DISPOSSESSION of INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
By: Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
The Indian Peoples of Mexico grouped together in the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) this weekend will offer homage to the Purépecha moral leader Juan Chávez Alonso, a little more than one year after his accidental death in his Nurío birthplace, within the framework of the seminar that bears his name. We are also dealing with the re-launching of the indigenous organization that the Zapatista National Liberation Army summoned 17 years ago.
The meeting is presented within the context of one of the most violent offensives in history against their territories. Mines, aqueducts, highways, wind projects, hydroelectric dams, gas ducts and a symphony 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). We are dealing, as they said in their meeting in the Wixárika community of Bancos de San Hipólito, “with an integral pounding with multiple fronts against us, and the lootings of the territories on the part of caciques, companies and the bad governments have 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 their resistance in not a few cases encounters the hidden and open repression of companies and governments. In these moments they give battles on many fronts, from legal defense to direct action with the blocking of highways and barricades so that the destructive machinery doesn’t enter.
There is no better way of honoring the figure of don Juan Chávez Alonso than re-launching the network of which he was a founding party. With “his view as the horizon,” the indigenous organizations meet today to “raise a tribune in which the original peoples of the continent are heard by those who have attentive and respectful ears for their word, their history and their struggle of Resistance.”
The CNI was called together in January 1996 and formed in October of that year, with Comandanta Ramona, the Jaramillista guerilla 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 that led them, just like the Zapatistas, to the exercise of their autonomy in fact, without anyone’s permission.
More than 17 years later, the indigenous organizations, representatives of original peoples, communities and barrios will tell, “with their own voice their histories, sorrows, hopes and, above all, their struggle of resistance.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Saturday, August 17, 2013