Rancho Maravilla, Mexican California. 18-09-2023. “Before, we Cochimíes used to get a few specks of gold, but now in the name of progress they are knocking down hills, killing a bunch of birds and cactus for the vanity of a conceited woman who wants to wear gold. But we have to be aware that Mother Earth is a living being and we should affect her as little as possible. The mining companies are companies of death and they are hitting us in the mother. In addition, the squid, shellfish and fish are running out because of the brutal contamination. They are shipping the abalone and lobster abroad when they have always been our food.”
In an interview with Medios Libres, the councilman of the Cochimí people of the National Indigenous Congress, “Aguila” Francisco Grado, states that “Baja California has always been of interest to capitalism to do its business: The seas, the beaches, the mineral resources of the desert and the valleys of the agro-industry that is taking our water; because they are taking our water from the central desert; there is an agrobusiness mafia that hires cheap labor from Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, they lure them with deceit; they promise that the meals will be free, and the per diem is discounted at the end as half the fare, and they keep them in shared sheds between families and male day laborers where there are cases of abuse and violence. There is a lot of money involved. For example, he comments that the Bajamil, an off-road, cross-country race, is “a big business of the capitalist system” that crosses the lands of the native peoples, destroying roads, tearing down fences and killing cattle.
“The dispossession by mining companies such as Grupo Mexico and Carso, they are coming like wolves in sheep’s clothing– they come to take away our territory. It was what happened to the native North American brothers, they took them away from their territories and took them to reservations where they were given permission to sell alcohol and drugs, which is what is killing them; the government has really screwed them over, it makes me very sad, but that is what is happening there. We have here the land that our old grandparents have inherited us, but we are dying, and among those who are left some are trying to sell it to get money, to spend it, but dignity cannot be bought.”
“The Cochimí people are spread out along the central desert of the peninsula from Loreto to San Felipe more or less, and our brothers are the Cucapá, Kumyai, Pai Ipai, Kohal and Kiliwa peoples. We are six peoples that make up the Yumana family. Now they are asking us for documents to prove our territories, because the government gave land to the ejidos who believe they are the owners of the territory. That is why we are being dispossessed: we have no documents to prove that we are the rightful owners of the land. It is ironic: What more documents do they ask for if they have the paintings of our ancestors in the caves! The sacred animal that we know as bighorn sheep is now hunted with drones and helicopters; a permit to kill it costs between 60 and 80 thousand dollars, and there are people who pay for it and come in to hunt it. We don’t want them to kill our bighorn sheep brothers.”
The indigenous fighter affirms that the Cochimí people oppose the megaprojects of death that are threatening the territory of the native peoples in the north, center and south of the country. Compañero Aguila of the CNI refers to the Zapatista indigenous movement of Chiapas that brought him “a little seed that is spreading and flourishing in the central desert of Mexican California.” “We see Zapatismo as a philosophy of the indigenous peoples, which has come to sow the seed of resistance and teaches us to seek the good life, take care of the earth, fight for life, that is why we say that we are against capitalist development, but we want the best for the next generations.”
Original text published by Pozol Colectivo. https://pozol.org/?p=20501
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.