dorset chiapas solidarity

September 20, 2013

The War against the Peoples and their Resistances

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:24 pm

The War against the Peoples and their Resistances

Gilberto López y Rivas

La Jornada, 13th September, 2013

tata chavezFollowing the course at the Zapatista Escuelita, a meeting of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) was held on the 17th and 18th of August in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The meeting turned into a dramatic denunciation, with compelling testimonies of the war waged by the government against indigenous communities throughout Mexico. The testimonies told of how the government uses repressive forces to protect capitalist corporations, which, together with the forces of organized crime, has resulted in the invasion of territories, the plundering of resources, criminalisation of resistance, impacted the environment and threatens the survival of indigenous community life.

One by one, the delegates of the various ethnicities-indigenous communities-tribes-nations set out the nature of the offences committed against them, indignant against the powerful who “do not respect their promises, the promises that they betray and violate time and time again throughout this country called Mexico”.

However, the delegates never assumed the role of defenceless victims nor that of submissive parties, but instead showed themselves to be individuals full of hope and strength, ready to rebuild and relaunch themselves in the defence of their territories, identities, languages, ways of life and methods of organization:

“We recognize ourselves in the path of our history and that of our predecessors who are still the present, future and mirror of autonomy exercised as practice. This is the only path that will sustain our future existence, and it has become our communal life, our assemblies, our spiritual and cultural practices, our security and self-defence, our own education and communication projects, as well as cultural and territorial claims in urban areas taken up by displaced and invaded peoples who retain a living historical memory”. (Pronouncement of the Tata Juan Chávez Alonso Convocation)

The CNI, which came into existence as a result of the San Andrés dialogues initiated by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), protested for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Mexico, especially in the case of Alberto Patishtán, a member of the Tzotzil indigenous community, who has now been imprisoned unjustly for 13 years, and is serving a 60-year sentence.

This is a typical case, representative of the numerous indigenous people in the country who are serving prison sentences or have been issued arrest warrants for defending their territory, water, forests, the earth or sacred places; for opposing the presence of the mining, wind farm, tourist, and pharmaceutical corporations, the builders of dams, thermoelectric power stations, gas pipelines and motorways; for standing up to organized crime and the paramilitary groups as members of the community police and self-defense groups are doing in collective organizations; and for reclaiming their rights as indigenous people according to the Constitution and international jurisprudence on the subject.

In the almost 100 conflicts that were denounced before the members of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, General Command (CCRI-CG) of the EZLN, the common denominator was the fact that the Mexican State, in its diverse ambits of authority and levels of government, appears to implement public policies and carries out illegal acts which are contrary to the good of the people, instead acting as protector of the corporations, the majority of which are foreign, and as accomplice of the criminals throughout the territory.

In the narrative of the National Indigenous Congress, the police and armed forces are cast as occupying armies, more worried about keeping the community police under control, as in the case of the Regional Coordinator of Communal Authorities-Communal Police (CRAC-PC) of Guerrero, than the assassins themselves, and in some regions, such as Michoacán, are openly in collusion with cartel bosses.

Tata Chavez miriamIn turn, having heard the delegates’ testimonies of the problems that are occurring in every corner of Mexico, comandanta Miriam, member of the CCRI-CG, in her speech took these problems as her own, in the name of the civilian supporters, the men, women, children and elders of the EZLN, saying:

“We all suffer from the same problems; being stripped of mother earth, air, water, natural resources. But the bad neo-liberal governments and the transnational companies rule with money, and through this death projects are imposed in our territories. But as indigenous people and owners of the natural resources, we have to defend them, no matter what, without worrying about the consequences, because with our mother earth we live and with her we breathe…

“When we defend ourselves, they pursue us, jail us and kill us. They accuse us of breaking the law and they sentence us to years in prison, as if we were criminals. In reality, they are the real criminals, traitors. They are free, as though what they have done to us were not a crime, because of their laws, and with these laws they protect themselves”.

The Zapatistas leave a clear message for the bad governors: “We will not, as indigenous people, allow that they take our mother earth and natural resources. We, as Zapatistas, fight for our 13 demands for the Mexican people, and we also fight for autonomy, where the people are in command and the government obeys. To achieve all of this we will need awareness, will and sacrifice, and to resist all types of attacks.

Colleagues, brothers and sisters, to be able to reject all the death plans that the neo-liberals impose we need to organize ourselves, unite our forces, our pain, unite our rebellion and fight for democracy, liberty and justice”.

The delegates decided to recognize, support and encourage the fight for autonomy and free determination of all the people who make up the CNI, from the Yucatán peninsula to Baja California, making the future of the people their own.

Translated by Louise O’Donnell


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