The lights of Xanica, Oaxaca

The lights of Xanica, Oaxaca

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John Ahni Schertow
August 26, 2007
 

Here’s an article which looks at the struggles of the People of Xanica, Oaxaca. Many people from this region are principally involved in the general struggles of Oaxaca, but they too have have their own local problems, which they tend to with equal heart and diligence.

If they did not do this, how could they a part of the greater struggle? After all, struggle itself is not just an event we plan out or a place we go to party and get laid, or whatever . It is a part of life, something we engage just as we must fulfill our own physical needs—-otherwise we may very well cease to exist.

The same too, solidarity is not simply an act of standing together or supporting one another— it is also an act of mutual benefit and exchange. It is very important that we take the time to learn from the struggles of others, so we may improve how we approach our own struggles.

It is in solidarity that I post The lights of Xanica, Oaxaca.

The article is quite long, so I’ve only posted some excerpts below. You can read the full article at Indymedia

From Indymedia – Abel Ramírez Vázquez (Abraham’s brother) gave us a historical overview of the current crisis, and at least 15 Xanica residents told us of abuses that the government has committed against CODEDI simply because they have defended their indigenous rights and autonomy.

Abel said:

“We have experienced the violation of our indigenous rights both collectively and individually. Your life changes when your rights are violated…. We try to conserve our cultures, but the super-rich force another way of life on us. They impose ideas on us through the mass media that are totally alien to our reality. Then some people are tempted to live like the people on TV live, but it’s not our thing. We’re never going to be like them. They’re inflicting a kind of death on us. They kill what we are and another way of life is born. The government tells us not to worry, that it’s normal, but it’s hurting us….

…Meanwhile, they’re robbing the water from our rivers like the Copalito. They never asked our permission. We’re the ones who’ve taken care of the forest. They’re doing away with the ecosystem. There are people who are dying because they don’t have water to drink, but the water is for the luxury hotels in Huatulco. The Plan Puebla-Panamá opens up the Huatulco tourist corridor, and the money goes to the rich while the rest of the people fall deeper into poverty.” {…}

According to Abel, many of today’s problems can be traced back to the 19th century. He says that communal property, “which is the most important thing for indigenous people,” was fenced off before 1900. Many people who only spoke the Zapotec language didn’t find out about the laws setting up the new private property regime, and consequently, their lands were stolen from them. They were left with only a small patch of land or no land at all. {…}

In keeping with the rebelliousness of the Zapotecos against the lords of Monte Albán, their battles under the command of José María Morelos and Vicente Guerrero, their resistance against the French, their enlistment in the ranks of Emiliano Zapata’s army, the town of Xanica rose up in the 1950s.

Abel tells us that “there were problems much like the ones we have now.” People came from Miahuatlán to sell clothing and bread, and they also set up big butcher shops. They wanted the people of Xanica to work for them, and they also wanted to establish their own local authorities. They refused to respect the community assembly, the council of elders, and the traditional practices and customs for choosing public servants.

The people of Xanica, unwilling to accept this domination, rose up in arms. The army soon came in and there were deaths on both sides. “Some of the local people went to jail because they killed a soldier. The army was in the area for three months looking for the rebels, who hid in the mountains. The army finally left and people either returned or kept on hiding out.”

“But we paid a price,” Abel says. “A lot of children died and houses were burned. It was a small war that jeopardized our traditional practices and customs.” (read the full article)

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