December 26th, 2006 – Tennessee writes: Sorry we haven’t posted in a while. Christmas celebrations had us traveling around with Omar and Betty.
Christmas eve we threw a party in San Juan Diego FNIC for the families of the political prisoners. We didn’t know but they released the some of the prisoners from that community and they arrived in the midst of the party. I didn’t go because I had a stomach infection that left me doubled over in pain for 24 hours, but Emily went and I hope she will post about what it was like.
I’ll catch you up on what’s happened in the last few days. The afternoon after the APPO march in Huajuapan CACTUS celebrated its “posada del migrante.” People who participate in CACTUS projects from Huajuapan and the surrounding mountain towns joined us in a small public park close to the CACTUS office. There was short catholic mass specifically in honor of migrants from la mixteca and the world over. We offered up our hopes and prayers for the migrants on their journey north, and for a sustainable and autonomous Mixteca that someday will not be so dependent on migration.
The call north emerges not just out of economic necessity. The myth of migration and the american dream is also a strong force. I spent about an hour talking to Doña Alberta from Xonotle at the posada; three of her kids are in the united states. She explained that young people up and leave driven by a desire to buy cars and fancy clothes. They abandon their traditions and customs and see migration and or immigration as their only path out of poverty and marginalization.
Yet Doña Alberta says she’s never been hungry and that her land has always managed to provide sustenance even in the worst times. She owns her own plot of land and a house and lives a content life. It’s hard for me to take a stand one way or another. I believe people should be able to do what they feel compelled to do. At the same time there a very strong messages being disseminated through the media and pop-culture that progress only lies in the north, in the United States, and not in the local communities of La Mixteca or even Mexico.
Betty works hard to challenge young peoples’ notions about migration, and to educate them about how those in control of wealth and power have continuously neglected indigenous and rural people leaving La Mixteca in dependent and imporverished conditions. I think for some young folks the idea has taken hold and they’ve resisted the urge to migrate to stay and fight for a different Mixteca. Many of them work with CACTUS. I’m hoping to interview them to understand more about the pull north and what’s it’s like to stay and work for change when everyone else seems to be giving up.
I still need to tell you about our trip to Tehuacan, Puebla and all that we learned about the maquilas and the political repression labor organizers confront. And I want to tell you more about how CACTUS is working to broaden people’s ideas about how to sustain the mixteca but i got to run. Emily and I are going to a meeting today of FIOB–Binational Indigenous Front. It’s an organization that organizes folks on both sides of the border. Should be rad to hear more about what they do.
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