On Saturday 19 February, in the community of Limonar, municipality of Ocosingo, there was celebrated the presentation of the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award to the Coordiantion of Indigenous Social Organizations Xi’nich. The event was attended by around 80 representatives of 25 communities and of 5 visiting organizations. The selection committee, comprised of members of several civil organizations from Chiapas and the individuals and organizations who received the award last year, decided to present the award this year to Xi’nich, among others, for its long-standing peaceful defense of the land and the rights of indigenous communities of Chiapas’ northern zone and jungle zone.
The event began at night on Friday 18 February with the showing of several videos regarding the work of Xi’nich, the life and burial of Don Samuel Ruiz, and the presentation of the jCanan Lum Award to all those recognized this year in San Cristóbal de Las Casas on 26 January, after the celebration of the burial of Don Samuel. The presentation of the award, which took place on Saturday, began with the presentation of the organizations of the jCanan Lum commission that were present: Social Economic Development of Indigenous Mexicans (DESMI), Commission of Support for Communal Unity and Reconciliation (CORECO), Service and Assessment for Peace (SERAPAZ), and SIPAZ. Later, youth from different communities put on a theater-work prepared with the assistance of L@s Zapay@s, a collective of critical clowns who dedicate their work to the political education of children by means of theater. The work emphasized labor exploitation and discrimination against campesin@s and the indigenous with regard to migration to cities. By means of theater, the youth defended the importance of the traditions and ways of life of indigenous communities.
The jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award was received by Margarita Parcero Álvarez and Miguel Martínez Gutiérrez, both of whom are members of the coordination of Xi’nich. Miguel Martínez thanked the jCanan Lum commission for having bestowed the award on Xi’nich in the name of all the members of the organization. Another member of the organization specifically invited the youth of the communities to participate in the activities promoted by the organization, so as to assure that its processes continue on into the future. Similarly, coordinator Magdalena González Velasco requested that the youth join the struggle of Xi’nich, mentioning that “hopefully the youth will continue developing its consciousness so as to continue struggling.” She also stressed that the path of Xi’nich had been difficult especially for women, but that they continue to struggle, although they be but few.
A representative of Xi’nich read a text regarding the trajectory of the organization and what Don Samuel Ruiz had meant for them. “… And thus was born Xi’nich in the year 1992, by walking 1100 kilometers to the city of Mexico. Before embarking on that journey, jTatic Samuel gave us his blessing and lent us his hat to make the first collection with which we began to walk. From then, jTatic Samuel was our jCanan Lum: the caretaker of the People.” Father Xel (Jerónimo Hernández), priest of the area, made a call to all to take on the role of defender of the land, given the death of jTatic Samuel: “it is not only jTatic Samuel that is jCanan Lum but all of us together who must defend the land.” Similarly, the Xi’nich text regarding its trajectory emphasizes this responsibility to defend the people: “Upon receiving this grand embrace of solidarity, this recognition as members, as part of the great work of jTatic Samuel, Canan Lum, we recognize our great responsibility: to love, care for, serve, and defend our peoples and communities and to make ourselves brothers of all those who would struggle for a world that is more just, more human, and truer.”
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):