Sunday, June 24, 2007
First of all, I am not quite sure how to put two weeks into one blog entry, so I’ll try to give some of the big highlights. . When we arrived in Nuevo Rosario late that afternoon, Moritz and I set up our hammocks and unpacked our backpacks. It was a pretty amazing feeling knowing that everything you were going to “need” and eat within the next two weeks you just carried on your back for half a day. So, let’s see what we have, beans, rice, coffee. Hmmm, what else. Rice, coffee, beans. What is this? Pasta! Yeah! Pasta with beans, rice and coffee. Almost everyday there was someone from the community who brought us tortillas. We had a lot of visitors, the children coming by most often to see what was new. The photo is of Marcos and I playing with my camera. I have more of him and his brother and sister and a few of them wearing my glasses, in which they were very interested. One of the community leaders, sent her husband “el responsable” or “el encargado”, the guy that is in charge of what goes on in the community, to bring us tortillas that she had made. A few days later we stopped by to chat with her and the first thing she said to us was “Did you get the tortillas?” “Yes”, we told her, “they were fantastic.” She went on to say that she was gone for 3 days and she never heard from her husband, (el encargado and her husband) if he gave them to us or not. She was so worried about us receiving tortillas. I was blown away. They both work so hard doing everything in their power for this little community. They are trying to set up an autonomous school, attempting to bring in an health promoter once a week, all at the same time working in the milpa, taking care of their children, etc., etc., yet they were worried about us having tortillas to eat for breakfast.
Sleeping in hammock in the jungle is not as glamorous or relaxing as one may think. The smallest movement or body adjustment just maybe the making of a possible disaster, whether it being the hammock coming untied to the not-so-sturdy “wall”, falling out, or even trying to swat that mosquito buzzing by your ear could cause you another 30 minutes of adjustment before you can get situated to sleep again. My hammock wasn’t the greatest so the majority of the time I slept on the floor. I found a board and I put it on the slanted red dirt/clay floor and then my sleeping bag on top of that and vóila!…a bed. Some nights it was difficult to sleep with the mice and lizards and bugs of every sort coming to visit. The mosquitoes weren’t so bad, what was bothersome was the ANTS! They are huge and when they bite it is 5 times worse than a mosquito bite, but going to the river to bathe in the cool water usually helped soothed our insect bites, if only for a short while.
The river (el Río Jataté) where we would swim and bathe and wash clothes was one of the main disputes between Nuevo Rosario and another community on the other side of the river called Jerusalén. The community of Jerusalén is composed of members of the paramilitary groups OPPDIC and ARIC, both are linked to MIRA (Movimiento Indígena Revolucionario Antizapatista). Nuevo Rosario sits on land re-taken by the Zapatistas, which was previously uninhabited. However, once families began settling there the community from the other side of the river began harassing them. In January 2006 members of OPPDIC entered the Nuevo Rosario and set fire to a corral and some of the land as well as cut down and stole some 28 rolls of fence. In February 2007 OPPDIC returned, this time allowing their cattle to onto Nuevo Rosario land. The cattle destroyed and ate the community milpas (community corn gardens that provide food for the families) and set fire to 300 coffee plants destroying the entire “cafetal”. Again, these are just of few of the violations Nuevo Rosario has had to endure.
The dispute has to do more with land than with politics. The people of Nuevo Rosario state that the border between the two communities is the Río Jataté, which is about a 25 minute, walk from Nuevo Rosario and covers a considerable amount of land. There is a very small stream that encircles about one half of the community that has to be crossed in order to go to the Río Jataté. This stream is what the people of Jerusalén believe should be the border of the two communities. I’m interested to hear of new developments (hopefully we’ll see him at the Encuentros Intergalácticos at the end of July). I left on a Tuesday and there is supposed to be members of the JBG coming by the end of that week to try to sign a deal with the other community to solve the land and border dispute. One thing I keep thinking about is would there be as many aggressions and attacks on Nuevo Rosario if they were supported by the Zapatistas or not?
As we listened to and recorded peoples stories they always reminded us to tell the Human Rights Center to keep sending people like us to live with them in their little community. Just the mere fact that we are there is enough to deter threats and aggressions. Plus, it also allows the families to live and work in peace and their children to play and bathe in the river without the fear of violence from the neighboring community.
The two weeks passed quickly, faster then I imagined. And, I would have never had imagined that it would have been so hard to leave. The people of Nuevo Rosario really touched our hearts not only with their stories, but also with their determination to live in peace and dignity in the face of adversity and violence waged against them in their humble community all the while maintaining some of the biggest and most genuine smiles I have ever seen.
Do you remember the words of John Ross? Well, the people of Nuevo Rosario are truly engaged in a “War Against Oblivion”, it is ever present in their words, their work, and their smiles. Upon saying our goodbyes to the families, one woman step forward and grabbed our hands and said, “Don’t forget about us.” We all had tears in our eyes and even this is difficult for me to type as it already has taken me about 10 minutes just to get this sentence down…
She also wanted us to send “saludos” to our families back in our countries. So, everyone, a big hello and wishes of health and happiness from the people of El Nuevo Rosario, Municipio Autónomo en Rebeldía “Francisco Gómez”, Caracol “La Garrucha”, Tzeltal Jungle, Chiapas, México.