Chiapas: Indigenous Pilgrimage shows the “Green” Government how to care for the Earth
Chiapas, México. 18 November. “We invite children, young people to teach them how to plant corn, beans, everything that we have in our lands. So that we don’t forget the Mayan altar which is all we have. At the Mayan altar we can thank God. We are millionaires because of the riches from our seeds and our lands.” These are the words of the original people from Tseltal, Tsotsil and Ch’ol communities as they arrived in the city of Ocosingo. on the fifth day of their pilgrimage
“We have to care for our lands, and no longer use agrochemicals because they kill everything which is in the land. Our grandparents did not use agrochemicals, they worked and it was their sweat of their labour that bore fruit, and that is what we must show young people, that it still can be done that way today,” shared Maria, a member of “Canan Lum Qu’inal” (The Carers and Protectors of Mother Earth) from the community of Bachajon.
Ana, also from “Canan Lum Qu’inal”, talked about some of the work she does in her village: “I don’t know how to read or write, and I buy nothing. With my sweat, and alongside my husband, I work, and we have everything.” I grow 4 types of beans. My children study, and they like to work the land. They have their own corn and beans, which they plant themselves. They are on a diploma-course. From the very beginning they have been taught that we must work the land. Although I don’t know how to read, I understand what we’ve been told, what we’ve been given, and I am grateful to God. Now we continue with the other diploma-students, we are teaching them to plant and grow food.”
This pilgrimage of indigenous peoples denounces the extractive mega-projects in Chiapas just as the state executive Velasco Coello from the “Ecologist ‘Green’ party” delivered a letter of intention that “Puerto Chiapas be established as a Special Economic Zone. According to social researcher Mateo Crossa, “Big foreign and national capital are already in the southern part of the country. They over-exploit the labour force, strip the indigenous people of their lands.” The Special Economic Zones serve to rejuvenate this model, and add fuel to the motor of exploitation and dispossession.
Pilgrims from the the parish of San Jacinto de Polania in Ocosingo said in a statement.“We denounce the influence of government agencies such as CONAFOR, FANAR (RAJAS at present) and in general of all government projects in the indigenous communities of the jungle. The end result is serious confrontation and irreparable division among the inhabitants, and this causes misery in our communities. The indigenous peoples of this area are once again demonstrating for the non-eviction of our communities of the Lacandon Jungle,” they added.
The pilgrimage in Defense of Life and our Land, which is taking place from 15 to 25 November isn’t the only signal of people’s actions demonstrating opposition to the extractive mega-projects in the state. In the past month of October, the Zoque community held mega-marches in town centre of Tecpatan, the administrative head town of the municipality. Similarly since the 26th of September coastal communities in Chiapas are occupying Acacoyagua to stop the operation and continuing work of new mining projects.
This Saturday the 19th the pilgrimage will arrive in the city of Altamirano, where a public meeting about the situation of alcoholism in indigenous communities will be held and, on Sunday the 20th in Oxchuc, the administrative head town, an exchange of community government experiences will be held.
Ocosingo, Chiapas, 18 November 2016: Statement from the “pueblo creyente” of the Parish of San Jacinto de Polonia, Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service