Paul Mann Rebel Autonomous Zapatista School
Lucio Cabañas, Chiapas, Mexico
Greetings from the Mexican southeast,
It is a bountiful and sweet harvest season here in Chiapas, Mexico; yet I’m having difficulty feeling thankful on this peculiar U.S. holiday.
Seeds of every size and shape and color have matured here in the misty mountains and steamy jungles of the Mexican southeast. A few of these seeds were sown intentionally, but most have found their own way in life - overcoming great obstacles to survive and reproduce. Most of these seeds are life-giving offering sweet nourishment to every kind of life, but a few are neither life-giving nor sweet.
There are many signs that another harvest, a uniquely bitter and difficult harvest, is also on the horizon.
In their handcrafted, organic fields on lands won in rebellion twenty years ago, small Mayan farmers spend Thanksgiving Day 2009 harvesting millions of grains of corn. Without chemical fertilizers or pesticides these Zapatista fields also produce billions of rebel seeds whose fading flowers, weedy branches, and robust seeds celebrate life and resistance by encircling and dancing around every carefully sown corn plant. Life is everywhere and there’s sufficient food for another year.
However I’m still having trouble feeling thankful for this sweet harvest; my fear of that other harvest is blocking these positive feelings.
Bitter seeds are maturing here in Mexico. For too long the rich and powerful have indiscriminately sown seeds of injustice, seeds of inequality, seeds of violence. Another harvest is coming and I fear that harvest. Yet my spirit calms as I ramble through these community corn fields, struggling to photograph the color and diversity of non-conformist weeds and towering brown corn plants.
A group of Zapatista students race by and their raucous laughter upsets my artistic musing. Yet I too find myself laughing, marveling at the energy and audaciousness of these kids who have grown up with rebellion their entire lives. Suddenly, I see the millions of brilliantly colored corn seeds being harvested here in Lucio Cabañas feeding these kids – bright yellow fuel for Zapatista education, health, ecology programs; this image is joined by bright flower-faces of friends’ from around the world who support freedom-loving education in Chiapas.
And finally, I flash upon a scene during the bitter harvest when multitudes of multicolored, flowery people dance beside “Los de Abajo / The Underdogs” and join together in cries of “Ya Basta / Enough is Enough”. The birthing of a new world here in Mexico is certain to be difficult – even painful; however there is a season under heaven for all things and what has been sown will be reaped.
I sense that life is powerful and resistant; that we rebels will stand together; and that our Mother Earth will survive. Somewhere within this jumble of perceptions I find my own convoluted path towards feeling thankful.
Yours for kids,
Pedro Café aka Peter Brownpedrocafe@schoolsforchiapas.org
ps. Thanks for reading this little Thanksgiving note all the way to the end ~ I hope you enjoyed it. We’ll soon be sending you detailed reports from our Chiapas travels along with photos of many new craft items produced in Zapatista communities and available online “The Market of the Others”. Now more than ever your support is vital ~ Hasta la Victoria, ZAPATISTA!
Pps. We strongly urge those interested in news from the progressive movement in Mexico to check out the new web site entitled “Disinformamamos”.