Thursday, August 2, 2012

Elections and Indigenous Peoples in Mexico

La Jornada, Mexico
June 29, 2012

Francisco Lopez Barcenas

The first of July, when members of the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico join in electing the next president and to renew legislatures, or any other charges in local authorities, they will realize that during the present campaigns none of candidates for these positions deepened proposals that meet the demands and aspirations of the Indigenous Peoples. The National Action Party (PAN) candidate completely ignored us, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) referred to us by promising to continue providing handouts - that is, less than the same - while the Progressive Movement (PRD) on one side took positions in favor of our demands, while at the same time pronounced to continue with megaprojects of development which the Indigenous Peoples are fighting to stop because they violate their rights and threaten their future.
Sin Raiz No Hay Pais
There are many people who wonder why should the political candidates have to respond to the political positions of indigenous peoples and there are several ways to answer this question.  One way is to clarify that Indigenous Peoples exist as PEOPLES and possess particular rights, rights which so far the State has not respected, and so it pays to know what the next set of elected official are considering.  Officially in Mexico there are 62 distinct indigenous peoples and their members represent at least 10 percent of the Mexican population, a not negligible number in terms of votes, which is what the candidates and parties that postulate them are mainly interested in, especially since the Indigenous Peoples are the owners of an important part of the national territory and thus the natural resources existing there.  Each indigenous pueblo has its own culture, through which the people forge their own way of seeing the country and its future, as a nation and as confederations of indigenous communities.
Raiz Olmeca
 As a result of the failure to address this situation, presently many indigenous peoples are fighting against the State and enterprises of various kinds, because of complicit actions that violate their rights.  Among the struggles that are prominent are the battles against mining companies, which seek to privatize water, forests and indigenous territories.  Indigenous communites have been forbidden to fish in the seas adjacent to their settlements for food, and energy development projects invade their territories to harness wind power to produce energy that does not benefit them at all.  These are projects share a common denominator which is the dispossession of Indigenous Peoples' heritage.  But these struggles also share a tradition of organized resistance.

Simultaneously, there are indigenous struggles and indigenous traditional governments seeking to build their own community security systems in response to the inability of the state to provide public safety.  In short, as the political parties scramble to gain power, the Indigenous Peoples are fighting for autonomy.
Sexto Sol
In the present political circumstances of the country elections for public office and the struggle for indigenous autonomy are two paths with different trajectories, paths that are difficult to intersect, because the actual structure of the state itself, by which the electoral process renews officials and popular representatives, prevents the full exercise of rights by Indigenous Peoples fighting for self determination.

Many do not understand this situation, so they wonder why the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico do not have an express statement on the elections, and more specifically, why no endorsement toward a particular candidate, but the peoples struggling for their rights know that regardless of who wins they will have to continue fighting for their rights. This does not mean that whoever wins will produce the same results, but to act accordingly the Indigenous Peoples do not see taking public stance as necessary.

So it is more likely that this Sunday, when voting, Mexican citizens belonging to Indigenous Pueblos will cast their votes with differentiated alignments.  Many will vote for the candidate of the Progressive Movement for the presidency, but those same voters probably will vote against some candidates for deputies of the same political coalition, since in several cases these are the same forces aligned in opposition to their local struggles.  Others probably will not vote, reacting to the deception of the ways in which candidates were elected, their lack of proposals or disinterest in indigenous struggles.  Finally, there will also be no lack of those who through incendiary proclamations make demands from the political class on behalf of Indigenous Peoples, petitioning for spaces within the state bureaucracy.  But that is only the “they” and “those” who listen to “them”.  Because the Indigenous Peoples are traveling another path.


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