fact that almost every GSR and DCM carried a well worn and much used Service Manual. These servants knew exactly what the GSO and the Service Boards were about. A wonderful weekend ensued. On Saturday, June 10, reference was made to the fact that 60 years ago, on that very day, our AA Fellowship began. The moment of incredible spiritual emotion came at precisely 4:00 PM on Sunday Afternoon. The lights were turned out and 4,000 candles were lit to commemorate July 3, 1955, at 4:00 PM when the Alcoholics Anonymous was turned over to the Fellowship at the Convention in St. Louis.
On the previous Friday we had a tour of their General Service Office. We were introduced to the various Staff members from GSO and "Dimension" Magazine. Our constant companion was Alberto P. who serves as their "Dimension" Magazine Controller. From the General Manager to the Grapevine Editor, Staff and all the others involved, responsibilities were shared. It was most interesting to note that the Financial Statement showed that the groups fully supported their GSO. There was no income from literature.
A poignant moment was a visit to their little literature room. It was all but empty. This brought to mind the amount of literature produced by our GSO. It brought to mind the amount of literature that our Intergroups/Central Offices carry. The literature room in a GSO, which services 30,000 alcoholics, was almost empty. As you are aware, their literature was confiscated by the Police. It was then put in a building with guns, narcotics, and so on. This is where the A.A. literature message is in Seccion Mexico today. There were some pamphlets that were in transit and had not been impounded by the Federals. These were taped and officially stamped so no one would use them. They even have no access to their own General Service Conference reports which were bought and paid for by their own groups because it had the name Alcoholics Anonymous on it and they are not allowed to use the name.
On Saturday night we had a meeting with the Delegates, Trustees and Chairman of the General Service Board. I will go more into this at a later writing but I would like to share one particular incident. All the Delegates there were very well versed in our A.A. Service Manual, Traditions and Concepts. One Delegate, who quoted various Concepts, Conference Charter passages and Traditions pertinent to their situation, asked how could this have happened; how could the General Service Conference in the USA/Canada not address this issue? I had to honestly tell him that the General Service Conference in the USA/Canada did not care.
These hardy souls - some 2,500 groups and about 30,000 members carry the message but without the sustaining message of the literature. Alcoholics will die this night in Mexico City and towns throughout Mexico.
This is not about legalities, business practices, licensing agreements, By-Laws or Conference Charters. This is not about 'controlling' countries by dictating to them that there shall be no autonomy to decide their service structure. What this is about is at the very spiritual foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous world wide. It is about the fact that the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous belongs to the World Wide Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. No member or Group should be denied literature because of restrictive distribution practices or exorbitant prices.
Concept Nine delineates the General Service Board as the leaders of AA World Wide. In that capacity you have the authority to resolve this tragedy taking place in Mexico. If you do not then I can only assume you are prejudiced or that you have made a decision as to who is AA and who isn't.
As you dine in opulent splendor at the Hotel Coronado and accept the accolades from the stadium throng, perhaps you might ponder a moment to consider the terrible injustice happening in Mexico.
Jacob H. - Past Northeast Regional Trustee
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July 22, 1995 letter to the members of A.A.W.S. Board members from a past Regional Trustee.
To: Members of the A.A.W.S. Board
This is a follow up of my recent letter dated June 19, 1995 to the General Service Board in regard to the Section Mexico situation. I have had no response except for one personal verbal attack by a Trustee.
The first thing that must be recognized is that Section Mexico is a separate Conference and that there are two Conferences in Mexico. The split occurred, not initially because of literature, but because of the principles involved. The rift occurred because some (eventually Section Mexico) felt that there was too much concentration of authority and money. Second, the "right of determination" is absolutely the right of those groups that made the decision to form Section Mexico (some 2,400 groups, 30,000 members). They should not be forced to support another Conference by purchasing their literature.
The consistent explanation that this is an "internal matter" is ludicrous. The litigation involves a licensing agreement issued by A.A.W.S. and, therefore, involves A.A.W.S. The involvement of A.A.W.S. has consistently been covered up as evidenced by the fact that my constant requests over the past two years for a copy of the licensing agreement and other documentation were refused. (Incidentally, I agree the General Service Board did not support my requests, so, by default, support the cover-up by A.A.W.S).
I am led to believe that the licensing agreement stipulates that the licensee (Central Mexicana) cannot bring suit without A.A.W.S.' permission. There is a document that is signed (purportedly by Wayne P., past General Service Manager) claiming authorship of A.A. literature. I am told by Michael McP. That this was merely a clerical error. If so, are you in the habit of allowing licensees to forge signatures of A.A.W.S Officers? If so, why haven't the Mexican courts been made aware of this "error?" Will it be corrected? Something is just not right.
However, my thrust here is not to dwell exclusively on the legal but to appeal to the justice and compassion of yourselves. Your are in a position to right this terrible injustice. And, I quote from my June 19, 1995 letter to the General Service Board, "What this is about is at the very spiritual foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous World Wide. It is about the fact that the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous belongs to the World Wide Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. No member or group should be denied literature because of restrictive distribution practices, exorbitant prices or force to support another entity not of their choosing."
I fear that as you continue to embark on a world wide practice of monopolistic licenses that more "Mexico's" will happen (if they haven't already). I note with some incredibility your delight that you have the support of the World Service Meeting. Good Lord, why wouldn't you when most of those members hold your exclusive licenses. These licenses, monopolistic by any economic term, are also restrictive (either by price or distribution).
I am sure that ways can be found to recognizing separate entities or needs such as (sic) Le Service des publications francaises des AA du Quebec by establishing certain requirements similar to establishing new Conference Areas. (Note: If Areas wish to request an Area split do we tell them its an "internal problem" and they must find ways to work it out themselves?) You cannot contain the growth of Alcoholics Anonymous nor direct their needs by use of a governmental approach. A study of our Resolution and Warranty Six points this out. Your practice of protectionism of money and property is restrictive to this change and growth. Your have, in effect, told Section Mexico that they don't exist. Who are you to determine this? Who are you to say to them they are not worthy A.A. members, able to choose a structure that will support their spiritual principles?
The Fellowship deserves to know the full impact and details of your World Wide operations. But, instead, they are couched in secrecy, even from the General Service Board.
Like many letters, copies of which I have received from concerned members of the Fellowship, I suspect this will go unheeded. However, the issue(s) will not die because the Conference Committee and the Conference itself did not have the fortitude to act on principles. I addressed these concerns of process and issues in my Saturday morning remarks. The process will prevail though it may take time. The current "company line" that "Substantial Unanimity" was observed in the 1995 General Service Conference decisions will be recognized as what it really was, "emotional appeal." Substantial Unanimity cannot be accomplished without adherence to the full text of Warranty Four. Once again we see those who take our principles out of context to justify a "process" which has not taken place. Again, issues such as the "Mexico Situation" will continue to arise and will eventually be discussed in the context of the principles in which we must abide.
Yours in the Fellowship,
Jacob H. Past Trustee/Northeast Region
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Northeast Regional Forum-Past Trustees' Presentation Sunday Morning-August 13, 1995.
NORTHEAST REGIONAL FORUM - AUGUST, 1995
Good morning! My name is Jake and I am an alcoholic. This morning I would like to take the few minutes allotted to me to discuss with you some issues.....…..
I would now move on to another issue and that is the issue of licensing agreements between A.A.W.S. and other countries. I would comment first on Mexico. Again, there were two Floor Actions regarding Mexico. The first having to do with the general situation and called on the General Service Board to intervene in the controversy. This floor motion was from the North New Jersey Delegate. A second motion from the Northeast Texas Area Delegate proposed that the two grievance petitions from Section Mexico be reviewed, discussed, and answered per our Fifth Concept. Both of these were voted on the same as the first Floor Action, "refuse to discuss." (A fourth Floor Action does not permit time for comment. That action, put forth by the Maryland Delegate proposed that no litigation be initiated by any of the Boards in defense of Copyrights. This, too, received the refusal to discuss treatment.)
I would share, for a moment, an incredible visit to Section Mexico in June at the invitation of the General Service Board of Section Mexico. I attended a Regional Workshop (such as this). There were 4,000 in attendance in the town of Tlexacala. I made a presentation on that Sunday afternoon. At precisely 4:00 PM the lights were turned out and 4,000 candles were lit to commemorate July 3, 1955, in St. Louis, when the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous received responsibility for their destiny from our founders.
Earlier in the week I toured the General Service Office. A poignant moment came when I witnessed their virtually empty literature room. What little that was left was sealed by Government officials. Even their own Final Conference Report, which the groups paid for, was sealed because it had the name A.A. on it. However, their GSO office is supported 100% by group contributions.
There is no literature income because they are being sued by Central Mexico for Copyright infringement. These people have no literature available to them because of high prices and a desire not to support another Service Structure. The rift occurred, not because of literature, but because of principles. Thus, Section Mexico was formed in the mid-80's and now numbers about 2,500 groups and 30,000 members (almost half the size of Central). There are today two distinct Conferences in Mexico. It is the absolute right of those groups to determine their own A.A. affiliation.
I fear that Section Mexico has already been found guilty by the General Service Conference. Whatever happened to presumed innocent until proven guilty?
I would conclude by saying this; The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous does not belong to the Delegates. The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous does not belong to the General Service Board. The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous does not belong to A.A.W.S. The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous belongs to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Whether or not this axiom is true in practice is up to the Groups of Alcoholics Anonymous. If the groups are not willing to take the responsibility for the Fellowship, which was the wish of our founders, then Alcoholics Anonymous will continue to be operated by a centralized power resulting in an ongoing division in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Current Past Trustee/Northeast Region
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August 17, 1995 - Mexican Lawsuit Settled ?
The General Service Board of Section Mexico met on the evening of August 17th, and the Ad-hoc Committee of lawyers rendered their Report on the lawsuit against them by Central Mexicana defending A.A.W.S. copyrights. These are the highlights:
1. The sentence was to put the accused (an alcoholic Trustee) in jail for one year. This light sentence can be paid through a fine of five thousand New Pesos (about $850.00). This fine has already been paid, and the Trustee won't have to go to jail.
2. Even though the plaintiffs, Central Mexicana, demanded an enormous amount of money, as a compensation for damages done to their business, the judge did not order payment from Section Mexico. Central Mexicana apparently sought damages to cover their legal fees, possibly several thousands of dollars.Click here for details
3. The confiscated literature will be delivered to the Mexican Public Education Ministry due to its valuable social message. It will be thus channeled to public libraries, correctional and health facilities, medical institutions, etc., all over the country.
4. Section Mexico will no longer be able to reprint copyrighted A.A. literature in translation. The courts did, however, permit us to continue using the name "Alcoholics Anonymous" and the circle and triangle logo. Efforts are now under way to generate pamphlets and a new body of literature.
Against God's will, the actions of A.A.W.S. to control at whatever price are beginning to prove to be innocuous.
Alberto P. AA magazine Controller- Section Mexico
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Presentation To Section Mexico, Mexico June 11, 1995
Good morning! My name is Jake and I am an alcoholic. It is a privilege for me to speak to you this morning. Thank you for inviting me and my wife. We have had a marvelous time being with you.
A little over 60 years ago, two men met on a Sunday afternoon in Akron, Ohio. Bill, the sober drunk, said to Doctor Bob, "I think you can help me." Doctor Bob had agreed previously to allow Bill 15 minutes of his time. The meeting lasted for several hours. Because of that handshake between are two founders, we are given the opportunity to share our experience, strength and hope here today. We are all direct descendants of that meeting.
My journey here today began over 20 years ago, on Sept. 21, 1974. On a beautiful California Monday morning I got off the skid row bar stools and went to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. By your grace which has led me to a God of my understanding I have not found it necessary to take a drink since that time.
On my third day of sobriety I wandered into our Intergroup office and was put to work licking stamps for envelopes (apparently I was the wettest tongue around!). Every stamp was put on crooked. Today I receive mail from all over the United States and when I see a crooked stamp, I know someone else has embarked on a service journey. I served at the Intergroup for several months and also worked in the Hospital and Institution activities.
At about two years sobriety I was elected a General Service Representative and later a District Committee Member. I should mention here that as the Big Book says, "If you want what we have...," I looked around and those that had what I wanted had, without fail, two things in common - First, they worked the 12 Steps of recovery on a daily basis and Second they, in some way, served Alcoholics Anonymous (the Twelfth Step). My sponsor was such a man and I asked him to sponsor me for just those qualifications. I was scared of this man at first but because of his not so gentle persistence I learned to love him.
After six years of sobriety I moved back to my native state of Maine - way up in the Northeast corner of the United States. There I started again as a GSR and DCM and later, Area Chairman. I was elected Delegate to the 38th and 39th General Service Conference. In 1991, I was elected Northeast Regional Trustee to the General Service Board of the United States/Canada Conference. I have chaired both Literature and Nominating Committees and had the opportunity to be Chairman of the AA Grapevine, Inc. during my third year. During those 4 years I have served on various Trustees' Committees. I have just completed my four year term at the close of the just past 45 General Service Conference.
This past 45th General Service Conference, which you have asked me to comment on, was a great disappointment to me. For reasons that I will develop, I shall not soon forget this sixth Conference I have attended.
The Conference plan as such is fully explained in our AA Service Manual. It says, "It is a method by which AA's collective group conscience can speak forcefully and put its desires for Worldwide Services into effect. It is the structure that takes the place of government in AA. It insures that the full voice of AA will be heard, whether it represents the great majority or a minority. The Conference Plan was established as a guarantee that our movement wide services would continue to function under all conditions. The plan provides a practical successor to the founders of AA." In essence that is what our founders did at St. Louis on Sunday afternoon at 4 O'clock July 3, 1955. 40 years later, at the 1995 General Service Conference, the Conference Plan was set aside. The full voice of Alcoholics Anonymous was not heard.
Our Traditions and Concepts have two seemingly endless threads running through them. The first is an emphasis on the rights of the individual. No other society has committed itself to the rights of the individual, be they in the majority or the minority. Bill refers to it in AA Comes of Age, "When we first come into AA we find here, as we have observed before, a greater personal freedom than any other society knows. We cannot be compelled to do anything. In that sense this society is a benign anarchy." The word anarchy was and is used in the gentle sense of finding a life free, simple and joyous. Of course we all know that our "rights" do have a price tag. To not follow the principles embodied in our Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts means death to the individual, group and General Service Structure. In regard to the rights of the individual, I have observed over the past couple of years a strong bias developing towards the minority voice. Not only has the minority voice not been answered but attempts have been made to silence the minority. Rather than discuss the issues raised by the minority, individuals have been discredited. We thereby fall into the trap of placing personalities before principles. The spirit of Warranty Six is in serious jeopardy.
The second thread is the wonderful system of checks and balances that course through the Traditions and Concepts to insure the mechanisms to carry out the individual freedom and allow the group conscience to emerge as the guiding force within our Fellowship.
Thus we see that through our Traditions and Concepts and by adding in our Conference Charter and General Service Board's By-Laws we have ample documentation for the conduct of our General Service Conference. In the aggregate we refer to this documentation as our "Spiritual Principles." Has the 45th Conference adhered to these spiritual principles and the Conference "Plan?" I mentioned those precious threads of linking spiritual principles running through our Traditions and Concepts. I fear that the threads have been broken or at least very badly frayed.
As explained to me by a past Chairman of the General Service Board, the process is very simple - First an idea is put forth and general discussion is had and background is developed. If enough interest is generated then it is put into the "Committee System" and we let the results happen. I stress the last point - "Let the results happen." If the system works and all the checks and balances are in place, then the result is of no consequence since the spirit of Warranty 4 will be satisfied - that is, substantial unanimity will be achieved. I fear, however that what is happening is that the end results are being pre-determined and the process "tailored" to bring about that pre-determined result. At the 45th General Service Conference many issues that affected AA as a whole did not come out of the Conference Committees. As a result, God's expression, as our 2nd Tradition states, was not heard through the collective voice of the entire "group conscience". Since important issues were not brought to the floor of the General Service Conference and Concept 1 was not achieved. That Concept states, "The final responsibility and ultimate authority for AA world service should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship." Our AA Service Manual states that "...no annual Conference is Committee-run" and that "A Conference Committee does not represent "authority." Unfortunately, this was the case. The "checks and balance" system failed.
About 4 years ago the practice was started of inviting the Delegate Chairpersons of the Conference Committees to the January General Service Board weekend in New York. The original idea being to go over Committee Agendas in order to assure adequacy of background material and, generally, assure a smooth transition of material from Trustee Committees to Conference Committees. The idea was a good one. However, the threads have been also allowed to fray as the Chairmen have been ingratiated and somehow made to feel they are extraordinary Delegates. Further, they are given insights into Trustees' and Corporate Board members personal opinions. I might add this is just my own personal observation. One of our very basic checks and balances is the separation between the Trustees' Committees and their counterparts, the Conference Committees. This separation is very important to the Conference Structure in developing the informed group conscience of the whole General Service Conference. Each of the 'entities' participating in the Conference view the AA Fellowship through a difference perspective. Each have a 'unique' window through which they view concerns, ideas, and so on, of our entire Society, whether that be the GSO Staff, Board of Trustees, members of the Corporate Boards and the Delegates, which represent the "grass roots." When we merge these entities we lose a part of the perspective which is so vital in the developing of the informed group conscience.
Now at the Conference there is a joint meeting between Trustee Committees and the counterpart Conference Committee. Again, the idea is to discuss background adequacy and general procedures. Subsequently the Conference Committees meet by themselves as Delegates only and thus the process is begun towards the realization of Concept 1. Supposedly a Trustee would only be invited to attend, briefly, to give further background - not opinion. At the past Conference the lines were obliterated when Trustees regularly attended Conference Committee meetings and gave opinions. Quite a few of the Conference Committees went back into session when their 'recommendations' , for whatever reason, were not accepted by the Conference and Trustees and members of the Corporate Boards went back with them.
From this Conference 29 Advisory Actions were enacted. This is roughly half the usual number a Conference passes. For the most part, these Advisory Actions were not actions of great import; changing a word in a pamphlet, Service Manual, and so on. The most important issues were never brought to the floor of the Conference. In that sense the Committees determined for the Fellowship what would be discussed. The Group conscience, so vital to the heart of our spiritual foundation was not allowed to emerge. These issues included separately incorporation of the General Service Office-the idea being to dissipate a perceived over concentration of authority and money in one entity, A.A.W.S. Another issue, Article Two of the General Service Conference Charter which authorizes the granting of an exclusive license to one entity per country to publish and distribute AA literature. This issue is, of course, of paramount concern to yourselves. There are some who claim Article 2 as it pertains to Mexico is too sensitive an issue to discuss with the AA Fellowship in the United States and Canada. In a sense we have many issues which are too "sensitive," too complicated and too involved with legalities for discussion at the Conference. One needs only to review the many copyrights of The AA Service Manual. This review will tell us that, perhaps, Alcoholics Anonymous has become an oligarchy that makes it difficult except for a very few to understand the issues that have become mixed in "legalities" and "business practices." In that way a few can control these issues so vital to AA. Have we become so complex that we
The only solution seems to be "trust your trusted servants" because there is no way one can understand and address these issues personally. We have even gone so far as to turn a half day over to a sharing session for "bonding" and discussing the "spiritual aspects" of the Conference. I was always under the impression that the spirituality evolved as a result of accomplishing the business of Alcoholics Anonymous. We seem to have become a self absorbed society; the emphasis being on "me." I have read many Delegates Post Conference reports and the focus seems to be on how "I felt," on "what this has done for me," on "how much I received," instead of the emphasis being on what I was able to contribute to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole which I was intrusted to serve. I was amazed that there was considerable consternation when some business matters-floor actions-were introduced during the "spiritual session." The comments regarding this "business interruption" were that we should not "pollute," and we should not "contaminate" this "bonding session" with the business of AA. I believe we have lost all sense of what we are there for.
There were other issues that never came out of committees such as review and reaffirmation of the 12 Concepts of World Service. The issue of Mexico was never forwarded to a Conference Committee. Some letters had been written requesting Seccion Mexico's petitions be forwarded to a committee. The Trustees' Conference Committee decided to not forward these requests. The rationale was in keeping with the consistent policy of the General Service Board which is that "the situation in Mexico is an internal issue."
The only recourse to raise vital issues were actions from the floor of the Conference during Conference week. Four such actions were brought forth. One had to do with permission by A.A.W.S. granting permission to Great Britain to adapt (rewrite) the Concepts. This floor action stated, "That the A.A.W.S. Board's permission to adapt the Twelve Concepts for World Service for their own requirements be withdrawn pending review and recommendation by the Conference Report and Charter Committee at the 1996 General Service Conference. (This would have been in conformity with the 1985 Conference Report and Charter Committee Advisory Action-"The Scope of the Conference Report and Charter Committee be amended to include the responsibility for the "Twelve Concepts for World Service.") Another floor action came from the Area Committee, Maryland General Service, Area 29 that "The Conference recommends that the General Service Board and its subsidiary boards, A.A.W.S, Inc. and AA Grapevine, Inc. initiate no litigation in defense of Copyrights and Trademarks in accordance with Warranty Five and Tradition 10."
There were two floor actions pertaining to Mexico. The first was a motion supported by the Northern New Jersey Area which stated, "Area 44 request that the 21 Trustees of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous meet with representatives of the two service structures in Mexico (Central and Seccion). The purpose of this meeting, if needed, is to mediate the conflict and to bring to the 1996 General Service Conference recommendations which would preclude reoccurrence of this type of conflict in any other situation/country." The second was brought by the Delegate from Northeast Texas, Area 65 which stated, "Seccion Mexico has sent three letters to our General Service Conference asking the Conference to review their petitions of grievance, which is their right under Concept V of World Service. To fulfill our spiritual responsibility I propose the following motion: That this Conference review and discuss these petitions and forward a response to Seccion Mexico."
Alas, all was for naught as a ploy was used that I had never witnessed before. All four floor actions were dealt with individually and in the same way. The Conference on each Action voted to "Refuse to Discuss."
I feel this Conference was run on fear. Fear to discuss, fear to debate, fear to listen to all sides. At the other Conferences I had attended when an issue or issues were thought to be "controversial" there were pro and con presentations on them. There were open communications and a group conscience sought. If we truly "trust" Tradition Two and a loving God who expresses Himself through the group conscience we have no fear. This Conference had misdirected its "trust."
The Conference came into being in 1951 in order to take the place of our founders. It was set up so our legal entities would become responsible to and accountable to the Fellowship they serve. Once again I would raise the question, have we now arrived at the point by so complicating many issues that the Conference cannot continue as originally conceived? As I stated previously, when we left major items of the 1995 Conference Agenda and others did not clear Committee consideration It seems to be a waste to have a Conference that addresses only simple pamphlet change or approves expenditures for GSO videos. The General Service Conference-one week-costs the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous $700,000 (12.6% of Group Contributions). We must answer the question as to whether or not we are a business society with some spiritual aspects or are we a spiritual society with some business aspects? Once we answer that question we can then decide whether or not we need a Conference. I hope we will continue to ask these questions at all levels of our service structure.
What are the results of the 45th General Service Conference? Perhaps only time will tell. It might be a good idea to revisit for a minute the beginnings of our Service Structure and the passing of responsibility for the Fellowship from our Founders to the General Service Conference. This officially happened at 4 O'clock Sunday afternoon, July 3, 1995. Bill W. spoke in support of the Resolution to the Conference Charter to be accepted by the convention in St. Louis. I quote from Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. "In the years ahead we shall, of course, make mistakes. Experience has taught us that we need have no fear of doing this, providing that we always remain willing to confess our faults and to correct them promptly. Our growth as individuals has depended upon this healthy process of trial and error. So will our growth as a Fellowship. Let us always remember that any society of men and women that cannot freely correct its own faults must surely fall into decay if not into collapse. Such is the universal penalty for the failure to go on growing."
I fear today that we have not heeded these prophetic words of our co-founder. I do not think that we have reviewed our faults and made correction. Is it too late? I don't know and time will tell if we have gone beyond the point of no return.
Because of what I have reported to you this morning in regard to lack of action by the General Service Conference you might feel apart from the rest of AA. However, let me assure you that you are not alone. You were visited last November by four people who absolutely support your rights. We support your right to be recognized as a viable AA Conference. We support your right to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic with literature readily available at a reasonable cost.
I have several times stated at service gatherings that if we adhere to spiritual principles as embodied in our Traditions and Concepts, we cannot fail. Having read your letters and talked with some of you over the past several months I am convinced that you adhere exactly to spiritual principals. I was told by one of your visitors last November that I would see the Service Manual in action. Indeed, as I have had the chance to observe over this weekend you are all that and more. Therefore, as you can see you simply cannot fail.
As we celebrate, in joy, this weekend, the 60th Anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous, I cannot help but look back for a moment. I see our founders and those many non-alcoholic friends that helped us and have served us so well in the past-the giants. Those people are gone-few are with us today that were linked to Bill W. Perhaps the only one is our current Trustee Emeritus and just past Chairman of the General Service Board, Michael Alexander. Thus, you here today are the living Third Legacy that our founders bequeathed to us on that Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, 1995. It is upon your shoulders the responsibility to further our service structure, so that the groups can be supported in their efforts to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic.
I do not mean that the road ahead will be easy. There may be obstacles, perhaps many seemingly insurmountable. But if you remain true to your principles then I will repeat one more time, you cannot fail. Remember, as our Big Book states, "pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth," and God's grace will prevail.
Perhaps the problems we face today can best be summed up by the words of Bernard Smith. Mr. Smith was one of our giant non-alcoholics friends of the early days. He was Chairman of the General Service Board in the first years of the Conference. An address he gave 25 years ago at the International Convention in Miami is as pertinent today as then. I quote form that speech.
Thank you for your example of grace. You have taught me much and I hope my words will give you some encouragement to continue your journey. I would further hope that we can continue this journey together and I can be of service to you.
I like to end presentations and talks by including two lines from a prayer that my sponsor gave me many years ago. "I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life so that I might enjoy all things." On this occasion I would thank you for my life. I love you. Farewell for now.
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August 24, 1995 letter to James A., DCM from Area 72 from Alberto P., AA Magazine Controller, Section Mexico
August 24, 1995
When I got to my service at AA Magazine this afternoon, I was given your letter. It was most welcome, let's say a gift for today for our Service Structure, Section Mexico, has reached its 9th anniversary of serving 2,500 groups of Alcoholics Anonymous all over this country. The General Service Board, along with its Chairman, the GSO personnel, the staff and the Magazine personnel we all met and lots of memories came to our minds.
Nine years ago, there was a round-up of alcoholics representing 10 Service Areas in a theater downtown in this city. We made a historical decision of separating off from a Service Structure which had been our service structure since the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous in Mexico. The delegates and the groups' conscience they represented made the hardest decision of splitting, mainly because the former GSO and General Service Board had accumulated power and money, making our Fellowship a business or money-driven entity, and thus, deviating off of our only purpose of carrying the AA message to the still suffering alcoholic.
Time passed by and then 9 more Areas joined our structure to be served, totaling about 2,500 groups and about 30,000 alcoholic fellows.
We made attempts for membership to the World Service Meeting (Conference) but to no avail, for our applications were courteously discarded. The rationale was that Mexico already had a structure, recognized by the GSO and General Service Board of the US/Canada Conference.
To serve our groups, we started printing literature since about 1987; the items we printed were the very Spanish translations available from New York.
From 1989 on we began to notice some weird situations from the New York office, such as letters written in non-AA terms, warning us to refrain from printing any literature; the alteration of Article Two of our Conference Charter openly put a Section of the Conference (US/Canada) in a position of power over the other Sections. Also, a letter from a law office representing Central Mexicana (our former service structure) warned us to stop printing AA literature and to stop the use of Alcoholics Anonymous name and logos.
This warning had its basis on a license agreement granted to Central Mexicana by AAWS in 1990. I'm sure, James, that you would share our same opinion, in the sense that we could not stop our vital services; that this kind of arguments could not have been placed inside of Alcoholics Anonymous. Well…we just did nothing about stopping our service to AA.
On July 5, 1994, our facilities were seized by the federal police. Heavily armed police got into our tiny literature warehouse, confiscating all our AA books and leaflets they found. Some items were left-including our Final Conference Reports because they showed the name and logo of Alcoholics Anonymous-but they taped them up and sealed them. Two trucks had been parked outside the building, the AA literature was put in there, and then is was sent to a repository at the General Attorney's building, to stay there together with guns, knives, narcotics, and every object of crime you can imagine.
Two of our trusted servants took a trip to New York. IT was of a vital importance to stop litigation before it could go to the media, but, unfortunately our fellows were slapped in the face with the rationale of, "YOU HAVE GOT TO SOLVE THIS MESS BY YOURSELVES, IT'S AN INTERNAL MATTER," by George D. the General Manager at GSO. Well, we'd face a terrible situation because this went to criminal court in February of this year, and one of our fellows, whose name appeared in the Charter, was indicted by felonious behavior and prosecuted to be put in jail. We had to deposit a bail to prevent his arrest.
This twelve-month period of litigation at the Attorney General's office, and then in criminal court has been terribly hard for all of us in Section Mexico; our small Reserve Fund has been almost spent up with legal expenses and, most of all, nobody was certain on what was going to happen to our Service Structure. Our fellow plaintiffs were spending very heavily in legal fees and expenditures from group contributions and they had all the support form AAWS.
Well…the Alcoholics Anonymous principles were again our light on our journey, both individually and as a whole. All of us witnessed how our Higher Power worked in our favor: our adhesion to these principles happened to be enormously attractive since none of the Areas, Districts, Groups or AA members we served deserted us-on the contrary-they all contributed to our general services, and these were plainly supported by the groups, without any income from literature; our Fellowship came of age with this suffering, since the service centers and events were crowded, and the Service Manuals and Twelve Concepts books have been studied and practiced at the most; the message has been carried to facilities, to the public, to the professional community with only our words; the newcomers in the groups have been given beginners' meetings by the fellows form literature committees. Our leaders, the DCM's, GSR's, and Delegates have given us a great example of AA principle. Our fellow lawyers and ourselves have been instructed to be painstakingly cautious in our statements before the court and the public, lest we could stir a public controversy which could surely get to the media. In court we didn't counterattack our fellows, our attorneys had been instructed to only defend our brother so he wouldn't be put into jail. In this painful process we've not been alone, for some fellows from your Conference, from Germany's have been giving us an invaluable help and advice. God let me make it to San Diego and celebrate with you at the 60th Anniversary of our Fellowship.
Once again, that loving God expressed Himself and, last week, the judge passed sentence on our case. The sentence was benign and we only had to pay about $850 dollars. Our literature was given to the Public Education Secretariat from where it will go to libraries, facilities, universities, hospitals and to other institutions involved in the field of alcoholism. We were not sentenced-though our fellow plaintiffs demanded it-to pay any indemnities, and the greatest:
Two of your peers, DCMs, Sergio and Jose Lusi, are on each side of me watching what I'm saying to you and they "Hi" to you and your fellows up there.
Your letter, James, is most welcome. I'm personally excited at your honest and fresh concepts, full of principle as well. Your help in letting know your fellow GSRs, DCMs, group members and your Delegate about what has happened to AA in this country, will be of a very invaluable help. As you can see, there has been an accumulation of power when,
Our deepest thanks and recognition for your leadership, James. I'll be telling you what's happening next, just after our Conference meets next Labor Day.
Love in the Spirit of Service,
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September 16, 1995 letter from Dr. Guzman, Chairman of the General Service Board, Section Mexico to the members of the General Service Conference US/Canada
Mexico City, September 16th, 1995
To the USA/Canada General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Dear Fellow Service Delegate:
I intend this letter to report to you about one of the Advisory Actions issued on the Special Meeting of our General Service Conference, which took place last Sept. 2nd. The most important issue discussed at the Conference floor had to do with the legal action brought against our Service Structure by the other Mexican AA Service Structure - Central Mexicana. This lawsuit has been sponsored by A.A. World Services, and has unequivocally transgressed some of our cherished Guarantees, remarkably Guarantee Five contained in the Twelfth Concept for World Service.
We can hardly get to believe how such Trusted Servants' greediness for POWER, PRESTIGE, AND PROPERTY had turned our invaluable literature into consumer goods which have enabled them to make hefty financial profits, rather than preserving it as just a SERVICE, such as it was Bill W's fundamental intention; this is, as a mere means to bring bout the legacies of Recover, Unity and Service. This accumulation of money enabled those Trusted Servants to deplete a sum of about 2 million New Pesos (US $300,000.00) in legal expenditures and fees paid to two renowned law offices in Mexico. Money which necessarily should have been consecrated to make Twelve Step work. We stand willing to keep PEACE and HARMONY among A.A. in Mexico, and as a move to safeguard our Principles, we made the decision to yield to them and lose the criminal lawsuit, and thus to prevent this Public Controversy from going to the massive media. We have eventually been sentenced to pay only a US $500.00 fine, and luckily none of our fellow members has been sent to jail for the felony of CARRYING THE MESSAGE OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. Do you deem justifiable the misuse of about US $300,000.00 spent in the litigation versus our Service Structure, and which proved to be a failure? I mean, the plaintiffs did not succeed in prosecuting our Group, inasmuch as they didn't have their goals reached from criminal court. Wouldn't you all agree that this money must have been instead allotted to the saving of lives of those afflicted by the terrible disease of ALCOHOLISM, of those who are still suffering in the dark?
This accumulation of money enabled those Trusted Servants to deplete a sum of about 2 million New Pesos (US $300,000.00) in legal expenditures and fees paid to two renowned law offices in Mexico. Money which necessarily should have been consecrated to make Twelve Step work.
We stand willing to keep PEACE and HARMONY among A.A. in Mexico, and as a move to safeguard our Principles, we made the decision to yield to them and lose the criminal lawsuit, and thus to prevent this Public Controversy from going to the massive media. We have eventually been sentenced to pay only a US $500.00 fine, and luckily none of our fellow members has been sent to jail for the felony of CARRYING THE MESSAGE OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.
Do you deem justifiable the misuse of about US $300,000.00 spent in the litigation versus our Service Structure, and which proved to be a failure? I mean, the plaintiffs did not succeed in prosecuting our Group, inasmuch as they didn't have their goals reached from criminal court. Wouldn't you all agree that this money must have been instead allotted to the saving of lives of those afflicted by the terrible disease of ALCOHOLISM, of those who are still suffering in the dark?
We of Section Mexico stand unrelenting and strong in UNITY as well as resolute in our spiritual compromise of carrying the message. We also acknowledge that GOING BACK TO THE FUNDAMENTALS IS THE BEST WAY TO LIVE UP TO OUR A.A. PRINCIPLES AND TRADITIONS.
"It is on the above background, that our General Service CONFERENCE, in the name of 19 Areas, 2,000 groups and 20,000 members of Alcoholics Anonymous requests the USA/Canada Group Conscience - represented by their General Service Conference - to restore to us the licensing of A.A. literature copyrights, so as to print and distribute the USA/Canada General Service Conference approved publications in our country. This is just the SPIRITUAL RIGHT we'd always had under the original Article Two of our General Service Conference Charter, provided that our only purpose is CARRYING THE A.A. MESSAGE."
Our General Service Structure shall keep servicing our Fellowship with the 18 Services, including the one of LITERATURE, in conformity with the purpose it was created for: we are to do this on the ground that PRINCIPLES shall never be illegal, and reasserting our moral imperative to the one who reaches out for help, that the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous shall always be there.
In the name of our whole Conference, I'm appealing to your Group Conscience and praying that God, as we understood Him, may open your eyes and mind, but mainly your heart so that you shall not impede the A.A. message from being carried.
Yours in the Spirit of Service,
Ignacio Guzman, MD
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October 16, 1995 letter, from then current Delegate from Panel 45/Area 65 to the Conference Coordinator/GSO Staff, Richard B.
The Northeast Texas Area Committee met yesterday with the unanimous sense that we submit the following proposed agenda item to the Trustees Conference Committee at the October 1995 General Service Board meeting.
We, the Northeast Texas Area of Alcoholics Anonymous propose that adopting the following amendment to Article II of the Conference Charter be place on the Conference Report and Charter Committee Agenda of the 1996 General Service Conference:
PROPOSED REVISION OF ARTICLE II OF THE CURRENT CONFERENCE CHARTER
2. COMPOSITION: The Conference (US and Canada) shall be composed of area delegates, the trustees, of the General Service Board, directors of AA World Services and AA Grapevine, and staff members of the Grapevine and General Service Office.
* Autonomous Conference have been formed in other countries, which rely on the Steps and Traditions. In addition, these other Conferences often turn to the actions of the US/Canada Conference for guidance. Consultation between Conferences is encouraged, and a World Service Meeting of delegates from the various Conferences is held once every two years. The US /Canada delegates to the World Service Meeting are chosen from the General Service Board.
* But no Conference shall ever be placed in authority over another. All joint action shall be taken only upon two-thirds vote of the combined Conferences. Each Conference ought to be granted its own autonomy, within the spirit of the Twelve Traditions. Only matters seriously affecting AA's world-wide needs shall be the subject of joint consideration.
* denotes paragraphs which are changed.This proposal had been put before the Assembly several weeks ago, and all of the DCM's having district meetings since then reported unanimity amongst their GSR's, favoring this amendment.
Our Area feels that this will restore Article II back to the spirit it had before the 1987 change. This would remove the US/Canada Conference and its service arms from regulating literature distribution at a global level. It would leave each nation/Conference to deal with there own conflicts, - without our involvement, resulting in true autonomy, which we feel is the only way for the spirit of AA to permeate our global affairs. This would also remove the governing factor from the equation, which currently creates a breach in our 6th Warranty, not to mention a rift disrupting global unity here and abroad. Wouldn't this be a step towards relinquishing our 'dependence on money, property and prestige?' (i.e. literature profits from AA monopolies) We could now concentrate on placing the Traditions FIRST, before fiduciary responsibilities of legally protecting the Fellowship's literature 'property.' Efforts to utilize the 'law of the land' to protect our spiritual and intellectual properties have already failed several times. (i.e. in spite of legal efforts, our Circle and Triangle is now in the U.S. public domain; attempts of restricting our message distribution to one structure per country have created a situation in Mexico where there is now a second 'legal' AA in that country who can print whatever they want to, other than AA Conference-approved literature and put the AA name on it)
Maybe this would encourage the World Service Meeting to re-examine their policy of restricting participation of ALL structures of the world - to allow a full expression of a Loving God in their group conscience. There's not much virtue in boasting unanimity when we ostracize the minority. After all, our 6th Warranty does state that we are to remain democratic in thought AND action. Its true that the World Service Meeting is out of our purview, but the 2nd paragraph, Article II of the Conference Charter does state that the other Conferences often turn to the actions of the US/Canada Conference for guidance. Thus we lead by example - not by mandate.
I am enclosing a little material for background on this proposed agenda item. Thank you so much for all your hard work for our Fellowship.
Love in Service,
Jim T. Panel 45/Area 65
cc: Chairman of the General Service Board
enc.: Synopsis of the Mexican situation
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December 24, 1995 letter from past Delegate, Annemarie M., Panel 39-Area 30, to Dr. Guzman, Chairman of the General Service Board, Section Mexico
December 24, 1995
TO: Ignacio Guzman, MD
Dear Fellow AA's,
In the midst of this holy and holiday season, Section Mexico's "situation" keeps coming to mind.
One of the way that I celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year is to write to those who have touched my life and my heart throughout the past year, particularly those in AA.
A copy of your 09/16/95 letter to the current US/Canada Conference just recently landed on my desk. (Some things in AA move very slowly!) I have been aware and fully informed of the "Mexican situation" since one of my service sponsees, Bob McE., received Section Mexico's first mailing back in August, 1994. While my heart has always been with you, for a number of reasons I intentionally stepped back and did not take an active role in furthering your cause. During my term as Delegate, 1989 and 1990, (and often since) because I tended to ask challenging questions and not just "rubber stamp" Board decisions, I was labeled by some as a Trouble-maker. Ironically, some of those currently serving the US/Canada Conference as Board members and managerial staff are among those who taught me by example to never settle for less.
I was concerned and perhaps a bit cynical that, in fear, some Conference members would attempt to discredit those current Delegates (at the time, Panels 43 & 44) who supported Section Mexico's petitions by saying that they were only following the dictates of some persuasive, past Delegates. Sad to say, my concern was well placed. That's exactly what happened. It's sometimes frightening to be able to predict so accurately the reactionary behavior of others.
Even sadder is that the campaign to undermine the credibility of those Panel 43, 44, and 45 Delegates (US/Canada) who gave so much of themselves for Section Mexico succeeded for the most part…for today.
Like an uncleaned wound that has scabbed over, the principles raised by the legalities in Mexico and the resolution will come to light again because they are universal; no one can ever be in unqualified authority over another; the decision in the mid-80's by the US/Canada Conference regarding licensing had very negative, far-reaching consequences in Mexico some ten years later. If AA is to survive another decade, let alone another sixty years, we all must abandon our parochialism and begin to consider all issues with more global eyes and hearts. In this particular case, you are absolutely correct: AAWS's licensing policies do need to be re-evaluated for the good of AA world wide.
I have no delusions that anything that I've said today will change a thing, for now, but I could no longer sit by in silence. I owe you and your membership far too much. Your kind invitation to my sponsee, Bob, to participate in your Forum last November (1994) came at a particularly trying time in his AA service life. He and Gail found in Mexico the purity of principles that welcomed them as they came through AA's doors 23 years ago. I doubt that you have been told of the terrible emotional price they both paid, the verbal and written attacks that they experienced for standing up for principles, among them, Section Mexico's petitions.
While in Mexico, your fellowship showered them both with much needed unconditional love and acceptance. For that, I will be eternally in your debt. Now, more than a year later, some AA's from throughout the US and Canada are beginning to contact Bob and others, asking for all of the 'background' on the "Mexican Situation." Even our AA magazine, the Grapevine, has published part of Bob's "Unity" presentation from your Forum in Cuernavaca. God does move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform!
Your own government has legally recognized that both Section Mexico and Central Mexicana may use the name Alcoholics Anonymous; you are equals in the eyes of the law. I sincerely hope that in the New Year, the US/Canada Conference and the international AA community will embrace the spiritual principles of our 10th Step; admit an error has been made and welcome Section Mexico as an equal in AA. As the late Bernard Smith, a past Chairman of the General Service Board said, at the opening of the 1954 General Service Conference, "…We need it (Conference) to provide…a permanent haven for all alcoholics…so that all people for all time who have an alcoholic problem may enter these halls unasked and feel welcome…(page S42, The AA Service Manual.)
My prayers and love are with you. Perhaps some day our paths will cross. Until then, may God wrap His loving arms around you and those you love. Happy New Year!
With a grateful heart,
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Given by past Delegate from Area 65/Panel 41
Hello to you all! My name is Jude and I am an alcoholic. Because this program does work and because God is doing for me what I could not do for myself, I have been sober since April 22, 1977, and for that I am very grateful.
I would like to extend by heartfelt "thanks" for your invitation to visit your beautiful country and for asking me to share with you.
As I first told you, I am an alcoholic. By telling you this about myself I am also telling you that my major defects are selfishness and self-centerness. Since these were the major character defects in my life I am also telling you that the word Unity was not a working part of my vocabulary let alone my actions. How could I ever be a part of the whole when I was the center of my own universe? It was not until I drank enough alcohol, which finally beat me into a state of reasonableness, that I was to find there was another way. A way I had to follow or die. That way was our Twelve Steps of Recovery. To even begin to understand Unity, I had to put my own desires aside and was taught that through the Steps.
As I sat down to write this presentation, my mind reeled! Unity! Which direction should I take this? Unity is our most cherished asset. If we have disunity at the top of our structure, we shall have it running throughout the entire structure. The problems we may see at the group level will have the domino effect all the way to the General Service Conference and General Service Boards and vice versa. I wanted to focus this presentation on Unity in one particular Legacy and, because we are gathered here today for a Service Assembly, I have decided to talk about Unity as it pertains to our Third Legacy.
When one reads further in Concept III, it states, "This Right of Decision should never be made an excuse for failure to render proper reports of all significant actions taken; it ought never be used as a reason for constantly exceeding a clearly defined authority, nor as an excuse for persistently failing to consult those who are entitled to be consulted before an important decision or action is taken." If Concept III is followed in its entirety we will have Unity. Concept III requires action on the part of our 'trusted servants;' to report all facts to those they serve and to insure that the 'checks and balance' system is always in place and working. Taking action to insure Unity is not often easy. It requires study, it requires firm understanding and convictions in our principles of service. It requires, quite simply, leadership. There is no leadership when one takes the easier, softer way of demanding "trust your trusted servants." Unity, in part, is a result of actions taken in our Third Concept.
"Unity" is called for, along with loving and peaceable debate at a Service meeting. What happens? With this type of philosophy Unity is never really achieved. Why? Because we are looking for Unity for the sake of Unity instead of following the process that insures Unity. Obtaining Unity doesn't guarantee that there will be no argument, no heated debate. In fact, voices can be raised quite high and emotions can rule. What is the result, lately, when this happens? Many are threatened by the debate on the floors of the Districts, Areas and General Service Conference. Fear of controversy and fear of debate brings about the call for "Unity" and everything ceases. The 'informed' group conscience is never developed. Issues are never addressed. The process has failed and true Unity is never achieved.
A prime example of failure to follow the principles of Warranty Four was the just past 45th General Service Conference. All important issues either died in the Conference Committees or were swept away with a 'vote' for no discussion. An interesting point brought out in Warranty Four is, and I quote "The principle of substantial unanimity does have certain practical limitations. Occasionally a Conference decision will be of such extreme urgency that something has to be done at once. In such a case we cannot allow a minority, however well-intended, to block a vitally needed action which is evidently in the best interest of A.A. " The exact opposite was true at the 45th General Service Conference! The "majority" blocked issues vitally needing action for the best interest of A.A. Yet, many Conference members went away from that Conference feeling Unity was achieved! Unity for the sake of Unity; peaceable and loving, no issues and no heated debates. This is how the process can fail.
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A Panel 45 Delegate's Report on the 1996 General Service Conference, As Report in their Area Newsletter
At our Summer Assembly the link of two-way communication was completed from the General Service Conference back to the Groups. I gave the Conference report to the Assembly on Saturday morning. I won't give that report here, as you will be receiving the "Final Conference Report" at the Fall Assembly. However, I will document the 'tone' of the Conference
This Conference was reluctant to address POLICY issues. Several of these were dismissed by the committees, without coming to the Conference floor for a vote. One example was Article II of the Conference Charter. The agenda item called for investigating the 1987-88 change for conflict with Tradition 4 and Warranties 3-6. One of the Districts submitted a detailed study on this. These GSR's read their Service Manual and the Twelve Concepts, believed what it said and wrote background and sent it to me. I turned it over to the appropriate committee at the beginning of the Conference. There was no conflict found by the Report and Charter Committee, therefore this item was not brought before the Conference floor for a Group Conscience and vote. Then, there were the four Floor Actions which were denied any Group Conscience whatever, followed by an unsuccessful attempt to withhold this information from the Final Conference Report.
The sense of the Area was to encourage its members to correspond with various Conference members, voicing concern over this bypassing of the Group Conscience. This decision was chosen in lieu of the more drastic measure of utilizing the "Power of the Purse," as documented in Concept VII. It was felt that using the pen - not the pocketbook may be sufficient to alert the Conference that it failed to be the true 'voice of AA.' (Although many approached me over the weekend favoring a re-organization per Article 4 of the Conference Charter, no decision was reached.) In hopes that we see tangible results at the 1996 General Service Conference, (i.e. Group Conscience is again mobilized), no further 'wake-up' calls would be necessary.
I can't say enough about how well tuned into the Principles the Area is. We seem to 'intuitively know how to handle these situations.' There is an assurance that as long as there are folks like you who have the courage to stand up for the Principles, even when the issues involved are 'controversial or sensitive' (and therefore not popular), that AA still has a very good chance of remaining on the map. Bill W. emphasized that the "Good is the enemy of the very Best." In the search for what is Best, do not be dismayed if we are mistaken as trouble-makers. For as we persist inn keeping Principles before Personalities, listen to all sides of an issue and stay open-minded, we will be cultivating the necessary atmosphere of Unity. After considering all alternatives and a course of action is indicated, we shouldn't shrink from our responsibilities but stick flat-footed to our convictions. If we are vigilant in this undertaking, this disunity will dissolve into nothingness - for disunity is based on personalities alone.
Regarding the Wednesday Morning Sharing Session at the Conference (Spiritual Breather), several Area members felt that attending the 7:30AM daily AA meeting would be better utilization of the Conference time. At least then there would be no danger of a Spiritual Experience being interrupted with business! By getting up 1 1/2 hours earlier, we would be spiritually conditioned for each day ahead and would have the 3 hours of valuable time Wednesday morning restored to devoting the time to the business our Areas sent us to New York to perform.
After the 1996 General Service Conference, should a more convincing stance be indicated, I trust that our Area will continue to exert the same wisdom into its actions which it exhibited at the Summer Assembly. The Area continues to endow its trusted servants with trust. But FIRST, it trusts a 'loving God who expresses Himself in our Group Conscience.' If we all trust in the Principles of the program, (e.g. 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, 12 Concepts and 6 Warranties) - if we keep putting them into action, then we, as trusted servants will become more trustworthy. These principles are not complicated - not hard to understand. Our literature expresses them very clearly. There's no need for interpretation. When we are following the Principles, they no longer can be perceived as 'weapons' because we will be inn unison with them. When we use the 'spirit' of the Traditions, Concepts and Warranties as the basis of our deliberations, they can hardly be conceived as 'weapons.' Things are only weapons if we are in conflict with them.
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From a talk given to Section Mexico in November, 1996 by a Panel 45-Area 65 Delegate
What a privilege it is to be asked to present to you my experience in dealing with trying to restore Article II to its original Spiritual form. Pardon me if I feel somewhat inadequate, attempting to expound on the very principles you have demonstrated as a living example for the rest of the AA world to see. However, what I am presenting here is my experience in trying to resolve this situation of 'government' which welled up in a 'non-governing' Fellowship.
When I first heard that Mexico Seccion was being sued by Mexico Central for printing our AA literature, and that this was being done with A.A.W.S.'s approval, I was appalled, but not surprised. For, you see, I had already been dealing with a similar issue in the USA. A.A.W.S. was in litigation against a jewelry company for using our logo (circle & triangle) on chips & medallions. In fact, this court room battle was reported in the "Sober Times," a Treatment Facility magazine, entering AA into public controversy.
So the 1987-1988 change in Article II is a breach of the last part of Tradition 2. Also Warranty III, which states that, "None of the Conference members shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority over any of the others," was broken.
The public controversy wrought by the 1994 confiscation of the literature from Mexico Seccion office stirred up some unrest amongst a few of our members in the U.S. We have tried to get the attention of the 'powers that be' in our Conference structure to acknowledge the "Mexican Situation" and move towards its rectification. As you may know, we've been met with resistance in our efforts to wrest the legal grip which A.A.W.S. has condoned - and even required Mexico Central to maintain.
I was the "1" (at least Bill W. agrees with me).
The apathy in our country makes me envious of your zeal for keeping AA principles first and foremost.. The numbers present here today are self-evident. You have taken this most precious gift of our heavenly Father even so seriously. You have shouldered the responsibility to keep our Fellowship a safe haven for the still suffering alcoholics yet to arrive HOME. Your attempt to shield us from the temptations of money, property and prestige will go down in the annals of our archives, so that many years from now members can point to your experience as the living proof why AA didn't fail in Mexico.
I celebrate you and your sobriety -
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Our Primary Purpose Forum Newsletter Article, Written by Dennis McB.
Because of the coming Conference and the numerous letters and communications I have received from many AA members concerning the 1996 Conference topics, we would like to pass some of it on to our readers.
I have copies of letters to and from GSO, the General Service Board, and Conference Committees, that are loaded with information by AA members who are informed and knowledgeable on some of the Conference topics, and I will be glad to pass it on to anyone interested. …….This information deals with specific Conference issues, most of which will not be available through the normal channels of our General Service Structure, and since I am going to mail them to those who are interested [this information and more is now gathered here on the GSO Watch internet server], I won't get into them in this article. I want to address some general views on the Conference and the Conference process.
First of all, it would be nice to have the Conference topics a year before the Conference, allowing time to research, discuss, ponder, and allow more members time to communicate with each other. Of course a few emergency items could be added later.
Full information and background on topic items is essential to arrive at an informed group conscience at the Conference, and for the process to work. Whoever is in 'control' of the information is literally in 'control' of the Conference. When information is not given at all or only partially given to the Fellowship by our trusted servants, then the Conference becomes a meaningless charade.
If there was an item that is unfavorable to GSO, how would our large fellowship hear about it? A member brings it up to his or her DCM who either doesn't want to bring it up because it might be a minority view and jeopardize his running for an Area office or he does bring it up to the Delegate who calls a friend at GSO and gets told that some of the information might not be correct, and the item is snuffed right there. Or the DCM or Delegate might just say, "Aaahhh, this guy's questioning GSO, He's against AA, Aahhh, bad person!" The original person, who might have some other information, tries to bring it up again and get called a trouble maker, and the few who realized the importance of his message and sided with him at Area, just gave up any chance of being anything other than a committee chair in the popularity follow-ship of Area elections.
The member who brought up the item has no idea that thousands of other members think the same way about the item as he does. He also doesn't know that GSO has received many letters about this item and all went unanswered.
What happened to Section Mexico is a good example of this. When a few people had discovered 20,000 members of Alcoholics Anonymous had no Big Books because their offices got raided by the Federales and all their literature confiscated, they tried to inform the Fellowship. GSO denied any involvement stating it was a 'local' problem. The carriers of the royal message to the Fellowship coming from the golden tower in New York supported their higher ups. New York failed to inform the Fellowship that Section Mexico had sent them many letters, a long time before they lost their literature, that were unanswered. Since the copyright is up in Mexico when the author dies, and violation copyright laws is criminal and not civil, GSO forgot to tell the Fellowship that their General Manager had sent a letter to Central Mexicana without so much as a word to Section Mexico stating he was co-author of the Big Book. They also forgot that a message was sent from a GSO staff member's office giving GSO's blessing to Central Mexicana to take whatever action necessary to stop these terrible 2,000 groups of Alcoholics Anonymous from printing the Big Book and selling it for less money.
You would think that in a loving, caring, spiritual Fellowship, that many members would contemplate the reasons why 19 Areas, and 2, 000 groups would pull away from their General Service Structure and form their own. Gee, they may have had a reason. It received about as much attention at the Conference as the good eating places in the neighborhood. Only a handful of members attending the Conference even brought the message of what happened in Mexico home to the groups in their Areas. A few of us in my Area learned about it from someone three thousand miles away. And how many are aware that similar copyright battles are being fought in some other countries as well?
… As my grand sponsor used to say, "don't take this stuff too seriously, it's only a matter of life or death."
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Taken from the January, 1997 General Service Board Minutes Trustees' Committee on the General Service Conference
a) Request for response to a letter from Section Mexico
The committee voted to have the committee secretary notify the submitting delegate that a
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February 17, 1997 letter to the Chairman of the General Service Board from the Trustees' on the General Service Board, Section Mexico
Dear Mr. Estelle,
After some meditation and prayer, all of us, the Trustees of Section Mexico General Service Board have decided to write this letter to you. It carries the spiritual feelings and thinking from all the Alcoholics Anonymous groups which we serve and it also conveys our best wishes that you and those you hold dear are doing fine. WE are aware of your restless activities, so we want to thank you in advance for your time we are taking the liberty to borrow so as to set out our next petition:
Back in 1987, shortly before the first anniversary of Section Mexico structure, we put in to AAWS the license to edit, print and distribute AA literature with the obvious purpose of making this service available to our AA members and groups. Our plea for help was turned away because, reportedly, such a license had already been granted to Central Mexicana structure. This assertion proved to be wildly inaccurate, for such concession was not made until three years later, in 1990.
Please, excuse us for providing a rather extensive coverage of these fact for we would like you to be fully aware of the whole picture. Despite having written a lot of correspondence to your structure in the past, we have the slight impression that some important facts have not yet been fully assessed. Hopefully, we can provide at this time a clearer and wider scenario on what has happened in our country.
In the course of the Twentieth Assembly (within Central Mexico service structure) held in 1986, eight Areas, through their delegates set out an issue to be discussed. The issue was about the restructuring of the General Services in our country. This floor action was given just an exiguous one-hour time to be debated. Since the attendees to this 20th Mexican Assembly were forty-eight delegates, fourteen members representing the Board of Directors (there wasn't a General Service Board), plus the GSO staff, this little period of time proved fatally short and no point was reached.
It was then that this and many more irregularities prompted our groups to decisively stop pledging their allegiance to Central Mexicana, and vowed to split-up. These decisions were earnestly taken, based on AA Traditions and they were the outcome of a number of Assembly meetings from the eight concerned Areas.
We deem adequate to punctuate here that the groups within the segregating Areas were the ones who, through their contributions of work and money, actually supported the setting out for General Services in Mexico, as well as the creation of the two service corporations. These service entities, though, came to invest themselves with authority, eventually becoming a government for AA in Mexico. Since the principled groups have never been willing to be governed, through their group conscience, they gave support to the creation of a newly, adhering-to-AA principles structure. This is the way they committed themselves to going "Back to Basics," motto which just implies going back to 'principles.'
Ten years have now lapsed since those eight Areas took action. Currently our Areas add up to twenty-one, and there have been ten Conference meetings. As you can judge from this scenario, there are now twenty-one sites where Section Mexico structure serves, all over our country. This structure is made upon about two thousand and six hundred AA groups. The possibilities to grow increase every day, for it takes us only to inform the many groups who are interested to see how we work, and they later decide by themselves to join us.
It is beyond discussion that nothing grow in AA if it is not based on our principles. We mean that, since we are about to formally set out the intention of this letter, we deem it important and have accordingly attached to this letter the legal charter in Spanish of our Section Mexico Service Board, by which you can judge yourself that this Charter absolutely relies on Chapter Nine of the Service Manual. It faithfully observes the legal and traditional requirements, which guarantee the AA groups with the uniqueness of being a service entity which makes possible the reaching of the alcoholic that still suffers. Both the General Service Board, the corporations for General Services and the Magazine have been duly incorporated according to Mexican law. We do hope that these reasons and document make clear before you that we are no publishing company which may seek financial gains through the selling of AA literature.
BACKGROUND MOTIVATIONS AND FORMAL REQUEST
Reports have it that the granting of a license to print AA literature to two or more different General Service Structures in a country troubles you a lot, based on the hypothesis that I could harm AA unity in that country. Mr. Estelle, we do need to tell you that in Mexico, the AA unity is now a shambles, it is just debris, mostly at the Service Structure level. It has been so ever since the facts explained to you above (the events at the 20th Mexican Assembly). The final straw was the criminal lawsuit brought against us in the recent past-approved by somebody at AAWS and which made of us first time offenders. Out of this mess, emotional reactions have ran wild on account that all of us alcoholics are emotional people; nothing else could be expected from us. Please, bear in mind that we are alcoholics. Therefore, our cherished unity has gone through heavy bludgeoning. Our only fault has been keeping being idealist, and to think and to fancy that we, AA's, can make possible a Service Structure which abides by principles; that encouraged by AA members and groups confident in the same ideas, could dream of a true unity, and to live in a Fellowship such as Bill W., Dr. Bob and those first alcoholics fancied and dreamed of too.
Thus, we conclude, it is not the granting of a license to print literature to two structures which would harm the unity in Mexico. Furthermore, we venture forth into saying that the groups who are self-supporting Section Mexico and many more groupch have decided to keep isolated in the search of a better fate, will never get back to financially or spiritually supporting Central Mexicana; they will never buy even the cheapest leaflet from Central much less they would never contribute to support that General Service. What unity is then at risk? Is this unity the one conceived to make of us, alcoholics, hostages of the one who has got a license to print? A unity that seeks to keep us away from the AA basic txts? A unity that looks forward to subduing us and taking away from us our identity as Alcoholics Anonymous? Of our membership? Of our liberty on whether deciding to support or not any service structure? A unity which benefits from our need of literature for our own recovery and the carrying of our message?
We, down here, understand that the unity is born from the conformity and application to the Twelve AA Traditions, the Six Warranties of Article Twelve of the Conference Charter, particularly Warranty Six, which lets us know that there cannot be unity with acts of authoritative government. We understand unity as the voluntary and spontaneous act to live and share life on principles, with the conviction that without the AA principles we are not to survive; and something vitally important: A unity which guarantees the still suffering and the newcomer alcoholics a place among us.
Herewith we submit the intention of this letter:
We feel that a procedure to grant a license to translate/edit/print/distribute AA literature must be established. This procedure should guarantee the General Service Conference of the US/Canada that the recipient of the license be traditionally and legally accountable to the Alcoholics Anonymous which brought it to existence.
That the Conference admits for analysis:
Yours in the Fellowship,
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As stated in the preceding report, the 1997 General Service Conference, once again, did not reply to the "Petition of Grievance" from the members of the General Service Board, Section Mexico…The only reply to the Board members came from Mr. Estelle, then Chairman of our GSB.
To: Gary Glynn
June 10th, 1997
I am writing in reference to your letter dated, May 8, 1997, to all Conference members, concerning a reply from our then Chairperson of the General Service Board, Jim Estelle, to Dr. Guzman, Chairperson of the General Service Board, Section Mexico. Although the said letter, from Dr. Guzman, was addressed to Mr. Estelle, it was, in fact, a "Petition of Grievance" to the General Service Conference, US/Canada. This was noted in Dr. Guzman's remarks, "As a matter of fact, the General Service Conference of the United States and Canada, is now enabled to make - and has actually been making - decisions on matters affecting Alcoholics Anonymous entities in other countries. So, as a consequence of this position, this Conference should listen to those who have been harmed by such decisions. Such is our case." And, "We request that the Conference be the one to reply to this letter for, on the basis of this reply, we shall be in a position to determine which way to take, according to the guidance from our A.A. groups."
Once again decisions were made at a central authority level. Not to have this as an Agenda Item, or even properly addressed with appropriate background clearly ignores Concept 5. I understand passing reference to the letter (Dr. Guzman's) was made at the Conference, with copies to be made available. Again, this is not sufficient. Also, not to discuss this matter fully at the Conference is contradictory to the Fourth Warranty.
This "Petition" is exclusive of the discussion surrounding Article II of the Conference Charter. It is a "Petition," in part, to make an exception to the exclusive licensing policy of A.A.W.S. You use the rather hackneyed reference to full support of the World Meeting. First, the World Meeting is theoretically not a decision making body for A.A. world wide. Furthermore, it is nothing more than a collection of Literature Distribution licensees who meet to approve whatever A.A.W.S. wants. If this were really a meeting of equals, why did A.A.W.S. take an entourage of eleven people to South America two years ago?
Why wasn't the General Service Board responsible for seeing that Dr. Guzman's "Petition of Grievance" and "Proposal to the General Service Conference" got on the agenda of the 1997 General Service Conference? Once again the General Service Board has not come to grips with an issue which is 'their' responsibility as outlined in Concept 9. Some years ago a knotty problem came before the General Service Board and there was some reluctance to discuss the matter. Michael Alexander stated (and I paraphrase) that all the problems that no one else wants to handle end up on the table of the General Service Board. In the last five years, the General Service Board has handled only the dictates of A.A.W.S. to further foster the protection of money and property. Myriad examples are at hand.
Once again you stated that the problems in Mexico are "internal," yet, litigation was instituted as a requirement of the licensing agreement between A.A.W.S. and Central Mexico. This is supported by a letter from the GSO General Manager, Geo. Dorsey, to Saul C., Section Mexico Class B Trustee, which states, "Our licensing agreements have also included a requirement that the licensee take the necessary actions to protect the copyrights which were licensed." Also, reported in the 1990 World Service Meeting Report, "The Mexican GSO hopes to establish a committee to monitor the situation (Section Mexico printing Conference Approved Literature). In reference to this problem, the General Manager of GSO/New York, explained that the copyright and trademark lawyers retained by AAWS, Inc. have advised the offending parties that if they (Section Mexico) do not crease this activity the matter will be pursued in the Mexican courts." And, of course, the 'changing' of Article Two in 1987 brought about the "problems in Mexico" to begin with. It is ludicrous to suggest this issue is an "internal matter" considering we are the ones responsible for the position Section Mexico finds itself in...Since we have taken the authority of changing the Conference Charter, Article II, then we should take on the responsibility of any problems this change has incurred.
You further infer, from your letter that, "We (the General Service Board), have repeatedly expressed our willingness to help in any way we can but continue to view these matters as an issue of internal Mexican A.A. unity." By this statement it would seem there would be 'no' favoritism, yet why was the Chairman of the Board of Central Mexico invited to the Southwest Regional Forum last year? This was a blatant insult to Dr. Guzman and the members of Section Mexico, not to mention 'fanning the fires of disunity.' Incidentally, I am very tired of hearing derogatory and discriminatory remarks about, "you know how 'those' kind of people are," emanating from the Board members and the General Manager himself. It seems that when there are not any 'principles' to back up your position, you (meaning, of course, the Board) stoop to snide side remarks and a few eye winks...I remind you that those members of Section Mexico are proud and honorable in the conduct of their A.A. affairs yet they are castigated for their passion for A.A. and their adherence to A.A. spiritual principles.
You say in your letter that there is nothing new from Dr. Guzman/Section Mexico. I disagree. Dr. Guzman specifies a 'plan of action' to resolve the issue in his proposal. That, at least, would have been a starting point for discussion by the General Service Conference. It has become obvious that the General Service Conference is no longer an effective representation of the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Section Mexico has approached the General Service Conference, via the General Service Board, one more time, to resolve a problem. Your answer is a plea for unity and a willingness to see the two Mexican Conferences back together again...What you don't seem to understand is that the rift runs deep and is based on spiritual principles and not the price of the Big Book. What you do understand is the absolute need to protect the "integrity" of the World Meeting and A.A.W.S. You understand the need to maintain authority over other A.A. entities through exclusive licensing agreements. You understand the need to protect ownership of copyrights by requiring litigation for copyright infringement. You understand the 'big business' practices of A.A.W.S. Isn't this whole issue really about money, power and protecting foreign GSO's monopolies (most foreign GSO rely almost entirely on literature income to support themselves and not on the 7th Tradition), with absolutely no spiritual principles involved? Is it not true that AAWS would put themselves in jeopardy of perhaps being sued, themselves, from one or more of these monopoly-holding foreign GSO's if Article Two was changed back to its original form because that might introduce 'competition' for those GSO's in income revenue?
Two years ago, in my remarks to a Regional Forum gathering of 4,000 members of Section Mexico, I said that if they would continue to adhere to the spiritual principles as espoused by the Traditions and Concepts, that they would prevail. I believe that statement today, perhaps even more so than two years ago.
In the Fellowship of the Spirit
Jacob H. -
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The intention of the Article change, in 1987, was NOT to limited, by licensing, only one Service Structure per geographic country. It was done so only the GSO (number of GSO's not an issue) would have the 'right' to publish our literature. (The reason cited for this change was in Australia where two entities had been given (licensed?) the right to print in a parallel situation; an Intergroup occurring first followed , years later, by a Conference structure. (*The rewording took place so licensing would be to a Conference Structure.
With these events occurring, no where was it expressed or implied in the Article Two discussion that the attempt would be made to enforce or even imply that the "one Conference to one country" principle was to apply precisely because of language or location. Isn't that politics?
*reprinted, for clarity of topic, from letter to Staff of GSO from Bob D.) To change Article Two would be keeping within the boundaries of 'autonomy' within a country and to provide continuity of our Fourth Tradition that states, "With respect to its own affairs, each AA group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience..."
The main thrust of the changes is to remove the sole licensing agreements. And, that NO Conference action shall have authority over another Conference. There was great concern that, once again, an item that affects AA as a whole will not make it to the Conference Floor, or if it does, it will not be discussed or considered. There seems to be some confusion in NY; that AAWS is a 'part' of the Conference, not the other way around! Are we a Spiritual Fellowship or are we a business and what percentage of each is necessary for our life line to continue??
Submitted by Miles B. and Chris F.
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FIRST INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR A.A. WORLD SERVICES IN MEXICO
In remembrance of the date that our beloved Fellowship was born sixty-two years ago, we celebrated it with our Third National Convention on June 6, 7, 8, 1997, which took place at the Technological University of Nexahualcoyotl City, labeled: "An encounter of Friendship." Within the framework of this significant event, "THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR A.A. WORLD SERVICES," WAS CARRIED OUT. More than Fifty Countries all over the world were invited to share experiences in this event, and Mexico was the happy host for all of them. More than just an encounter of friendship, we live a real spiritual communion of sharing with our brothers and sisters who visited us.
The Agenda for the First International Meeting was as follows:
Within the plenary session of June 7th "The Declaration of Mexico" was shared, discussed and approved by unanimity.
The next day, Sunday the 8th, within the closing ceremony which was carried out at the Stadium of the Technological University of Nezahualcoyotl City, "The Declaration of Mexico" was acclaimed by over twenty thousand A.A. fellows who attended, representing the collective conscience of the A.A. groups in our Fellowship, as an act of spirituality.
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Nezahualcoyotl City, Mexico, June 7th 1997SPIRITUAL BACKGROUND FOR THE DECLARATION OF MEXICO:
* SECTION MEXICO ON JUNE 7TH, 1997 ADOPTS THE ORIGINAL CONFERENCE CHARTER-1955 TEXT, OFFERED BY BILL W. AND UNANIMOUSLY ACCLAIMED IN 1955 BY THE A.A. COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE. THE GENERAL SERVICE CONFERENCE THEN SHALL BE A SERVICE BODY ONLY; NEVER A GOVERNMENT FOR ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
* TO THOSE OTHER SECTIONS OF THE CONFERENCE THAT MAY SOMETIMES BE CREATED OR THAT ALREADY EXIST IN FOREIGN LANDS, AS THE NEED ARISES OUT OF LANGUAGE OR GEOGRAPHICAL CONSIDERATIONS, WE EXPRESS OUR DEEPEST SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY.
* OUR WORLD SERVICES SHOULD ALWAYS CONFORM TO THE COMPOSITION CONCEPT OUTLINED IN ARTICLE TWO OF THE ORIGINAL CONFERENCE CHARTER.
* WE SUGGEST THAT THE COLLECTIVE WORLD CONSCIENCE SPEAK OUT THEIR DISAPPROVAL OF THE UPDATING MADE IN 1987 TO ARTICLE TWO OF THE CONFERENCE CHARTER, FOR THIS ACTION HAS WHEREUPON NULLIFIED THE GROUP-AUTONOMY CONCEPT AMONG THE DIFFERENT SECTIONS OF THE CONFERENCE, AND HAS, CONSEQUENTLY, PLACED ONE CONFERENCE SECTION ON A POSITION OF UNQUALIFIED AUTHORTIY OVER ANY OF THE OTHERS.
* FOR THE WORLD SERVICE ACTIONS, WE PLEDGE OUR ALLEGIANCE TO THE SIX WARRANTIES, AS OUTLINED IN CONCEPT TWELVE, FOR A.A. WORLD SERVICE.
* IN ALL ITS PROCEEDINGS, THE WORLD SERVICE CONFERENCE SHALL OBSERVE THE SPIRIT OF A.A. TRADITION, TAKING GREAT CARE THAT THE CONFERENCE NEVER BECOMES THE SEAT OF PERILOUS WEALTH AND POWER; THAT THE SUFFICIENT FUNDS PLUS AN AMPLE RESERVE BE ITS PRUDENT FINANCIAL PRINCIPLE.
* NONE OF THE WORLD SERVICE CONFERENCE MEMBERS SHALL EVER BE PLACED IN A POSITION OF UNQUALIFIED AUTHORITY OVER ANY OF THE OTHERS: THAT ALL IMPORTANT DECISIONS BE REACHED BY DISCUSSION, VOTE AND, WHENEVER POSSIBLE, BY SUBSTANTIAL UNANIMITY.
* NO WORLD SERVICE CONFERENCE ACTION SHALL EVER BE PERSONALLY PUNITIVE OR AN INCITEMENT TO PUBLIC CONTROVERSY.
* THOUGH THE WORLD SERVICE CONFERENCE MAY ACT FOR THE SERVICE OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, IT SHALL NEVER PERFORM ANY ACTS OF GOVERNMENT; AND THAT, LIKE THE SOCIETY OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WHICH IT SERVIES, THE CONFERENCE ITSELF WILL ALWAYS REMEIN DEMOCRATIC IN THOUGHT AND ACTION.
* THE SPIRITUAL FORCE OF AA HAS PROVED, AS OUR OWN PAINFUL EXPERIENCE HAS TAUGHT THE AA WORLD FELLOWSHIP, TO BE STRONGER THAN ANY LEGAL POWER. ACCORDINGLY, THIS FIRST A.A. WORLD SERVICE MEETING SOLEMNY DECLARES THAT IN ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY LITIGATION, EVER.
* THE A.A. LITERATURE SHOULD ALWAYS BE DEDICATED TO SERVE OUR FELLOWSHIP, CONTRARILY TO WHAT HAS BEEN THOUGHT AND DISCUSSED FOR A LONG TIME, SECTION MEXICO A.A. MEMBERS AND GROUPS HAVE FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED OUR LOCAL, GENERAL AND WORLD SERVICES. THIS WAY, THE A.A. LITERATURE SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED AS A SOURCE OF INCOME.
* WE DEEM A.A. LITERATURE IS A SPIRITUAL HERITAGE TO THE WORLD FELLOWSHIP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, WHICH MAY SERVE TO CARRY THE MESSAGE. WE ASSUME, HOWEVER, THAT ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS SHOULD REMAIN BEING ITS OWN PUBLISHER AND EDITOR, SO THAT A.A. LITERATURE KEEPS ITS SPIRITUAL MESSAGE.
* SECTION MEXICO'S GENERAL SERVICE CONFERENCE STRUCTURE, AFTER ELEVEN YEARS OF SERVING ITS FELLOWSHIP, HAS THE DEEPEST CONVICTION THAT THE CONFERENECE PLAN IS A WARRANTEE THAT OUR MOVEMENT-WIDE SERVICE WOULD CONTINUE TO FUNCTION UNDER ALL CONDITIONS, GOD WILLING, IT SHALL SUSTAIN US IN UNITY FOR SO LONG AS HE MAY NEED US.
* THIS FIRST A.A. WORLD SERVICE MEETING CALLS THE WORLD GROUP CONSCIENCE OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS INTO GOING BACK TO BASICS. THIS RETURN TO THE A.A. PRINCIPLES IS THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP OUR BLESSED FELLOWSHIP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS UNITED FOR OURSELVES, AS WELL AS FOR THOSE FUTURE GENERATIONS STILL TO COME.
* OUR LONG JOURNEY FROM THE DEVASTATING PROSECUTION WE WERE SUBJECTED TO, TO TODAY'S BLESSINGS, AND A PROMISING FUTURE, ARE RICH EXPERIENCES WHICH WE WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR A.A. FELLOWS FROM ABROAD. WE ALSO PROPOSE YOU TO MAKE ALL NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS SO AS TO CELEBRATE OUR NEXT A.A. INTERNATIONAL MEETING IN THE YEAR 2001.
Nezahualcoyotl City, Mexico, June 8, 1997
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JUNTA DE SERVICIOS GENERALES DE A.A. SECCION MEXICO
To : The General Service Conference members - United States and
Date : February 18, 1998
Subject : A petition for the redress of personal grievances
On July, 1994, and according to the Fifth Concept for World Service, we made an "appeal" petition for the redress of grievances before the United States and Canada General Service Conference, for we had been sued through criminal court by Central Mexican, --who had been encouraged and authorized by the Services Director of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. We presume this punitive action had its origin on the arbitrary alteration made to Article Two of the Original Conference Charter; alteration which has validated these acts of government, and which infringe the principles based on the AA Tradition.
We were never given an answer, not even a hint that we had been listened to.
Today, we again see with deep pain that the punitive actions are being repeated over and over again. How rightly were Bill's warnings that: "It's the same; when we have our first drink. the next ones come by themselves." The problem then resides in doing something the first time; afterwards nothing can stop us. Our concern now is about the last lawsuit --one more of the endless list-- now prosecuting our AA fellow M. from Germany. It has been AA World Services in association with the German General Service Office, without neither the least respect to the Fifth Warranty of Concept Twelve, nor to Tradition Ten, that are prosecuting our friend so as to punish him for he 'dared' doing Twelve-Step work: giving generously some Big Books --Alcoholics Anonymous 1st edition-- which is now, by God's mercy, in the public domain.
This very fact has strengthened what we have suspected from some time before: that AA World Services, Inc. has turned from being the assistant of the guardian of Alcoholics Anonymous' spiritual legacy, into the executor who becomes the owner of the heritage.
It is our opinion that no one can block off the carrying of the AA message through depriving the twelve-stepping anonymous alcoholic the resources to do so. We stand as firm believers on the maxim: "Freely ye have received; freely give." Facts seem to indicate that some do think the message is to be carried, however not freely.
In its entirety, Section Mexico of the General Service Conference, respectfully comes to urge you to extend our fellow alcoholic M. an apology. Our motivation to "appeal" is based out of human solidarity, and also because we believe that this kind of personally punitive actions have seriously fractured the Unity in AA, and thus are affecting our Fellowship all around the world.
We again look forward to being heard this time around.
THE DECLARATION OF MEXICO.
"We are Alcoholics Anonymous.
Dr. José Ignacio Guzman, MD
Copy : ·Delegierten der Gemeinsamen Dienstkonferenz der deutschsprachigen AA. [German AA Conference]
last updated, April 14, 1998