The Mesoamerican Caravan documents land defense movements / by Liz Pelly
At the beginning of 2017, I attended an event at Bushwick’s Starr Bar titled “Documentary Night: Land Defense in the Americas.” The evening included several short films telling stories of indigenous communities in Mexico and Central America fighting to defend their mountains and rivers from the building of pipelines, dams and mines; in every one of these farm communities, such construction would extract the land of natural resources they rely on to live. The documentaries (which can be viewed here) were made in 2015 and 2016 by the Mesoamerican Caravan, a Mexico-based project led by 12 autonomous collectives working with communities from Mexico to Costa Rica.
In one video, the Caravan documents the community living near Paso de la Reyna, Oaxaca, where people are struggling against the creation of a hydroelectric dam that would destroy the land and water. "All of this water will be contaminated, it will no longer serve for human or animal use,” explains Jaime Jimenez, president of the committee of COPUDEVER, the Council of Peoples United of the Defense of the Green River. "COPUDEVER does not bear the color of a political party, we simply defend what is ours," says Eva Catellanos, one of the group’s members.
Another video highlights the Guatemalan resistance effort known as Resistencia Pacífica La Puya, the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya, a long-running project in resistance to a gold mine that would drastically impact the water supply and life in general for the local community. "Starting in 2007, life in the communities changed, when they began the first investigations to build the gold and silver mine known as El Tambor," says the video’s narrator. The gold mine project is owned by Canadian company Radius Gold and US company Kappes, Cassidy and Associates, represented in Guatemala by the company Exmingua. The communities struggled for years to get any information about this gold mine, until 2010 when news reports began to surface, leading to informational meetings and protests, and eventually a robust, peaceful encampment--providing space for the community to gather, have meetings and assemblies, cook food, and support each other, with volunteers taking 6 hour shifts and protect the space 24/hours per day. The encampment has been the targeted by riot police, but the community continues to resist.
These are just a couple of the many stories gathered by the Caravan. Other videos in this series show communities in San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca organizing grassroots resistance to the development of wind farms, and activists in El Salvador, fighting the environmental impacts made on the Paz river. Many of the Caravan's documentaries can be watched online here. The films are intimate and informative, providing direct glimpses into the frontlines of often mystified struggles against horrendous corporate power -- stories that should be getting much more media attention. Further, the videos put the struggles of activists at Standing Rock into greater context, and must be watched by those wanting to be in solidarity with water and land protectors everywhere.
Following the Mesoamerican Caravan’s screening in New York, I reached out to Samantha Thel, a member of Colectivos en Acción, former member of C.A.C.I.T.A, and a participant in the Caravana Mesoamericana, to learn more about their work and how to provide support. . . .
NM Esc speaks with NYC's MALLRAT
Mallrat is a cool band full of the coolest freaks you could meet. I first met Melo when we both volunteered at Willie Mae Rock Camp in Brooklyn and then again at the Silent Barn, where they would eventually become a resident. We recognized each other as two emo boys and also as two people who both wear the same black baseball cap almost every day (the two may be connected). Melo writes great songs, some of which are about crushes, being very haunted, and being afraid of your own body.
If Mallrat was around while AIM was a thing I would definitely have made away messages out of lyrics like “i wanna leave this party / i wanna soak my brain in bleach / i tell you all about it / i hate that you know what i mean” or “i don't ever think i deserve your love cuz / love is something i never got enough and / i don't really wanna try.” After playing as a solo project for a while, Melo joined up with Em (it’s cool) and Ro and now Mallrat is a gay angel supergroup that we are all very blessed to have around.
[cw: sexual abuse]
NM: What are all of your names / ages / pronouns / sun signs (or, as much of that info as you’re comfortable divulging)?
MD: My name is Melo (he/they pronouns). I’m 22 and I’m an Aries sun/Cancer moon/Libra rising.
EB: My name is em (they pronouns). I’m 21 and I’m a Libra sun/Scorpio moon/Aquarius rising.
RS: MY name is Ro!!!! (she/they pronouns). I’m 23 and I’m a leo sun / taurus moon / gemini rising.
MD: Also my Venus is in Pisces, Ro’s is in Cancer, and Em’s is in Scorpio, which is why we’re good at writing sad songs about crushes.
NM: How did Mallrat start?
. . .
VENUS IN GEMINI
Curated by Pier a/k/a DJ Baby Voldemort
by Evan Greer
On "selling out"
May in NYC
~A month of fun in the big apple~ Sorry it's so late~