From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters
by J.G.F. Héctor
Mexico City—Around 800 Native people from all over the country met May 26-28 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, to create an Indigenous Governing Council (IGC) and name its spokeswoman. As the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) announced in October 2016 (see “Letter from Mexico,” Nov.-Dec. 2016 N&L), she would run “as an independent candidate for the presidency of the country…in 2018.”
During the next three months, a consultation took place within 523 communities, from which 430 agreed to the proposal (see “Letter from Mexico,” Jan.-Feb. 2017 N&L). Now, the IGC has been created with 71 men and women, and María de Jesús Patricio, a Nahua traditional doctor from Jalisco, is its spokeswoman. They had many questions to answer.
Is it the purpose of the IGC to win elections and change things from above?
One of its councilwomen responded: “We are not registering to make an electoral campaign. It can give us means that are not within our hands, like reaching several places through mass media. We will not be asking for votes. We will try to organize people, to articulate their struggles and experiences…This is a campaign for life” (http://radiozapatista.org/?p=21392).
Another councilman said: “We’re not going to stop until we’ve stepped on the corpse of the capitalist Hydra…We want a new country, for this one was built as a racist and sexist society. We want a country where there is freedom, democracy, justice.”
Will non-Indigenous people be excluded from the National Indigenous Council?
“We call on the thousands of Mexicans who have stopped counting their dead and disappeared and who, with grief and suffering, have raised their fists and risked their own lives to charge forward without fear of the size of the enemy; those who have seen that there are paths forward…hidden by corruption, repression, disrespect, and exploitation…
“We trust the dignity and honesty of those who struggle: teachers, students, campesinos, workers and day laborers, and we want to deepen the cracks that each of them has forged in dismantling the power from above…We want to make so many cracks that they become our honest and anti-capitalist government” (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/05/31/the-time-has-come/).
The proposal is thus for everyone from below: How can we take part in it?
No revolutionary transformation is possible without the actions and thoughts of the ones from below. The “campaign” of the IGC, therefore, will be about going throughout the country eliciting from them, and we certainly need to take part in this. However, another contribution is required: As the CNI recognized in its Fifth Congress, it is not enough to get together to share our pains and denounce capital. We have to “take the offensive” (“Voces del Congreso…”, http://www.praxisenamericalatina.org/numero_12.pdf).
Taking the offensive means developing a broad emancipatory view, rooted in dialectical philosophy that can reach the voices and actions from below. That is necessary so that they can embrace that philosophy as their own, unifying theory and practice and unleashing the process of self-development, self-movement, that can give birth to new thoughts and actions on the road to a new society.
Implicitly, the CNI is already doing this, by the creation of its IGC. Now it’s time to do it explicitly, as method that will make it possible to turn this new historical moment in Mexico into the beginning of the needed Mexican and world revolution.