From North Dakota to Chiapas: Dialectics of Indigenous Resistance

“Our chains are your chains,” said Ricardo Flores Magón to the American people just over 100 years ago in the midst of a revolutionary war against the dictatorship lead by Porfirio Díaz and William Taft. Today, those words are more effective than ever. Today as yesterday, brotherhood between the American and the Mexican people is urgent, necessary, visible and possible. While the dominant class in Mexico and the United States is well articulated to turn the region into a source of unprecedented capitalist wealth, while contempt against migrants becomes the main tool for both governments, while land dispossession and exploitation run through every corner of these neighboring countries and capital imposes its law through violence, from below, from the unknown place for power, the snails of rebellion, solidarity and brotherhood ring once again. “It’s time for Indigenous peoples,” say the Zapatistas.

Today, as in the past, Indigenous peoples in Mexico and the United States demonstrate that resistance and organization are the only means to stop the assault of capital. Today, as yesterday, Indigenous peoples are once again leading the resistance to tell the Mexicans, Americans and people around the world that there is hope to think and build a different world.

While Standing Rock Sioux in Dakota were confronting armed police to prevent the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline on their sacred lands and showing that resistance is the most legitimate mean to stop the avarice of capital, the southeast region of Mexico was celebrating the fifth National Indigenous Congress (CNI) in Chiapas to announce a new initiative that will convulse the Mexican political system in the coming couple of years. After a long dialogue between representatives of Indigenous communities, the CNI and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) published a joint statement titled “Que retiemble en su centro la tierra” (“May the earth tremble at its core”), in which they unmask the project of destruction carried out by capitalism against the Indigenous peoples of Mexico and give word to the dignified resistance and rebellion of these peoples. In this list of dispossession and resistance, the CNI-EZLN unites with the struggle carried out by the Standing Rock Sioux, saying: “The Dakota Nation’s sacred territory is being invaded and destroyed by gas and oil pipelines, which is why they are maintaining a permanent occupation to protect what is theirs.” Shortly afterwards, they mention that this struggle, together with the struggle of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico “is the power from below that has kept us alive. This is why commemorating resistance and rebellion also means ratifying our decision to continue to live, constructing hope for a future that is only possible upon the ruins of capitalism.” On December 2, the CNI-EZLN reiterated full solidarity with the Sioux people:

From the collective heart of the originary peoples of the National Indigenous Congress, we pronounce our absolute respect for the territory of the Sioux people, in Standing Rock, North Dakota, where more than 200 tribes are organizing to stop the plunder the capitalists are trying to impose through oil pipelines which destroy water sources and ceremonial sites. We condemn the brutal repression these tribes were subject to this past November 20, and the repression planned against them with the announcement of an ultimatum to vacate their lands. If we originary peoples had ever responded to the ultimatums ofthe powerful, we would have ceased to exist centuries ago. To the Sioux People we send a brotherly embrace and we reiterate that they are not alone, that their pain and rage are ours, also. We call on the originary peoples of the United States and Mexico, on the free media, and on civil society to strengthen their solidarity with this historic struggle.

The initiative of the CNI-EZLN that proposes the formation ofan Indigenous Government Council and the launching of an Indigenous woman as candidate for the presidency in the 2018 elections, together with the resistance against the North Dakotagas pipeline have generated unprecedented social commotion in both countries. Both cases teach us that life is not negotiable, anger has dignity and dignity has dreams; both teach us that justice cannot not be expected from the ruling class because nothing positive can be expected from the greed of money; both teach us that Indigenous peoples have the moral and ethical capacity to summon the whole of civil society to the organization from below and to the left (“desde abajo y a la izquierda”).

Today, more than ever, it is necessary to boost solidarity between peoples of Mexico and the United States. If the North American region has become a hub for the capitalist domination, let this region become a hub for resistance and dreams. In both countries, Indigenous peoples show the ability to resist, organize and summon the people from below to build a different world, a world where many worlds fit (“un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos”).