As described in recent issues of Peace Magazine, last December in Chiapas, Mexico a group of Mayan peasants was massacred in a church by the Mexican government using bullets manufactured in Canada. In June of this year people were forced to run into the mountains in Chiapas after being bombed by helicopters. Mexico is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Canada and the United States are profiting from. People are being tricked into working for $10 a day. People in Chiapas, trying to plant seeds, grow crops, raise children in a healthy environment, will never dream of owning a small farm or meeting their basic needs. Yet there is no outcry in our neighborhoods to stop this destruction and cruelty to our neighbors. What are the priorities in the minds of North American leaders? Have we become meaningless, arrogant, materialistic fools? Do we have to wait for statistics to come in like Guatemala in the 1970s? Are we going to wait for the mass burials before we open our mouths? Chiapas is the most immediate problem in North America because Indians are being killed and terrorized by a corrupt government.
How can we call ourselves human if we don't even make a phone call or send a fax to our M.P. to stop these atrocities?
Traditional Natives like Mayans in Chiapas still live spiritual lives by honoring the Great Spirit. We, as traditional North American Native Peoples, understand we have to protect Our sacred Mother Earth for our future generations. The ones who speak out for justice, peace, and our environment will find strength and wisdom. The old Elders tell us how things are disappearing and how the weather in changing. They want us to be good to one another, sing, dance, perform our ceremonies and offer thanks daily. They teach us to be honest, sincere, beautiful, and to walk a sacred path and have a sacred journey. But we have lost much. Nothing can be sacred to greedy businessmen or the military, who age war on the indigenous peoples for their land and freedom. We, the Native People, must keep our culture and land because that is where our spiritual values are, with the Great Spirit. I hope these words make sense to the people who have the resources and spirit to struggle for Mother Earth and our children's future.
In the spirit of my ancestors,
Kahniakehaka (Mohawk Nation)
The latest government initiatives in Chiapas are a clear indication that federal authorities keep playing with fire. We believe that, by persisting with that policy direction, you will set the whole country in flames. Mr. President, we call on you to capture the opportunity to contribute to the rebuilding of a nation of justice and dignity with the support and assistance of all the Mexican people. We believe it is possible to deal with our aboriginal people with methods other than killing, repression, and denial.
Letter signed by fifty Mexican scientists and endorsed by several hundred others
There is a declining role of democracy in countries like Mexico and Chile. Because of foreign investment, these two countries maintain a system of representative democracy but the power resides in the economic groups that control the country and the army. In the case of Chile the army decides how far an elected democratic government can go. In the case of Mexico, the government is a guardian of financial capital and is re- pressing people. Because of the level of corruption in the army, the police as well as in the bureaucracy, as reported by the media, there is urgent attention for the international community to provide a peacekeeping approach to the conflict between Mayas and the Mexican oligarchy. One of these approaches could be the development of the Chiapas region by an international consortium working under the OAS and with the support of the government of Mexico. The economic restructuring of Mexico under the globalization model is undermining the cultural and agricultural structures of the Mayas and it will be almost impossible to obtain a peaceful solution in the present context. Canada has rejected a policy of assimilation and has developed an expertise of harmonious relations with the Native people by returning to them some political and administrative powers. This experience can be useful in the Chiapas conflict
Assistant to Louise Hardy, NDP MP for Yukon