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by Mary Ann Tenuto SÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¡nchez
Friday, Oct. 27, 2006 at 9:26 AM
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Chiapas Support Committee
Marcos in Magdalena de Kino.
Zapatista: Report Back from La Otra Campaña (The Other Campaign" in Rancho El Peñasco, Mexico
As the hot desert sun began fading into a cool desert evening, the Other Campaign’s Karavana arrived in Rancho el Peñasco (Big Rock Ranch), Sonora, Mexico, between the towns of Santa Ana and Magdalena de Kino. The Quiché Biodiversity Center is located on the ranch and contains a hostel, a kitchen, an outdoor eating area and enough room to create a meeting space. A large bus contained the Karavana traveling with the Other Campaign on its tour of Northern Mexico. Subcomandante Marcos arrived in a van. He was accompanied by a personal security guard and indigenous leaders from the region and from the National Indigenous Congress, as well as a survivor of the police terrorism in San Salvador Atenco.
The Karavana was immediately whisked into the hostel for dinner and emerged an hour later to participate in a sacred fire ceremony. The meeting with indigenous peoples of the Tohono-O’odham nation began around 7:00 in an outdoor manger for the lambs which are bred commercially on the ranch. One by one, traditional authorities and representatives of the different tribes went to the head table, sat down next to Marcos and talked about the problems they faced as indigenous peoples. Many of the authorities were women. The animals were either quite excited by the crowd of approximately 250 people or upset because we had taken over their space. Their “baas” were heard throughout the evening.
The US/Mexico border runs through the Tohono-O’odham lands and divides the people. Border patrols damage the fragile desert ecology. Tribal members live on both sides of the border and have different perspectives on immigration and on solutions to the problems arising from this unnatural division. They asked Marcos to help them unite. As each speaker finished, Marcos rose to shake hands with them, contributing to an atmosphere of warmth and friendship.
After two hours of indigenous speakers, the coordinators surprised all of us in the crowd by requesting the participation of those folks who were present from organizations in the United States. The majority of people present were from the US side of the border, a mix of border activists (we were meeting just 60 miles south of the border), some indigenous people and many Chican@s. A friend of mine met one of the indigenous coordinators of this meeting at a Border Summit of Indigenous Peoples and he had urged her to attend the meeting near Magdalena. He also urged her to invite her friends to come. I received her email invitation. The coordinator, Gregorio, guaranteed that all would be welcome. Now, Gregorio was calling the different organizations to the front table to give their word.
In addition to the Chiapas Support Committee, there were representatives from Just Coffee and No More Deaths, as well as several student groups. Cecile Lumer represented Citizens for Border Solutions. Marcos listened attentively to another two hours of presentations. Again, each speaker was seated next to Marcos and he rose to shake hands with the speaker as each one concluded his or her presentation. When I was called to the front table to meet Marcos and say a few words, I noticed that his eyes twinkled with warmth and good humor.
I presented the Subcomandante some tobacco and a little money for gasoline from the Chiapas Support Committee.
The compañero from San Salvador Atenco spoke about the political prisoners and a representative of the National Indigenous Congress denounced the betrayal of the San Andrés Accords by the three political parties and denounced the creation of a so-called National Indigenous Convention to support Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Finally, at 11:00 at night, Marcos began his talk, sprinkled with a bit of English. He acknowledged those of us from the US with lighter skin by telling the following story:
“Our elders, our chiefs, say that the gods made the world, that they made the men and women of corn first. And that they specifically put in them the heart of corn. But that the corn ran out and that some men and women didn’t get a heart. But also the color of the earth ran out, and they began to look for other colors and then the heart of corn touched people who are white, red or yellow. So there are people here who don’t have the dark color
of indigenous people, but have the heart of corn, so they are here with us.”
He then began to talk about the impending destruction of indigenous lands throughout Sonora and Northern Mexico by tourist projects and hotels. He specifically mentioned the Escalera Nautica (Nautical Stairway), a series of marinas for pleasure boats on the Coasts of the two Bajas, Sonora and Sinaloa. He also mentioned plans to place garbage dumps and toxic waste dumps with their poisons on indigenous Sonoran land.
Marcos’ message urged indigenous peoples to unite and struggle against these threats to their land. Marcos spoke about the war of annihilation against the undocumented. He said they (Marcos and the Karavana) had crossed the border for a little while on their way to Magdalena and, at one point, he told the crowd: “We want this border to disappear.”
Chiapas Support Committee
P.O. Box 3421
Oakland, CA 94609
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