By: R. Aída Hernández Castillo*
On February 19 the time period for registration of independent candidates to the Presidency of the Republic ended. Only three “independent” candidates attained registration, all three with daily expenses equal or greater than those of the partisan candidates. María de Jesús Patricio, spokesperson of the Indigenous Government Council (CIG), did not achieve getting one percent of the signatures from the eligible voters of 17 states as is required for her to be an independent candidate. From the beginning we knew that it was a very unequal contest in a field deeply marked by the inequalities that characterize our country. While Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, El Bronco, spent 58,000 pesos per day and counted on the institutional apparatus of Nuevo León’s state government for gathering signatures, María de Jesús Patricio spent 860 pesos, which she shared with the council members that traveled with her. They confronted technological barriers in the whole process: the need for a modern cellular device that would allow downloading the application for gathering signatures, the Internet connectivity required, and money for the mobility of assistants; each one of those steps represented a struggle against the inequalities and exclusions that Marichuy and the CIG are denouncing.
I have to recognize that as a member of the Time Has Come for the Strengthening of the Peoples Association, which supports her registration, I feel frustrated for not having achieved overcoming all those barriers and not having been able to do more to move the consciences of this country around the urgency for deep changes. This feeling is more acute because on February 19 I am in Ahome, Yoreme territory, where organized crime violence in collusion with the security forces has converted the state of Sinaloa into a big common grave. The testimonies of mothers of the disappeared reminds us once again that we are in a time of national emergency, which is not resolved with “trainings” or “institutional modernizations.” We require a profound change that none of the candidates that will appear on the electoral ballots is disposed to make.
The country is plagued with anonymous places like Ayotzinapa where the security forces colluded with organized crime are perpetrating a genocide of youth before our very eyes and with the complicity of our silence. The Conalep students massacred in Juan José Ríos for failing to comply with the curfew established by organized crime that controls Mexico’s largest ejido; the young Yoreme student of the Sinaloa Intercultural University, whose body appeared in a clandestine grave in Capomos; the 117 bodies found by The Searchers, mothers of the disappeared that with picks and shovels search for their “treasures,” don’t seem to be favored now with marches or protests. We have become accustomed to this politics of death.
In contrast, María de Jesús Patricio tours the country talking about promoting a politics of life. When despair invades me for not having attained the 866,000 signatures required, I think about what has been achieved. In her visits to 126 localities in 27 states of the Mexican Republic, María de Jesús and the compañeros of the Indigenous Government Council carried a message of respect for life and articulated organizational efforts in defense of Mother Earth and against these development policies that are killing everyone, some faster than others.
On her tours she visited peoples in resistance throughout the country, communities and struggles ignored by the other candidates. She met with organizations of the Totonac peoples that are opposed to the gas fracking megaprojects in Veracruz; in Texcoco with the peoples of the Valley of Mexico that struggle against the construction of the new airport that will affect not only their agricultural lands, but also the water tables that give water to Mexico City; in Neza city her voice joined organizations that denounce the femicides and the multiple violence against women; and, in Chiapas she denounced the paramilitary violence that attempts against indigenous autonomy. The principal objective of her campaign has been, and will continue being, articulating our struggles and constructing life alternatives from below, starting with respect for Mother Earth and for the dignity of the peoples.
Her call has been to defend life and territory from the death policies, and to re-take the communitarian values and experiences of resistance of the indigenous peoples. In her speech in Totonacapan she said: “The capitalists want to make us believe that our territory is thousands of oil wells, dozens of mining concessions, the murdered women, and the disappeared. But we know it’s not, as well as violence, deforestation, the high rates for electricity and water, the control of water by regional caciques and the extractive megaprojects do not define the indigenous territory of Veracruz either. Our territories are the original languages, ancestral cultures, our resistances, the community organization that invites us to not sell out, to not surrender and to not give up, to not forget about what we inherited from our ancestors to protect, which invites us to organize and to govern ourselves exercising what we decide collectively.”
It’s not important that the rules imposed from above don’t allow her to be on the electoral ballot, her call to not give up, to continue organizing and defending life and territory still stands. We continue re-articulating ourselves in this new stage of resistance. We continue.
*Researcher at the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
Very good piece.