By: Magdalena Gómez
Last weekend, the constitutive assembly of the Indigenous Government Council (CIG, its initials in Spanish) of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) was held in the Cideci in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. 1,252 representatives from indigenous peoples and communities and 230 Zapatista delegates, a total of 1,482, participated. That completed the first phase of the process that was opened at the CNI’s fifth congress last October around the proposal, which was consulted widely and approved by the peoples, to create the Indigenous Government Council and name a spokesperson that would participate as an independent candidate to the Presidency of the Republic in 2018.
It’s important to remember that after the announcement of the aforementioned proposal, a racist attack was unleashed that quickly mutated into a strategy of omitting all reference to it. To that were added different personalities from the institutional left. The silence was recently partially broken and it showed that it’s difficult to question the electoral hegemonic view. The central note about the assembly was the naming of an indigenous “candidate,” rather than the relevance of the creation of the CIG, no reference to the resolutions that were announced in the phase open to the media about the council’s proposals, its organization and the way of linking up with the country’s social sectors. The ample and mature discussion about these themes was the heart of the assembly, their corollary was the naming as spokesperson the historic figure of the CNI belonging to the Náhuatl people of southern Jalisco, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, who, it emphasized, will represent the voice of the original peoples of the CIG in the 2018 electoral process. They named a spokeswoman and all of the media translated it as a candidate. And it’s not merely a formal question; by omitting the CIG they seek to elude the autonomic and anti-capitalist organizational project. On the other hand, despite the fact that the inaugural session and the closing were open to the media, not one referred to the care of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) in occupying a place in the back of the auditorium, nor in Subcomandante Moisés’ punctual participation demanding truth and justice for Ayotzinapa, and demonstrating support and solidarity with the Wirrárika people, and the very symbolic and silent presence of Subcomandante Galeano accompanied by the little girl Defensa Zapatista with the message: “Don’t be afraid” and the message of Pedrito “continue forward and don’t give up.”
The EZLN’s relationship to the indigenous peoples and the CNI is solid, and is one of deep respect. It’s obvious that there is a relationship, therefore, when the CNI’s provisional council announced that its proposal for a spokesperson was Compañera Marichuy, it asked the EZLN and Comandanta Miriam for their opinion. Next a group of comandantas entered and asked permission to speak with her alone and converse about how “their heart feels” and went back to report that they accompany said proposal, which was unanimously endorsed in the assembly. There is no doubt that María de Jesús Patricio more than expresses the profile on which the CNI decided. Her words, strong and slow, reminded me of those that she spoke in San Lázaro on March 28, 2001: “Land and territory have a special meaning for our peoples, to us the land is our mother, we are born from her and she grows everything that gives us life; every stream, every rock, every hill breathes and has life in her. Because of having life and being a source of life, land has a special and sacred meaning to us. Mother Earth feeds us; we receive the air that we breathe from her, the sun that illuminates us, the light to work, the darkness to rest and dream. Upon being born we receive the first vision from her and the first breath. We return to her at the end of our steps through this world… We cannot conceive that our lands and territories are like any object that can be bought and sold like any merchandise.”
The indigenous assembly that created the CIG is an example of the potential of the indigenous peoples, of their maturity, of the breadth of their agendas, of the conscience they have about the need for unity, of breaking the chains that immobilize them like the so-called official economic “support” that no party questions because they benefit from it. Many of their proposals are not for immediate realization, but are their beacon, their emancipatory horizon. The principles are not a passing fad; thus Marichuy, the CIG’s spokesperson, recuperating the voices of the assembly, reaffirmed that this is a project for life, for organization, for the reconstitution of the peoples; it’s not for getting votes; we will call to civil society and join efforts; it’s a necessary step if we want to continue existing. Those of us who are present here are going to be at the front, the 71 council members, men and women of the CIG. I will be the spokesperson, she indicated.
No more no less.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee