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The Vícam Declaration: “we will defend mother earth with our lives”

tacho | 22.10.2007 22:30 | Ecology | Social Struggles | Zapatista | Liverpool

Reports from the Encuentro of the Indigenous People of América are still coming in. I was hoping to share with you an English version of the Encuentro's "Vícam Declaration," but I've not yet found it available in print...and the task of translating from the audio recording seemed too daunting. So here in its place is a solid piece by Hermann Bellinghausen:

The Vícam Declaration:
“we will defend mother earth with our lives”
by Hermann Bellinghausen
Originally published in La Jornada
Translation by Zapagringo

Vícam, Sonora, October 14. The rebellion that will shake the continent will not repeat the paths and ways of others that have changed the course of history, subcomandante Marcos proclaims tonight in the closing ceremony of the Encuentro of the Indigenous Peoples of América. “When the wind that we are dies down," he adds, “a new time will open in which we will be all of the colors."

After greeting in the languages of Yoeme, Castilian [“Spanish”], and English, and taking words from the Yaqui tradition, Marcos declares before the audience, which has doubled itself on this night in Vícam: “The four wheels of the vehicle of money are rolling again over the path of the blood and the pain of the peoples of the continent," in what he calls “the largest war in the history of humanity, which is already 515 years old." The war that they commemorate every October 12.

This war now reproduces “the age and methods of the great trusts and estates, of the epoch in which the crowns of Europe dominated through blood and fire." Referring to the repression that armies and paramilitary forces use, “just as in the times of the Conquest," in order to eliminate entire populations.

"Nevertheless, something has changed: there has never been so much destruction and stupidity by the governments, such brutality against the earth and people." Because, indicates the Zapatista delegate, "it happens that they are killing the world." They say that it is "electoral democracy" that thing with which the “bossy people” make the “business” of bringing the world to catastrophe. There above “there is no hope for the Indian peoples."

In this encuentro, “memory has been the invisible thread that unites our peoples," explains Marcos, and concentrates the cause of their struggles into just one word, which comes from the birth of humanity: “freedom”. It is what the people want, he continues, "and it cannot exist without justice or democracy." It trusts that there will be "a world without rulers," something that "seems impossible" today.

They denounce the growing plunder of the land

In turn, the Rarámuri Francisco Palmo reads the final declaration of the Encuentro of the Indigenous Peoples of América. It is directed against the arrogance of power, because the plundering of the land and resources of the people “grows with each passing day." But, it adds, “the resistance and indignation of the people grows as well."

The 570 delegates from 67 indigenous peoples, coming from 12 american nations, affirmed, in the Declaration of Vicam: “We are descendents of the peoples, nations and tribes that first gave name to these lands; that were born of mother earth and maintain a sacred respect towards her that provides us with life and keeps us in death; thus we declare to the entire world that we will care for and defend mother earth with our lives." They tell of the “pain suffered from the attack of the invaders, supported in the false arguments of cultural exclusivity and arrogant civilizing presumptions, with the purpose of plundering our territories, destroying our cultures and disappearing our peoples."

The participants in the encuentro proclaimed their historic right to free self-determination, “respecting the different ways that, for the exercise of this, our people decide, according to their origin, history and aspirations." Also, they reject “the war of conquest and capitalist extermination imposed by the transnational companies and the international financial organizations in complicity with the great powers and nation states."

They express their rejection of “the destruction and sacking of mother earth by means of the occupation of our territories for industrial, mining, agribusiness, touristic, savage urbanization and infrastructure activities, as well as the privatization of the water, land, forests, oceans and coasts, biological diversity, the air, the rain, traditional knowledge and all that is born of mother earth."

They oppose “the registration of the land, coasts, waters, seeds, plants, animals and traditional knowledges of our peoples with the aim of privatizing them," and they reject the occupation and destruction of sacred centers and places, as well as the mercantilization of their culture. They also reject the Escalera Náutica or Sea of Cortés megaproject and the construction of the coastal highway inside of Yaqui territory.

The encuentro ratifies its rejection of the 2010 Winter Olympics “in Vancouver, Canada on sacred territory, stolen from the Turtle nation with the goal of installing ski runs."

They denounce that the war of conquest and capitalist extermination “worsens like never before the exploitation of the members of our peoples on plantations and in sweatshops, or as migrants in cities and distant countries, where they are hired in the worst conditions, finding themselves in situations of slavery and forced labor."

The rejections extend to the big transnational stores, “that plunder the economic resources of the communities," and to neoliberal policies, which debilitate communitarian economies and food sovereignty and result in the loss of native seeds. They commit to seek the integral reconstitution of their peoples and to strengthen their cultures, languages, traditions, organization and self-government.

“Supported in our culture and vision of the world, we will reinforce and recreate our own educative institutions, rejecting the educative models that the nation states impose on us to exterminate our cultures.”

They pronounce against “all form of repression towards our peoples, expressed in the militarization and paramilitarization of our territories, forced displacement, mass deportation, the imposition of borders in order to divide and fragment, and the imprisonment and disappearance of those who struggle for the historic revindication of our peoples”.

The absent indigenous “political prisoners” are a strong “presence”. Some sent greetings from El Amate (Chiapas) and Molino de Flores (Texcoco, in particular the Mazahua Magdalena García Durán). “They were” the Oaxacans of Loxicha, San Isidro Aloapam, the organization VOCAL and other members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca; also the Zapatista prisoners in Tabasco, as well as the Lakota leader Leonard Peltier. They demanded immediate freedom for all.

The Yaqui of Vicam and from other towns came in great numbers to the closing, in which the traditional dances of the Deer and the Pascola were offered. Thus, nearly 3 thousand people participated in the culminating moment of the encuentro.



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