“The tradition of the struggle of the Mixe people is beautiful and full of noble acts that make us proud. If our ancestors set an example of resistance and courage in the defense of our peoples, it would be shameful to betray their memory, readily handing over our lands, our natural resources and the communal customs that have defined us as a people that rejects all kinds of domination and injustice”.
Manifesto of the Mixe people, October 12, 1979
We members of the Koojpk ja´ay collective reclaim the essence of our historic roots in the face of all that the Mexican state has done to unashamedly break up the structure and organizational forms of the community life of the Mixe people, which pose an obstacle for the full development of their neoliberal project and globalization. For this reason, we manifest our culture through our music, our songs, and our original languages, expressing our identity through them.
We were never conquered, but in time, were dominated by the Catholic religion. Even so, the Mixes put up resistance and that’s why our culture still lives today. Now it’s up to us to defend what belongs to us and what our ancestors passed down to us. Our challenge, so that our new, alternative political approach will be successful, is to take a different path than the one followed by indigenist politicians who promote consumer projects and fail to strengthen indigenous peoples in their quest for a life of dignity.
As an alternative way of life, our collective takes up our Mixe customs of fiesta, organization, and culture to reinforce our identity, a priority for all the different cultures in this country and the world.
One of our projects in the Tlahuitoltepec community in the Mixe region is the Et ääw Free Cinema. Et ääw means “open space”.
et: designates a place, a space, a landscape, the land, nature
ääw: refers to an open space for introducing oneself in a certain spot; the mouth or source of the voice, words, sight; an orifice that neither belongs inside or outside and its space is infinite.
et ääw. also one word that designates a tunnel.
As such, it’s an open space for vision and words.
What we want to do is create a space for open reflection, analysis and general information, always focused on the social reality, projecting art and educational films as well as documentaries on political, social, cultural, and economic issues. After each movie there will be time for discussion.
In opening this vision space, Et ääw Free Cinema, we’re thinking that the contributions of the past should be carried over in the present to form a concept of the world and its people very different from the one that now exists. In the Tlahuitoltepec community in the Mixe region, this means contributing to and enriching community education, justice, organization, language, fiesta, music, work, community labor, people, life, communality, cooperation, mutual help, respect, history, existence, nature, self-initiative, autonomy and self-determination. These 20 elements must be enriched and strengthened with the object of understanding our reality and that of others with the help of movies.
Et ääw Free Cinema will be a space for expression, vision, and knowledge, where we can also get to know other worlds within our own world, where we can look out a window and perceive other realities, ideas, dreams, etc., and in it, others can see themselves or recognize, identify, confront, destroy, reconstruct, question, enjoy, involve, hurry, and untangle themselves. Different cultures and realities become richer when other ways of life are shared, like fiestas, languages, music, and organization. The collective vision of film, and reflection on it, helps bring about an encounter between the work and the viewer and brings about a process of understanding.
We must have places for meetings where analysis, dialogue, information and community participation can generate an interpretation of the daily reality and practice in our vital space and also learn of other ways of life outside the Mixe region. To this end, we’ve held several video-debates in the Ayuujk Polivalente Community High School (BICAP) for students and teachers, as well as cultural activities including dance, theatre, and music in the Ayuuik language.
These events led to discussions about the formation of a collective that would open ongoing spaces in the community. It would be for all those who want to share their dreams and thoughts and see that the basic necessities are covered for the projected activities. It was in this organizational process that the idea for a Free Cinema arose, free in all senses of the world. No one will be profiting from it.
The Et ääw Free Cinema will be open on weekends with flexible hours and will be open to children, young people, and adults. Instead of drowning them in the river of supply and demand and tricking them with dreams of a life of non-existent consumer fantasies imposed by the country’s main TV stations, our idea is to focus on real concerns and needs, as well as contributions from the past that can and should help to form a different view of the world and the people who live in it.
In keeping with the needs of the different communities in the Mixe region, the Free Cinema can be mobile, making it possible for them to obtain and freely show the movies that we have.
We would greatly appreciate your help in covering the following initial needs:
Members of the Et ääw Free Cinema project:
Damián D. (Mixe) Martínez Vásquez
Godofredo (Mixe) Martínez Vásquez
Estela (Mixe) González Gutiérre
Maria (Mixe) Díaz Vásquez
This post is also available in: Spanish