Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico – Last week Maya Ancestral Authorities from diverse Maya nations of Mexico and Guatemala convened a three-day meeting titled, Ancestral Wisdom for the Defense of life, Mother Earth, and Her Natural Elements, from February 12 -14. The gathering is in response to the urgent threats in the region due to the hundreds of development projects causing environmental destruction and violating the rights of the Maya peoples and Mother Earth. This meeting comes just days before Pope Francis will arrive in Chiapas, Mexico. His visit will include meetings with indigenous peoples to hear their concerns regarding their human rights and protection of Mother Nature. In his Encyclical, the Pope called for indigenous peoples to be the “principle dialogue partners especially when large projects on their lands are proposed.”
Mexico and Guatemala are rich with natural resources that are sought after by both national and multinational corporations. Indigenous peoples in the border area of Mexico and Guatemala face unique challenges due to regional energy and trade policies such as The Plan for the Alliance for Prosperity of the Northern Triangle. The Plan is slated to further increase natural resource extraction, infrastructure development and construct a 600km pipeline between Mexico and Guatemala. According to the System for Mining Administration (SIAM in Spanish), just in the state of Chiapas there are 99 mining projects underway and over 14% of Chiapas has been concessioned to mining companies. Of all the mining licenses in the state of Chiapas, 44 are found in the pacific region, mostly Maya Mam territory, and all the projects at the State level disproportionately affect indigenous peoples.
In recent years, Guatemala has seen a new wave of violence including threats, criminalization and even the murders of Maya leaders voicing their concern for development projects on their lands and territories. Of the 343 mining licenses already in operation, both the Marlin Mine and Escobal Mine- subsidiaries of Canadian and U.S. companies- have a documented history of social conflict, environmental destruction, and human rights violations. Since 2005 there have been more than 85 community consultations across the country stating opposition to mining and hydroelectric projects even as more than 600 new mining licensing requests are in the pipeline.
Faced by this insurmountable regional crisis, Ancestral Authorities exercising their autonomy and self-government rights have called for this gathering. They will address the root causes contributing to the destruction of Mother Nature and the effects on their peoples and humanity. Maya worldview and philosophy are grounded on the beliefs that all elements are interrelated and that harmony and respect underlie the relationship between people, nature, and the cosmos. The Ancestral Authorities call for a shift in the current practices of corporations and governments that are causing irreversible destruction to the planet, violating the rights of their peoples, and affecting all future generations. They will reposition their ancestral authority and knowledge as a fundamental solution to the existing context of development and dispossession in the region.
For more information please contact:
Jazmín Córdova Gálvez
Tel: (+521) 6319446213 (Mexico)
Raices de Nuestra Cultura Mam and Conciencia Cultural Mam are Maya Mam organization in the state of Chiapas Mexico working to preserve the culture, language, gastronomy, art, traditional medicine, music and dance through 16 community schools in the biosphere reserve of the Volcano, Tacana. The two organizations are governed by a board of 30 Maya elders.
The International Mayan League is a Maya organization whose purpose is to promote, preserve, and transmit the cosmovision and worldview, culture, history, and contributions of our ancestors and the values of our traditional knowledge and stewardship of the earth into solutions and actions against current threats and violations affecting our peoples, the earth, and humanity. We are committed to creating a permanent link between our contemporary world and ancestral traditions, respecting the diversity of our Nation while building a shared vision with our peoples, and working closely with other organizations and allies who support our beliefs and values.
First Peoples Worldwide was first developed in 1997 by Cherokee social entrepreneur Rebecca Adamson, as a program of her non-profit First Nations Development Institute. In 2005, Rebecca and her daughter, Neva, founded First Peoples Worldwide as a full-fledged organization in its own right. We focus on funding local development projects in Indigenous communities all over the world while creating bridges between our communities and corporations, governments, academics, NGOs and investors in their regions. We facilitate the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge in solving today’s challenges, including climate change, food security, medicine, governance and sustainable development.