News from Sipaz 28/07/2014

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2014 by floweroftheword

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Chiapas: New communique from Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

July 28, 2014

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Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés (@SIPAZ)

In a new communique published on 25 July, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés reported that the support-bases from the La Realidad caracol have decided to share 59,000 pesos that have been collected for the reconstruction of the autonomous clinic and school that were destroyed in May to support the transportation of members of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) which is soon to be held in Chiapas. It should be recalled that from 4 to 9 August, this meeting between Zapatistas and other indigenous peoples belonging to the CNI will take place in La Realidad.

Subcomandante Moisés explained that this decision has been made public “because we cannot be like the bad governments, which say that money is dedicated to one thing but ends up being moved elsewhere.” He expressed furthermore that “the construction of the accommodations for our indigenous brothers and sisters has now been completed, and we are finishing the last details so that everything will be ready with joy in our hearts to receive our guests. The construction of the new school and clinic continues, also with joy. Because while those from above destroy, we from below rebuild.”

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National: thousands march in Mexico City to demand agrarian reform

July 28, 2014

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On 23 July, between 25,000 (according to the government of Mexico City) and 35,000 campesinos (according to organizers of the action) marched in Mexico City to demand a comprehensive agrarian reform, in repudiation of the reform laws on energy, and in favour of respect for the rights of peoples and communities.

Protestors presented a document with their proposals for agrarian reform, to be taken into account at the national Congress, which is about to address the matter in response to a proposal made in March by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The slogans that were uttered at the protest spoke to the principal grievances: for example, “Hunger is not combated with handouts but rather through food production in communities,” or “Mexico demands food and energy sovereignty.”

Organizations that covered the whole spectrum of politics in Mexico, including some groupings allied to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is at present in power.

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Chiapas: denunciation of threats of possible attack on Migrant Home in Arriaga

July 28, 2014

Migrant home “All for All” in Tapachula (@Centro PRODH)

Migrant home “All for All” in Tapachula (@Centro PRODH)

On 21 July, Carlos Bartolo Solís, director of the Migrant Home “House of Compassion” in Arriaga on the coast of Chiapas denounced that he had received a threat from organized crime groups dedicated to the trafficking in migrants against the centre. That same day, a migrant warned him that an attack was being prepared, as led by someone known as Simón N.

Bartolo Solís mentioned that police surveillance of the trains has diminished over the past several months, and that fewer and fewer patrols are seen. He announced that he would contact federal authorities and the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) so that they intervene to guarantee the protection and security for the migrant home. At present, the local authorities do nothing more than “provide promises and speeches.”

Some weeks ago, Father Ramón Verdugo, from the Migrant Home “All for All” in Tapachula, also denounced death-threats and persecution for his work as a defender of the rights of migrants.

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Indigenous organizations and peoples challenge federal reforms, considering them to be “a legalized land grab”

July 27, 2014

(@Other Worlds Chiapas)

(@Other Worlds Chiapas)

On 14 July, upon the close of the “Water and Energy” seminar held in Oaxaca de Juárez, civil organizations and communities pertaining to the Mixteco, Chatino, Zapotec, and Mixe peoples of the state of Oaxaca as well as organizations from Chiapas and Mexico City issued a communiqué denouncing the reforms being implemented in the country. They indicated that said reforms betray a lack of respect for humanity rights and represent “a legalized land grab,” given that they were approved to favour national and international firms.

The authors of the communiqué explained that the laws on Hydrocarbons, National Waters, Mining, Public Service of Electricity, Geothermal Energy, Housing, Foreign Investment, Expropriation, National Goods, Labour, Regulation of Energy, Public and Private Associations, the National Agency on Industrial Security, Protection of the Environment, Education, and Telecommunications “have been presented and approved without the participation of the communities and citizenry in general who live in the country.”

They denounced that “they have found the three levels of government to lie, trick, threaten with death, repress, arbitrarily arrest, forcibly disappear, and even execute communal human-rights defenders,” and they affirmed that they will continue defending their lands and territories amidst this new attempt at looting.

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Chiapas: new communiqué from the Las Abejas Civil Society

July 27, 2014

Las Abejas Civil Society (@acteal.blogspot.com)

Las Abejas Civil Society (@acteal.blogspot.com)

On 22 July, during the monthly commemoration of the Acteal massacre of 1997, the Las Abejas Civil Society released a new communique positioning itself on several prevailing realities, “because it is our responsibility to say the truth and condemn lies, violence, and war.” Las Abejas denounced that the “bad government of Mexico has coordinated with large neoliberal-capitalist interests to create plans to extract the riches of our Mother Earth. These plans criminalize social movements; they imprison women and men who criticize the rotten system in Mexico.” They gave as examples of such tendencies the murders of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano from the San Sebastián Bachajon ejido, who adhered to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle, in addition to the Zapatista support-base (BAEZLN) Galeano in La Realidad.

Las Abejas indicated that “we are saddened that still many of our brothers and sisters who do the dirty work of the government see us as enemies, insulting us and claiming us to be provocateurs. All these thoughts that they have are the result of the crumbs given in the ‘Procampo,’ ‘Opportunities,’ and other welfare programs.” They stressed the role of the “so-called leaders of a community or an organization”: “the bad government seeks to create divisions in a community or organization in resistance by offering a bit of money or a public office in exchange for providing information on what the organizations are doing.” To illustrate this point, Las Abejas made reference to the “present conflict between the neighbouring communities of Ch’enalvo’ and Chalchihuitan regarding the land dispute that has gone on for 40 years.” They reiterated the call to dialogue “both to the peoples of Ch’enalvo’ and of Chalchihuitan and not to take up arms.”

Lastly, they shared a message of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

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Chiapas: TPP pre-audience judges Mexican State for crimes against humanity

July 27, 2014

On 18 July in El Limonar, Ocosingo municipality, there was held the pre-audience for the People’s Permanent Tribunal (TPP), “With Justice and Peace We Shall Find Truth.” As part of the work on “Dirty War as violence, impunity, and lack of access to justice” covered by the Mexican chapter of the TPP, the Viejo Velasco massacre was addressed. This atrocity, which took place on 13 November 2006, resulted in the execution of four persons and the disappearance of four others. Two of the disappeared were found dead some months later. Furthermore, 37 residents of the community were forcibly displaced, seeking refuge in the neighbouring community of Nuevo Tila.

After having reviewed the relevant documents and the declarations of victims and witnesses, the judges declared that the “The fact that these acts of violence from the State did not solely target combatants but also the civilian, non-combatant population–including boys and girls–shows that the only common factor among the victims was that they pertained to certain ethnic groups and social organizations. It also shows that said acts were committed ‘with the intention of destroying’ these groups ‘totally or in part,’ thus qualifying these as crimes against humanity.” For this reason, they judged the Mexican State to be culpable of having violated the rights to life and personal integrity as well as the right not to experience forced disappearance in the cases of Viejo Velasco and Acteal in the Northern Zone of Chiapas.

In conclusion, the tribunal declared that “the State must use the appropriate means to observe its obligation to investigate the acts that have been denounced, as well as to identify, judge, and sanction those responsible and the beneficiaries of these crimes.” It stressed that “the Mexican State is obliged to comprehensively compensate the damages caused by these crimes against humanity.” Lastly, it recalled that the cycle of the Mexican chapter of the TPP will end in November 2014, a time in which the “grave human-rights violations committed by the Mexican State that to date enjoy impunity” will be denounced and made visible before the national and international public.

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Chiapas: Believing People organize fourth pilgrimage in Simojovel

July 20, 2014

Photo (@Chiapas Denuncia Pública)

Photo (@Chiapas Denuncia Pública)

On Saturday 12 July, the Believing People of Simojovel carried out a fourth “Pilgrimage for peace.” Thousands of persons marched to highlight the increase in violence in the municipality due to alcoholism, drug-trafficking, prostitution, and arms trading, and to denounce the death-threats received by the priest Marcelo Pérez and other members of the Council of Parishes of San Antonio de Padua. On the same occasion, they accused municipal authorities of being corrupt and of favouring this situation which undermines peace and security for the people of Simojovel. In a communiqué, the Believing People declared that “Amidst these death-threats, we cannot be silent or be indifferent; we cannot simply cross our arms while seeing so much suffering caused by the corruption of the authorities.”

Furthermore, they publicly demanded that the corresponding authorities re-establish peace and tranquillity for the people by closing places for drug and alcohol sales, prostitution centres, and repressing the traffic in weapons. In this way, they specified that “We demand security for our people; enough of violating our rights. We demand liberty and justice.” They added: “This is our action so that peace be restored in this community. We will not tire; if we see that there is no result, we will take other measures in the coming days and months. The people must continue raising their voice.”

EZLN: Just So You Know

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2014 by floweroftheword

JULY 26, 2014

ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION

MEXICO.

July 2014.

To the compañer@s of the Sixth in Mexico and in the world:

To all those who supported us in the reconstruction of the school and the clinic that belong to the compañeros of La Realidad:

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Compañer@s:

Greetings from the Zapatistas.

We want to inform you of the following:

1. Upon hearing that the National Indigenous Congress still lacks adequate funds to travel to the exchange in the Caracol of La Realidad, the Zapatista compañeros and compañeras from the community of La Realidad have decided to use part of the $958,646.26 Mexican pesos that they received for reconstruction in La Realidad to support this travel.

2. According to the accounts the CNI sent us, they need approximately $200,000 (two hundred thousand pesos). They already have a part of this from donations sent by musicians, compas of the Sixth in Mexico and the world, and other good people who have supported them without any self-interest. But they don’t have sufficient funds to cover the rental costs of the trucks that will take them to CIDECI in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, which is where we are going to pick them up to bring them to Zapatista Reality [La Realidad].

3. The Zapatista bases of support in La Realidad are the ones who received the support you all sent for the reconstruction of what the CIOAC-Histórica destroyed, so we consulted them about this budget problem that the compañeros and compañeras of the CNI are having. We consulted the bases of support because that money belongs to them, not to the EZLN; we just function as their voice to ask for and receive support, which we hand over to them as it arrives. In other words, we as the EZLN cannot decide what to do with that money. We explained to the Zapatista compas of La Realidad that this money was given to support their community reconstruction, and that if it is to be used for something else we have to consult them. We can’t act like the bad government who says the money is for one thing and then uses it for another. So that’s what we explained.

4. The compas in Zapatista La Realidad got together and decided to contribute $59,000 (fifty-nine thousand pesos) to support the National Indigenous Congress’ travel to the exchange that we will hold here soon. They agreed to offer this support, and they told us to let you know about this agreement so that there wouldn’t be any deceit or misunderstandings.

5. So, according to the last report that we gave you, there remain $899,646.26 (eight hundred ninety-nine thousand, six hundred and forty-six pesos and twenty-six cents Mexican pesos). We still have to see if more comes in, but we will let you know.

I also want to tell you that we have finished the construction work for the exchange with the brothers and sisters of the indigenous peoples, and we are now putting on the finishing touches in order to have everything ready to joyfully receive our invitees.

Next comes the construction of the new school and clinic, which will also be undertaken with joy. Because what those above destroy, we below will rebuild.

That’s all the information I have for you for now.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Mexico, July 2014. In the twentieth year of the war against oblivion.

Translated by El Kilombo Intergaláctico

Peasant Farmer Organizations Announce Rebellion Against Energy Reform

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2014 by floweroftheword

Campesino Rebellion

La Jornada: Roberto Rico*

maizPeasant and indigenous farmer organizations give this warning: Do not touch communal property in the countryside. However, the government remains committed to stirring up a conflict that is already present in various parts of the country, and its spread seems imminent.

After a meeting of peasant leaders in the Senate and a discussion at the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB], the response by officials and legislators is the same: first they called them ‘rights of way’, now they call them ‘temporary occupations’. Their purpose is similar: the dispossession of indigenous and peasant lands. It has to do with converting transnational corporations into owners of very large estates [latifundistas]; thus, guaranteeing legal certainty for their investments through asymmetrical negotiations. The federal government will play a central role in these negotiations, since it will have the broadest powers to establish areas of exploration and exploitation that will take precedence over peasant activities and the property rights of indigenous communities and agricultural centres.

As a result of the meeting between authorities and peasant leaders at the SEGOB, on June 19 a meeting was held with the committee for reform of the countryside headed by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA). The Secretary, through the person in charge of the official forums, gave a report, which was followed, in turn, by remarks made by representatives of farmer organizations (Conorp, CAP). Two legislators and the representative of the government of Sinaloa also spoke.
The secretary solemnly announced the official proposal: sign a framework agreement with the President on August 8. In order to prevent anyone from breaking that framework, the proposal was submitted to a vote by over 25 officials and organizational representatives.

The peasant movement responded to the fictitious consultation for reform of the countryside convened by the federal government by organizing their own meetings for discussion and debate. They called on the State to negotiate based on full respect for their demands.

In Torreón, Coahuila, producers of corn, beans, sorghum, wheat, meat, milk, apples, melons and chiles met. They came from Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Durango, Sinaloa, Sonora, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. They agreed to march together to the Zócalo in Mexico City [on July 23] for a:

  • Fair price for their products;
  • Reduction and freeze on the price of diesel, electricity, seeds and fertilizer; and that the
  • Mexican State might form an enterprise for warehousing and marketing [agricultural products].

Meetings held in Playa del Carmen, Campeche; Zaachila, Oaxaca, and Celaya, Guanajuato, formulated ​​similar demands, among which are:

First. Adopt a general law of consultation and free and informed prior consent for indigenous peoples and communities. The law should establish a system of safeguards and protection of forests and their inhabitants, following international agreements for indigenous peoples signed by the Mexican government.

Second. Remove from discussion the articles of the presidential initiative for the hydrocarbons law that establish legal easements and temporary occupations.

Third. [Specify] that the special concurrent program be multi-year, in order to accommodate strategic planning with outcomes for indigenous and peasant development.

Fourth. [Institute] a program of support and subsidy for diesel, natural gas and gasoline for farmers.

Fifth. [Recognize] that organized peasant and indigenous communal entities are to be considered bodies of public interest owing to the contributions that the countryside has made in developing and strengthening the country.

Sixth. [Institute] an enterprise of a statist nature that would act directly in the agricultural and food market through price regulations and compensatory public policies for both producers and consumers, thereby lowering the prices of basic food products. In order to assure full food sovereignty: No transgenic maize [corn] and no [agricultural] monopolies.

Seventh. Release, by means of an amnesty law, political prisoners, whose sole responsibility has been defense of their territories and their communities in opposition to megaprojects that undermine and devastate the natural resources in their territory.

Eighth. Create a bank for agriculture and rural development with first and second level functions, an entity with its own assets and functional autonomy whose mission would be to finance the production of staple foods, promote chains of value, foster sustainable development and encourage rural financial intermediaries operated by producers.

These organizations know that the current situation, permeated by violence both by organized crime and that unleashed by the State, requires an extensive unification. The first proposal is to carry out the great mobilization on July 23 in Mexico City, as well as actions in the states, particularly on the international bridges.

A legitimate, peaceful and legal peasant uprising provoked by the attempted looting of their lands can have a greater political and social impact than that generated by the original actions of the self-defense groups in Michoacán.

*Roberto Rico, peasant leader, is also author of the book "The Return: Union of Peoples’ Communities in the Valley of Mexico" [i.e., Mexico City] [El retorno: la
Unión de Colonias Populares del Valle de México].

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/07/23/index.php?section=opinion&article=017a1pol&partner=rss

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Farmers Groups Protest Energy Reform With ‘Mega-March’ in Mexico City

Farmers Groups Protest Energy Reform With 'Mega-March' in Mexico City

Peasant farmer organizations marched Wednesday to protest expropriation of their land under Energy Bill

On Wednesday, members of campesino [peasant farmer] organizations participated in a mega-march from different parts of Mexico City to the Zócalo to protest the energy reform and to demand a reform of the countryside [agrarian reform] and protection of the rights of campesino and indigenous peoples.

On Wednesday morning, members of agricultural associations gathered near the Angel of Independence, the Stele of Light and the headquarters of the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB] to carry out the march whose route followed Reforma Boulevard to Bucareli [SEGOB headquarters] and then end up in the Zócalo [Mexico City's main square].

The Secretariat of Public Security for the Federal District (SSPDF) told CNNMéxico that there had been no reported incidents during the march, and they estimated that 60,000 people participated…. News reports citing campesinoorganizations themselves, suggest that there were between 10,000 and 30,000 demonstrators. …

Among the organizations protesting were: the Movement for Food Sovereignty, Defense of the Earth and Water, Natural Resources and the Territory; the Permanent Agrarian Congress; the National Council of Peasant Organizations; the National Confederation of Small Farmers; the Mexican Agrarian Confederation; Antorcha Campesina [Peasant Firebrand]; El Barzón; the National Movement of 400 Pueblos, and the Francisco [i.e., Pancho] Villa 21st Century Popular Front, among others.

The campesino farmers are seeking dialogue with federal authorities with the intent of discussing issues important to their industry, such as a farm bill and the rights of indigenous and peasant people. Another point that concerns agricultural organizations are provisions of the energy reform regarding the use of land for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.

The legislation, which has already been passed by the Senate and is now under review in the Chamber of Deputies, establishes that when a property held by individual or communal landowners might have oil or gas, it will be possible to put it into voluntary service, or temporary occupation, by means of an agreement between the owners and the individuals who want to exploit the energy resources. For the organizations, this amounts to an expropriation of land and affects property rights.

MV Note: the legislation gives priority to hydorcarbon extraction over any other use of the land and makes possible the "temporary occupation" of land for exploration and extraction in which the government can override the wishes of the owners and grant concessions to private companies.

http://mexico.cnn.com/nacional/2014/07/23/campesinos-organizan-megamarcha-en-el-df-contra-la-reforma-energetica

Translations by Jane Brundage

Legal Setback for Monsanto

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2014 by floweroftheword

La Jornada: Editorial

srep04022-f3Yesterday, a judge in the Yucatán District Court overturned a permit issued to the multinational company Monsanto that allowed the commercial planting of GM soybean in that state. According to the judicial body, such activity puts at risk the production of Mexican honey in states like Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán.

To put the event in context, it should be noted that the permit revoked by yesterday’s court order was issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food [SEGARPA] on June 6, 2012, counter to the express views of environmental institutions within the Mexican State itself (National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity; National Commission of Natural Protected Areas; National Institute of Ecology), and despite repudiation by hundreds of researchers articulated in the Union of Concerned Scientists Committed to Society.

According to opposing arguments, the necessary and sufficient conditions for ensuring coexistence of honey production and cultivation of Monsanto GM soybean do not exist in the country. To the scientific reasons are added economic ones: the aforementioned permit puts at severe risk the sale of honey produced in the identified states to the European market (where 85 percent of Mexican honey is exported), given that a decision issued in 2011 by the Court of Justice of the European Union prohibits the sale of honey containing pollen from GM crops.

Taken together, these elements might seem to lend particular significance to the judicial determination: This is a setback for the largest transnational producer of modified foods, whose presence has grown in our country in recent years; moreover, it constitutes an extremely valuable victory for the peasant and indigenous, environmental, scientific and civic organizations opposed to these crops for constituting a risk factor for the health and nutrition of both populations and for biodiversity.

To the contrary, the fact remains that they [activist organizations] had to resort to a court of law to reverse a permit that obviously revealed an improper and irregular attitude by the country’s agricultural and food authorities. Indeed, counter to what is happening in Europe, where the majority of national governments take a cautious approach when faced with scientific evidence of the risks to health and biodiversity posed by genetically modified organisms, their Mexican counterparts have chosen to open the national agriculture to these crops. To top it off, they have done so while by-passing the guarantees of native communities–such as the right to be consulted regarding operations of individuals that affect their territories–and abandoning them to their fate in legal battles against the powerful multinationals.

Despite its importance, the judicial setback dealt to Monsanto on this occasion is clearly insufficient to reverse the damage caused by opening [the country to] the free production of genetically modified crops. In any event, it would be preferable that yesterday’s ruling might lead to a review by agricultural and food authorities of their current conduct; that is, in favor of the large transnationals of modified foods and against the country’s traditional farmers and food sovereignty.

If it is true that the eradication of hunger is a priority of the current federal government, then the starting point must be recognition of the relationship between this scourge [genetically modified crops] and the model of food policy that has been imposed on the entire population: a model based on the conversion of the right to food into the private business of a few companies.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/07/23/index.php?section=opinion&article=002a1edi&partner=rss

The Zapatista Women’s Revolutionary Law as it is lived today

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2014 by floweroftheword

By Sylvia Marcos

This essay on the Zapatistas’ Women’s Revolutionary Law twenty years on, draws on Zapatista women’s reflections, together with a decades-long engagement with indigenous feminism and Zapatismo. Engaging difference through respect rather than negation can also move us beyond impasses within contemporary feminism, political theory, and rights-based activism.

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“ The capitalists had us believing this idea … that women are not valuable”

The Participation of Women in the Autonomous Government[i]We know that the Women’s Revolutionary Law was passed by consensus within the ranks of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) many months before their public emergence twenty years ago on January 1, 1994. From one of Subcomandante Marcos’ letters, we know that reactions to it were varied within EZLN ranks, and that its acceptance had to be defended vigorously as a central objective in the Zapatistas’ struggle for justice.

Both Comandanta Ramona and Comandanta Susana spent over four months travelling throughout those then-Zapatista communities. They visited each and every community dialoguing with the Zapatistas collectively through community assemblies, as is the custom of the people of the region. Once accepted in each Zapatista community and village, it was proposed that the Law be included in the EZLN publication, El Despertador Mexicano, Organo Informativo del EZLN (México, No 1., Diciembre 1993).

I remember the novelty of it, in that December of ’93, when I came across this publication, the first of a revolutionary social movement or “guerrilla” movement, which has included as an integral part of its first public appearance – its “letter of introduction” so to speak – its demands for women’s rights. This was truly innovative at the time. One could hardly believe it, and much less so when the first images appeared confirming the undeniable presence of women in positions of authority. It would be a woman – a Mayora – who would lead the taking of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas; it would be a woman – Comandanta Ramona – at the centre of the subsequent peace dialogues in the Cathedral.

Ever since, this Law has expressed itself through the Zapatistas’ own practices. If there is something that has given Zapatismo its distinctive characteristic, its colour and its flavour, it has been its emphasis on including and defending women’s rights as defined through the Women’s Revolutionary Law.

For the rest of this article, go to:

http://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/the-zapatista-womens-revolutionary-law-as-it-is-lived-today-by-sylvia-marcos/

We Need to Philosophise from an Indigenous Framework

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2014 by floweroftheword

Philosophising from Indigenous Communities: An Urgent Necessity

20AIn Mexico, one of the main tasks for philosophers today is to deal with the country’s social reality, which in many ways finds itself in crisis. Mexican philosophy, therefore, unlike others, is situated within the socio-political context – which both conditions and facilitates the task.

The philosophy of indigenous communities in Mexico, however, has not been recognised, and has even been rejected, much like their ways of life and their right to autonomy. Below, we will discuss why their philosophies have been ignored or dismissed, and why this must change.

The recuperation of indigenous culture concerns us all, not just philosophers. In taking an interest, we discover numerous examples of inspirational resistance, such as: the defence of water in Sonora by the Yaqui tribe; the exploitation of the Wixárika territory in San Luis Potosí by Canadian mining companies; and the self defence of communities on the coast of Guerrero, where Community Police Forces have stepped up in the absence of a competent or interested State. And finally, we have the example of Zapatista communities in Chiapas which have defended their land since the agrarian crisis of 1974 and continue to build autonomous forms of societal organisation. But one recurring factor in all these campaigns is the discrimination of the government, landowners, and businessmen towards such indigenous peasant organisations.

In each case, questions arise regarding the legitimacy of these groups (as philosopher Enrique Dussel considered [1]), and regarding the philosophical basis behind such forms of organisation. In many cases, mestizos have learned about other cultures, but they have also looked down on them, having adopted a “Western” way of thinking. As a result, the idea of embracing and rescuing indigenous culture can be quite unsettling for them.

By encouraging the recognition of the diversity within the Mesoamerican cultures present in Mexico, we do not necessarily mean that everything “Western” should be overlooked or forgotten. However, we do need to start off with the correct conceptual framework. For example, we first need to accept the existence of a unique indigenous culture and challenge all doubts about the human condition of indigenous people. In México Profundo (‘Deep Mexico’), Bonfil Batalla helps us to develop this framework by deciphering what is presented to us as ‘reality’.

The attack on indigenous culture began with the Spanish Conquest, so we first need to look at how colonisation distanced the colonisers from the colonised. We also need to consider how the continued domination and centralisation of knowledge by Western philosophy in society has ensured that this ‘distance’, to a certain extent, persists today. From the very start, for example, Western ideologues claimed that indigenous inferiority was natural, and this idea soon turned into real social inferiority.

A fundamental characteristic of all colonial societies is the ideological affirmation that the invaders, who belong to a different culture from those who are being invaded, are in some way superior in all aspects and that, as a result, the culture of those whose land has been colonised must be rejected and excluded. And this is precisely the process that took place in Mexico, and continued after independence from Spain. As there was never a true decolonisation, the internal colonial structure simply remained, and the dominant class which took power after 1821 never renounced the Western ‘civilising project’ or the distorted view of Mexico held by the colonisers.[2]

An imaginary Mexico was soon created, with the idea of a “unique Mexican culture”, and the differences between the diverse communities within the nation were overlooked. As a result, the new ‘civilising project’ saw social groups which had been westernised (whether through heritage or circumstance) reject the place of Mesoamerican civilisation in their culture. The world views of the colonising and colonised civilisations, including their perceptions of nature and humans, were different, and their disagreements were intensified by the fact that westernised groups had considered indigenous communities inferior for centuries. The original inhabitants of Mexico which had failed to assimilate into the culture of the colonisers would have no part to play in the continuing Western project.

As a result of the subsequent homogenisation, our journey towards understanding the complexity of our own condition will be a long one. Colonisers and Western ideologues have long ensured that a process ‘deindianisation’ distances us from our roots – a tactic characterised by Batalla as the ‘loss of collective identity to make domination possible’. In summary, people were displaced and their ways of thinking and living were suppressed, all in order to create a fictitious Mexico that denies its own history and is even embarrassed by it.

In the process of recuperation, though, it is not only the mestizo who needs to reflect. Some indigenous communities have managed to conserve their identities in spite of the presence of the dominant culture, but there are also many who do not try to recognise themselves in the history of the ‘Deep Mexico’. Having been ‘deindianised’, both mestizo and indigenous citizens may be confused about their identities, unaware of their history, and therefore ignorant to the reasons behind the problems facing them and their communities today. Upon seeking to “recuperate the Indian” and “possess their own I”, mestizos in particular are likely to “see their reality divided”. Rather than this division being imposed upon them by the dominant culture, however, this division will now reside inside them, “in their own spirit”.[3]

When the mestizo approaches the indigenous, they begin to see how they are in a similar situation – that of exploitation. In this way, they learn to recognise themselves within this circumstance, and act in a different way as a result. They no longer see indigenous communities in the framework of the oppressor, and start to understand that ‘Indian’ was just a pejorative word used by colonialists to homogenise all that was ‘non-Spanish’ (or, today, ‘non-Western’). They also recognise that, by doing this, colonisers sought to declare the inferiority of all that was ‘different’.

So, in what way have philosophers approached indigenous cultures in the last century?

Before answering this question, it is important to emphasise that ‘indigenous communities’ are not one group alone – and that such a categorisation would place us in the same framework as the colonisers and their ‘Indians’. Instead, we could talk about the Nahuas, Purépechas, Tojolabales, Tzeltales, Huicholes, Chichimecos, Otomíes, Paipais, Kiliwas, Mazatecos, or Ixcatecos – to name just a few. To recognise the differences between these groups in this way is to respect their individual identities and give them each the place they deserve.

It is essential that we look at the world through the framework of a ‘Deep Mexico’. We could mention historical figures or groups, but that would only be to understand why different groups exist today. Instead, we should try to place ourselves within the conceptual framework of other cultures – such as the Tojolabales,Tzeltales and Tzotziles, who called themselves Zapatistas in their fight to defend their land and sovereignty in Chiapas. We should also look at the world through the framework of their construction of a new form of political organisation – totally different from that present in the West. By looking at the world in the way they do, we can begin to understand that their circumstances are ours too.

Carlos Lenkersdorf especialIn “Philosophising in the Key of Tojolabal”, Carlos Lenkersdorf affirms that politics, for this community, must be looked at from the “we” (or -tik). At birth, mothers are surrounded by family members as they go into labour, and the new-born child is passed into the arms of each one. The place of the baby on the back or chest of the mother in the first few months represents the incorporation of the child into the “we”, as it observes and becomes a part of its mother’s daily activities. In this way, learning is a collective process from the moment of birth in the Tojolabal context.

Meanwhile, the problems set out at school are always related to what happens in the community, and the problems are solved by the whole community. The presence of “WE” is essential, and education here is therefore referred to as “we-centric”. This is the basis of both the community’s politics and organisation.

The “–tik” is key in understanding Tojolabal philosophy, as it is central whenever the community refers to experiences, thoughts, or decisions. It represents a “large number of components or members, including animals and nature” and, without “losing their individuality”, each member is considered a part of all that surrounds them.[4] Although the different opinions of individuals are heard, an attempt is always made to reach a consensus – with the common good in mind. And the impact of decisions on nature, from animals to rocks, is of great importance – hence the Tojolabal commitment to defending land and subsequent conflict with Western philosophy, whose project of neoliberalism does not consider the impact of its actions on the Earth.

In a socio-political framework, the “we” is an organisational principle. It is the community organisation in assemblies which does not resemble the form of political association dominant in the world today. It considers the combination of intelligence, feelings, and reason when making decisions, but is propped up by judgements based on experience and on the will to act. And all members of the community are considered in these decisions.

In the Tojolabal context, the key is cooperation and collaboration – both based on organisation. Their Mexico – one example of ‘Deep Mexico’ – brings all citizens together to reach a consensus, respecting differences of opinion in the process. The other Mexico – the fictitious one – does not.

As we have seen, the dominant schools of philosophy and politics are not the only ones. There are others to consider, and we must open ourselves up to them. By reflecting on the knowledge of our indigenous communities, and asking ourselves how we can create a “we” space like in Tojolabal communities, we can visualise and create new horizons. Upon considering the quantity and distribution of citizens, however, along with the structures used when they relate, we see that the possibilities for creating these new horizons vary. In a place with thousands of inhabitants, for example, where people are unaccustomed to discussing every decision that affects them, such a task would be incredibly difficult. And many citizens are unused to such dialogue precisely because ‘democratic’ procedures have minimised participation to elections or ‘majority’ decisions (however slight the margins). This is the norm today, and it makes understanding other forms of organisation a significant challenge.

From a framework of Western concepts and experiences, other forms of organisation appear strange and inaccessible, and it is therefore crucial that philosophers engage with the ‘Deep Mexico’, and the diversity that lies within. The same is true throughout Latin America (and other former colonies), where different forms of philosophising, knowing, and existing are present. And they are all within our reach, as parts of our nations, even though they may be buried, ignored, or rejected.

Reflecting on alternatives is an urgent task for philosophers, and a great worry for the current generation. The taking of water in Sonora, displacements in Chiapas, or invasions of Canadian mining companies are risks to us all. We may be a combination of different ethnic groups, but we all share the same condition. We are all exploited.

We must therefore assume the task of counter-hegemonic philosophy, of embracing and understanding the different traditions that have been hidden for too long. In order to bring about change in the concrete situations we experience on a daily basis, we must open up the discussion, philosophising not from the dominant ideologies, but from the framework of our own indigenous communities. By doing so, we can set out potential solutions and transform both our way of thinking and our way of life.

Palestine on our Lips (RvsR)

Posted in Uncategorized on July 22, 2014 by floweroftheword

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From the Network for Solidarity and against Repression’s Statement on Palestine

Once again, Palestine is on our lips, and Gaza pierces our hearts. The Zionist State of Israel has intensified its acts of extermination against the Palestinian population over the last few weeks and, in Nablus, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, Palestinians have been indiscriminately pursued, detained, and assaulted. In Gaza, the Israeli bombardment has been relentless, and has intentionally targeted the Palestinian people with its criminal attacks. It is clear that Israeli Zionism is a conscious crime against human beings of a different ethnicity. Just like Nazism, it is a crime against life that, in every sense, is an act of genocide……….

………The Zionist State of Israel feels no remorse. It is conscious of its crimes, and accepts that children are among the dead. The hatred it feels towards “the other” is so strong that it believes they also had to die. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachen Begin captured the essence of this merciless, ethnic Zionism when he said: “We are gods on this planet. We are different from inferior races just as they are different from insects… Other races are like human excrement. Our destiny is to govern our inferiors”.

The Palestinian people, however, who affront the Israeli State with their mere existence, remind it that no human has supremacy over another – and that no people have supremacy over another. In the face of humiliation, they show dignity. And in the face of hatred, disdain, and death, they show life, resistance and, just like our Zapatista comrades, Dignified Rage.

So from Mexico (and the numerous corners of Mexico where the “Network against Repression and In Favour of Solidarity” is found), we express our solidarity with the dignified Palestinian people. We unite our Dignified Rage with yours, and our voice speaks with outrage alongside yours. We feel the pain in Palestine and Gaza, and we shout from our territory, against Zionism: “Palestine Will Resist!”

July 2014 – Network against Repression and In Favour of Solidarity (RvsR)

Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio from an article originally written in Spanish at: http://www.redcontralarepresion.org/leer.php?id=896 and http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2014/07/16/rvsr-palestina-en-nuestros-labios/

http://ososabiouk.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/palestine-on-our-lips-rvsr-zapatistas/

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