UPDATE 2/22/07: The camp is on...there are all different ways to contribute to the Cucapá camp, and also the Huitepec camp in Chiapas, check out the invitation and get organized!
The Zapatistas' Sixth Commission, the arm of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) with the responsibility of participating in Mexico's Other Campaign, is preparing its next steps...as are many other Mexican and international adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. One of these initiatives is being dubbed "La Otra Campamento Cucapá". Check the call-out below to see what Other Campaign adherents in Mexico's northwest and the USA's southwest, including the EZLN's Sixth Commission and members of Mexico's National Indigenous Congress, are preparing for '07...
La Otra Campamento Cucapá
On Oct 15 - 20, 2006, The Other Campaign, a transnational initiative spearheaded by the EZLN, made stops in San Quintin (Triqui & Mixtecos), San Jose de la Zorra (Kumiai), Ensenada, Tijuana, Mexicali and El Mayor (Cucapá), all cities and communities in Baja California. After witnessing the neglect, abuse, mistreatment and systematic isolation of indigenous communities in Baja California, Subcomandante Marcos (aka Delegado Zero) announced that after carefully analzying the situation in Baja, something, anything had to be done to stop the overall extermination of indigenous communities in Baja at the hands of the Mexican Government.
During Delegado Zero's visit, on Oct, 17, 2006 to San Jose de la Zorra, a Kumiai community, he along with members on the CNI (Indigenous National Congress) and elders of the Kumiai proposed the first Intercontinental Indigenous Gathering for Oct. 12th of 2007 at a location in northwestern Mexico (that is still to be determined). Delegado Zero said the following:
Let’s invite the indigenous people of Canada and the United States and let’s invite the indigenous people of South America and Central America, and let’s come from all parts of the continent to this indigenous zone in the Northwest to say that we are here, and let’s tell our story. And it doesn’t matter if they pay attention to us or not, because we’re going to pay attention to each other.Consequently, he arrived on Oct 20th, 2006 in the Indigenous Community of El Mayor, home to the Cucapá, an indigenous group native to the Mexicali region of Baja California. After listening to members of the Cucapá community speak of abuses by the Mexican Government, Delegado Zero made another proposal similar to the one proposed in San Juan de la Zorre. This last proposal during his trip in Baja California discussed the ways in which the Cucapá have been stripped of their ancestral rights to fish, one of the last traditions they still hold. Many of their customs have been killed off by the capitalist machines from the U.S. and Mexico. For instance, the rivers near the Cucapá are drying out because of dams that have been built on the US side of the Colorado River, which in turn, water NAFTA's cash crops in the US and are eventually sold back to Mexico at a much higher cost than if they would have been grown in Mexicali. Flora & fauna that once fed the Cucapaá no longer exist because the river no longer provides nourishment for the land. Due to this, fishing in the area has been privatized and sold off to corporations who abuse the waters and over-fish protected areas. Ironically, it is the Cucapá who are used as scapegoats and blamed for the mistreatment of the waters and thus denied their indigenous rights to work the land and fish the waters they have occupied for thousands of years.
The government has systematically tried to kill off their culture by imposing an educational system that denies the preservation of their culture and traditions. The Mexican and Baja governments have also raided the natural resources of the communities by supporting and imposing so-called community leaders that have periodically sold off communal land to foreign companies to strip it clean of it's natural resources with no benefit to the Cucapá. Extremely high electricity rates are forced onto the community even though a Geothermal electric plant exists on Cucapá land, again the community doesn't benefit from these neoliberal mega projects in or near their land.
Twenty years ago after a dam on the US side broke and flooded the rivers & valleys, the Cucapá were forced to relocate to where they now live and were given by the government cancerous materials to build houses and due to that many of the Cucapá now find themselves with cancer and respiratory problems from the asbestos lined materials. Some have sadly died from this as well. The biggest insult of all, is that the government of Baja claims there are no indigenous communities in Baja and some of those with "Indigenous Certificates" claiming indigenous rights and land are not indigenous.
The struggle of the Cucapá encompasses as a whole the struggle of the indigenous communities throughout Mexico and it is because of this that Delegado Zero, along with the Cucapá Indigenous Community of El Mayor, proposes inviting adherents to the sixth declaration of the lacandon jungle to come to El Mayor and set up camp. A camp that will help preserve and revitalize traditions and customs that are almost extinct within the Cucapá and other communities such as the Kiliwa who recently announced a "death pact" of no longer bearing children because their culture and people had been exploited to the brink of extinction by the Mexican Government. Along with that the camp will serve as a safe space in which humanitarian brigades will accompany the Cucapá and assist with fishing. This will be a camp that will reach out to other indigenous communities and help with establishing the ways and means for self-sufficiency, autonomy and prosperity.
You are no longer being asked to stand in solidarity with the indigenous people of Mexico. Now you are being asked to play an integral role in a bi-national effort that will no longer consist of only resisting but also help these communities exist and live as they have for thousand of years. To help reestablish the networks and relations that existed before borders separated families and communities, and to help expose these atrocities to a world that has avoided looking at the price of it's excess, comfort and luxury.
For more information and to participate in the Cucapá Camp please go to the official blogspot of the Cucapá and La Otra transfronteriza at pecesenredcucapa.blogspot.com
Que Viva los Pueblos Cucapás! Que Viva los Pueblos Indigenas de Baja California y de Mexico! Que Viva el Congreso Nacional Indigena! Y, Que Viva La Otra Campana!