Project of Autonomy and Self-Determination for Kumiai and Cucapa

Project of Autonomy and Self-Determination for Kumiai and Cucapa

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John Ahni Schertow
March 24, 2008
 

Last month, the Cucapa and Kumiai Indigenous Communities of Baja California, Mexico, announced a multilateral project dedicated to making themselves autonomous, self-sufficient, traditionally-governed Peoples.

As explained in a project overview (see below), years of colonial policies on part of the Mexican government have produced “the almost complete loss of our autonomy, of our natural resources, and our culture, principally our native tongues, and the destruction of the social fabric within our communities and our forms of internal organization.”

Their situation is getting to the point now, they added, where “we will disappear as Indian Peoples and that in a not too distant future we will be talked about like we talk today about the extinct Pericues, Waycuras and Cochimies, who inhabited the peninsula, if now, at this very moment, we do nothing to prevent this.”

Rather than wait for their own death, both Peoples developed what they’ve called the “project of life…”

The project consists of at least 20 different efforts which they plan to implement over a 5 year period. The efforts include: developing a quality local healthcare system, improving sustainable agricultural practices, creating communal spaces, recovering traditional authorities, reclaiming territory and sacred sites, and laying the groundwork for an autonomous education system that respects their values and culture.

The Kumiai and Cucapa—both adherents to the Zapatista Other Campaign—have also decided to welcome “the participation and collaboration of civil society on both sides of the border.” At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any contact information available, but I’m currently tracking that down. Stay tuned.

This is a welcomed decision to say the least—and it’s one that I hope we won’t let pass us by. After all, we are equally faced with the end that threatens the Kumiai and Cucapa, and we equally hold the need to realize our own Laws and Traditions, to begin setting our own examples, and to walk away from the historical lie and become our own People.

We all know we want it… but so many of us refuse to trade our fear for choice. Instead we continue on as we have in the past, either doing nothing or exactly what the states expect us to do…

If we want to continue living then at some point we must let this go; and like the Kumiai and Cucapa, embrace what our heart demands of us.

If not for ourselves, then for those who have not yet had a chance to walk the land.

Courtesy of De Todos Para Todos, here is the full proposal/invitation (Spanish version)

PROJECT

Proposed to the civil society on both sides of the border by:

THE KUMIAI INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF:
JUNTAS DE NEJÍ in the municipality of Tecate
LA HUERTA in the municipality of Ensenada

and
THE CUCAPÁ INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF:
EL MAYOR in the municipality of Mexicali

with the following

OBJECTIVE:
Through this project we seek to exercise our autonomy in deed as well as our right to self-determination.

CONSIDERATIONS:
Considering that since the decade of the seventies our territories have been considerably reduced by means of strategies and false arguments on the part of the Mexican government, producing as a result the almost complete loss of our autonomy, of our natural resources, and our culture, principally our native tongues, and the destruction of the social fabric within our communities and our forms of internal organization;

Considering that our condition becomes progressively worse since we see how day by day our communities continue to disintegrate due to a lack of quality education, basic health services that really satisfy our needs, as well as a lack of work options, all of which are necessary for attaining a better standard of living and for our spiritual well-being without being dependent on and conditioned by the scant assistance programs offered by the government and some non-governmental organizations to exercise control over indigenous peoples;

Taking all of the above into consideration, we have agreed to invite you to participate in this project as a very important complementary part, contributing in this manner to better the economic, social, political, and cultural conditions of the native indigenous peoples of Baja California.

GOAL:
To support our communities with productive activities that will allow us to have employment, as well as generate income that will have an impact on improving our quality of life and contribute to strengthening ties that will root families to our communities, thereby helping to preserve our territories.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
This project proposes to be a POLITICAL, SOCIAL, PRODUCTIVE and CULTURAL project.

We seek:

At the POLITICAL level to offer and participate in workshops in the Indian communities on:

At the SOCIAL (EDUCATION, HEALTH AND HOUSING) level:

At the PRODUCTIVE level:

At the CULTURAL level:

WHAT WE HAVE AS RESOURCES:
Human resources —men, women, children, senior people, and especially our youths—and our greatest determination.

WHAT WE NEED IN ORDER TO CARRY OUT OUR PROJECT OF LIFE:

THE RESULTS WE EXPECT TO OBTAIN:

PROPOSED SCHEDULE OF OUR SHORT-TERM, MEDIUM-TERM AND LONGER-TERM GOALS:

0-6 MONTHS:

I. WORKSHOPS:

II. PRODUCTIVE PROJECTS

III. EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS for at least 10 students.

III. LEGAL ADVISING for the protection and recuperation of our territory and cultural patrimony.

IV. TO CONVOKE and organize the 3rd Meeting of the Indigenous National Congress in the Kumiai community of Juntas de Nejí

6 MONTHS – 2 YEARS:

2 – 5 YEARS:

Consolidation of productive projects as well as political, social and cultural activities, in particular reinforcing our languages, our traditions, our forms of life, and strengthening the ties of our younger generations to our communities.

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