Movement in Defence of Life and Territory 12-Day Pilgrimage Ends in San Cristobal de Las Casas
On November 25, after a 12-day walk through 11 indigenous municipalities in the North, Jungle area and Highlands of Chiapas, thousands of pilgrims arrived in San Cristobal de Las Casas, where they denounced the threats and insecurity that they live with in the villages where they come from.
The members of the pilgrimage belong to the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (MODEVITE in its Spanish acronym) and the Believing Peoples of the parishes of Candelaria, Huixtan, Cancuc, Tenejapa, Oxchuc, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Chilon, Sitala, Yajalon and Salto de Agua: “We are the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (MODEVITE), composed of ten parishes from 11 municipalities and 1 ejido. We are located in the highland region of Chiapas. We started more than four years ago from the Believing Peoples of the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas to stop the clandestine sale of alcohol in our communities but also our struggle stopped for a time the megaproject of government to build the San Cristóbal – Palenque highway. What are we looking for? Our goal is to organize and encourage the indigenous peoples of the area to build our autonomy as indigenous peoples and thus defend our Mother Earth; we want good living from our culture and that is why we say NO to everything that damages the lives of our children and our communities, NO to bad government and NO to the megaprojects that want to take away our territory.”
They declared: “We walk to unite with one voice, to give voice to the earth that calls for respect and protection, which demands from all an attitude of care and gratitude. This pilgrimage has been a moment of grace for us, because we have been able to converse, reflect and dream as one people.” They emphasized that as indigenous peoples they feel that their community belonging to Mother Earth “is our spirituality, so we believe that not only do we have to denounce the destruction of our territory by the ambition of extractivists, but we must take care of it. That is why strengthening our community roots is the way to take care of our common home.” In Oxchuc, a community torn by post-electoral conflict, the pilgrims also spoke of their right as indigenous peoples to govern themselves.
In one of the communiqués published during these days, MODEVITE announced that it will join the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) to consult its communities on the appointment of an independent indigenous candidate for the next elections: “A change is needed among us and that is why we join the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress to consult our communities about the decision to participate in the next national elections with an independent indigenous candidate. We share the same objective, we believe that it is necessary to strengthen the voice of our indigenous peoples on the political agenda and that is why we want to take this initiative to our communities and municipalities.”
When they entered San Cristobal de Las Casas on November 25, they met with the women’s organizations that were taking part in the International Day against Violence against Women and arrived together to the centre of the city: “Today, for example, being International Day against Violence against Women, we remember that women continue to be victims of sexism, alcoholism and the assistance-based government programmes. The women of MODEVITE claim the right to exercise our self-determination as indigenous women to care for Mother Earth and the life of our communities.”
Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity