Making the path to walk

No to the megaproject of the Isthmus! The Isthmus is ours.

By: Raúl Romero*

In October 2016,the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, Congreso Nacional Indígena) celebrated its fifth congress and 20 years of existence. Meeting in the Universidad de la Tierra, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, delegates to the congress met to analyze the situation of its peoples, of their organizations and of the CNI itself. In that context, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) shared its diagnosis with them. The war against the native peoples ha­s been extended to other social sectors: The war that we have suffered for a long time as native peoples, has now arrived, is now in their streets, in their homes, in their schools, in their workplaces. For that reason, it argued, the peoples are no longer attentive to the massacres and deaths of the indigenous peoples as they would have done before: Our pains are now one more among many others. And, although the pain is extended and becomes deeper, we are more alone than ever. Each time we are going to be less.

At the end de 2018, the indigenous peoples joined together around the CNI faced new threats and challenges. Defender their territories from megaprojects like the misnamed “Tren Maya | Maya Train,” the Interoceanic Corridor, the Morelos Integral Project and others, within the new national political scenario, earned them being branded as part of the conservative block. In the media, the narratives from above attempted to delegitimize their struggles and erase their long history of resistance.

Samir Flores Soberanes

These peoples suffered a painful blow in 2019 with the murder of Samir Flores, defender of the territory and opponent of the Morelos Integral Project. Samir would not be the only defender of territory linked to the CNI killed so far in the current six-year term. In much of the country, the murder and disappearance of community organizers continues.

With the covid-19 pandemic, the peoples of the CNI faced a new challenge, to take care of the virus, while defending the territories from the megaprojects that didn’t stop [during the pandemic]. Saving life in a broad sense: that of its peoples and organizations, and that of humanity and the planet. Taking care of life in the face of the pandemic and organized crime attacks, defending territories, resisting delegitimizing narratives and processes of cooptation and disarticulation. A complicated scenario.

Guided by the principles of not surrendering, not selling out and not betraying, the peoples of the CNI continued weaving from below, in silence, invisible in a media agenda that only knows about conservatives and authoritarians, and where the walking that takes place outside of the established margins, of what’s important to the media and of what’s politically acceptable doesn’t fit.

The image shows the Maya Train’s connection to the Interoceanic Corridor across the Isthmus and then to the train in Western Chiapas known as “The Beast”, with a possible connection to a train in Guatemala. It also shows migration routes. The scope of these two megaprojects is enormous.

In their walking, these peoples build initiatives of national and international character, dialogue with others, native and non-native, who observe the limitations and contradictions of the current government and the planetary threats. This is the case of the second National Assembly for Water and Life, which covered the demand for the presentation of Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Díaz alive. The assembly brought together members of 125 collectives, organizations, networks, indigenous peoples and communities, from 18 states in Mexico and six other countries. Among other points, the assembly diagnosed the current moment as a planetary war characterized by: a) the looting, extraction, trafficking, sale and exploitation of water; (b) the extermination of our forests, rivers, seas, minerals, flora, fauna, richness and diversity, both culturally and linguistically; c) the imposition of megaprojects such as the Maya Train, the Interoceanic Corridor and the Morelos Integral Project, and d) by all means they seek to end the autonomy of we indigenous peoples.

On the other hand, in an effort to continue with the analysis and articulation, the CNI convened its National Assembly, which posed two main questions: how are we? And what’s next? Since its invitation, the CNI also diagnoses a war: as humanity and indigenous peoples, we are living a war of capitalist and patriarchal extermination against life on the planet, its plants, jungles, forests, rivers, mountains, plains, peoples and entire cultures for the ambition of extractive capitalism. And they clarified: the indigenous peoples of the CNI and beyond it, are resisting and fighting with dignity and integrity to defend Mother Earth and that we are not willing to extinguish ourselves or let them destroy our common home.

The initiatives don’t stop there. In the coming weeks, the caravan and the international meeting ¡El Sur Resiste! (The South Resists!) will be held, with the aim of building a broad articulation to resist the interconnected Maya Train-Interoceanic Corridor megaproject, an initiative that has a strong internationalist calling.

In a complicated national and international scenario, the native peoples brought together in the CNI continue weaving, constructing horizons, insisting on the global and anti-capitalist nature of the struggle. Accustomed to resisting, the peoples walk knowing that their path is made by walking.


Twitter: @RaulRomero_mx

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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