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Protectress of Mother Earth


San Cristobal de Las Casas

From our special correspondent

Protectress of Mother Earth

She grew up in San Cristobal de Las Casas where her parents had come to work from their indigenous community. His father and uncles taught him his native language. Her mother taught her how to sow and raise chickens in the vegetable garden. She was still a child during the “Chiapas war”, which in the 1990s saw indigenous peoples rebel against the power of Mexico City. Claudia Biniza Perez is one of the heirs of Mgr Samuel Ruiz Garcia, the former bishop of San Cristobal de Las Casas, even if their paths have not crossed. She works for Serapaz, one of the organizations he created and which is now headed by one of his former vicars, the Dominican Gonzalo Ituarte.

Serapaz’s ambition is to teach peace. “Peace is not just the fight against violence. Whoever builds peace must also be aware of what his rights are, of what social justice is. Conflicts are the expression of social structures that generate inequalities, impoverishment and injustice ”, she explains.

A few years ago, she received training at one of the peace schools Serapaz founded in Chiapas, before expanding them to several other states in Mexico. For a year, she attended three workshops per month in the company of about thirty men and women, young and old, indigenous or not. Now she can lead these types of sessions. “We provide tools for mediation, the positive transformation of conflict and also the control of emotions. It’s about arming your heart ”, she explains.

“I am pursuing the path opened by my ancestors who stood up to claim their rights. My uncle was a traveling companion for Samuel Ruiz ”, continues Claudia Biniza Perez. Here, in San Cristobal de Las Casas, she tries, by this method of peace, to protect a wetland from the appetites of private companies. “We have started to mediate this land use conflict. We bring together in the same room elected officials of the municipality of San Cristobal and representatives of families who are threatened with expropriation by industrial and real estate projects ”, she explains.

The Maria Eugenia mountain is listed as a protected natural area, in particular for its role of supplying 70% of the city’s water. For indigenous peoples, it is also a sacred place, a source of ancestral knowledge.

However, the mountain is threatened by real estate developers and by a Coca-Cola factory which pumps more than 1 million liters every day for its production. “We have already obtained in this mediation process that the families can stay in place. But, they are not allowed to sow or plant. ” His mediation work can be dangerous. “Recently, I was made to understand that I did not have to get involved in these problems which did not concern me”, she explains.

Claudia Biniza Perez claims to be urban and indigenous. It leads the visitor in one of the popular districts of San Cristobal to meet a rapper Miguel Angel Perez Gomez. They are the same age, the “Same pride in belonging to a first people”, the same respect “For water and mother earth”, the same aspiration “To find the path to good living”. One advocates dialogue for peace, the other believes in poetry on acoustic music developed by a friend, Tzotzile like him.

“With these words which mix Spanish and Tzotzile, Miguel Angel also calls for peace”, underlines the mediator. His friend adds: “A lot of times rappers all over the world proclaim ‘I’m the strongest.’ I don’t particularly want to talk about myself. I come with an ambition for social change. I want people to make their dreams come true. “ He has already accomplished one.

A little over a year ago, he took part in a concert that brought together a global network of rappers in Cuzco, Peru. “I had never taken a plane, I had never left the country. After the concert, I wanted to go up to see Machu Picchu. “ He was struck by the similarities between the Aztec and Inca cultures, “Proximity to nature, the will to take care of mother earth. “

Then we had to go back to San Cristobal. He no longer had a peso. “To raise the necessary money, we painted a mural with a friend in Cuzco, and rapper friends from San Cristobal organized a concert”…

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