dorset chiapas solidarity

January 2, 2014

New Forms of Revolution (Part 1): The Lacandona Commune by Gustavo Esteva

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:28 pm

Zapatista 20th Anniversary

New Forms of Revolution (Part 1): The Lacandona Commune     

Written by Gustavo Esteva

Published in Upside Down World, Tuesday, 31 December 2013

new forms The main challenge in Mexico today is to resist a wave of violence that is dispossessing and oppressing people, and which may precipitate increasingly brutal state repression and even a vicious civil war. At the same time, we need to connect the points of resistance, giving them an organizational form adapted to their nature. What is needed is to build a political force that can stop the ongoing disaster, prevent its continuation, and begin to reorganize society from the bottom-up.

There are clear signs that such a scenario is already developing. Many initiatives are connecting desire to reality, and thus giving a joyful and effective sense to political action. An increasing number of people are ceasing to dance to the tune of the powerful, choosing instead to play their own song.

The primary catalyst capable of transforming society is emerging from the Lacandona Commune in Chiapas. For many analysts, both the Zapatistas and Subcomandante Marcos are history: they lost their opportunity, their time has passed, and they are increasingly irrelevant. The media have ‘disappeared’ them; they ignore the Zapatistas, except to disqualify them. Allies and sympathizers have begun to share this impression. However, for prominent thinkers like Chomsky, González Casanova, or Wallerstein, Zapatismo is today the most radical and perhaps the most important political initiative in the world.

The Zapatistas were the first to challenge an intellectual and political mood in Mexico that had surrendered to neoliberal globalization. From that moment on, globalization represented a promise for some and a threat for others, but everybody took it very seriously. Since 1994, anti-systemic movements have acknowledged that the Zapatista uprising was a wake-up call that “Another World Is Possible,” a slogan later coined by the World Social Forum, whose more vigorous and creative sectors were inspired by the Zapatistas.

The Zapatistas have been prominent in the public and media gaze for 20 years. In fact, as surprising as it may seem to those who insist on forgetting them and periodically burying them, no contemporary social or political movement has attracted as much public attention, in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

One of the reasons why so many seem to want to forget Zapatismo, to send it to the past or to reduce it to a few municipalities in Chiapas, is the depth of its radicalism. The Zapatistas challenge in words and deeds every aspect of contemporary society. In revealing the root cause of current predicaments, they tear apart the framework of the economic society (capitalism), the nation-state, formal democracy and all modern institutions. They also render the conventional ways and practices of social and political movements obsolete. In reconstructing the world from the bottom up, they reveal the illusory or counterproductive nature of changes conceived or implemented from the top down. Their path encourages resistance to globalization and neoliberalism everywhere, and inspires struggles for liberation.

Nothing about the Zapatistas is more important than their contribution to hope and imagination. According to the Mahabharata, the sacred Indian book, when hope – that sheet-anchor of every man – is destroyed, great grief follows, which is almost equal to death itself. For Ivan Illich, “the Promethean ethos has now eclipsed hope. Survival of the human race depends on its rediscovery as a social force” (Illich 1971, 105-6). It is precisely this rediscovery that the Zapatistas have accomplished.

Pandora, “the All-Giving”, closed the lid of her amphora before Hope could escape. It is time to reclaim it, in the era in which the Promethean ethos threatens to destroy the world, and the expectations it generated vanish one after the other. In liberating hope from its intellectual and political prison, the Zapatistas created the possibility of a renaissance, which is now emerging in the net of plural paths they have discovered. They are still a source of inspiration for those walking along those paths. But they do not pretend to administer or control such a net, which has its own impulses, strength, and orientation. We all are, or can be, Zapatistas.

“Behind our black mask, behind our armed voice, behind our unnamable name, behind what you see of us, behind this, we are you. Behind this, we are the same simple and ordinary men and women who are repeated in all races, painted in all colors, speak in all languages, and live in all places. Behind this, we are the same forgotten men and women, the same excluded, the same intolerated,   the same persecuted, the same as you. Behind this, we are you.” (The Zapatistas 1998, 24).

Photo by Francesc Parés.

Photo by Francesc Parés.

In 250,000 hectares of Lacandon Jungle, surrounded by thousands of troops, attacked constantly by paramilitary groups, demonized by the government and the political classes, isolated and disqualified by the “institutional” left, the Zapatistas persist in their remarkable sociological and political construction. They refused to accept government funds, not even for their schools and health centers. When civil society asked them to follow “the political way,” they obliged in a dignified manner and entered into dialogue with the government. They signed the San Andrés Accords with the government, which were consequently ignored and violated by successive administrations. But nevertheless, the Zapatistas adhered to the accords through the implementation of autonomy in the area under their control.

A provisional evaluation

Here is a list of the Zapatistas’ current achievements:

  • The Zapatistas were a decisive factor in the dismantling of the oldest authoritarian regime in the world, Mexico’s Ancient Régime (the Institutional Revolutionary Party held power for 71 years).
  • They have created a political alternative to the dead end of globalization.
  • The situation on the ground in Chiapas has changed dramatically: thousands of peasants, mostly indigenous, have obtained land they had long been struggling for, and a new balance of political forces is redefining the social fabric of the state.
  • In spite of military encirclement and continual paramilitary threats, the Zapatistas have been implementing the changes they have advocated from the very beginning: having reclaimed their commons, they are regenerating their own forms of governance, and living and dying according to their own ways.
  • They have been able to operate autonomously and to improve their living conditions, without receiving or accepting services or funds from the national government. They are, in fact, living outside the logic of the market and the state, beyond the logic of capital, and within a new social fabric. This does not imply, of course, that they have escaped the capitalist social fabric that defines Mexico and the world, the unravelling of which, as the Zapatista Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona states, requires weaving another social and political fabric.
  • Thanks to the political space opened by the Zapatistas, autonomous municipalities are flourishing in different parts of Mexico. In general, the Zapatista perspective is more widely understood.

All over the world, we can observe gestures, changes, and mobilizations that seem to be inspired by the Zapatistas. The most highly visible social movements against globalization, neoliberalism, and war support the Zapatistas and cite them as source of inspiration. Zapatista solidarity committees have been formed all over the world. Some are actively engaged in projects with or for the Zapatistas, while most are now involved in local or issue struggles: struggling for their own dreams, projects, and initiatives, or against a specific or general development or injustice, such as a dam, a road, a dump, a McDonalds, a war, a policy, or a government.

To find a political initiative with comparable global repercussions, one has to travel far back in history. As the Zapatistas themselves have already noted, what today looks like Zapatismo, walks like Zapatismo, speaks like Zapatismo, and appears as a form of Zapatismo, is no longer in the hands of the Zapatistas.

While the Zapatistas continue the long process of consolidating their political project, the country’s three constitutional powers, as well as its political parties, are continually deteriorating. This spectacle is pathetic and painful, not so much because there are many things worth saving in what is breaking down, but because of the consequences of the mess it leaves behind.  It was precisely this state of affairs to which the Zapatistas called our attention a few years ago:

“The relentless and frenzied dismantling of the nation-state, driven by a political class lacking professional capacities and decency (clearly accompanied in no few occasions by some of the media and all of the juridical system), will result in a chaotic nightmare that not even prime time shows of suspense and terror could equal.” (La Jornada, 20-08-04).”

Mexico is already in that chaos and that nightmare. This is not an encouraging perspective, nor is it the breeding ground for a revolution. It is not about a necessary and sensible transformation with the progressive substitution of broken or useless parts in an obsolete machine. It is a turbulent and tense process, in which the fragments of the former Mexican political system try clumsily and uselessly to express themselves anew; or else politicians fight amongst themselves endlessly, guided by an eagerness to eliminate their rivals on a path which only leads upwards in the illusions of those involved.

As disintegration deepens, the Zapatistas continue to advance. Their Juntas de Buen Gobierno (Boards of Good Government) “are proof that Zapatismo doesn’t pretend to hegemonize or homogenize the world in which we live in either its ideas or its methods.” What they have been doing is proof that “in the Zapatista lands there is no aim to pulverize the Mexican nation. On the contrary, it is here that the possibility of its reconstruction is being born.” (La Jornada, 23-08-04).

All said and done, it is about not being afraid of continuing to create autonomy, because the indigenous villages should organize themselves and govern themselves, according to their own ways of thinking and understanding, according to their interests, taking into account their cultures and traditions (La Jornada, 10-08-04).

The Lacandona Commune, observes Luis Hernández:

“Is not a regime, but a practice…a laboratory of new social relations…[that] recovers old aspirations of the movements for self-emancipation: liberation should be the work of those it benefits, there ought not be authorities over the people, the subjects of the social order must have full decision-making capacity over their destinies. Their existence is not the expression of a moral nostalgia, but the living expression of a new politics.” (La Jornada 7-9-04).

In their own way the Zapatistas continue to test the speed of dreams with a liberating spirit, accompanied from time to time by those who come to learn and collaborate with them–which in the last two years has included people from 43 countries and many regions of Mexico.

The radical promise of the Zapatistas is not a new ideological construction of possible futures. It is continually self-fulfilled in their deeds, in their daily behaviour, as a redefinition of hope. Their position is not equivalent to expectation, as the conviction that something will turn out well. It expresses the conviction that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. “Hope is that rejection of conformity and defeat.” Its name is also dignity: ‘Dignity is that nation without nationality, that rainbow that is also a bridge, that murmur of the heart no matter what blood lives in it, that rebel irreverence that mocks borders, customs, and wars.” (The Zapatistas 1998, 13)

They are fully aware that the expanding dignity of each man and each human relationship challenges existing systems. Their autonomy marginalizes the dominant economy and resists the modern and capitalist individualization promoted by both internal and external colonizers.

Rooted in dignity, the Zapatistas have been erecting some landmarks and signposts for what looks like a net of plural paths. Whoever walks these paths can see, with the diffuse and intense quality of a rainbow, a large range of political perspectives that herald a new social order, beyond the economic society (be it capitalist or socialist), and beyond formal democracy and the nation-state. Más allá (beyond) the current conditions of the world, as well as the intellectual, ideological, and institutional underpinnings of these conditions.

The Zapatistas are one of a kind, and at the same time typical. They come from an ancient tradition, but are immersed in contemporary ideas, problems, and technologies. They are ordinary men and women with extraordinary behavior. They are still mystery and paradox, and the best example of an epic grassroots initiative now traversing the world (Esteva y Prakash 1998).

The Zapatistas are no longer the Zapatismo circulating in the world.

At the Intercontinental Encounter against Neoliberalism in 1996, the Zapatistas told all the participants that they did not get together to change the world – something quite difficult if not impossible – but rather to create a whole new world. The phrase was received with fascination and enthusiasm…but also skepticism: it appeared unfeasible and romantic. Step by step, however, to escape from the straightjackets of dominant ideology, they discovered in themselves a dignity similar to that of the Zapatistas; through this process they also discovered that the statement was in fact very pragmatic.

As the crisis grows, with its trail of disasters and dramas, battalions of discontent are multiplying. They are ever more organized and lucid, but often bear a peculiar uncertainty: the crisis of imagination. Many of them don’t know what to do.

The Zapatista Escuelita – the new initiative

On December 21, 2012, some 40,000 Zapatistas marched in silence in a disciplined and peaceful way, in the same towns they had occupied during their uprising on January 1, 1994. They left a brief communiqué:

“Did you listen? It is the sound of your world falling apart. It is the sound of our world re-emerging. The day that was the day was night. And night will be the day that will be the day.”

A little later, a flood of communiqués announced that a “Freedom according to the Zapatistas” course would be held on August 11-16, 2013, in the autonomous zone. The communiqués explained that the teachers of this course would not be certified professionals, nor would any expert pedagogues be present. None of the formal requirements of a classroom or academic space would be met. The idea would be to learn, not about the world but from the world, and to learn from those constructing a new world. The teachers of the course would be those constructing a world without exploitation or social classes, without oppression or hierarchies, and in which the patriarchal and sexist mentality has been profoundly broken – a space that is no longer utopian because it exists in the real world.

The most difficult aspect of the course would be its content: freedom.

The word produces an immediate association with those who have lost it, and generates solidarity with those in jail. We must, of course, care for them; many of them, perhaps most of them, are innocent. We must protest the profound injustice of their incarceration, while those responsible for the horror around us walk with impunity in the streets.

But the course would not be about that kind of freedom. A few years ago the poet John Berger observed that, if he were forced to use only one word to express the current condition of the world, he would use the word “prison.” We are in it, even those of us who pretend we are free. The escuelita would attempt to show what freedom is for the Zapatistas. In that way, we might learn to see the bars of our own prisons.

Almost 1,700 people, from many countries and all parts of Mexico, were invited to attend the course. I was one of them. What we saw, smelled, tasted and experienced was a new world, with a new kind of human being: the Zapatista world, constructed over the course of the last 30 years. The people who started the movement in 1983 and organized the uprising in 1994 lacked everything, except dignity. In the 1970s and 1980s they were dying like flies from hunger and curable diseases, oppressed by a very violent and barbaric structure of power. Many of them were working as semi-slaves in private ranches, or as servants in the cities. “In the villages,” Subcomandante Marcos said once, “there were very few children; most of them were dying”. Since 1994, the Zapatistas have been continually exposed to harassment, physical and psychological aggression, paramilitary assaults, and an encirclement stricter than the Cuban embargo. They have constructed their new world from scratch, against all odds, and with no funds or social services from the government, starting with their bare hands. They have been on their own, accepting, on their own terms, some irregular solidarity from people around the world.

The structure of freedom

The structures of political and legal procedures are integral to one another. Both shape and express the structure of freedom in history. If this is recognized, the framework of due procedure can be used as the most dramatic, symbolic, and sociable tool in the political area. The appeal to law remains powerful even where society makes access to legal machinery a privilege, or where it systematically denies justice, or where it cloaks despotism in the mantle of show tribunals…Only the word in its weakness can associate the majority of the people in the revolutionary inversion of inevitable violence into convivial reconstruction (Ivan Illich 1973, 109-110).

The word reigns in Zapatista territory and it is openly used for the convivial reconstruction of society.

We observed a well-enforced state of law, and a solid, peaceful social order in which all forms of violence have basically vanished (except, of course, the violence of paramilitaries and other people surrounding the Zapatistas).

If we consider that a state of law exists only for those societies in which all members of the social body know and accept the norms ruling their lives, and in which those norms are universally enforced with fairness and justice, then we must acknowledge that no society lives today under a state of law. Except Zapatista society.

Zapatista norms are produced at three levels: the community, the municipality (a group of communities), and the caracol (a group of municipalities). Each of these bodies varies in size. A community can be a settlement of a few families; the bigger communities can have 600 or 700 families.

Photo by Francesc Parés.

Photo by Francesc Parés.

All members of a community participate in the decisions about the norms and accords governing life in the community. The norms are general rules of behavior and include the consequences for violating them. The accords establish the conditions to implement specific decisions concerning communal activities for the common good.

Norms and accords at the level of municipalities and caracoles are conceived and formulated by the common folk of the communities, who temporarily serve in positions of authority at these levels. The norms and most accords then cannot be enforced unless and until they are accepted at the level of the communities – a bottom-up and universally shared (rather than top-down and elite) structuring of decision-making and power relations.

There are norms for all Zapatistas: firstly, the seven principles of commanding by obeying, applied to all Zapatistas when they are in a position of authority, and, secondly, the revolutionary laws.

The seven principles are:

  1. To serve, not to serve yourself
  2. To represent and not to supplant
  3. To construct and not to destroy
  4. To obey and not to command
  5. To propose and not to impose
  6. To convince and not to win
  7.  To go down and not to go up

These principles were conceived and formulated by Zapatista communities, widely discussed for a long time, and finally adopted consensually by the Zapatista organization.

The revolutionary laws regarding women and land were formulated clandestinely, before the uprising on January 1, 1994, and they were published on that day. Many people participated in their formulation and all Zapatistas know them pretty well, but it is not known how they were enacted. They are very simple and operate as general principles that are in continual revision. For example, the communities are currently discussing a proposal of 33 points about women, which will be a substitute for the 10 points of the current women’s law, if and when everyone agrees on them.

Given these conditions, the real norms and forms of enforcement vary widely in different communities, municipalities and caracoles. All the decisions on important matters require consensus in order to take effect, but for minor decisions voting procedures can be used.

There are no police…and no need for them. The Zapatista communities, in spite of the external aggression they experience, are the safest place in Mexico, and amongst the safest places in the world.

Prior to 1994, alcoholism was a big problem in the communities, and so the Zapatista base decided to ban alcohol and drugs as the norm. The first time a person violates this norm, he or she gets a warning and some advice and support. The second time, he or she must do some community work and get more advice and support. The third time, more community work. Continued violation of the norm can lead to expulsion from the community.

People of the community form different commissions to oversee all functions of government and the implementation of communal projects. Transparency and accountability are totally ensured. A few cases of corruption have been discovered and punished.

Domestic violence has been largely eliminated, whereas, prior to the uprising, beating women and children had been common.  As a result of these community-led transformations, children are showered with love and are free to roam the community – a sense of freedom that is a palpable when you visit a Zapatista village.

An experience of the escuelita, August 2013

The first impression we had of the escuelita was the remarkable degree of organization. The Zapatista organizers were waiting for us at the Unitierra Chiapas campus on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de las Casas. With some efficiency they gave us credentials identifiying us as students of the escuelita, and then directed us to the translportation to each one of the five caracoles –  in some cases, more than ten hours drive from San Cristóbal. Upon arrival in each caracol, long lines of local Zapatistas clapped as we arrived. After a warm reception, every one of us got a votán, a guardian: a man or woman who would take care of us 24 hours a day, act as an interpreter (our hosts spoke in their own Indigenous languages), support our studies (guiding us in the reading of the textbooks, for example), and answer questions. They brought us to the homes that were going to host us, sometimes after a long walk, or even a boat ride.

The textbooks are a good illustration of the nature of the experience. The communities and municipalities, where people speak the same language and share the same culture, are characterized by frequent interaction and sharing. When the caracoles were created, however, they required a lingua franca: Spanish (which is not spoken by everyone), because in each caracol there are people from different cultures. Since the people of the communities orient the caracoles from below, differences between them started to emerge. They needed to share the experiences of the different caracoles and learn from each other. In an effort that lasted several years, people who had acted as authorities or fulfilled different functions in the communities, municipalities, or caracoles, began to openly share their experiences with others, examining mistakes and difficulties without fear, inhibitions, or reservations. There was a moment, after they had accumulated a lot of materials, in which someone imagined it could be useful to share these with others, in order to sow the seeds of autonomy beyond their territory. That is how the escuelita was born.

The whole experience of the escuelita was very intense, convivial, and joyful. We shared in the activities of the family, including their daily work – in which our lack of the pertinent skills and physical conditioning was often very evident and gave rise to much laughter. We had time to read our textbooks, comprised of a collection of interviews with members of the five caracoles. We could ask any question and usually received enlightening answers. And of course we participated in many enjoyable activities, particularly the final fiesta.

Photo by Francesc Parés.

Photo by Francesc Parés.

In this course we completed only the first level (there will be more), but we learned a lot. We learned new categories created in the struggle for freedom. We learned that resistance, for example, was not something that started with the Zapatistas: their abuelos and abuelas (grandfathers and grandmothers) had been resisting for centuries, and they kept that experience in their hearts. We learned that there is a Zapatista way, entirely transparent but difficult to understand or define, because it is a very other way, which cannot fit well within our mentality or our common way of understanding. We learned how autonomy is constructed and how the projects are implemented. We learned that authentic resistance is not only to endure things, but rather to organize and construct something new.

There was the temptation to translate what we learned into a formal course, transforming the experience into a package of knowledge and skills to pass onto others. But such an exercise would imply a betrayal of the meaning, style, and intention of the escuelita. We were not invited to be educated in a doctrine, and even less to learn what to do. The Zapatistas shared a living experience with us, the substance of which can only exist in diversity, in a variety of forms. Every community, every municipality, every caracol, had evident differences, because they have been created in freedom by different communities of people. They have many things in common, but the specific shape of those “principles” or “forms” corresponds not only to the natural and cultural diversity of the places in which people’s lives have been organized, but also to the differential imagination of those participating in the process. The challenge is not to reduce the whole thing to a formal discourse, more or less technical, with some abstract categories, but rather to reproduce the experience in the personal style of every student through contagion. This requires, however, time to process the experience, and to prepare fertile soil in which the seeds of autonomy can prosper.

On Saturday, August 17, 2013 we witnessed the arrival of hundreds of delegates of the National Indigenous Congress for a meeting convened by the Zapatistas in San Cristobal de las Casas. Over a couple of days, indigenous people from across the country spoke about the reality of their situation, their problems, conflicts, and resistance. The Tata Juan Chavez forum, named in honor of an indigenous organizer and founder of the National Indigenous Congress, will be a kind of nomadic space, which can be organized in any place, to allow the voices of the indigenous peoples to be heard.

It was overwhelming to hear the never-ending enumeration of plunders and aggressions against indigenous people. The name of the protagonists and the substance of the plunder changed from one place to the other, but it was always the same crime: a war against subsistence waged by capitalist corporations, sometimes behind the façade of a local boss or a landowner, but always with the active participation and the open complicity of the government and political parties.

It was even more impressive to observe the common denominator of most presentations: a combative, articulated, and vigorous resistance, waged with spirit and dignity; a battle in which they are not only defending their territories, ways of life, forms of self-government, and traditions, but also struggling for the survival of all of us.

To conclude: exhausted after this intense, convivial, and joyful week that at times seemed interminable, overwhelmed by the weight of a learning that brings with it the moral obligation of sharing, we came back to our places full of hope. We also learned that every one of us, in his or her own way, can do what we need to do, which will be as diverse as our worlds. We can construct a world in which everyone will be included. Inertia, paralysis and fear will be banished. We have been set in motion.

– San Pablo Etla, September, 2013.

References:

Esteva, G. y M. Prakash.  1998. Grassroots Postmodernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures. London: Zed Books.

Esteva, G. y Shanin, T. 2005. Pensar todo de nuevo. Oaxaca: Ediciones ¡Basta!

Illich, I.  1971. Deschooling Society. New York: Harper & Row.

Illich, I. 1996. Tools for Conviviality, London: Marion Boyars.

The Zapatistas  1998. Zapatista Encuentro: Documents from the 1996 Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism. New York: Seven Stories Press.

Photos 2-4 by Francesc Parés.

http://upsidedownworld.org/main/mexico-archives-79/4620-new-forms-of-revolution-part-1-the-lacandona-commune



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.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/09/13/index.php?section=opinion&article=020a2pol&partner=rss

Translated by Louise O’Donnell

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August 25, 2013

Students leave the Zapatistas’ first school with homework

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:40 pm

Students leave the Zapatistas’ first school with homework

Marta Molina

Publico_Marta_Molina

A man takes notes during the Tata Juan Chávez Alonso Seminar about indigenous struggles, which began directly after the Zapatistas first school on liberty earlier this month. (WNV/Marta Molina)

The 1700 students who travelled from across Mexico and the world to attend the Zapatistas’first school last week are leaving with an important homework assignment: to transfer what they learned to their respective collectives and movements.

Some left with blisters on their hands from working in the fields with a machete for the first time. Others told stories of waking before the sun rose to prepare tortillas and beans and pozol (water with corn flour added) for their companions who were going to work in the milpa (cornfields) and to chop and carry wood. As the students prepared these meals, often for the first time, they listened to the sounds of indigenous languages like Tojobal, Chol, Tzeltal, and Tzotzil. As they ate, they shared experiences and began understanding that their sense of resistance came from their own families, from the very beginning of their childhoods.

The focus of the five-day school’s curriculum was liberty according to the Zapatistas, and students grew to understand how the home stays in Zapatista territories were an integral part of the lesson. “They care for Mother Earth because it’s what brings them food,” explained Marcos, a student from Argentina. “In the cities we buy everything in containers, and we don’t even know where it comes from. That [growing one’s own food] is also part of liberty.”

Others said that liberty lies in exercising autonomy without government help. It is the hard daily work that allows the Zapatistas to survive without the government and be free, said the students. Coherence, resistance and responsibility were words they repeated often in describing the Zapatista way of life.

“To be free is to be able to decide for themselves what lives they want to have,” said Marcos.

“What education they want. How they want to raise their children. How they want to organize. We have to go to the supermarket, go to the school that the system offers us to then reproduce that system — at university as well. We have to take the healthcare system that the system offers us and that we don’t understand,” he said.

During the school, Toño from Brazil stayed in the Rosario de Río Blanco in the CaracolLa Realidad, close to the city of Las Margaritas. “It was the best school I’ve been to in all my life,” he said. Toño and other students learned how a Zapatista family can live peacefully in communities where the majority of people support the PRI, the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, and receive money from government projects. “But if one day they lose their government financial support, they won’t know what to do,” said Toño.

Erwin, a student from Cuetzalan, a small town in the Mexican state of Puebla, works to build autonomy for the community where he lives, and he understands how the Zapatistas navigate relationships with their non-Zapatista neighbors.

“They have differences with their neighbors, but they don’t treat them as enemies,” he said. “The system is negatively affecting the everyday life of all, partisan, non-partisan. Even the army has indigenous people in it. And that’s what capitalism wants: for brothers to fight each other.”

Many felt that learning how the Zapatistas live alongside, and assume a non-confrontational attitude toward, people who don’t think like them was an indispensable lesson. Non-Zapatistas can even come to the autonomous clinic when they are sick, and they will be attended to rather than rejected. “In this same community we greet all people who are not Zapatistas with affection, because we are all affected by the system…The real enemy is the same, the system,” said Erwin.

The fact that oftentimes students did not speak the same language as their host families, teachers and guardians, called votanes, was not necessarily a problem. “We wound up understanding each other,” said 17-year-old Camila, who is a student at theCollege of Sciences and Humanities at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The texts provided by the Zapatista school were very different than those she was familiar with from college. “They explain through anecdotes, which are reflections of practice.” Camila said she hopes that a second grade will be added to the escuelita, and that, if one is, she will be allowed to attend. She said she learned over the course of those five days that autonomy exists and is possible.

The lesson that most impacted Uruguayan Mónica Olaso was when she asked her teacher why they were summoned and what the Zapatistas expected of the students. The response, Mónica recounted, was, “You know, Mónica, a bullet is not going to reach Uruguay. But our word will.” She is returning to her country, she said, with the mission to insist on organizing with the patience required to realize the commitments they make with people in her communities. She also feels the responsibility to pass along the lessons both in the books she was given by the Zapatistas and those already within her — her experiences.

“The Zapatistas wanted us to hear them, to see them, to share with them their experiences of struggle. Now, we have a mission: that every one of us, in accordance with our ways and places, continue organizing according to our context,” said Mónica from Uruguay. Toño, who is part of the Passe Livre Movement in Brazil, which helped organize the mass protests against the fare hikes earlier this summer, agreed. “Rural movements, urban movements, no matter which. But we have to learn how to be more autonomous, and therefore we will be more free. We will even live alongside the enemy itself, because if you are autonomous and free, then you can live with them,” he said.

 Alex, a student from San Francisco, Calif., stayed at the Caracol La Realidad with Toño during the school. He says that he learned discipline, listening and the importance of having a long-term strategic vision. In his opinion, these are three things that are missing from social movements in the United States. “There are two main lessons,” he said. “First, is the discipline to accomplish what you say you’re going to do. The second is being self-critic and evaluating our mistakes and victories.” He quoted the Zapatista saying — “we walk slowly because we are going far” — as he explained the longevity of the movement: the Zapatistas have already celebrated 30 years since founding the EZLN, 20 years since establishing the municipalities and starting to build their autonomy, and ten years since the creation of the autonomous governing structure, the Councils of Good Government. This long-term view, Alex said, is lacking in the United States.

In addition to organizing the escuelita, the EZLN also brought together representatives of indigenous peoples from all over Mexico to inaugurate the first Tata Juan Chávez Alonso Traveling Seminar. Held directly after the escuelita at the Centro Indigena de capacitación Integral,

The University of the Earth, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in Chiapas, the seminar was a gathering of members of indigenous communities from around the world. The location for the inaugural seminar was significant because the Zapatistas are organizing — like so many other indigenous communities in resistance — to defend their territories from threats by transnational corporations, narco-trafficking and governments. Some students who attended the escuelita to listen and learn with Zapatista families about the meanings of liberty and autonomy also attended the Tata Juan Chávez Alonso Seminar. Indigenous participants shared their victories and organizational missteps as a way to measure of the strength of the indigenous communities that conform the National Indigenous Congress, and those who still do not belong to it.

The ongoing seminar will continue to re-convene in different regions of the Americas and is intended to create a traveling forum for indigenous voices, while the Zapatistas have announced that they will hold a second escuelita this coming winter.

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August 23, 2013

National Indigenous Congress (Mexico): Declaration from the Seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso”

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:16 pm

 

National Indigenous Congress (Mexico): Declaration from the Seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso”

AUGUST 22, 2013

To the people and governments of the world:

To the national and international Sixth:

To the students of the Zapatista Little School:

tata chavez3In this time and in our history with the mother earth, the people, nations, and indigenous tribes of the Yaqui, Mayo, Náyeri, Wixárika, Rarámuri, Odam, Nahua, Purépecha, Nañu or Ñuhu, Mazahua, Popoluca, Tzotzil, Chol, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Zoque, Totonaco, Coca, Mame, Binnizá, Chinanteco, Ikoot, Mazateco, Chontal, Ñu Saavi, Chatino, Triqui, Afromestizo, Mehpa, Nancue Ñomndaa, Ñhato and Peninsular Mayas of the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Veracruz, Durango, Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoacán, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Morelos, Mexico State, Guerrero, the Federal District, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Yucatán, and Campeche, as well as the Ixil, Quiche, Quechua and Nasa people of Guatemala, Peru, and Colombia, who have walked attentively alongside one another as children of the mother earth, gathered together on August 17th and 18th, 2013, in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, at the CIDECI-Unitierra facilities. We met to remember and to carry on the living word of our elder brother Tata Juan Chávez Alonso, who teaches and guides us and whose memory, one year after his death, has become a source of hope and strength for we as peoples who have re-founded and reconstituted ourselves in deciding to continue being the Indians that we are, to continue speaking the language that we speak, and to continue defending the territory where we live.

We recognize ourselves in the struggle for respect for our ancestral way of life, a struggle that we undertook together, in which we have spoken out and demanded respect, and in which we have been repeatedly betrayed by the bad governments.

We have learned through the course of this struggle that the powerful do not respect the honour of the word, which they have violated and betrayed again and again throughout this country called Mexico. Such betrayals include their refusal to recognize the Accords of San Andrés Sakamchén of the Poor, the indigenous counter-reform of 2001, and the innumerable betrayals of our people in the diverse regions and struggles of an Indian Mexico that is still alive and standing, with one heart that grows large, as large as the pain that we suffer and the hope with which we struggle. Despite the increasingly violent war of extermination against us, we are still here.

tata chavez1We 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.

We are the Indians that we are, determined to reconstitute ourselves as an other possible world.

This deep mirror reflects the struggles, old and new, of which we are composed and from which we now make this pronouncement with one heart and one word.

  1. We demand the immediate release of the political prisoners in our country, particularly our indigenous Tzotzil compañero Alberto Patishtán, who has been unjustly imprisoned for 13 years and is serving an illegal 60-year sentence. We also demand the freedom of our six Nahua brothers from the community of San Pedro Tlanixo, unjustly imprisoned for 10 years in the Almoloya Prison for defending their community’s water. These include our brothers Pedro Sánchez, serving a 52-year sentence, Teófilo Pérez, serving a 50-year sentence, Rómulo Arias, serving a 54-year sentence, and the compañeros Marco Antonio Pérez, Lorenzo Sánchez and Dominga González who are currently being processed. We also demand the cancellation of the arrest warrants against Rey Perez Martinez and Santos Alejandro Álvarez, also from Tlanixco; the release of our imprisoned compañeros from the Tzeltal community of Bachajón, Chiapas, Miguel demeza Jiménez and Antonio Estrada Estrada; the release of our Loxicha compañeros  Eleuterio Hernández García, Justino Hernández José, Zacarías Pascual García López, Abraham García Ramírez, Fortino Enríquez Hernández, Agustín Luna Valencia, and Alvaro Sebastián Ramírez, imprisoned in the CEFERESO number six in Huimanguillo, Tabasco; and the release of Pablo López Álvarez from San Isidro Aloapan, Oaxaca, prisoner at Villa de Etla.
  2. We denounce the bad governments and the transnational corporations which have utilized paramilitary groups in order to impose extractive megaprojects through the illegal exploitation of minerals and precious woods, particularly on the Nahua coast and Purépecha plateau of Michoacán, and in the Nahua community of Ayotitlán in the Manantlán Sierra of Jalisco.
  3. We demand justice for the Nahua community of Santa María Ostula, on the Michoacán coast, where the bad governments in collusion with the narco-trafficking cartels have allowed the plunder of the community’s ancestral lands, the looting of natural resources by organized crime groups, and the bloody repression of communal organization that has led to murders and disappearances.
  4. We salute the historic struggle of the community of Cherán, Michoacán, and the dignified exercise of the right to self-defence that has flourished among the Purépecha people defending their lives, their families, their culture and their territory. They have faced the threats created by the complicity of the bad governments with paramilitary groups and narco-paramilitaries with demands for security, justice, and the reconstitution of their territories.
  5. We also salute the dignified defence of the indigenous communities and neighbourhoods that continue to practice their traditional knowledges and the cultivation of native maize.
  6. We repudiate the repression against the Ikoot people of San Mateo del Mar and San Dionísio del Mar, and against the Binniza people of Juchitán and Álvaro Obregón. We demand the immediate release of Alejandro Regalado Jiménez and Arquímedes Jiménez Luis, as well as the immediate cancellation of the wind energy corridors under the control of the Spanish companies Endesa, Iberdrola, Gamesa, and Unión Fenosa, which are invading and destroying communal lands and sacred sites of the above-mentioned peoples in the Isthmus region.
  7. We demand an end to the repression against the community of San Francisco Xochicuautla in Mexico State, as well as the definitive cancellation of the Toluca-Naucalpan private highway project. We also support that community’s appeal for precautionary measures made to the Interamerican Human Rights System.
  8. We demand that the federal bad government comply with the cancellation of the construction of the Independence Aqueduct, which will dispossess the Yaqui Tribe of the water that they have historically defended in the Yaqui River, and we reiterate our declaration that we will act accordingly in the case of any attempt to repress the encampment they have set up in resistance, on the international highway by Vicam, the first headquarters of the Yaqui tribe.
  9. We demand an end to the repression and the withdrawal of security forces from the community of Huexca, Morelos, enacted to protect the construction of a power plant; the cancellation of the aqueduct and the extraction of water from the Cuautla River, which will affect 22 ejidos in the Ayala municipality; and an end to the harassment of 60 communities in Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala, who will be displaced for the installation of a pipeline. This is all part of the Comprehensive Morelos Project, which seeks to destroy campesino life in these territories in order to convert them into industrial areas and highways. We demand respect for the sacred guardian, Volcán Popocatépetl, also being pillaged by the unfettered clandestine logging of its forests.
  10. We support the struggle of community of Coca de Mezcala in Jalisco for the recuperation of their territory, and we demand the cancellation of the arrest orders against the villagers whose crime has been to defend their land.
  11. We demand respect for the communal territory and the communal general assembly of Tepozlán, and add our voice to the demand for the cancellation of the Pera-Cuautla highway. We reject the campaign of lies and public deception by the Morelos government attempting to justify this dispossession.
  12. We warn that there is an unprecedented attack on the sacred pillars of the world, recognized and sustained by the original peoples and which they defend in the name of life in the Universe. These include the sacred territories of Wirikuta and Hara Mara in the states of San Luis Potosí and Nayarit, which are threatened by capitalist mining and tourism projects implemented with the complicity of the bad governments on national and state levels. We demand the cancellation of all mining and tourist projects in said territories and in all indigenous territories. We condemn the campaign of confrontation conducted by the First Majestic Silver mining company and the bad government of the municipality of Catorce in San Luis Potosí. We salute the dignified campesino people of Wirikuta who have decided to speak out in defence of their land, water, health, and environment and of their brotherhood with the Wixárika people.
  13. In the same vein, we warn that we will not sit on the sidelines in the face of the intended destruction of the sacred site of Muxatena and 14 other sacred sites of the Náyeri people, where the Las Cruces Dam is to be constructed on the San Pedro Mezquital River in the state of Nayarit.
  14. We denounce the invasions of indigenous and peasant territories by agro-industrial companies who deliberately alter the rains for their own benefit and destroy peasant life, as has been the case in the Nahua community of Tuxpan, Jalisco and the Potosino Altiplano in Wirikuta sacred territory.
  15. We demand the cancellation of mining concessions in the heart of the Santa Marta Sierra in Popoluca territory, and we denounce the attempted invasion of the communal lands of San Juan Volador in the municipality of Pajapan in the south of Veracruz by the wind energy company Dragón.
  16. We demand the cancelation of the Tuxtepec-Huatulco highway project, the so-called Chinanteco Tourist Corridor in Chinanteco territory, and the cancellation of the ecological reserves in the northern region of Oaxaca.
  17. We demand the cancellation of the aqueduct promoted by the bad government of Guerrero, which would dispossess the Na savi, Nancue Ñomndaa, and Afromestizo people of water from the San Pedro River on Guerrero’s Costa Chica.
  18. We reject the attempt to flood the sacred sites of the people of Guarijio de Alamo, Sonora through the construction of the Pilares Dam, and the diversion of the Sonoran River to the disadvantage of the Komkaak Nation, which has been deprived of water for the last four months in order to benefit the large agricultural landowners on the Sonoran coast.
  19. We denounce the Federal District government’s policy of extermination enacted against the communities and peoples of the Ajusco Sierra through the dispossession and devastation of their ejidal and communal territories in San Miguel Xicalco and San Nicolas Totolapan. We recognize and support the San Miguel and Santo Tomas Ajusco community sub-delegates in resistance.
  20. We salute the struggle of the Autonomous Community of San Lorenzo Azqueltán in the state of Jalisco and recognize their autonomous authorities, remaining attentive to and in solidarity with their struggle for the recognition of their ancestral territory.
  21. We salute and recognize the renewal of the communal authorities of the Wixárika autonomous community of Bancos de San Hipólito, Durango, and we support their struggle for the recognition of their ancestral territory, which they have been demanding for more than 45 years.
  22. We hold the public officials of the Xochimilco political offices responsible for threats against compañero Carlos Martínez Romero of the community of Santa Cruz Acalpixca for defending water and territory.
  23. We join dozens of Nahua and Totonaca communities in Puebla’s Sierra Norte in demanding the cancellation of mining concessions and hydroelectric projects, as well as the cancellation of concessions to the Altos Hornos de Mexico mining company in the Sierra Sur and Oaxacan coast.
  24. We support the struggle of the Conhuas community in Calakmul, Campeche, for the defence of their territory and dignified work, and demand an end to aggressions against that community by the state government.
  25. We demand recognition of the communal lands of San Pedro Tlaltizapán in the Chignahuapan Rivera in Mexico State, and the cessation of real estate construction projects on communal lands.
  26. We demand respect for the territories recuperated by the Autonomous Indigenous Campesina Union of Rio Grande, Oaxaca, and we salute their resistance encampment.
  27. We also demand respect for the Ñomndaa Community Radio, the voice of the Amuzgo people of Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero, as well as respect for all community radios in the different indigenous territories across the country.
  28. We reiterate the demand that the Mexican state guarantee the security of Raúl Gatica of the Indigenous Popular Council of Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores Magón.
  29. We demand respect for the community economies that function autonomously and independently of the free market imposed by capitalism, such as the use of the tumin in the Totonaca territory in Papantla, Veracruz, and the Trueque Council in the communities of Tianguistenco municipality in the State of Mexico.

We recognize, support, and encourage the struggles for autonomy and self-determination of all of the indigenous peoples that make up the National Indigenous Congress, from the Yucatan Peninsula to the peninsula of Baja California.

This is what we are, our word and our unwavering struggle, as the National Indigenous Congress, and our future is the future of our peoples.

August 18, 2013

From CIDECI-UNITIERRA, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

For the comprehensive reconstitution of our peoples

Never Again a Mexico Without Us

 

Translation by El Kilombo Intergaláctico

 

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August 21, 2013

CNI demands respect for the ancestral way of life of the Indians

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:36 pm

 

CNI demands respect for the ancestral way of life of the Indians

The pronouncement brings together the demands of the indigenous peoples

They repeat the call for the release of Tzotzil Professor Alberto Patishtán

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada, Wednesday August 21st, 2013, p. 13

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, August 20th, 2013

tata chavez19“Indian Mexico is alive, on its feet and with one single heart which is big, as big as the pain that we suffer, as big as the hope with which we struggle, because in spite of the war of extermination which has become more violent than ever, we are still here”, stated the National Indigenous Congress (CNI).

After finishing their national encuentro (meeting) at the Tata Juan Chavez Alonso Seminar, convoked by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the CNI itself, a full pronouncement was released which brings together the dozens of urgent demands of the original peoples from throughout the country who met over the weekend in this city.

“As it is in time and in our history with the mother earth, the peoples, nations and tribes of the Yaqui, Mayo, Náyeri, Wixárika, Rarámuri, Odam, Nahua, Purépecha, Nañu or Ñuhu, Mazahua, Popoluca, Tzotzil, Chol, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Zoque, Totonaco, Coca, Mame, Binnizá, Chinanteco, Ikoot, Mazateco, Chontal, Ñu Saavi, Chatino, Triqui, Afromestizo, Mehpa, Nancue Ñomndaa, Ñhato and Peninsular Maya recognize ourselves in the struggle for respect for our ancient way of life, a struggle that we undertook together and in which we have spoken, we have demanded and we have been repeatedly betrayed by the bad governments.”

Coming from 19 states, the indigenous delegates said: “We have learned on this path of struggle that the powerful have no respect for the word, they betray and violate it again and again throughout this country which is called Mexico, from the repudiation of the Accords of San Andrés Sakamchén de los Pobres to the indigenous counter-reform of 2001 and the countless betrayals of our peoples in the different regions and struggles”. And they stated: “We are the Indians who we are, determined to reconstruct another possible world”.

In a list of 29 demands, the first is the immediate release of the Tzotzil Professor Alberto Patishtán Gomez and all the country’s indigenous political prisoners. This is followed by denouncements that “the bad governments and transnational corporations” rely on “paramilitary groups to impose extractive megaprojects”: Drug trafficking, theft of rivers, forests, mountains, corn and air, a variety of repressions. The CNI identifies “an unprecedented attack on the sacred pillars of the world recognized and sustained by the original peoples, and which they will most certainly defend on behalf of life and of the Universe”.

The pronouncement concludes: “We recognize, support and encourage the struggle for autonomy and self-determination of all the peoples who make up the CNI, from the Yucatán peninsula to the peninsula of Baja California”.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/08/21/index.php?section=politica&article=013n1pol

 

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August 20, 2013

Words from the General Command of the EZLN to the Indigenous National Congress

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:46 pm

Words from the General Command of the EZLN to the Indigenous National Congress

Comandanta Miriam:

tata chavez cdta miriamCompañeros and compañeras, I am Comandanta Miriam, and the other commanders present here are: Comandanta Hortensia, Comandanta Susanna and Comandanta Yolanda. I speak on behalf of our support bases, men, women, children and elderly of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

To the people of Mexico

To the peoples of the world

To the alternative media who are present

To the Indian National Congress

Compañeros and compañeras of the Other and of the Sixth, national and international,

As the Zapatista National Liberation Army we make our own all that is happening in every corner of our Mexican homeland, because we all suffer the same problems, dispossessing us of our mother earth, air, water, and natural resources. But the bad neoliberal governments and transnational corporations rule with money, and therefore impose projects of death in our territories. But as original peoples and owners of the natural resources, we have to defend them in any way possible, whatever the consequences, because we live and breathe with our mother earth.

But the bad governments and transnational corporations want to take control of what is ours, and when we defend it, they persecute, imprison and kill us. They accuse us of being lawbreakers and condemn us to many years in prison, as if we were criminals. But they are the real murderers, criminals and traitors. They are free, as if all they have done to us is not a crime, because of the laws they have, which protect them.

So we want to tell the bad governments and to make it very clear that now we will not, as indigenous people, allow them to take away our mother earth and natural resources.

We as Zapatistas fight for our 13 demands for the Mexican people, and we fight for autonomy where the people command and the government obeys. To achieve this requires awareness, will and sacrifice, and resisting all kinds of attacks.

Compañeras and compañeros, brothers and sisters, to reject all the plans of death imposed by the neoliberals, it is necessary to organize, to unite our forces, our pain, to unite our rebellion, and to struggle for democracy, liberty and justice.

From CIDECI, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

This is all our word. August 18, 2013.

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August 19, 2013

Gustavo Esteva: And Yes, Definitely, We Learned

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:41 pm

 

And Yes, Definitely, We Learned

Gustavo Esteva

La Jornada, 19th August, 2013

escuelita2Last Friday we graduated, those of us who had the privilege of attending the first course of Freedom According to the Zapatistas.

Our teachers were the thousands of grassroots supporters, particularly the young men and women, who shared with us their lived experience of winning freedom. Each one of us students had a votán, a guardian, who not only took care of us, but who was also our teaching mentor to resolve our doubts, provide more information and guide us in reading the textbooks and in other activities.

Although we only passed the first level, we learned a lot. We learned about words, for example, new categories created in the struggle for freedom. We now know that some things are in and of themselves; the resistance, for example, did not begin with the Zapatistas, since the grandparents were already in the resistance and had held the experience in their hearts. We learned that there is a Zapatista way, entirely transparent but difficult to understand or define, because it is so very different. We learned about the [political] party members, an effective generic term for referring to the animals that feign to be different but who all behave the same way: they are confused brothers and sisters who still believe the stories of the bad government and the capitalists. We learned how autonomy is constructed, how it works, how all true resistance is not just to endure, but to build something new, how organization is …

But words were sometimes lacking because we witnessed radical changes that did not come from books, tall tales or ideologies, but from the practice, and they [Zapatistas] are masters of imagination … I believe there is no historical precedent, for example, for the process of orderly and consistent transfers of power by the political-military commanders. The [power] they accumulated when the bases of support told them to organize the [1994] uprising has gradually been dismantled, as the people, the towns, fully embrace the system of decision-making at all levels of autonomy and government. A way to live and govern themselves was built from below in daily exercise of political power and radical democracy. The commanders remain vigilant, ready to provide support if it is required and to propose initiatives.

Certainly, there will be a temptation to translate what is learned by organizing courses, turning the experience into a package of knowledge and skills in order to transfer it to others. Whoever might try would soon discover that doing so would betray the sense, style and intention of the Zapatista schoolhouse. They didn’t invite us in order to educate us in a doctrine, much less in order to throw us a lifeline. They shared with us a lived experience, whose common substance is only viable in diversity. The challenge does not consist in reducing everything to a formal speech, more or less technical, but in adapting this form of ‘contagion’ to the style of each one. But this takes time, in order to develop the experience and prepare fertile ground in which the flower of autonomy might flourish.

On Saturday, still bewildered by the emotions of the week, we saw the arrival of delegates to the National Indigenous Congress for a very otherly encuentro (gathering) that took place over the weekend. It might seem that the wisdom of Tata Juan Chávez flowed over the vast auditorium in which we listened for hours to the voice of the original peoples throughout the country, who generously imparted their dignity, which from now on will be a living and ongoing tribute to Tata.

It was overwhelming to listen to the endless enumeration of plunder and aggression. The names of the protagonists and the subject of the pillage changed from place to place. But it dealt with the same crime: a war against free subsistence waged by the capitalist corporations, at times behind the facade of a cacique or a landowner, but always with the active participation and open complicity of the government and the political parties.

Even more impressive was confirming the common denominator of almost all the interventions: a combative, articulate and vigorous resistance, by putting up this battle with energy and dignity not only to defend their territories, their ways of life and government and their traditions, but of fighting for the very survival of all of us.

In sum, exhausted after this week so intense that at times it seemed endless, burdened by the weight of learning that brings with it the duty to share it, we returned to our places full of hope. We drank our fill at this fountain of inspiration. We also learned that each of us, in our own way, can do what it is our turn to do, in ways as diverse as all our worlds. We can build a world in which everyone will fit. Inertia, paralysis and fear will be unlocked. We’re on the way.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/08/19/index.php?section=politica&article=018a2pol

Translation by Jane Brundage

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The indigenous peoples now will not give up: EZLN to the bad governments

Filed under: Indigenous, Women, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:30 pm

 

The indigenous peoples now will not give up: EZLN to the bad governments

Elio Henriquez, correspondent

La Jornada, Monday August 19, 2013

tata chavezSan Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) stated that “in order to be able to reject all the plans of death imposed” by the neoliberal governments, it is necessary to “organize ourselves, unite our strengths, pain and rebellion”. In a message read by Comandanta Miriam at the end of the seminar Tata Juan Chávez Alonso, she warned the “bad governors that as original peoples we will not allow them to take away our Mother Earth from us”. She said that the “bad government and the transnationals want to seize what is ours and when we defend it they persecute us, imprison us, kill us, accuse us of being transgressors of the law and condemn us to many years in prison, as if we were criminals, while they, who are the real murderers and traitors, are free as if what they have done to us were not a crime; they are protected by their laws”.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/08/19/index.php?section=politica&article=010n3pol

 

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Zapatistas: we will Defend Indigenous Lands Threatened by the Government and Transnational Corporations

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:58 pm

Zapatistas: we will Defend Indigenous Lands Threatened by the Government and Transnational Corporations

Clausura de los trabajos del Congreso Nacional Indígena. Foto: Miguel Dimayuga.Closing Ceremony: National Indigenous Congress

Photo: Miguel Dimayuga

José Gil Olmos and Isaín Mandujano, Proceso, 18th August, 2013

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. The General Command of the EZLN pledged to defend the lands of the original peoples threatened by the government and transnational corporations “regardless of the consequences.”

At the closing of the meeting of the National Indigenous Congress, which took place through the seminar “Tata Juan Chávez” held at the University of the Earth, Comandanta Miriam said that the EZLN was making its own the defence of indigenous territories.

On behalf of the Zapatista leadership, Comandanta Miriam said that the bad neoliberal governments and transnational corporations “reign with money and in this way impose projects of death in our territory.”

She made clear that the indigenous people have to defend themselves “regardless of the consequences”.

In the auditorium, filled with about 250 members of EZLN communities and a thousand attendees, Comandante Miriam warned that the Zapatistas will not stop defending what is theirs from those who wish to seize it.

“When we defend it [what is ours], they persecute us and kill us, they accuse us of breaking the law and condemn us to many years in prison, as if we were criminals. But in fact they are the real murderers, criminals and traitors. They are free, as if what they have done to us is not a crime. They are protected by their laws”, said Miriam, in the name of the Zapatista commanders.

Accompanied by Comandantas Hortencia, Susanna and Yolanda, she said that as Zapatistas they are also fighting for autonomy, but achieving this requires awareness and sacrifice, resisting all aggression.

She asked members of the National Indigenous Congress to organise, and to join forces and rebellions.

During the two-day meeting of the Travelling Seminar “Tata Juan Chávez”, dozens of indigenous groups reported four primary threats to their communities and peoples: Organized crime, Transnational corporations, Mining companies, and Political groups.

In the case of organized crime, they said that they receive threats and extortion to cede control and ownership of their properties.

The peoples of Guerrero and Michoacán who have their community police, like those of Cherán [Michoacán] or of the CRAC [Guerrero], declared that they will not yield to the pressure by criminal groups.

But neither will they yield to pressure from state and federal governments who attempt to corner them in order to sell their lands which are rich in minerals.

Indigenous Nahuas from southern Veracruz announced that they are also thinking about forming their community police, inspired by the EZLN and other experiences.

Other peoples, like the Totonacas, also from Veracruz, shared their experience of creating their own currency called “tumin” with which they are paying in some shops, thus creating a monetary system independent of the “dirty money” that comes either from the government or the drug trade.

They said that the Secretariat of Finance had reported the Totonaca people to the PGR [investigative police and prosecutors] for counterfeiting; however, they explained that it is not going forward because they are not counterfeiting the Mexican peso but instead creating a new currency of exchange that is neither listed on the Stock Exchange nor does it accrue interest.

The Totonacas gave some “tumins” to the EZLN commanders but with the recommendation that they do not take them to Soriana [supermarket chain] because they would not be valid there.

At the conclusion of the event, Comandante Tacho closed the seminar in which representatives of indigenous peoples from throughout the country as well as from Guatemala, Peru and Colombia had participated.

Based on a translation by Jane Brundage

http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=350422&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+revista_proceso+%28Revista+Proceso%29&utm_content=Bloglines

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Zapatistas and Original Peoples Seek to Re-launch the National Indigenous Congress

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:53 am

Zapatistas and Original Peoples Seek to Re-launch the National Indigenous Congress

The Tata Juan Chávez Alonso seminar begins. 
moi-en-catedra1Comandantes David and Irma and Subcomandante Moisés, accompany Maria O’Higgins, wife of the painter Pablo O’Higgins, at the inauguration of the Tata Juan Chávez Alonso Seminar which is taking place at Cideci, attended by several of the country’s social organisations

(Photo: Victor Camacho)

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Elio Henríquez

La Jornada, 18th August, 2013

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, 17th August, 2013

With the attendance of the General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), of 233 delegates from the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), of community authorities, representatives of indigenous peoples, organisations and collectives from at least nineteen states, the Tata Juan Chávez Alonso Seminar, which will last for two days, has begun in this city.

At the opening ceremony, which was marked by the first public appearance of Subcomandante Moisés – rector of the Zapatista Escuelita – it was affirmed that the indigenous organizations and indigenous peoples participating “will meet in order to propose, with an even wider convocation, the re-launch of the National Indigenous Congress in Mexico,” according to information provided by the EZLN.

At the inauguration of the work at the Las Casas Comprehensive Indigenous Training Centre (CIDECI), Comandante David declared: “Juan [Chávez Alonso] is a great brother and companion because he understood and joined our struggle ever since we rose up in arms on January 1, 1994; from the beginning, many said they were with us, but then they stepped aside and abandoned us.”

tata chavez cartelcatedraHe affirmed that Chávez Alonso from Michoacán “never turned his back on us, even during difficult times. Together with other compañeros, he risked his life to be with us, to walk and work with us. He is a great example for all the original peoples of Mexico and of the world, since he always defended his land, his culture and all of nature.”

During the opening ceremony, María de la Fuente, widow of painter Pablo O’Higgins, took the floor. O’Higgins donated more than thirty drawings and lithographs that have been placed in the CIDECI auditorium where the meeting was held. “The Zapatistas are aware, and they know why they want to struggle. Others do not know that they have rights and even less how to make use of them”, she said.

Next, Moisés said that “the significance of what our compañero Pablo said to us here is that money should not reign, as neoliberalism wants, but instead art and new culture must reign, as the people want”.

During the exhibitions, in which the commanders remained seated at the front of the auditorium together with some guests – including former rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Pablo González Casanova and the grandmother of the Zapatistas, Maria Luisa Tomasini – groups from the state of Mexico and from Michoacán were also noted.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/08/18/index.php?section=politica&article=013n1pol

FOR A WONDERFUL PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF THIS MEETING OF INDIGENOUS REBELLIONS, SEE: http://desinformemonos.org/2013/08/encuentro-de-la-rebeldia-indigena/

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August 18, 2013

Indigenous Dispossession

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:54 pm

Indigenous Dispossession

tata chavez12Moisés in the don Juan Chávez Alonso Seminar, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

By: Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, Los de Abajo

The Indian Peoples of Mexico, grouped together in the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI), will this weekend offer homage to the Purépecha moral leader Juan Chávez Alonso, little more than a year after his accidental death in his birthplace of Nurío, in the seminar that bears his name. It is also the re-launching of the indigenous organization convoked by the Zapatista National Liberation Army 17 years ago.

The meeting takes place in the context of one of the most violent offensives in history against indigenous territories. Mines, aqueducts, highways, wind projects, hydroelectric dams, gas pipelines and an endless stream of megaprojects threaten their natural resources.

They want to dispossess the Yaquis of their water, the Zapotecs of their wind, the Wixárika people of their sacred sites, the Purépechas of their forests, the Nahuas of their milpas, the Cocas of their island (in Lake Chapala, Jalisco). This is, as they said in their meeting in the Wixárika community of Bancos de San Hipólito, “a comprehensive onslaught against us, with many fronts, and the plunder of the territories by caciques, companies and bad governments has become more aggressive in their war of extermination, which began more than 500 years ago”.

Autonomy is the way in which many of these peoples confront the attempts at dispossession, although in many cases their resistance encounters the hidden and open repression of companies and governments. At this moment they have battles on many fronts, from legal defence to direct action with the blocking of highways and erection of barricades to prevent destructive machinery from entering.

There is no better way to honour the figure of don Juan Chávez Alonso than re-launching the network of which he was a founding member. With “his view as the horizon”, the indigenous organizations meet today to “raise a platform through which the original peoples of the continent can be heard by those who have attentive and respectful ears for their word, their history and their struggle of resistance.”

The CNI was convoked in January 1996 and formed in October of that year, with Comandanta Ramona, the Jaramillista guerrilla Félix Serdán Nájera and don Juan himself as moral pillars. In April 2001 the Mexican State betrayed the San Andrés Accords, signed with the EZLN in February 1996, and this led them, just like the Zapatistas, to the exercise of their autonomy in practice, without anyone’s permission.

More than 17 years later, the indigenous organisations, representatives of original peoples, communities and barrios, will tell, “with their own voice their histories, sorrows, hopes and, above all, their struggle of resistance”.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Saturday, August 17, 2013

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/08/17/opinion/013o1pol

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June 14, 2013

Zapatista initiative reunites the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:42 pm

Zapatista initiative reunites the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico

Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, June 10, 2013

20130610_CNIgrande2The autonomous defence of territories and ancestral cultures against their main threats (mining, tourism, hydroelectric schemes, gas, wind energy developments, roads, among other megaprojects); the construction and exercise of their autonomy, and their internal strengthening are some of the concerns and challenges of the peoples, nations, tribes and indigenous barrios of Mexico who make up the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), a network which will be “re-launched” in the recently announced “Juan Chávez Alonso Seminar” to be held in August in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

The CNI was convened in January 1996 and formed in October of that same year, at the initiative of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Throughout the last 17 years, the indigenous peoples have been confronted by various government offensives, but today, as they said in the Huichol community of Bancos de San Hipólito, “as if there was not already a comprehensive multi-pronged onslaught against us along with the looting of our territories by caciques, businesses and bad governments have become more aggressive in their war of extermination which began more than 500 years ago”.

One of the events that marked the life of the CNI was the betrayal by the Mexican government in 2001 of the San Andrés Accords, signed with the EZLN in February 1996, and which led them, like the Zapatistas, to the practical exercise of their autonomy. This practice has been, until now, the only viable way to resist and confront dispossession and repression.

A year after the accidental death of Don Juan Chávez Alonso, Purhépecha from Nurío, Michoacán, founder and moral leader of the CNI, the EZLN and various indigenous peoples from throughout the country, have announced that “with his gaze as the horizon”, indigenous organizations will meet in August to “build a forum in which the indigenous peoples of the continent can be heard by those who have an attentive and respectful ear for their word, their history, and their resistance”.

Open to the public and intended as a continuation of the work of the First Meeting of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, held in October 2007 in Vícam, Sonora, in the territory of the Yaqui tribe, the Traveling Seminar Tata Juan Chávez Alonso, also proposes, “an even wider call”, the re-launching of the CNI, for which it will make “a joint appeal to the original peoples of the continent”.

The first event of the seminar will be on 17 and 18 August 2013, but it is expected, given its traveling nature, that other sessions will take place in “different locations of indigenous America throughout the continent, in accordance with the geographies and calendars agreed upon by those who convoke this seminar and those who join along the way”.

At the seminar, there will be indigenous organizations, and representatives and delegates of original peoples, communities and neighbourhoods, who will ‘take the word’ and tell “with their own voice of their stories, sorrows, hopes and, especially, their resistance”.

The Yaqui tribe which is struggling against the Aqueduct Independencia with which they want to take away their water; the Wixarica people defending the sacred site of Wirikuta and the rest of their territory against mines; the Coca community of Mescala who do not give up the defence of their island and their cultural heritage; the Juchitecan Popular Assembly in full resistance against wind energy projects; the Nahnu people of Atlapulco who continue to defend their territory against a road project; these are some of the convokers who sign beside the General Command of the EZLN. 

http://desinformemonos.org/2013/06/iniciativa-zapatista-vuelve-a-reunir-a-los-pueblos-indios-de-mexico/

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June 12, 2013

Mexico Indigenous Peoples and Organizations to Relaunch National Indigenous Congress

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:27 pm

Mexico Indigenous Peoples and Organizations to Relaunch National Indigenous Congress

 

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada, 4th June 2013

971589_530597117007271_1941737764_nThe Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) have convened the Tata Juan Chavez Alonso Traveling Seminar, which is a conference of indigenous individuals and organizations to “relaunch” the National Indigenous Congress. The first session will take place this Aug 17-18 in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

Participants include indigenous organizations; representatives and delegates of towns, communities, and indigenous neighbourhoods; and members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, “who will take the word” inspired by the work and life of the Purepecha leader from Michoacan: Juan Chavez Alonso, who died in a domestic accident on June 2, 2012.

“Tata [papa] was, and is, one of the bridges that we built with others to see ourselves and recognize ourselves as what we are and where we are,” the document released … states. “His heart was, and is, the perch from which the indigenous people of Mexico look, even though we are not seen; from which we speak, but are not heard; and from where we resist, which is how we walk through life.”

The National Indigenous Congress, the document continues, “is one of the great houses that his hands helped to build. The struggle for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture has, in him, in his memory, a reason and an engine to persevere.” In the context of the seminar, and with the view of Alonso Chavez as “the horizon,” individual and organizational participants “will meet separately to propose an even wider call: the relaunch of the National Indigenous Congress in Mexico; and to make a joint appeal to the people of the continent to resume our meetings.”

The document begins with a few words that Alonso Chavez spoke to the Congress of the Union in March 2001:

“We are the Indians that we are, we are peoples, we are Indians. We want to continue to be the Indians that we are. We want to continue to be the peoples that we are. We want to continue speaking the language we speak. We want to continue thinking the words that we think. We want to continue dreaming the dreams that we dream. We want to continue loving those we love. We want to be now what we already are. We want our place now. We want our history now. We want the truth now.”

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the National Indigenous Congress continued: “We, as the collective colour of the earth, have agreed in our hearts and minds to build a space in which the word of the indigenous people of Mexico and this continent that we call ‘America’ can be heard without intermediaries. This space will carry the name and history of this brother and compañero. We have decided to name this seminar the ‘Tata Juan Chávez Alonso Seminar’ to emphasize how much our indigenous people have to teach others during these times of pain that now shake all the geographies of the world.”

In this seminar “we will be able to listen to the lessons of dignity and resistance of the native people of America.” It is characterized as a “continuation” of the first Meeting of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, which was held in October 2007 in Vicam, Sonora. The seminar will hold future sessions “at different locations of indigenous America throughout the continent, in accordance with the geographies and calendars agreed upon by those who convoke this seminar and those who join along the way.” Its aim is to “build a forum in which the indigenous peoples of the continent can be heard by those who have an attentive and respectful ear for their word, their history, and their resistance.”

The first session in August will be at CIDECI-Unitierra [Indigenous Centre for Integrated Training, aka the University of the Earth] in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. All organizers, comprising the organizing committee, will extend “a special invitation to organizations, groups, and individuals who have consistently accompanied the struggle of the indigenous people.” Participants will include indigenous individuals and organizations of Mexico and the Americas, and the event will be open to the public.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/06/04/index.php?section=politica&article=014n1pol&partner=rss

Translated by Monika Ayu

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June 5, 2013

Indigenous Organizations and the EZLN create the Traveling Seminar: “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso”

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:14 am

Indigenous Organizations and the EZLN create the Traveling Seminar: “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso”

JUNE 3, 2013

TRAVELING SEMINAR “TATA JUAN CHÁVEZ ALONSO”

June 2013.

We are the Indians that we are, we are peoples, we are Indians.
We want to continue to be the Indians that we are; we want to continue to be
the peoples that we are; we want to continue speaking the language we speak;
We want to continue thinking the words that we think;
we want to continue dreaming the dreams that we dream;
we want to continue loving those we love;
we want to be now what we already are;
we want our place now; we want our history now, we want the truth now.
Juan Chávez AlonsoWords presented at the National Congress,
March, 2001. Mexico.

Brothers and Sisters:

Compañeras and compañeros:

don juan chavezThis is the word of a group of indigenous organizations, native peoples, and the EZLN. With this word we want to bring among us the memory of a compañero.

After one year without him, with his memory as company, we want to take another step in this long struggle for our place in the world.

His name is Juan Chávez Alonso.

We were and are the path for his step.

With him, the purépecha people became travellers amongst the people who gave birth to and who sustain these lands.

Tata was, and is, one of the bridges that we built with others in order to see ourselves and recognize ourselves as what we are and where we are.

His heart was and is the perch from which the indigenous peoples of Mexico look, even though we are not seen, from which we speak but are not heard, and from where we resist, which is how we walk through life.

His path and his word always sought to give voice and echo to the pains and grievances of that Mexico below (the “basement” of Mexico).

The National Indigenous Congress is one of the great houses that his hands helped to build.

The struggle for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture has, in him, in his memory, a reason and an engine to persevere.

Rather than fleeting condolences and a quick forgetting of his absence, we, a group of indigenous organizations and peoples, have looked for the way to extend his walk with us, to raise his voice with ours, to expand the heart that, with him, we are.

We, as the collective colour of the earth, have agreed in our hearts and minds to build a space in which the word of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and this continent that we call “America” can be heard without intermediaries. This space will carry the name and history of this brother and compañero.

We have decided to name this space the “Seminar Tata Juan Chávez Alonso,” in order to emphasize how much our native peoples have to teach others during these calendars of pain that now shake all the geographies of the world. In this space we will be able to listen to the lessons of dignity and resistance of the native peoples of America.

As a continuation of the efforts that took shape during the “First Encounter of Indigenous Peoples of America” celebrated in October of 2007 in Vicam, Sonora, on the territory of the Yaqui tribe, the seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso” will hold its sessions at different locations of indigenous America throughout the continent, in accordance with the geographies and calendars agreed upon by those who convoke this seminar and those who join along the way.

This seminar is meant to build a forum in which the indigenous peoples of the continent can be heard by those who have an attentive and respectful ear for their word, their history, and their resistance.

Indigenous organizations and representatives and delegates of native peoples, communities, and neighbourhoods will have the floor.

In order to inaugurate this forum, we will hold the:

FIRST SESSION OF THE

TRAVELING SEMINAR “TATA JUAN CHÁVEZ ALONSO”

Here different native peoples, organizations, and communities will speak in their own voice about their histories, pains, hopes, and above all, their resistance.

This first session will have the following characteristics:

1. The first session of the Seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso” will be held Saturday and Sunday August 17-18, 2013, at CIDECI in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México.

2. The organizations that have convoked this seminar now constitute the “Organizing Commission,” which will invite the participation of other indigenous peoples and agree upon all things related to the method of this first session.

3. The “Organizing Commission” will extend a special invitation to organizations, groups, and individuals who have consistently accompanied the struggle of the indigenous peoples.

4. Those who have convoked the forum and those indigenous peoples and organizations of Mexico and the American continent invited by the “Organizing Commission” will participate in this first session with their word.

5. The various sessions of this seminar will be open to the general public.

6. More information regarding the calendar and schedule of participation will be made public by the Organizing Commission at the appropriate time.

Within the framework of the Seminar “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso,” and with Don Juan’s gaze as our horizon, the participating indigenous organization and peoples will also meet on their own to propose (extending an even wider invitation) the relaunching of the National Indigenous Congress of Mexico, and simultaneously make a call to the indigenous peoples of the continent to resume our encounters.

For recognition and respect for indigenous rights and culture.

CONVOKED BY:
Nación Kumiai.
Autoridades Tradicionales de la Tribu Yaqui.
Tribu Mayo de Huirachaca, Sonora.
Consejo Regional Wixárika en Defensa de Wirikuta.
Comunidad Coca de Mezcala.
Radio Ñomndaa de Xochistlahuaca, (Pueblo Amuzgo), Guerrero.
Comunidad Zoque en Jalisco.
Organización de Comunidades Indígenas y Campesinas de Tuxpan (Pueblo Nahua), Jalisco.
Comunidad Nahua en Resistencia de La Yerbabuena, en Colima.
Colectivo Jornalero de Tikul (Pueblo Maya Peninsular), Yucatán
Comunidades Purépechas de Nurío, Arantepacua, Comachuén, Urapicho, Paracho, Uruapan, Caltzontzin, Ocumicho.
Comuneros Nahuas de Ostula.
Comunidad Nahua Indígena de Chimalaco, en San Luis Potosí.
La Otra indígena Xilitla (pueblo Nahua).
Comunidad Mazahua de San Antonio Pueblo Nuevo, Edomex.
Comunidad Ñahñu de San Pedro Atlapulco, Edomex.
Centro de Producción Radiofónica y Documentación Comunal de San Pedro Atlapulco (Pueblo Ñahñu), Edomex.
Comunidad Nahua de San Nicolás Coatepec, Edomex.
Ejido Nahua de San Nicolás Totolapan, DF.
Comuneros Nahuas de San Pedro Atocpan, DF.
Mujeres y Niños Nahuas de Santa Cruz Acalpixca, DF.
Mazahuas en el DF.
Centro de Derechos Humanos Rafael Ayala y Ayala (Pueblos Nahua y Popoluca), de Tehuacán, Puebla.
Asamblea Popular Juchiteca (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca.
Fuerza Indígena Chinanteca “KiaNan”.
Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores Magón, (Pueblos Zapoteco, Nahua, Mixteco, Cuicateco), Oaxaca.
Comité de Bienes Comunales de Unión Hidalgo, (Pueblo Zapoteco) Oaxaca.
Unión Campesina Indígena Autónoma de Río Grande (Pueblo Chatino y Afromestizo), Oaxaca.
La Voz de los Zapotecos Xichés en Prisión, Oaxaca.
Temazcal Tlacuache Tortuga de la comunidad de Zaachilá, (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca.
Colonia Ecológica la Minzita, (Pueblo Purépecha), Morelia, Michoacán.
Colectivo Cortamortaja de Jalapa del Marqués (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca.
Radio Comunitaria Totopo de Juchitán (Pueblo Zapoteco), Oaxaca
CIDECI-UNITIERRA, Chiapas.
CCRI-CG del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Pueblos Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, Tojolabal, Zoque, Mame y Mestizo), Chiapas.

Mexico, June 2, 2013.

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See and listen to the videos that accompany this text:

In memory of Don Juan Chávez Alonso. Produced by the Cooperativa de Condimentos para la Acción Cinematográfica.

El Comandante Guillermo, introduces Don Juan Chávez Alonso at the Festival of Dignified Rage (Digna Rabia), in CIDECI, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México.

Baile tradicional “Los Viejitos,” performed by students of the Casa del Estudiante Lenin, Michoacán, México.

Translated by El Kilombo Intergaláctico

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