We are united through common experience

We are united through common experience

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John Ahni Schertow
October 17, 2007
 

The long-awaited Intercontinental Encuentro came to an end a few days ago in Yaqui territory, Sonora, Mexico, bringing together some 547 Indigenous delegates from the around the continent, as well as over 800 observers from around the world..

Unfortunately, due to government interference the Zapatista could not attend in the numbers they had hoped–but it’s of little consequence. The main purpose of the Encuentro was to meet and learn from one another, and that was by all means achieved.

There will be more Encuentros in the future. And they will be bigger.

“They’ve Relegated Us to Authentic Concentration Camps:” Indigenous Woman from British Columbia

From Narco News, http://www.narconews.com/Issue47/article2834.html

Vicam, Sonora, Mexico, October 11-12, 2007 – The First American Indigenous Peoples’ Encuentro, in the Yaqui tribe’s territory, began yesterday morning—after a traditional ritual celebrated in the ceremonial center of this community—with the participation of a little more than 547 delegates of native peoples and 800 observers, amongst whom were journalists and national and international civil society members who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.

The ritual began in the sacred heart, were the Yaqui governors speak in their language, communicate with each other, and make decisions. In the ceremony a member of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI in its Spanish initials) and Subcomandante Marcos, representing the Sixth Commission and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN in its Spanish initials) were also present. While some listen, others observe the Encuentro of the delegations of those peoples in resistance that in the coming days will speak and listen to each other.

During the days leading up to the Encuentro, the EZLN delegation’s large presence and participation was expected, composed of the comandantes David and Zebedeo, the comandanta Miriam, Lupita (daughter of Comandante Hortensia), and Subcomandante Marcos. However, violent harassment—which ended with the rebel group being held up for 40 minutes by the Mexican Federal Army on a Sinaloa highway while the delegation was making its way to Vicam—precipitated the comandantes’ retreat to Chiapas for security reasons. The delegation explained this in a letter:

“We…a delegation named by our peoples were excitedly coming…. The supposed government is now demonstrating that it has decided to impede at all cost the organization and the exercise of the Indian peoples’ rights in the exercise of their autonomy in self-organization, and they use all their political, economic, ideological, and military strength to beat us. On behalf of the neo-liberal servant, we, the indigenous, are confronting their authoritarianism, their arrogance, their decadence. But we want to tell you that they are not going to stop the spreading of the words to the whole world. In this Encuentro, although we, the comandanta, the comandante, can’t be physically present, the compañero Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos is, and through his voice, all of the men, women, elders, and all of the EZLN comandantes and comandantas speak. (…) We will be awaiting the process of the Encuento and whatever can occur after that (…) In 515 years, they couldn’t finish us off, even less so now because we will all be united against a common enemy.”

The letter is signed by Comandante Guillermo, Comandantas Susana, Miriam, Hortensia, Florencia, Insurgente Elena, Lupita, and third generation Toñita. It was written after the Sixth Commission decided to not send more delegates due to the violent harassment they were subjected to by the Federal Army.

Meanwhile, Subcomandante Marcos greeted all of the representatives of the native peoples and observers present in this encuentro, which “was reached despite everything opposing it: distances, language, borders, governments, lies, persecutions, deaths, and the false divisions they impose on us from above.”

He also said that the native peoples of the American continent, who have resisted for 515 years, will tell their stories of “pain and dignified rebellion” in this encuentro, as well as sharing “experience and wisdom” and naming the demands for justice and liberty that are shared by all of the indigenous nations who, since the first war of conquest, have been condemned to oblivion. With this dialogue “the continent will recover its voice,” continued Marcos, “that today they silence with fire, oblivion, and noise.”

The rebel leader ended his participation communicating the Zapatistas’ decision to not participate in this event. Their pains, dreams, and hopes would be told by the voice of other peoples because the situation of the indigenous nations in all of America is similar: “the oblivion, the misery, and the resistance extends over all of the continent.”

Then it was Juan Chávez Alonso’s turn to speak as representative of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), who noted that this encuentro is an opportunity to raise their voices against “the transnational corporations’ capitalist-colonialist interests and privatizing ambitions,” and described the encuentro as an “assembly of rebellion” of the peoples who are launching a defense of the “mother earth and against the ecocidal, ethnocidal, and genocidal capitalism” that seeks to eliminate the first inhabitants of the continent so that then they can take their lands for themselves.

He also said that after 515 years of resistance, in Vicam they will begin to unite forces to construct a “new project of life” for humanity and nature, as well as against the “neoliberal-capistalists’ programs of death and destruction.” continue reading…

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