Carlos Gonzales, a member of the Organizing Committee of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish) was invited on UDGTV radio, where he clarified several things, primarily about the CNI’s process, remembering the CNI’s birth on October 12, 1996, to try to join the country’s indigenous peoples together with two proposals:
- The recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in the San Andres Accords (1996-2001).
- The reconstitution and reorganization of the Indigenous Peoples that were and continue being devastated by the conquest.
In two decades of existence, Carlos insists that the CNI served as an inspiration, and now with the proposal the struggle of the indigenous peoples becomes visible again, but also the National indigenous Congress.
The CNI did a re-organization in 2013 to form this proposal for the Indigenous Government Council. The proposal’s origin is the state of war that exists in the country. We Indigenous were destroyed, dispossessed, but above all else, since the 80s there is a decided process of physical and cultural extermination. The Indigenous Peoples are obstacles to the development of capitalism.
We Indigenous Peoples have a millennial collective relationship with the land. In 12 years we see how indigenous languages have been extinguished, as Indigenous Peoples had to migrate in massive numbers to the cities or to the United States.
War of extermination
To the question of whether it’s exaggerating to talk about a war of extermination, Carlos Gonzales answered clearly that the Kochimia peoples have lost their language, the Kumiai Kiliwa peoples only have 50 men and women, the Ukapa people are less than 200 and their territory is occupied by foreign companies for mining projects, toxic waste dumps, and wind farms. The Raramuris say that in the last 10 years 30% of their population has lost their language. It’s a cultural extermination that accompanied the physical and material extermination, which has as its goal the dispossession of territories.
Losing the language is losing a relationship that humanity has with nature, the way in which we name things, implies unique thought. Losing a language is to lose a way of naming, relating, becoming familiar with and knowing our world.
Dispossession is not only for the indigenous peoples, but also in the cities (…) like water, housing, exploitation, low salaries, intense work, poverty… it’s the same problem, it’s dispossession and exploitation.
The proposal that we are making, and successfully attained, is to make the indigenous peoples visible. We have now made up our CIG, with one man and one woman from each people of the CNI, and that CIG is a candidate to the presidency of the republic. We want to put the indigenous problem on the national agenda, like the Zapatistas did in 1994, so that their poverty and exploitation are known in the entire world.
We want that proposal to create a bridge to the indigenous peoples that do not participate in the CNI and to Civil Society in order to construct a different Mexico. We are going to construct that program. What’s certain is that we no longer want that capitalism and we no longer want that political class. We want to say that there is another form, another way of governing this country. We don’t want to give money to that gang of thieves so that they leave us in violence and give the country’s resources to foreigners. Better we govern ourselves!
We think about forms of Self-government, each community, each people according to their culture, each non-indigenous urban society according to their historic walking, to their own identities, can and must construct self-government; that’s what we think. Look at the Zapatistas and their Good Government Juntas and their autonomous municipalities, those of Cherán have a council of Elders, the Yaquis have a traditional guard, those in Ostula have a communal guard. Those are definitely models and there are many proposals of autonomy. Autonomy is the exercise of freedom.
What’s important is the organization of those below. We say that the conditions for human life are being destroyed by capitalism, we propose that we can govern ourselves and from below. We are going to occupy the electoral space that is the space of those above, of the rich, of the capitalists, of those who have the monopoly on the political life of this country or think they have, but that space isn’t useful for approaching the common people, the urban and indigenous collectives that are below, within the logic of organizing ourselves.
Knowing whether we win or not is secondary. What interests us is to construct something new.
In the coming weeks we are going to elaborate a work proposal. We are going to present it to the CIG to be revised, modified and approved within the logic of generating a territorial political structure for 2018, and to bring together the signatures that are now almost one million. We are going to reorganize the National Indigenous Congress the same way; before it was only a place for assembly, now it must re-vitalize its organization fundamentally to generate a successful communications policy, indigenous or non indigenous, to be able to articulate with civil society organizations and finally for going out beyond the country, to Latin America and proposing those themes.
The organizational challenge is first, we are being diminished in the organization that we have had; a national organizational structure must be formed to be able to articulate with all the peoples and communities of civil society. One must not fall into the temptation to accumulate votes, to compete with other parties, to not fall into the temptation of the vote, of the power, of wanting to win. One must generate the idea and awareness; that is what we want.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee