Wednesday, February 24, 2010

¡No A La Mina!

I´m currently living in Esquel, Argentina, a small town in the Lakes district of Patagonia. Esquel is famous for it´s beautiful landscapes, snowcapped peaks, and fabulous skiing in the winters. Esquels mountains, have also sparked the unquenchable hunger of American and Canadian based multinational corporations that are convinced within the glorious peaks, lies billions of dollars worth of gold. Ever since the hunger of the multinationals to consume has been directed at Esquel, the people have been organizing. In 2003, Esquel became famous for it´s history as the first Argentinian town to successfully kick out an impending mine by putting it on the ballot.

I´ve had the honor to work with Fernanda Rojas and Juan Rodriquez, of the Mapu Association, to learn more about the struggle in Esquel against the mine. Although Esquel was victorious in 2003, Fernanda and Juan and many others are convinced that it is merely a matter of time before the gold companies and the multinational corporations will be back.

And so the people of Esquel continue to organize.

Every month Esquel has a march against the mine--even though they won. That's a learning for this American activist for sure. Stay organized to keep them out. Don't get lazy just because you won. My mind wanders to memories of union elections that I helped in the efforts of winning, only to be shuffled off to another campaign once the election was over. Our movements in America could learn a lot about continued resistance and commitment from the struggle here in Esquel.

The threat of mining is a part of many of my conversations down here. There are rocks painted on the mountains that encircle the the town. The rocks say "No A La Mina", "No to the Mine". The rocks can be seen almost everywhere you go in town. A reminder from up high, that the community is under constant threat of invasion and robbery from the corporations of the north. A reminder to stay committed and stay organized.

The summer has finally kicked in here and we´re having some wonderfully warm days, which is a real treat this far south. This week a group of us climbed high into the mountains to repaint the rocks. We laughed and shared stories as we painted the rocks. I caught a quiet moment to myself and listened as the wind whipped past my body, tickling my senses. I sent my prayers into the wind, reflecting on our movements in the north and the south and how so often we are facing the same multinational enemy.

May our battles find roots in the love that flows from our mother earth.
May our movements be strong and fierce like the winds of Patagonia.
May our struggles be connected through strong powerful veins running deep inside the earth, deeper than any mine can reach.

Amen, Aho, Ashe, and Blessed be.

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