New Internationalist

Earth summit

June 2007

Thousands of indigenous peoples from 24 countries gathered in Guatemala on 26 March 2007 for the Third Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala, reports Upside Down World. The week-long summit was held in Iximché, a sacred Maya site and main city of the Kaqchikel Maya people.

The success of Bolivia’s indigenous President Evo Morales inspired the gathering – which recommended him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Bolivia’s foreign relations minister David Choquehuanca argued against rebuilding current states, and for dreaming and creating new ones. ‘Our minds are colonized,’ he stated, ‘but not our hearts. It is time to listen to our hearts, because this is what builds resistance.’

The most visible and immediate outcome of the summit was the Declaration of Iximché, which ratified an ancestral right to territory and the common resources of Mother Earth, rejected free trade pacts, condemned the construction of a wall between Mexico and the US, and called for the legalization of coca leaves. The Declaration pointed to the indigenous movement’s alignment with broader popular struggles in the Americas and demonstrated a maturing of indigenous ideologies by combining the politics of identity with pragmatic actions. The next summit is scheduled for Chile, w here indigenous communities are engaged in fierce struggles against mining and dam projects.

This column was published in the June 2007 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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