El Sur Resiste | The South Resists
By: Raúl Zibechi
On Thursday, May 4, the tour of the El Sur Resiste | The South Resists caravan, organized by local groups of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), concluded. After touring seven states and dozens of spaces that resist extractivism and the megaprojects of capital, listening to hundreds of voices of indigenous peoples and popular sectors, it arrives in San Cristóbal de las Casas, where an international forum will be held on the 6th and 7th of this month.
It is a huge effort by each organization to move, receive, house and feed about 300 people, some of them European, American and Latin American, in the 10 days of the caravan. It began with just over a hundred members on the coast of Chiapas, but along the way members of the organizations that support the caravan were added.
It was encouraging to see that there are still many small and medium-sized resistances with strong local roots, despite the combination of social policies and repression with which governments often weaken popular movements. Hence its importance: to make visible the resistances, to build bridges between them to overcome isolation and, above all, to strengthen them, because the arrival of hundreds of people from the most diverse geographies stimulated each of the struggles, something evident in the warm gratitude in particular of women.
The repression was both ruthless and disguised from the general public. The violent eviction of the camp in Mogroñé Viejo, which stopped construction of the interoceanic train for two months, was the most evident, with the kidnapping of several of the people who supported the protest. The stops at each checkpoint for hours and the tracking of vehicles without license plates, were modes of harassment that only managed to temper the spirits of the participants although it delayed arrival at destinations.
One of the interesting results was to see how in all geographies of the planet, both in the North and in the South, capital and states behave similarly: the voracity and violence of the accumulation of wealth have no limits; militarization is a global reality even if it manifests itself in different ways; Governments of any color merely facilitate dispossession, either by legal or military means; A vast alliance is woven between multinationals, organized crime and states for the control of territories.
I would like to highlight some aspects of the role of this and previous caravans, provisionally for further discussions.
The first is that initiatives such as El Sur Resiste | The South Resists are important to open spaces in the midst of so many difficulties, to prevent the isolation of resistance from drying them up due to fatigue and lack of perspectives. You have to put yourself in the shoes of those who live in remote rural areas, surrounded by extractivist works such as the Maya Train and the Trans-Isthmus Corridor, as well as caciques and aggressive armed herds to understand the devastating role of isolation.
The second aspect is to corroborate the place of women in the resistance and in the construction of other worlds. They were the ones who sustained the caravan, cooking, organizing, taking care of the health and spirits of those who arrived tired at each destination. Women from indigenous peoples, from popular neighborhoods and also women with studies, combined in their diversity of knowledge and working collectively.
Women and communities are realities that touch each other, that dialogue and complement each other. When a collective subject resists attacks from outside, it territorializes and becomes a community to continue being, almost naturally. These are the processes that continue to resist, that did not surrender to the logic of individual benefit proposed by social programs.
It could be heard everywhere that resistance is necessary, but that it’s not enough. Simultaneously, the collectives are building ways of life (from agroecological crops to health spaces) that allow them to live as autonomously as possible, gradually approaching the world they want to build.
There is a profound interaction between resistances and other worlds. The construction of realities different from the hegemonic ones feeds resistance, because in these spaces the peoples find oxygen and at the same time project the type of society in which they wish to live. The interesting thing is that this double dynamic of resistance and construction of the new has become common sense of the peoples.
The caravan must be inserted in the long time of the resistances from below. Nothing is going to be achieved in a short time, nor in the calendars marked by the system, such as electoral calls. The times of the peoples are similar to the cycles of nature, those that teach us the circularity of life that has no other objective than to remain alive. Today, that’s revolutionary.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, May 5, 2023, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2023/05/05/opinion/019a1pol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee