Chiapas in Christiana, Schools for Chiapas in Europe

Earlier this year we at Schools for Chiapas were honored to receive the visit of Ole Lykke, activist, archivist and historian of Freetown Christiana, Denmark, here in Chiapas. Founded in 1971 with the occupation of a military barracks, Christiania is perhaps the oldest and biggest commune in history, covering some 54 acres. In 2008, the first link between Chiapas and Christiania was established when Gustavo Chavez, a Mexican muralist with many years of collaboration with Schools for Chiapas painting in Zapatista communities, painted a mural of Emiliano Zapata in the commune. That mural still exists there today.

In January of this year, Ole returned Gustavo’s visit. He put Ole in touch with Schools for Chiapas and we were pleased to be able to visit Oventic together and set up meetings with local activists. More importantly, as part of our work through Sendas, Ole gave a talk there about Christiania, which turned out to be one of the biggest attended events in the cultural center to date.

He gave a wide-ranging presentation about the history and landmark events in the setting up of the Freetown and the challenges it has faced in building autonomy over its fifty-two-year history. This attracted a huge audience, interested in alternative ways of organizing our societies and building a world where many worlds fit as well as producing some very thought-provoking questions. It also marked a first step in a new direction for Schools for Chiapas in establishing links with the continent of Europe, Slumil K’ajxemk’op (Unsubmissive Land) as the Zapatistas called it in the first chapter of their Journey for Life, and weaving international solidarity and networking between peoples in resistance.

This led to further contacts being established with the International Forum, Denmark, of La Sexta Internacional. Schools for Chiapas once again hosted an education evening in Sendas for a group of sixteen students from an alternative school some months later. We also accompanied them on visits to Oventic and CIDECI and are currently planning to receive another such group this autumn.

As part of our ongoing outreach program and at the invitation of Christiania, we organized and participated in a solidarity event there on August 20th along with the International Forum and with traditional Mexican music brought to us by Bola Suriana. The event attracted a large and enthusiastic public of all ages.

The evening began with a presentation by Schools for Chiapas which gave some background information about the state of Chiapas and continued with a history of the Zapatista movement, its aspirations and practices of autonomy. We explored the current state of affairs in Chiapas, touching on themes such as migration, organized crime and the continued attacks against Zapatista communities. Finally, we examined ways of building and expressing international solidarity, such as keeping informed about events on the ground in Chiapas through our blog, sharing this information on social media, taking part in global and urgent actions, material support, volunteering with Frayba and getting involved with the International Forum in Denmark. A representative from the Forum then gave a presentation on their work, attracting great interest from the audience.

We were fortunate to have Bola Suriana, presently on European tour, close the evening with a selection of Mexican traditional and folk music. Fittingly, they finished the proceedings with a rousing version of the Zapatista anthem. The overall response from the participants was very positive, many of them signing up with the International Forum to find out more. Interesting, inspiring and lively discussions continued into the night after the event.

Schools for Chiapas was delighted to participate in this outreach event, forming bonds and weaving resistance with like-minded and spirited people in Slumil K’ajxemk’op. Thank you Christiania!

At the end of this month, we will be organizing another event on the rebel island of Ireland. Watch this space.

Original article by Schools for Chiapas.

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