On 17 and 18 August more than 200 delegates pertaining to different indigenous peoples and tribes of Mexico met at the Center for Comprehensive Training (CIDECI) in San Cristóbal de las Casas to attend the “Trailblazing Lectures Tata Juan Chávez,” an initiative launched by the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in June.The lectures represent an invitation to indigenous peoples from the American continent to publicly discuss their struggles and forms of resistance, with this being the continuation of the First Meeting of Indigenous Peoples of America which was celebrated in October 2007 in Vicam, Sonora. It is also an initiative to restrengthen the CNI and its work in defense of indigenous territories and autonomy in Mexico.During the course of the lectures, the indigenous delegates gave testimony of their struggles in Mexico. Among the most seminal cases that were exposed and denounced refer to the exploitation carried out by transnational corporations in indigenous communities, in addition to that exercised by organized crime and political parties.
A representative of the General Command of the EZLN led by Subcomandante Moisés and Comandante Tacho closed the lecture series. Commander Miriam, representing the EZLN, said that the Zapatistas have taken on the struggle to defend indigenous lands which are threatened by the government and transnational corporations “without regard for the consequences, because we live from our Mother Earth; she gives us to breathe.” Commander Miriam added that “the bad governors should know clearly that we will not give up,” just because “the bad government and transnational companies desire to take control of what is ours; when we defend ourselves, they persecute us, they incarcerate us.” Lastly, “so as to reject all death-projects imposed by the neoliberals, it is necessary to self-organize; unite our forces, pain, and rebelliousness; and struggle for democracy, freedom, and justice.”
After the close of the event, the CNI publicly called for the reaffirmation of the path toward autonomy as exercised in the acts “as the only way for the future of our existence and the return of our communal life, assemblies, spiritual and cultural practices, self-defense and security, educational projects and self-communication projects, and cultural and territorial demands.” In this way, 29 demands and denunciations were presented, including stress of the demand for the release of political prisoners in the country, “particularly that of our Tsotsil indigenous comrade Alberto Patishtán,” as well as the halting of the extractive and energy megaprojects carried out by transnational corporations in indigenous territory.
For more information (in Spanish):
Arranca EZLN Congreso Nacional Indígena en defensa de territorios y autonomía de pueblos (Proceso, 17 de agosto de 2013)
Exhibe la Cátedra Caminante “Tata Juan Chávez Alonso” los proyectos de muerte que amenazan a los pueblos indios (Desinformémonos, 17 de agosto de 2013)
Ofrece EZLN defender tierras indígenas amenazadas por el gobierno y transnacionales (Proceso, 18 de agosto de 2013)
El México indio sigue en pie pese a exterminio, declara congreso indígena (La Jornada, 19 de agosto de 2013)
Pronunciamiento del Congreso Nacional Indígena en San Cristóbal de las Casas (La Jornada, 19 de agosto de 2013)
Tres voces del Congreso Nacional Indígena (Desinformémonos, 26 de agosto de 2013)