The route of return: from Zapatista territory to the K’iche’ people

The route of return: from Zapatista territory to the K’iche’ people
The route of return: from Zapatista territory to the K’iche’ people


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Ixim Ulew is the real name of Guatemala, with which the indigenous peoples identify their territory, beyond the name imposed since the conquest. One of its peoples, between jungles and heights, is the Maya K’iche’. A rebellious people, who defend the land from the capitalist powers that plunder common goods, and rise up every time they are threatened by extractive companies. Aura Lolita Chavez, an authority of the CPK (K’iche’s People’s Councils), community feminist, ancestral healer, and territorial defender, belongs to one of these communities.

Lolita next to Mayan people He managed to remove many mining and logging concessions from his land and prevent them from being established, fighting against the transnational companies, the government that authorizes them and the hired killers who work for them.

For these and other struggles, such as the defense of the body and territory against patriarchal violence towards women and dissidents, Lolita suffered attacks at gunpoint, threats, legal proceedings, and in dialogue with their community (so as not to suffer the same fate as dozens of combative women defenders of the territory), He had to go into exile, leaving his people, his land and his family.

After seven years of forced migration, she was cleared of legal proceedings and was able to return to her community. However, the risk is not resolved with the definition of a court, there are more threats to his life, so a International Delegation He returned with her from Chiapas (Zapatista Territory) to the K’iche Maya community in Guatemala.

“I laugh, I laugh ironically because when they took me out they thought they were attacking me, and that by taking me out the way they did, criminalizing me and with attempted murder, often at gunpoint, they said: ‘she looks so small, and she looks so scared, and her eyes are filled with tears, she’s going to knock herself out’, well no. Well, I’m here with dignity,” said Lolita Chavez, in her first press conference from Chiapas, Mexico.

The return to Ixim Ulew (Guatemala) proposed a route that expresses a political position in the articulation of organizations that represent and accompany the experiences of the territories that were traversed in it. It started in the land of the Zapatista resistance, in a school of political training for the autonomy of the peoples, with a plurinational ceremony, and thinking collectively about a training process, the complexities regarding the criminalization of fighters, the extractivist advance, the rightward shift in Latin America, and how to confront the capitalist system of domination from plurinational, community, popular, indigenous, peasant feminism, with democratic confederalism as a proposal of the women’s movement of Kurdistan, and popular power from the communities and autonomy with respect to the national States.

“What we are expressing is the will to build a political way among plurinational, popular, community feminisms, to do politics beyond state-centric logic. And to achieve a return that starts from the communities, from the embrace of the territories and from the will to end the policies of death, of destruction of nature and to make the life of the communities prevail. That is what we are walking and we are doing it with great emotion, because Lolita Chavez was dejudicialized,” he emphasized. Claudia Korol from Feminists of Abya Yala.

Continued the route through Mexico City (DF) until arriving at La Esperanza – Intibucá in Honduras, for the meeting with COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), territory of Berta Cacereswho today continues to resist against transnational corporations and fight for justice for Berta. In this event, her daughter and current general coordinator of COPINH spoke about the legal situation of the case, 100 months after her mother left.

“At this time in the The process of seeking justice for our colleague Berta Cáceres We have been living through moments of great tension, because everything we have achieved during these eight years, which is the conviction of eight men who participated in her vile murder, is in danger. We are demanding that the Supreme Court of Justice confirm the sentences and rule in accordance with what was approved in the trial where these criminal structures were clearly evident, with the participation of hitmen, intermediary structures related to the company, the military and a authorship mastermind of the crime that has not been prosecuted and we still do not have a response from the State, obviously,” he denounced. Berta Zuniga Caceres.

From Honduras to the Mayan territories of Ixim Ulew, the journey continued as a community and finally we managed to enter Guatemala through the main door. Lolita and her Return Community arrived at the territory from which she was displaced, shouting “Lolita returned, and she did not return alone,” demonstrating the strength of internationalism.There the caravan was received by the communities maya k´iche´and by the president Bernardo Arevalo who was required to guarantee state protection for the defenders, respect the process of autonomy of the peoples and generate conditions for the return from exile of other fighters.

In this sense, Adriana Guzmanan anti-patriarchal community feminist from Bolivia, from the main square of the capital of Guatemala, said: “Being now in Ixim Ulew, for us is really having fulfilled the sacred pact with a new time. This time of return in community, which does not end here in Ixim Ulew or in El k’iche, but, It is the beginning of a return to community for many people, for many criminalized sisters. What follows from now on is to organize ourselves so that these returns of other sisters are possible, to organize ourselves so that we can make this community of communities, these confederalisms, concrete every day.”

A International delegation of human rights activists was formed with more than 50 people from different countriesincluding: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Mexico, Honduras, Spain (Basque Country), Italy, Kurdistan. Each member of the delegation arrived by political agreement with Lolita Chávez, in an act of reciprocity to accompany her and protect her steps, just as she demonstrated and fought against all violence towards the plundered territories and towards the bodies of women, dissidents, peoples and communities.

The risk that this return represented has a deep complexity, since there is an experience and a continuity of attacks against territorial defenders such as the cases of Berta Cáceres (Honduras), Macarena Valdes (Chile), Bety Cariño (Mexico), Marielle Franco (Brazil), among many others.

Although the case file that was planned to force Lolita to expel her was annulled in the courts with its dejudicialization, the danger of returning to a territory with hitmen at the service of transnational extractive companies; of economic power in the hands of the big bourgeoisies with their intelligence apparatus; of drug trafficking that controls and crushes communities; of the militarization of territories; of capitalist, racist and patriarchal violence; the risk is obvious with this history of continuous crimes, which is why the delegation planted a pedagogy of return, so that these forced displacements due to attacks and threats are faced in a collective, community manner and that the return of the defenders is expressed in the same way, with communities that act as observers.

“This pedagogy of return has to do first with building a feminism with its feet on the ground, with a community-based, anti-extractivist, peasant, popular feminism. But on the other hand, building an internationalism that requires the fall of borders.

Borders have been a imposition colonial occidental that have been placed in our place to divide peoples, while capital continues to operate across borders,” he said. Francisca Fernandez Droguett of the Movement for Water and Territories of Chile.

The internationalist presence in this sense shows the breaking of national borders, beyond state logic, as part of this pedagogy that was made up of several axes: the denunciation of the criminalization of defenders, the militarization of territories, the fight for the freedom of political prisoners, the decolonization of bodies, territories and feminisms, the breaking of colonial, patriarchal and racist borders of States, the construction of a political project of communities, the fight against the fragmentation and co-optation of social organizations, the commercialization of struggles, the criticism of the role of the state. The international caravan finally arrived at the Maya K’iche village where it was received by the communities, and in a large march it reached the ancestral territory where Lolita managed to connect with the spiritual strength of her people and the nature of her territory.


Photography: Anred

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