By: Luis Hernández Navarro
Some 21 years ago, on October 11, 1996, an indigenous Nahua from Jalisco read the political statement of the nascent National Indigenous Congress. In the name of more than 600 delegates coming from all over the country, she announced the decision of the recently founded organism of original peoples to construct a new homeland, “that homeland that never has been able to truly be one, because it wanted to exist without us.”
That speaker, a traditional doctor, was María de Jesús Patricio, the same one that is now the spokesperson and independent candidate to the Presidency of the Republic for the Indigenous Government Council (CIG, its initials in Spanish). There, she warned in the name of her compañeros: “We are standing up, we are standing up to fight. We are determined to risk everything, even death. But we don’t carry drums of war, but rather banners of peace. We want to partner with all the men and women who, upon recognizing us, recognize their own roots.”
Two decades, one year and three days after that day, last October 14, that same woman arrived in Guadalupe Tepeyac, Chiapas, a community of just 48 houses and 144 people, where she was received by 15,000 souls. The welcoming ceremony the Zapatista support bases, the authorities of the Good Government Junta Towards a new hope and the EZLN’s commanders gave her was a multicolor and diverse fiesta. Rebels motorized and on horseback, escorted her between walls of balloons and women dressed in their typical clothes.
Despite the time that passed since the founding of the CNI, Marichuy’s word, her commitment to the defense of life and to another world continues being the same as she had on that October 11, 1996. It’s only that now, after tirelessly touring the country, after seeing the suffering and the horrors that those below in Mexico suffer, after listening time and again to her different brothers and sisters, her vocation of service and delivery to the cause has matured and grown. That’s why now she doesn’t call only to indigenous peoples to organize to struggle against capitalism, but rather she summons all of those below to do it. “The (indigenous) peoples cannot do it alone,” she said in the Good Government Junta of Morelia, last October 15.
She doesn’t talk about hearsay, and it is noted. Her life has been spent very far from the glass bubbles that so many professional politicians inhabit. She names what she has suffered and experienced, something very similar to what so many other humble women have experienced in the country. She does it without being strident, with squelching simplicity, depth, conviction and knowledge.
María de Jesús Patricio is making history: she is the first indigenous woman in the history of Mexico, the mother of a family, to be a candidate to the Presidency of the Republic. She is carrying out a presidential campaign with a woman’s face, aroma and word. Although it was still not formally an electoral campaign act, the meeting that the CIG spokesperson held with the Zapatismo of the border jungle zone as well as the meeting a day later in the Caracol of Morelia in the Totz Choj Zone has an emotional gender charge. Everything turned around the woman. The speakers at the event were women, those in attendance at the event were overwhelmingly women and the speeches spoke of and to the women.
The multitudinous meetings of Marichuy, the delegates and council members of the CIG with Zapatismo in Guadalupe Tepeyac and Morelia have shown that the EZLN maintains a formidable force and ability to convoke. The fact that so many thousands of sympathizers traveled across the disastrous and precarious network of Chiapas roads and junctions is not easy. It requires organizational muscle, discipline and vehicular infrastructure. But is also requires genuine conviction that effort forms part of a just cause. Only in this way can rain, heat, long waits, heavy loads be prevented from becoming factors that inhibit massive participation. It shows that this mobilization born from conviction is the spontaneous mass expression of joy from the support bases before María de Jesús, adorned with the warm reception from the EZLN’s founders.
Several dozen council members and indigenous delegates from all over the country also participated in the tour of the CIG’s spokesperson through the Zapatista zone. They were transported in more that 10 trucks. As of now, the council is made up of 141 council members, from 35 indigenous peoples settled in 62 of the 93 regions that they have thought to constitute. Such a diversity of representatives of the original peoples had never encountered and lived in rebel territory.
The tour has had a marked anticapitalist character and also promotion of the popular organization of resistance. Besides the vindications of gender, the discourses of the speakers have combined personal and community testimony about the abuses of the powerful, the recuperation of the historic experience of the disgraces experienced on the finca, the rage before the catalogue of damages and humiliations suffered at the hands of the exploiters, the denunciation of the looting and devastation caused by neoliberalism, the so-called autonomous organization from below and appraisal of indigenous roots.
About this line of denunciation, Comandanta Miriam said, in the name of the CCRI-CG of the EZLN in the Morelia event, that it’s more important than ever to organize because, with the government’s support, the four wheels of capitalism, exploitation, repression, dispossession and scorn, are perfected every day to fuck more with those below.
María de Jesús Patricio, the same one that participated in the founding of the CNI 20 years ago, started walking in rebel territory with the proposition of inviting all those that are struggling against the monster that wants to devour everyone so that, together they get rid of it. She will continue walking through the country on a very different campaign to, as she announced more than two decades ago, construct a new homeland “that has never been able to truly be one, because it wanted to exist without us.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee