Many indigenous communities across Mexico refrained from voting in today’s national elections. Some have banned the electoral process in their territories. They protest a political system that excludes and exploits them, and threatens their interests.
The Wixarika people of San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlan, who take part in the boycott, installed checkpoints around their territory in order to stop any candidate or political party from campaigning and declared that they will not partake in the elections until the lands taken from them in 1952 by ranchers are returned.
“As long as the Mexican State, and particularly the Federal government, doesn’t fulfill its basic commitment with the Wixarika people and keeps violating the rights of the Wixaritari, the indigenous community of San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlan will carry out different pressuring actions,” they said in a statement.
In Michoacán, the P’urhépecha community has shown its rejection of the electoral process in several municipalities “in defense of the self-determination of the original communities”. The residents destroyed campaign signs and set up roadblocks to prevent government officials from delivering ballot boxes. Aranza, Zopoco, Santa Fe de la Laguna, Sevina, Urapicho and other towns prevented the electoral authorities from entering their territories, while indigenous communities in the states of Chiapas and Guerrero have also vowed to block electoral authorities and prevent the installation of polling stations.
In Nahutzén, a town of 32,000 inhabitants, the citizens decided that elections will not be held. A few days before the vote, roadblocks were set up. This forced the National Electoral Institute to announce that it would not install 45 polling stations it planned on. Despite of this decision, the electoral authorities still tried to set up the polling stations in the town. They were accompanied by the police who, with assault weapons, removed the blockades. In response, several cars carrying the ballot papers were intercepted and burned.
In Mexico the self-government practiced by many municipalities of indigenous population is recognised by the government and it is protected by the country’s constitution. In spite of this, it is common for the state and different pressure groups to violate the indigenous communities’ decision not to participate. The elections are often forcefully imposed. However, it must be pointed out that the violence during election time in Mexico is not reserved to the indigenous population only. During the campaign leading to today’s ballot, more than 130 candidates were murdered.
Source: A Las Barricadas
Photo: Enrique Castro, Revolución 3.0