Indigenous Peoples: Distinct Paths, Common Quest
“Maybe the Zapatista Caracoles Could Illuminate Ecuador Movement’s Path”
By Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar
La Jornada, translated by Narco News
August 22, 2003
The indigenous peoples of Latin America have spent more than a decade promoting social transformations that overcome racism and exclusion, and that permit them to imagine and construct different manners of coexistence and public regulation. They bring more than a decade, really, centuries, developing paths to achieve their goals.
This month there have been two important steps in this never-ending quest.
In Ecuador, one of the paths created today shows its limits and raises new questions. It was in January 2003 when Lucio Gutiérrez took possession of the government and his inaugural speech didn’t satisfy anyone. He did not clearly commit himself to the goals of his recent allies, the diverse Ecuadorian indigenous peoples organized in the Ecuador Council of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAI, in its Spanish initials) and its plurinational unity movement Pachakutik as its ad hoc political arm to intervene on the formal stage of politics.
In February, the CONAI convened a “summit” meeting between the nationalities of that country half the world so that, discussing among themselves, they would decide the principal points that would be delivered to the new president, in the character of a “mandate” that those who produced his electoral triumph would give him.
The CONAI wrote a document and promoted its discussion throughout the sierra, the coast, and the Amazon. The basic points are sufficiently familiar to us: the need to reorient economic policy, the urgency of directing public resources to the satisfaction of public needs and not to the private enrichment of bankers, industrialists, and politicians; the obligation to intervene in (regulate and contain) the “free market” that has brought the poverty of rural families of all nationalities to impossible extremes; state reform prioritizing the areas of education and administration of justice, etcetera.
Lucio Gutiérrez paid them no attention. He decided the agenda of the country by himself, choosing to make his connections with other “allies” closer: the Ecuadorian businessmen and oligarchs and the multinational corporation. He didn’t want, thus, to “lead by obeying.” And up to this moment what he has effectively done is totally to the contrary of what the social movement and indigenous peoples had suggested.
That’s how it is: the indigenous peoples and nationalities of Ecuador, organized in their diverse mosaic of organizations, spoke, applied pressure, mobilized, and, finally, left their alliance with the president behind. The most visible part of all of this is the Pachakutik movement’s exit from the government on August 6th. Before that, the resentment had been groing from the Andean communities, as well as the jungle and the plains of the coast.
Today, the discussion about mobilizations and future paths is wide open.
By the 21st of the month, the forces were measured for an opening skirmish. The success that Gutiérrez has had with his tactics of bribing communities – with shovels, picks, something of bonuses and fertilizer, distributing them discretionally in some regions and one or another computer delivered to rural schools with en enormous media publicity – begin to be noticed. The point to which the internal agreements of Ecuador’s indigenous movements can be resolved was on exhibit, leading to new steps toward autonomous unification of efforts.
Here in Mexico, meanwhile, we have seen and listened to the Zapatistas and the insurrect communities of Chiapas, that, step by step, develop a collective mechanism toward communal life, from below, from the deepest part of below.
Maybe the Caracoles can illuminate those inside the CONAI who propose “the construction of a parallel government” as the National Federation of Peasant Farmer Security, the Amazon section of the larger organization, has proposed.
There are those who think that there is still a possibility of “pressuring Gutiérrez to demand the correction of the route begun.” Some don’t see it that way. The path of pressure, in my opinion, will be difficult while two political logics confront each other: A liberal one, articulated through the delegation of capacity to decide and execute what is decided; and another path, communal, based on discussion, communal decision, and collective efforts to achieve what is being sought. The indigenous peoples of América, thus, continue to teach us.
Mexican mathematician, author of various books, former political prisoner in Bolivia accused of being comandanta of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, and La Jornada columnist Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar is also a professor of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism.
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