The Movement of 400 Peoples March Naked for Land Rights
Mexico in focus ⬿

The Movement of 400 Peoples March Naked for Land Rights

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John Ahni Schertow
January 4, 2008
 

On Wednesday, some 300 indigenous people from the Mexican state of Veracruz marched naked through the streets of the capital to demand restitution for the land they were forcefully evicted from in 1992.

The protesters, made up of members from the organization known as “the Movement of 400 Peoples”, have marched every year since then, but they only started doing it nude in 2002.

According to an article on IPS, after they were evicted from the privately-held land they occupied (reclaimed) in 1988, they traveled to the capital and “demanded the release of 100 members of the group imprisoned on [false] charges of squatting, theft, assault and murder. Once this had been achieved, they began to call for the restitution of the land they originally occupied or to be granted ownership of other land, as well as punishment for the authorities who evicted them…”

“In 2002, during one of their annual visits to the capital, where they spend two or three months living in tents set up between the busy downtown thoroughfares of Reforma and Insurgentes Avenues, they decided to take off their clothes as a form of protest. Since then, they have continued to stage their nude demonstrations every year.

“They stole everything from us, they took our land and locked us up in prison, and that’s why we march naked, just as we are,” Nereo Cruz, one of the group’s leaders, told IPS.”

That’s a potent statement—and I think we can agree that marching naked is certainly an effective way to garner attention. It may, however, be time for the Movement of 400 Peoples to diversify their tactics, because various levels of government have made it clear that, naked or not, they will not be going any further in their work.

For example, regarding the land, “authorities say that one part is already owned by other campesinos and the former owners,” and they just won’t give out any more. And the call to punish for Dante Delgado, the governor of Veracruz responsible for brutally cracking down on the 400 Peoples, will likely remain unheard. The IPS article explains that a Senate committee was formed to study the case, which “concluded in April 2007 that Delgado ordered the eviction of the group’s members in compliance with a court order, which means there are no grounds for the accusation. ”

On top of that, the movement is standing in a pretty cold social and political climate. The yearly tradition has in some respects become a tourist attraction. “The naked demonstrators have practically become part of the daily scenery in the capital.”

Familiarity is just not conducive to change. If we turn to the (lack of) diversity in North America protest, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

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