This statement comes from the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples in Defense of the Territory of the Papaloapan Basin in Oaxaca, Mexico. It commits to the permanent organization and struggle in defense of territory and life in the Papaloapan basin, grounded in the ongoing struggle against colonialism. The original in Spanish was published by Ké Huelga Radio and can be found here.
November 24, 2018
To our Compañer@s of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
To our Compañer@s of the National Indigenous Congress
To the Indigenous Governing Council
To our Compañer@s of the Network Against Repression and for Solidarity
To the Sixth in Mexico and the World
To the People of Oaxaca, Mexico and the World
To the Past, Present and Future Governments
We are the descendants of the first peoples of these lands. We are brothers and sisters Zapotecos, Mixes, Chinantecos, Mazatecos, and Ojitecos. We are the legitimate inheritors of our mother tongues. We have the consciousness of our ancestral roots. We are the children of our Mother Earth. We are the guardians of territory and life. We are the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples in Defense of the Territory of the Papaloapan Basin.
We are a permanent assembly of municipal and agrarian authorities of communities pertaining to the basin of the Cajonos, Lalana and Papaloapan rivers.
We are aware of the exploitation and discrimination that we have suffered for more than 500 years, which has denied us the capacity to conduct our own destiny with wisdom and dignity, in addition to the multiple attempts at extermination.
Today, our situation as Indigenous peoples has changed and not for the better. On the contrary, we live amidst a war of dispossession for the accumulation of wealth in the hand of the few. From our communities we can see that the future only offers us death.
Our ancestral territories and lands represent the totality of our habitat where we reproduce our material and spiritual existence as people. We want to conserve them integrally and maintain the communal tenure of our lands, because it is the only way possible to preserve our social cohesion, conserve the forms of free and collective work in benefit of the entire community and secure the land and future for the following generations.
For us, Indigenous peoples, our Mother Earth is sacred. Just as all beings are sacred that inhabit the earth: the animals, plants, rivers, mountains, caves, valleys, biological resources and the knowledge our people have. They are not commodities to be bought and sold. That is why we cannot accept the destruction of our territories for the imposition of projects and megaprojects that the federal and state governments are imposing with blood and fire in different Indigenous regions of the country.
Historically, we have been denied our rights; with diverse struggles some guarantees have been recognized. Today, the existing contradiction between constitutional articles and the fraudulent interpretation of laws do not assure nor guarantee full respect in the exercise of the free determination of the Indigenous peoples.
Our path is towards the reconstitution as Indigenous peoples. That is to say, the full constitutional recognition of our rights and faculties as Indigenous peoples.
With all of this, we DECLARE:
1) The municipal and agrarian authorities of the communities pertaining to the basin of the Cajonos, Lalana and Papaloapan rivers, we declare ourselves in permanent assembly because the war of dispossession is also permanent.
2) All of us that conform the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples in Defense of the Territory of the Papaloapan Basin, we declare ourselves as guardians of land, territory and life.
3) We declare that we do not accept, nor will we accept any megaproject because they threaten the life of Mother Earth and all of us who live within her.
4) We declare that our NO is categorical, definitive, non-negotiable and irreconcilable.
5) We recognize that the bad governments at the three levels are those that promote and execute the plans of dispossession.
6) We reject the initiative of the Lay for Agrarian Development, since it is a new neoliberal structural reform that validates putting the production of hydrocarbons, electric energy and mining above whatever else. In addition to giving continuity to the Salinas structural reforms, it is also a continuation of the structural reforms promoted by the outgoing regime. In reality, it is part of a strategy to dispossess and destroy Indigenous and campesino territories, putting the resources of the country in private hands while the Indigenous peoples are exterminated.
All of this is a clear example that the economic and political groups that lead the country do not intend to stop the capitalist war that has been imposed for decades on Mexico and the people of below that make it up.
For the reconstitution of the Indigenous Peoples
“Never more a Mexico without us”
Assembly of Indigenous Peoples in Defense of the Territory of the Papaloapan Basin
Oaxaca City, November 2018