Report from EZLN-CNI Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth


Forum in defense of territory and Mother Earth Photo: Angeles Mariscal

By: Angeles Mariscal

The global economic model based on the exploitation of nature and the accumulation of wealth, the capitalist economic model, in the last 200 years has provoked climate change and now seeks to do it to land where natural resources still remain, indigenous peoples from different regions of the country and mestizos from Mexico City and Monterrey concluded during the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth. They agreed to combine to defend their territory and to be self-sustainable.

They met for 2 days in a gathering headed by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) and the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI), to analyze the impacts that the mining, hydraulic, hydrocarbon, wind, tourism and real estate industries have on their territory. They explained in this radiography of the country, not only the histories of dispossession, but also the actions of resistance, the strategies that the communities have implemented to prevent these sectors from appropriating land that they inhabit and from extracting the natural resources. At the end of the gathering, they agreed to combine to defend their territory, to be self-sustainable and to strengthen a system of life in an economic model different from the capitalist system.

From the Yaqui tribe of Bácum pueblo in Sonora, to the Binnizá of Oaxaca, passing through inhabitants of the America colonias of Monterrey, and Coyoacán of Mexico City, indigenous and mestizos from 24 states, drew how big companies corrupt governments in order to appropriate the land and its natural resources.

On Aztecas Street marked with the number 215, in the Coyoacán District of Mexico City, every second, 60 liters of pure water coming from an underground aquifer is removed with hoses, to then be spilled into the nearest drainage.

In what until a few years ago was considered the world’s largest city, one of its main problems is the lack of water to supply 21.5 million inhabitants. The water that is spilled every day into Aztecas Street, would be enough for the consumption of 15,000 people; however, that doesn’t matter to the “I want a house” company, which seeks at all costs to dry that spring in order to build apartment buildings on it. The Coyoacán District is one of the most valuable in that city.

At the beginning of the denunciation, capital authorities argued that what was being extracted was water contaminated by the drainage, but with the help of specialists residents of the zone were able to document that it was clean underground water.

In Monterrey, the city with the country’s most thriving economy, the Barrio San Luicito, founded by migrants more than 50 years ago, “defaces the view” of the project to build plazas, shopping centers, luxury homes and tourist attractions amid “first world” roads.

“When we came to Monterrey many years ago, roped us to the hill where there was nothing more than stony terrain. Now that there is no longer room for their projects, they want to displace us because we hinder what entrepreneurs call ´economic growth´, because our houses seem ugly and poor to them, because we obstruct them.”

What happens at Aztecas 215 and in the San Luicito Barrio, are the new stories of dispossession that are reaching the cities, as those affected by these projects referred to them during the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth. Until a few years ago, those who got together at the gatherings called by the EZLN were mostly inhabitants of rural and indigenous areas, now city residents come.

Indigenous Huicholes of San Lorenzo, Jalisco, explained that they struggle so that they won’t dispossess them of 94,000 hectares of land that they have possessed since Colonial times, territory to which the mining, hydraulic and hydrocarbon industries have now been granted concessions, like the Yaquis of Sonora, the inhabitants of El Mezquital in Nayarit, and the Zoques of Chiapas.

The scope of the economic model in this logic also contemplates the emptying of land for projects like the Inter-oceanic Corridor and the Trans-Isthmus Corridor, designed to transport natural resources, merchandise and products to Asian markets.

“In order to impose [these projects] the government resorts to rigged consultations and community division to obtain the permits to open the paths of connection. They have never told us exactly what the contours are. We have not been informed of the ecological impact, much less who the big investment companies are,” denounced members of the Assembly of Peoples of Juchitán, Oaxaca.

Zapatistas shared their experience in the formation of an alternative development model to the capitalist one. Photo: Ángeles Mariscal

Informing and organizing

However, along with the denunciations, for two days those affected by the extractive projects were detailing the strategies they have used to stop the advance of these actions.

“We have gone from town to town informing, making alternative information campaigns, and articulating actions to stop the works,” several of the speakers pointed out during the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth.

“We have made agreements and we are walking little by little, strengthening ourselves as peoples, designing regulations that contemplate autonomy over our land and our resources, raising awareness about the right to decide what we have on our territory,” explained residents from the Indigenous Regional Council of Ixmujil, Campeche.

Others, like the inhabitants of the La Parota zone of Guerrero, explained how for five years they have maintained an occupation and blocked roads that lead to the area where intend to build a hydroelectric dam, or the Wixárika, who have taken their fight to the Agrarian Court and the Tzeltals and Zoques of Chiapas, who formed an alliance with different groups and organizations that seek to conserve the environment.

“We, the daughters and sons of these lands have the need to organize to defend, we have the obligation to defend it and take care of it because territory and Mother Earth cannot defend themselves. We have to think about how to defend our territory and Mother Earth,” the EZLN’s Subcomandante Moisés said when he spoke.

“The enemy of everyone is what we listen to here: capitalism. We have no doubt. Capitalism is already coming to its end because its base of sustenance, which is nature, is already ending, even its reserves. It only took them approximately 200 years to finish it off. It took millions of years for nature to accumulate, and it won’t be able to recuperate in a few years. What we are seeing is pollution of the rivers, waters, seas, soil and subsoil of Mother Earth. Climate change occurs due to this problem. The experience of our grandparents no loner works because the rain is already very irregular,” maintained a Zapatista from the Highlands zone of Chiapas.

He said that given that context, “Capitalism would seek refuge in the mountainous lands and hills where they sent us. Now those are the good lands and capitalism will come to evict us, because more natural riches accumulate there. They need coal, oil and mines.”

Each participant was outlining paths that the original peoples have followed. “We have to prepare ourselves, this situation obliges us to rescue our culture, to return to traditional medicine, to return to making our own clothes, to cultivating our food, and not to depend on capitalism and its governments to live.”

After detailing how some Zapatista communities have formed cooperatives that produce and trade their products between, the attendees at the forum agreed to increase the articulation among the peoples, and to strengthen a life and economic system parallel to the capitalist model.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



One Comment on “Report from EZLN-CNI Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth

  1. Pingback: Zapatista News & Analysis | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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