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Thursday, Apr. 05, 2007 at 7:52 AM
El Mayor, Mexicali
Report from the territory of the indigenous Cucupá people in the community of El Mayor, Baja California, northern Mexico. (Part I)
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First month of the International Encampment “The Indigenous Peoples in Defense of Life, Culture and Nature: Below and to the Left”.
by Anarcomundialista (with the collaboration of others)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Setting up the camp
For the past month, beginning at the end of February, various organizations and individuals from Mexico, the United States, and other parts have been carrying out solidarity work with the Cucapa community here in El Mayor. Groups such as the Partido de los Comunistas (Communist Party-Mexico), the Transfronteriza (a cross-border effort from San Quintin, Ensenada, Mexicali, Tijuana, and San Diego to Los Angeles), and the National Indigenous Congress (Mexico) are supporting and defending the right of the Cucapa to continue existing as an indigenous people. Much work has been accomplished in setting up the camping space for compañeros of the Other Campaign, including the Sixth Delegation of the EZLN which will be participating during the months of April and May.
The family adherent to the Other Campaign, along with members of the community, designated a 40 by 45 meter area to be used for the encampment. This rocky and sandy space was flattened with a tractor and will later be used as a communal working area. Three toilets, a shower, a sink and a fence have also been installed.
Before going to fish, the Cucapa must first find buyers to whom they will sell the Mexican sea bass named corvina. The buyer gives the fishermen and women a down payment to purchase their necessities such as gasoline, nets, oil, and maintenance. The Cucapa receive 9 to 15 pesos per kilo wholesale (about to .25 in U.S. currency) for their catch but the buyer will sell for 60 to 80 pesos ( to ) on the market. If the natives cannot find a buyer then they will leave the fish rather than having it go to waste because they do not own a freezer in which to store the supply. Adding to this form of economic exploitation is the constant threat of the PROFEPA, the Mexican Environmental ministry that challenges the Cucapá's ancestral right to fish.
During this past month various compas at the camp have accompanied the fishing cooperative on the 4 pangas (slang for boats) that are available. The campers support base split up into two teams: one carrying digital video and photo cameras to record the ride in the pangas with the fishermen/women while the other waits on shore to untie the corvina from the chinchorro (nets) and load them into the trucks. Afterwards they head back to the community to gut the fish on the tables of their humble homes. The community is in the process of acquiring a high-power freezer plus finding a fair and dignified price for their work, all with the support of the campers.
The next fishing trip will take place on Wednesday, March 28 when the tide rises again.
Children and the school
This past weekend, the 24th and 25th of March, various compas at the camp held childrens workshops outside the school in the community. There were games, music, arts & crafts, and a special performance by the son jarocho group Punta Chueca. About 15 children, ranging from the ages of 2 to 12, participated in the fun and educational activities. They learned a bit of Nahuatl (native language of Mexico), sang songs about the four elements, and took home drawings of solidarity- gifts from children in Tijuana.
The school has 2 classrooms, one storage room with a new computer, and a kitchen. A sports field is needed for the children to play in, as well as many other resources to better the education in the classrooms.
Youth and La Poza
The youth here in the community have shown the campers everything there is to know. They even have a special place called “La Poza”, it is a body of water that the sun forgot to dry up and the gringos forgot to rob. Although it is an agricultural waste dump, it is still used by many of the campers and community members because other places are too far.
There have also been workshops for the youth so that they may learn to use photo and videocameras ala Chiapas Media Project/Promedios. The campers and community members also share songs during the night and day with two guitars, a drum box, and bongos. Soccer is the favorite sport here and the youth have a team that often plays with sorrounding communities.
To see pictures of the encampment vist:
To see a short documentary about the Cucapa struggle look up:
Google video “Resistir Para Existir”
(in spanish w/ english subtitles)
For more information visit:
Map and directions to the encampment (in spanish):
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