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Why I march with the indigenous block for COP26

Here is the content of some personal thoughts I sent to "Avvenire" the italian catholic newspaper,  when a journalist was asking for quotes about our upcoming November 6th march at COP26.

The indigenous block of the march on Saturday will be formed by survivors. We survived being hunted for our ears, noses and heads by europeans, including Scottish  and Italian in the case of Patagonia. We survived explorers and supposedly learned men who described us as savages as they killed us and our animals and destroyed the environment around us from Patagonia to the most northern coasts, from the farthest reaches of the earth to the soul of Glasgow on its old druid's hill. I say this because this process of destruction has been slowly continuing across the world, long before Christopher Columbus, and in every continent of this world. We survived being "educated" and losing our culture, memory and knowledge of who we are and how to live on this earth in connection to nature. We survived the residential and missionary schools, the encomiendas and the mines. Although we were not assimilated and killed, the process of our destruction has never stopped. Even the romans destroyed the druids when they found them, as if this disgust of those connected to the earth was part of some ancient evil that goes who knows how many empires and autocracies' back in time.

I understand there are belief systems that place us as apart and better than the world around us, due to anthropocentric beliefs. Like Galileo trying to convince stubborn people that the world was not at the centre of the universe, maybe we are also at the cusp of a new understanding, sadly well known for far too long by those who suffer because of the prevailing ignorance. We still see ourselves as superior and the world as our resource to extract, when we are mostly made of water. We are just a large pool, in some cases a flowing river, but always a biome where our human cells are a minority and bacteria, fungi and life in all its forms are inside us just as they are in the world around us and this is also part of our own lives. This is what we mean when we point to a rock and say "that is alive", or that it is part of Pachamama, our natural environment: Our lives are not finite but connected to all the other lives around us and our understanding of life and its extent might even keep growing. 
Although I have always known I was indigenous Aymara on one side, I recently found out that like many people with ancestors in my northern Chilean region I also descend from the conquistador Francisco de Aguirre who took part in the sack of Rome. This evil man was tried by the viceroyalty that presided over what later became Chile for his practice of committing genocidal rape on the indigenous population, fathering hundreds of mestizo children. He had even managed to get the pope to let him marry his cousin, before going to the new world to commit genocide on the local indigenous peoples and their animals, all so as to bring more European men to father children indigenous women and this way have mixed race servants to work for him, and European animals that could make them money from the new inhabitants, the "pure blood" settlers and the new mestizo race. I am lucky enough to know a lot about the disgraceful acts carried out by an ancestor, and I can refer to history books and historical papers to see their atrocities and raise awareness of them. 

I am here because I know what I have learned as an indigenous person, and my knowledge of my coloniser part also, work together to show that we are not separate from this world but part of it. When we destroy the earth and commit ecocide, denying this living world of its right to life, even in small ways where it appears not to be harmful, we are also destroying ourselves. We have seen this if having been alive long enough we have been able to notice how the earth is changing, getting hotter, wetter, dryer, more inclined to catastrophe. We don't know how many other horrible, disgraceful and really savage acts lurk in our past, many are not as lucky as myself and are left wondering what could have happened, or even pretend they are not to blame because of what happened decades or in some cases centuries ago, as if that kind of pain could just be forgotten, perhaps if enough victims die..  

So I march also for those who have still not realised these things, for those who think they have no way of going back to reconnect with the earth because their connection was broken so strongly, and so long ago. I march because I believe they can find it again, and fix those old wounds we made to each other. The system of extraction, that large machine that digs up the world when it is considered just resource, something that I can buy within a legal and economic system without responsibility to future generations, the world is a lifeless thing to extract without caring for it, this system was put together to colonise us, to suck up riches in one end of the planet and pour it into the bank accounts of the rich and powerful. This system is faltering. I believe we can work together across all peoples, all places and cultures and languages to create again an ecosystem that includes us, rather than some perfect system from our intellect and subconscious. I believe we can march together and learn and heal and create a much better system, still flawed and human but also connected to the earth.

I know Aymara people have had a very dark history with regard to the catholic church. When priests and inspectors would find villages where we still upheld our beliefs they would literally burn the entire village. Due to this persecution we are only just piecing together our beliefs and history. Many turned to syncretism simply for survival reasons. 

Despite this, I believe we can still walk together and make a big change to stabilise and keep this ecosystem we all depend on. I march because I know you can understand and might join me. 

Please help us approve ecocide law and other laws and rights to do with the related destruction of our ecosystem. Help us all help indigenous peoples of the world to just let the world flourish. Please walk with us in your cities and lands this Saturday and from then on. 

Unity in biodiversity.


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