The National Indigenous Congress: balances and challenges

By: Magdalena Gómez

Last weekend the third assembly of the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Government Council (CNI-CIG) was held in Mexico City with 288 participants, among delegates, councilors and invitees, to carry out an evaluation of the peoples of the CNI faced with the neoliberal capitalist attack and, consequently, to agree on the steps to follow.

The presence of members of diverse peoples from Campeche, Mexico City, Chihuahua, Chiapas, Guerrero, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tabasco and Yucatán was very significant. It permitted them to share a wide panorama of threats to their territories both from organized crime and the behavior of companies with projects sponsored or endorsed by the current government. They will now share, if they decide to, the narration of their work and their agreements. For now, I emphasize some personal appreciations. It was reaffirmed, with numerous evidences, the neoliberal continuity of the period opened with the opening of the land market and the successive mining and energy reforms, which now, before questioning them, constitute the basis for the already-announced megaprojects, in times of the badly-named Fourth Transformation.

They also brought up the political situation and the siege of violence and criminalization that exists in regions characterized by the manipulation of forces, those definitely conservative, who are dressed as Morena, now also beneficiaries of the very broad electoral support achieved by the President of the Republic. At the same time, it was clear that the inequality would not be abated with the welfare-like offer of supports to different sectors and, nevertheless, constitutes a patronage-style link that is operating in the imaginary of its beneficiaries.

It was evident in the assembly that the murder of Samir Flores Soberanes is a parting of waters that already marked the current government, and therefore in Amilcingo, Morelos, as well as in numerous towns that do not participate in the CNI-CIG, the consider it a betrayal of the President of the Republic to make decisions like the so-called citizen consulta (consultation or referendum) on the Huexca thermoelectric plant, in contradiction to his campaign offering that was recorded and has been reproduced in social networks.

In that sense, even the obscure investigation into the murder of Samir, emblematic leader of the opposition to the Plan Integral Morelos (PIM), who was at first defamed and now it is said that the evidence was lost. The immediate social reaction of repudiation of the crime in the Mexico City march expresses that the opposition is no longer just to the PIM, the grievance includes the head of the Executive. And that factor will continue to be present in the opponents to other projects like the Maya Train (Tren Maya) or the Trans-Isthmus Corridor.

That meeting of the CNI-CIG was very important and representative, for defining its horizons of anticapitalist resistance.

For now, one should suggest caution to the opponents of the Los Cardones Mine in Baja California Sur, who have just received the presidential offering that he doesn’t support the project and “it will not be “consulted,” under the argument that it isn’t inherited from the previous government, like the airport or the PIM and it is, therefore, within his ability to reject it.

The serious problem that, in my judgment, indigenous peoples face is the continuous nature of the negation and trampling of their collective rights. That is not the horizon of governmental action. The presidential will, in practice, is the one that determines, and for this purpose it has been coated with a supposed citizen consultation of the popular will to pretend to legitimize previous decisions. It’s not about lead by obeying, as has been said, much less can you compare that principle with the constitutional obligations of a head of State, who would have to obey in the first instance the fulfillment of rights.

One hundred days have been enough to give an account of where the priorities are. Nothing new will bring the peoples the consulta that by constitutional mandate must be held with all the citizens about the National Development Plan 2019-24. In the indigenous case for 10 days, from next March 8 to 18, they will hold 25 forums that the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) convokes directed to: “indigenous municipal authorities; community authorities (delegates, agents, commissioners, chiefs of tenure, site authorities, assistantships, among others); traditional indigenous authorities; indigenous agrarian authorities (communal and ejido); indigenous organizations and institutions; civil society organizations and academic institutions specializing in indigenous questions, and those interested in providing recommendations and proposals.”

It’s obvious that forums lasting a few hours are not the mechanism for consulting based on their own forms, as it’s also that their agenda is not agreed upon with the peoples.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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