“Political parties out, community governments in”: Indigenous peoples of Chiapas.
22 November 2016
“Political parties, alcoholism and other religions have divided us. As if that weren’t bad enough, we are also divided by the government programmes that are a condition of the crumbs they give us. What’s more, those of us who organize are threated and those who defend us are intimidated or attacked. We demand an end to the threats and repression”. So said thousands of indigenous Choles, Tsotsiles and Tseltales in the central square of Oxchuc, Chiapas.
Thousands of indigenous people participating in the pilgramage called “11 Days for 11 Municipalities in Chiapas” arrived in the central square of Oxchuc on the 20th of November, the 7th day of their pilgrimage, where they declared themselves in favour of all the originary peoples getting rid of the political parties, and creating their own forms of self-government.
Members of the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (Movimiento en Defensa de la Vida y el Territorio [MODEVITE]), the Believing People of the parishes of Candelaria, Huixtán, Tumbalá, Cancúc, Tenejapa, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Chilón-Sitalá, Yajalón, Salto de Agua and Oxchuc expressed their support for the more than 100 communities, neighbourhoods and regions choosing their own municipal authorities according to their uses and customs, without the interference of the government, their elections or their political parties.
“The political parties, like idols from the Bible, receive sacrifices and offerings. These sacrifices can be the lives of the people, or individuals, who, for defending others, end up in jail. The golden calf is not innocent; it is dangerous because it has servants who take it offerings. The political parties are these idols and their servants all those who join one of them for the money they are given. They try to convince other people that they must worship their idol, and since the idols are many, everyone wants you to choose their one. In this fight for power, they use us at their convenience and cause divides among us”, said the spokesperson for the indigenous Choles, Tsotsiles and Tseltales who participated in this pilgrimage.
They pointed out that in the municipality of Oxchuc, this practice of idolatry has been led for generations by a single family, who have encouraged the veneration of their idol purely for their own benefit.
“In light of this, we wish not to perpetuate this state of division that the political parties have left us in. For this reason, today, we denounce the years of corruption enjoyed both by Norberto Sántiz López and his wife María Gloria Sánchez Gómez; a family so delirious with power that they wanted to be in power again, but this time with a different party”, said the indigenous people in support of the town of Oxchuc.
The indigenous people of the originary communities present in the square of Oxchuc agreed to elect their authorities and not accept the imposition of political parties, so from now on they will make the decisions. “We have the right as indigenous peoples to self-govern. We do not want a single family to remain in power, we want a truly communitary government”, said the spokesperson of the pilgrims.
They insisted that the indigenous peoples have the right to self-government through uses and customs and that, as such, they must be listened to and respected in the way they make decisions.
Members of the government council of Cherán, Michoacán were present at the event. They explained the way in which they have created their own form of self-government and how they got rid of the political parties.
with information and inset photo from Chiapas Paralelo/ main photo, MODEVITE
Translated by Ruby Zajac for the UK Zapatista Translation Service