The “El Sur Resiste | The South Resists 2023” International Gathering began Saturday, May 6 in the CIDECI, University of the Earth Chiapas, where more than 700 people have met in order to make visible the dispossession of territories nationally and globally by capitalist and extractive companies and projects; the violence experienced by Indigenous Peoples, women, children as a result of wars and the violence of organized crime; and the imposition of environmentally destructive megaprojects around the world.
Members of the Indigenous Peoples, Bari; Cabécares; Chamula; Chanal; Chol; Chontal; Lenka; Masewal Maya; Peninsular Maya; Misak; Fish trap; Ayuuk; Mixtec; Nahua; Nuntayi; Ñuu Savi; Otomi; Tzotzil; Bribi; Tiouka; Tojolabal; Totonac; Zoque; Zapotec; among others, attended the gathering.
People from different countries such as El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cyprus, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Italy, France, Finland, Switzerland, Greece, Honduras, Germany Kurdistan, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and presence of collectives and organizations throughout the Mexican territory including Mexico City, Puebla, Morelos, Guerrero, Querétaro, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Estado de México, among others, also attended.
The meeting began with a summary of some of the most important effects on the territories of the Indigenous Peoples that have been identified during the El Sur Resiste | The South Resists Caravan and the meetings to take stock of them, including:
1. Penetration of drug trafficking and organized crime in all the territories.
2. Recruitment of young people and children by organized crime groups.
3. Agrarian authorities and ejido members who do not have the vision of protecting and caring for the land.
4. Assistance programs such as Sembrando vida and pensions for the elderly that divide community organization.
5. Deterioration of land by monocultures, fumigation and contaminated bodies of water.
6. Water is destined for big companies and not for the communities.
They identified the kinds of victories that have been achieved through organization among the Peoples and collectivities that must be strengthened to continue the defense of life, these types of actions include:
1. Gatherings among peoples and the hope of walking together
2. Recovering land and bringing down megaprojects
3. The struggle of women in all territories
4. Direct actions such as breaking pipes, seizing plants, legal processes and injunctions won
5. Recovery of traditional plants
6. Networks between caracoles, adherents and organizations in support of the EZLN.
7. Autonomous schools and other spaces that strengthen the processes of autonomy.
The meeting continued with presentations by comrades who have accompanied and are part of struggles for autonomy, life, justice and freedom for years. Here we include short summaries of the shared presentations.
“We experience wars of dispossession, it has been revealed that 4 out of every 10 hectares are not in the hands of the oligarchy or big capital, as in Brazil that these lands belong to agrarian lands, lands in the hands of black communities, natural parks and conservation, as well as small and medium campesinos.
These are the lands in which capital is advancing, the dispossession still has a long way to go. The war for dispossession is just beginning. Today, capitalism cannot live without wars of dispossession, it cannot act without wars with violence, that is, without murdering, disappearing, displacing.
Another factor of this new present is that every government, including progressive left-wing governments, supports militarization. This is a pattern that came to stay, as in Mexico with López Obrador, as the progressive government in Argentina where extractive projects were militarized, as in Chile in the Walmapu in Mapuche territory that today there are more military than during the neoliberal governments there could even be the same number as in the Pinochet dictatorship. The analysis of the EZLN in the 4th world war made 20 years ago is more than true: we are in a war of dispossession to obtain territories for big capital.
Also, we have to look at drug trafficking as the perfect symbol of capital, what it represents: dispossession through violence, accumulation of capital. It is very difficult to draw a line on drug trafficking and power because there is an alliance between these drug trafficking groups, the oligarchies, and big business.
Faced with this panorama of dispossession, we must also recognize that there is a pattern of growth and multiplication of the Autonomies throughout Latin America. Autonomy has felt like a common goal For many peoples; this is a victory, giant steps. A common sense of the peoples, and also very rich in diversity and forms, based on their traditional ways and what they can create.
These models of autonomy also have this characteristic pillar of self-defense as a fundamental tool. Many defend themselves with community guards, others with balaclavas, others with ski masks, or with bandanas.
Finally, spirituality must be recognized as a fundamental element that sustains resistance; Spirituality is talking about women and that link of woman-life-mother- earth. Spirituality is what allows us to sustain ourselves for a long time in these struggles that have no end, because they are an eternal circle, without objectives of taking power; Spirituality around there, is a pillar to follow.”
Vilma Rocío Almendra Quiguanás from the Cauca, Colombia
“Everywhere it’s difficult, in all the nation-states where they wanted to crush those who inhabited us, they wanted to tear away everything beautiful like spirituality.
We are critical of peace processes if they come from those who live from power, from those who have the weapons. What we said before those agreements were signed is that this was a neoliberal peace, a peace with capital that was going to allow us to enter our territories.
They deceived us with those promises of peace, while they continue to kill those who defend everything, land, water, and territory.
They have killed thousands of compañeros, the most rebellious, the most revolutionary people, they have killed those who truly believe in Mother Earth, people who know how to read birds, who know how to be in contact with the wind. The people who continue to kill are not the most visible people who are negotiating, it is those who put their chests in the territories.
It must be said that the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, until 2009 was the indigenous movement best known for its resistance, for its way of questioning the state. The largest Mingas became up to 80,000 people marching to Bogotá, thousands of comrades who are willing to die for the territories.
Until those years, 2008-2009 we had territorial control of Cauca, the government saw the strength of the resistance and said, “we have to break it,” that’s where this cancer that is drug trafficking began to enter the communities.
They began to co-opt leaders; today, the authorities no longer have control of the territory, the armed actors have control. They have killed 10 Indigenous authorities in the last 3 years. We see the recruitment of our youth and children who fall prey to easy money because the state structure impoverishes you.
What do young people prefer? 7 dollars as a day laborer for 10 hours of work picking coffee, or thousands of pesos for being with these drug trafficking groups: they give you a motorcycle, they give you a cell phone, they pay you well, you just have to kill and kill your own.
But it must be made clear, the narco-paramilitary states are the ones that take all the profits, this death suits them; on the other hand, those who recruit are the most enslaved and the most murdered within these crime and drug trafficking groups.
She concluded with that there are very beautiful things, such as flowers that break the cement, in Cauca we have managed to liberate mother earth, sow with the cycles of the moon, sow everything organic, we have achieved non-patriarchal, colonial, and non-state relations. If we achieve this relationship with the land, we also achieve it with the daughter, with the son, with the compañera, with the compañero.”
Dilda – Women of Kurdistan
“Until women are liberated, peoples will not be liberated. Women were the first colonies.
Democratic Confederalism, is the hope for the Kurdish people and all the peoples of the world, is a way to preserve Mesopotamia and the ancient peoples of the earth. The way of creating life in Rojava shows the world that the nation state is not the only option, there is another way and it is possible to govern oneself. This is the main reason why they are afraid of us and attack us.
For us, the relationship between mother earth and mother woman is fundamental, that intimate relationship between women and nature, we seek to destroy the dominant male way of thinking. Fight with ourselves to transform ourselves to remove that system of domination of man, our motto is woman, life and freedom.
Our strength does not come from the states, but from the beautiful solidarity between the peoples, their presence strengthens us, our fellow guerrillas from the mountains of Kurdistan are generating hope.
We need to unite wisdom, hopes, dreams, experiences of peoples, women and dissidents who fight against the system. To defend the Kurdistan revolution is to defend the women’s revolution.”
Ana Esther Ceceña
“What is at stake is seeing who gets the power in this world, the rules of the game and the way of life, the biggest dispute is between the United States and China.
The southeast of Mexico has characteristics within this geopolitical rearrangement that interests these powers that want to control territories to create competitive strength. A key piece for the United States, is the rearrangement of North America and the union of these zones, the attempt to control these territories will be stronger and stronger due to the threat of China and these alliances; It is sharpened in the economic field – they seek more supplies of productivity, territory and culture.
We see this with the United States visiting the Mexican southeast, their advocacy groups are watching, seeing. They assure their companies that their investments are safe, that they are already opening up territory.
It is not a way to be overwhelmed, it is to understand and from there start strategies, to ask ourselves how we raise these disputes for territories between powers, how we defend our lives, forms, ways and what is the one that has to prevail.
There is also a strategy of stripping everything symbolic, spiritual, cultural; An example is all this destruction of archaeological treasures on the route of these trains, the trans-excavator breaks them, destroys them and those who do not, take them, steal them. All this that is found, is history, and that’s being destroyed, for the sake of a progress that is not such.
The questions are how to rebuild the territory, how to rebuild our culture and way of life while still recognizing the roots, history and geography where we belong.”
“Capitalism is experiencing a deep crisis in several ways that deepened after the pandemic, we are talking about a pre-pandemic world and a post-pandemic world. The pandemic exploited the crisis of the capitalist system: unemployment, inflation, crisis of food networks, new recession in the United States.
We are talking about a civilizational crisis worldwide that forces us to have the integrity of something not small, which is the destruction of that patriarchal and capitalist system. We can no longer propose policies, government proposals or legislative reforms that are left in the middle.
That happened with the Mining Law, the House is sent with important elements to reduce mining activity, to take away control of water, and reduce the immense wealth produced by the mining company. It reaches the Chamber of Deputies and they start negotiations with companies, with Canadian companies, and change the initiative. The president did not defend that law.
We are not served by half-measures. We need commitment, because what is at stake is life.
The Trans-Isthmus Corridor, the Maya Train, the Morelos Integral Project, and the Santa Lucia Airport are all united projects. And the final purpose of this project is to reorder borders, they will be curtains for migration, they will be projects of complete territorial development.
We must recognize two lights of current hope; The struggle of women in all its forms, although men are worried that they break glass and scratch monuments, insignificant things in the face of the violence they experience. The other light is the light of the Indigenous Peoples who fight to defend the territory; You have to feed these two lights, make them grow and put them together.”
Sharing between different struggles and movements
After the main presentations, the members were divided into various groups that could listen in more depth to the struggle and resistance of many other communities, collectives, as well as share experiences from autonomous organization, self-management, and art and culture to build other worlds.
These are some of the topics that were included in the meeting:
1. Report on the observation mission in Guerrero, CIPOG-EZ and La Montaña of Guerrero
2. Xenophobia and discrimination in El Salvador
3. Indigenous and tortured prisoners
4. UCIZONI Tierra y Libertad camp
5. Context in Kurdistan
6. Popular Education in Ecuador
7. Articulation in Yucatán against the “Maya” Train
8. The struggle of the Native Peoples in Colombia
9. Stop Cop City in Atlanta
10. Femicides in Mexico
11. Community economy and feminism
The gathering will continue on Sunday, May 7, in which we plan to articulate struggles in defense of life.
Photographs: Juan Valeiro
Originally Published in Spanish by El Sur Resiste, Sunday, May 7, 2023, https://www.elsurresiste.org/es/posts/inicia-encuentro-internacional-el-sur-resiste-2023-chiapas-mexico and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
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