Ciudad de México, july 2022.
The Institutional Crisis at Casa de los Amigos AC – Junio 2022
Casa de los Amigos is a Quaker Center for Peace and International Understanding in Mexico City, and the oldest peace and social justice organization in Mexico. The Quaker community in Mexico established the Civil Association in 1956, and the family of José Clemente Orozco sold the artist’s home and studio, designed by Luis Barragán, to the group at a reduced rate to support their work. In the 65 years since then the Casa has offered aid and shelter to the migrant, refugee, scholar and traveler; provided a space for the local Quaker Meeting, supported and launched countless social movements and organizations, and served as a focal point for people working for a more just world. The Casa de los Amigos is a reference point for peace and social justice work in Mexico and around the world.
Institutional Crisis: A Hostile Takeover
The Board of Directors of Casa de los Amigos alleges that in 2018 and 2019 the outgoing executive director falsified board documents to appoint himself the president of the board and to form a new board of directors, excluding in the process over half of the members of the board without their consent or awareness. The removed board members were long-term members of the community, including former Casa volunteers, staff members, and 7 of the 11 Quakers, including members of the local Quaker Meeting. The outgoing executive director and his supporters then hired a new director with no experience with Quakers or Quaker work.
As of spring 2021, it appears that this former director and his chosen successor are no longer directly involved in the Casa. But, the people occupying the historic property continue to be led by two individuals whose control was established through direct cooperation with the former director and his illegitimate actions. One is Horacio Peña (Mexican Quaker from San Nicolás de los Garza) who was integrated into the Casa by the former director in the same fraudulent action of 2018 that expelled over half the members of the board. The second is Miguel Angel Lomeli (the former accountant of the Casa and relative of Horacio Peña), who collaborated with the former director in the actions described above.
The group occupying the Casa has almost completely refused communication with the excluded board members. In response to these actions and to serious concerns about the current administration’s financial management and commitment to the Casa’s mission, most of the Casa’s partners, allies and supporters have suspended their relationships with the organization. The current administration controlling the Casa is unable to maintain historic relationships or established partnerships with organizations that provide key financial support, unable to pay the Casa cleaning staff, and unable to respond to these serious charges.
The Response of the Board of Directors of Casa de los Amigos A.C.
The Board of Casa de los Amigos seeks to return the assets and administration of the organization to its rightful stewards, to repair relationships with our community, and to enable the witness and legacy of Quaker social action in Mexico to continue. The Board has tried to resolve this conflict through dialogue, support from allies, and consultation with legal assistance. The Board has done the following:
- Attempted multiple dialogues with the outgoing director and his supporters.
- Convened, by judge’s order, a legal meeting of the Board at which the effects of all fraudulent meeting minutes and actions were annulled.
- Officially registered such actions in the Registry of Public Property in Mexico City.
- In the presence of a Notary Public, informed the ex director and his collaborators of the illegality of their actions, requesting the peaceful hand-over of the property and administration of the organization
- Recovered control of the organization’s bank accounts.
- Established the copyright of the Casa name and logo.
- Contracted with a labor lawyer to establish the steps necessary to rectify the legal situation and unpaid wages of cleaning staff unjustly affected by this crisis.
- Participated in a process of reconciliation organized by the General Meeting of Quakers in Mexico, to which the occupants refused full participation
- Maintained historic relationships with the Casa’s long-time partner organizations and community members
- Begun the legal actions necessary to recover the assets and administration of the organization if current attempts at dialogue with the occupants remain unsuccessful
Any member of the group currently occupying the property can proceed, including individually, to return the Casa to its rightful stewards by contacting the Board. The Board of Casa de los Amigos supports dialogue as an alternative to their other efforts.
What does the Board of the Casa need?
The Board needs financial support to support, among other things, the Casa cleaning staff’s unpaid wages, legal support to rectify their work and social security status, and legal support related to ensuring the ongoing legal and corporate status of the organization. The Board needs Casa supporters to connect by emailing us. We also encourage community members to contact the occupants directly to ask that they resolve the crisis directly with The Board. Finally, please, hold us in the Light as we return a historic peace organization to its rightful stewards and enable the witness and legacy of Quaker social action in Mexico to continue.
Asamblea de la Casa de los Amigos, A.C.
Registro Público de la Propiedad de la Ciudad de México No. 11299
Casa de los Amigos is a non-profit peace organization, a community center, the Mexico City home of Friends (Quakers), a social justice-oriented guest house and a home.