dorset chiapas solidarity

May 11, 2015

National Caravan for Water, Land, Work and Life

Filed under: water — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:20 am

National Caravan for Water, Land, Work and Life

Magdalena Gómez
La Jornada, 5th May 2015


Mexico’s Yaqui tribe announced the upcoming National Caravan for water, land, work and life. On Monday, May 11, three regional caravans will set out: one leaving from Vícam and Cajeme, Sonora; another from Piedras Negras, Coahuila, and a third from Pijiapan, Chiapas. They will travel to 75 cities in 23 states. This important mobilization effort involves dozens of indigenous communities, rural and urban organizations, environmentally affected groups, consumers of water and electricity, unions, universities, teachers, young people, ecologists, basic ecclesiastical communities and human rights groups.

This coming together of groups has converged around such strategic points of common interest as the imposition of water transfer via aqueducts, toxic mining, fracking, dams, wind farms, pipelines, power plants, devastation of forests, heedless urbanization, highways, privatization of energy and water systems, agrochemical and industrial pollution, the destruction of our original seeds by GMOs, and the overexploitation of Mexican workers.

Tomás Rojo, spokesperson for the Yaqui, recalled the first Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Conference, put on by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and the National Indigenous Congress, which was celebrated in Vícam eight years ago, where both an alliance and a pact was to defend indigenous communities. “At one point there might have been a concern. We consulted everyone, appealing to this pact. We invited the entire Mexican community.”


Without a doubt, we are coming upon a new stage in the fight that the Yaqui have led over the last four years, joined by other sectors affected by the construction of the Independence Aqueduct, sectors that have obtained victories through political mobilization and turning to the courts. Even the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation recognized the legal interests of traditional Yaqui authorities and ordered that the consultation be held that should have taken place prior to the Environmental Impact Report issued by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources.

Nevertheless, in practice, resolutions in the Yaquis favour have not been respected, which sets a bad precedent. Today the tribe has decided to align its agenda with that of other sectors and movements affected by ongoing neoliberal policies. The failure of Semarnat, Conagua, and the government of Sonora has led them to turn to international bodies.

This new caravan marks a strong contrast with what was put into effect in August of 2014, when 130 members of the Yaqui tribe travelled from Sonora to Mexico City. When the Caravan arrived in front of the Senate, the leaders said “We Yaqui—children, young people, women, men, and elders—come to this city to make ourselves heard, because we’re certain that what happens in our lands is a violation of our rights. We’re certain that it’s not possible for Governor Padrés to continue in his folly of taking away our water with projects like the Independence Aqueduct.”

The Yaquis reminded the senators that the road from Sonora is the same followed by their ancestors when they were exiled:

“We come here wistfully, but this path has also given us a lot of strength because our tribe has always known how to keep moving forward.”

This time the social and political itinerary of the National Caravan does not include visits to institutional spaces and gives priority to national concerns around an agenda broader than that of the Yaqui tribe itself.

By May 22nd they will conduct an assessment and reach a unified decision on continuing the territorial defence. While the people have been getting organized in recent days, the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching [social science university in Mexico City] presented a commissioned report to Enrique Peña Nieto on common [civil] impunity, pardons, and common [civil] justice, which includes diagnoses and proposals with emphasis on the citizenry and urban communities, excluding the structural—and very normalized—aspects of violence involving the State, for example, the agenda of the National Caravan we are discussing. Finally, the report affirms that “criminal justice is not part of common justice, to the extent that it involves the legitimate use of force by the State to punish behaviours that disturb social life” (Report Summary, page 7).


Easter – Photo: Mas de 131

Following that logic, are Yaqui tribesmen Mario Luna and Fernando Jiménez prisoners because their fight in defence of their people disturbs social life? And [does the same logic apply to] the 43 disappeared normal school students? Do all the others involved in the criminalization of activists lie outside so-called common justice?

Not everything can be explained in terms of reductionism. Fortunately, the EZLN’s [Zapatista Army of National Liberation] sincere tribute to Zapatista [martyrs] Luis Villoro Toranzo and the teacher Galeano is a gift of common dignity. I am not going to go on about the fact that the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights is widespread, but it is, just as torture is, as UN Rapporteur Juan Méndez said. This is what the National Caravan convened by the Yaqui tribe is all about.

Translated by Chris Brown



1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on Free UniversE-ity.

    Comment by freeuniverseity — May 12, 2015 @ 3:09 pm

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