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By Miriam Libertad Djeordjian
"Being a Mapuche is one who lives the land from belonging to it." we meet Moira, after a few days shared in the First Congress of Environmental Education.
This is almost always the case. Interviews, calls, encounters, meetings ... Take advantage of every second of your time in the big city before returning to your threatened paradise in the Patagonian mountains. Between complaints and statements, there is also time to resolve everyday issues, such as providing cereals and legumes to have in the community pantry. Thus we meet Moira, after a few days shared in the First Congress of Environmental Education, not in Embalse, Córdoba, but in the Liniers neighborhood, and mixing a bit of struggles, grains, complicities, spices and dreams.
-We are with Moira Millán, "Mapuche, sexy and combative" ...
-Well ... we started the note very badly!
-Do not get mad! I bring you the unfortunate and sexist title that "Made in Buenos Aires" put on the cover when publishing the interview they did with you ...
-That note was actually made by a girl who is very committed to the Mapuche struggle, or so it seems. She was living in our community, and asked my permission to publish the note in "Made in Buenos Aires". I live thousands of kilometers from Buenos Aires, 100 kilometers from the city where I can access a magazine and find out what happens with the interviews I give. I live in the middle of the mountain range and I came to find out two months later that this magazine had released "Sexy and combative" as the cover title. It seemed to me a degradation of my person, it hurt me, it offended me, it made the interview meaningless. Right from the start, what the cover does is frivolize something that is very deep and transcendent. And I also want someone to explain to me what it means to be sexy, because I can't quite understand it. I think it's about objectifying women and turning them into a salable product on the market shelves. And one, precisely, it fights to destroy that stereotype, and more from the earth and from my identity as a Mapuche woman. For me the cover of that magazine is reprehensible. I hope that good readers have been able to discern between the cover and the content of the note.
-What is it like today to be a Mapuche?
-Mapuche means "people of the land" and to be a Mapuche is to be part, to belong to the land. And from this the philosophical thought of our people develops, that harmonious and communal relationship with nature. The word mapufungun, in the speech of the land, means all the community bond that does not extend only to the family, but also to the tree, the river, the mountain, because they are part of the community, they are elements with which they live together, that they would be nehuenes, forces, and the Mapuche is one more force. So, being a Mapuche is one who lives the earth from belonging to it. Before being a Mapuche was only belonging to a people, now it has become an entire ideology.
-From this point of view, I would like you to tell us about the recent formation of the peasant-indigenous struggle front, because from this conception a peasant can become "people of the land" even though he was not born in Araucania.
-Now there are many Mapuches scandalized by this of the Mapuche-Campesino Front because they say that they are fragmenting the Mapuche people between urban and peasant, and others say "the peasant struggle has nothing to do with the Mapuche," or that embracing the peasant struggle is to subtract identity to our struggle as an ancestral people ...
This front and what we propose has nothing to do with this paradigm. We, the millennial Mapuche people, with all our cultural identity, our spirituality, with our Mapufungun, reaffirms and assumes that belonging to the land and that cultural belonging. But we began to see the need to amalgamate with other peoples, other brothers, with those who are not Mapuche, but who are people of the land, and who also develop a whole philosophy around it. So we distinguish between peasant and small producer.
-What would be the distinction?
The small producer produces from the land according to market demand, cultivating intensively: it can be soybeans, fine fruit, tulips and does not think if fertilizers or pesticides are bad for him.
-This regardless of whether it is a hectare or a thousand ...
No, of course, it is the way of operating and seeing the land as a utilitarian commodity, calculating profitability is the same. Tomorrow that small producer can become a great producer or a montsanto; Today he cannot do it because his situation is different, but he aspires towards it. While the peasant has a more self-sufficient, more harmonious, dialogue, more philosophical relationship ... A peasant does not respond to the needs of the "market" to acquire money, but to the need for his own subsistence, and at the same time his life It arises from respect for the place where it is. Raise some animals, diversify crops, barter with other peasants, with the Mapuches. We make this reservation because they are different and that is where we believe it is possible to amalgamate, that it is possible to fight and raise a new thought.
While you were talking, I was thinking that several feminist theorists and women of feminine spirituality establish a historical break at the moment when the human being began to think as different from nature, no longer as part, ceasing to see nature as a "nurturing mother" but as a "threat", as indomitable forces that had to be subdued, and in recent centuries, as a source of resources and pure merchandise. And with this, the ecofeminists establish a symbolic parallel between this process with nature and the domination of women by men, thought as part of that nature to be subdued. From here I ask you, how do you see the relationship between men and women within the Mapuche community?
First, before telling you how I see it today, after 150 years of conquest and imposition of antagonistic values, I want to tell you what is the essence of Mapuche thought in the face of this. Because it is what we are trying to strengthen today and fortunately it was subsisting. The Mapuche people, above all, respect the nature of each one. A machi says that "violence is never going to be eradicated from the Huinca culture, because the first thing it did was to violate the inner being of the individual, imposing on it a model of social construction." Unlike this, what the Mapuche people do is respect the nature of each one; we call it nehuen. There is the one who was born with a machi nehuen, who is like a shaman, who has knowledge of philosophy medicine; the nehuen de lonko, who is the political and spiritual authority in some cases; the one born with the nature of being toki or commander; kona, warrior; or werken, which is the messenger. And the same "the" that are born; Women are born with a diversity of natures that allow us to occupy different places in the struggle of our people. In the Mapuche people there was a great commander who fought alongside Leftaro, (Lautaro) and if he organized his troops and fought against the Spanish, just like Wacolda did and the Mapuche people kept this name. And yet, Chilean history vindicates Lautaro, although it seems contradictory, but it makes Wacolda invisible, nor is she mentioned, there is no monument that remembers her. But our people have taken it upon themselves to keep their name, to remember that they fought and won many battles and that they proudly defended their land.
-What era is Wacolda from?
-From 1580 more or less ... And then we have suffered colonization and today a very notorious phenomenon happens, where women take the direction of the process of organizing the struggle, especially in Chubut, and have an important political and social role, even accompanied by their husbands before the governors on duty, before the security forces. However, those same women inside their houses are subjugated and subdued by their husbands, although later they are given their place in the face of social struggle. If she commands something, he keeps his mouth shut and goes along. In everyday life you see that contradiction all the time.
-You who also lived in the Humahuaca ravine, how do you see it compared to other indigenous cultures?
-Our reality is very different from that of the north where the subjection of women is greater. The Mapuches are women with a lot of self-determination. In the north, although I have met very wise women, they are very mistreated, they cannot have a high profile, and it is frowned upon that we talk a lot. The difference is noticeable because I am verbose, very outgoing, in my town I handle myself completely naturally ...
-In your town they have already admitted that you are a messenger ... (laughs)
-Yes, I can make jokes and have fun with my people without problems ... In the north that is very frowned upon and even my freedom bothered and was frowned upon by women themselves.
-It seems that this freedom also bothers those who title magazine covers ... (laughs) Changing the subject, what happens in Esquel after 86% of the people against the mining of Meridian Gold?
-Well, the exploitation of the mine in the city of Esquel was stopped, but the company has not left the province. There is talk of No to the mine in Esquel, but yes to the mining prospect map. Activity in the city has been stopped, but not in rural areas. Everything remains the same. Now coalition spaces are being created between different Mapuche and peasant communities that are opposing the advance of mining. Some have participated in the takeover of the Directorate of Mines, demanding that the government define its position vis-à-vis mining prospecting in rural communities. There are two towns that bring together many communities that have given permission for mining exploration: one is Tecka and the other is Gobernador Costa.
-Always with the Meridian Gold?
-Yes, because the government has with them a contractual agreement of millions of dollars that if they do not comply, it could mean a sidereal judgment. The point is that
no matter how much it is done on one side or the other, the contamination of the water with cyanide and arsenic knows no limits. The earth has veins through which the water flows as if it were blood, thus expanding the impact of pollution.
-And speaking of water, there is also the problem of the dams that they plan to build ...
-It's terrible and sad. Yesterday the National Energy Plan was approved that will promote all the dam projects in the country to be able to achieve the energy volume they need, especially the American corporations, to lower development costs in Argentina. Among those projects is the "La Elena" system, which are six dams on the Carrenleufú basin that will mean the death of that river. A river that crosses a wooded area, winds its way through the mountain range; it is a fundamental water source. There the salmon will spawn in the Pacific.
-We are talking about a region in Chubut that is in the middle of the mountain range ...
-Yes, on the other side is Chile and this megaproject is going to affect a lot of surface, in an area of humid forest. It would modify the climate and there could be a climate alert and floods, with such stagnation of six dams in such a rainy area.
-And Pillán Mahuiza, your community, how far away is it?
-We are only 2 kilometers from one of the projected dikes, so to make the dam they have to evict us because the water level rises more than 300 meters.
Our fight is to avoid the dams and to stay in place.
-But the Mapuche struggle also has a reason linked to identity and spirituality ...
-Of course! Our struggle is not only to "not be evicted," but also because of the importance of continuing that life of the river, of the forest, those living forces that nature gives birth and that have their nehuen. For our worldview, within that nature there is a greater nehuen that orders each circle and that is called Pillán. "Pillán Mahuiza" has its sacred mountain, which is imposing and reddish in the middle of the greens of the forest and it is the one that orders the whole harmonic and circular relationship of the place. That is why we fought against the mine so that it would not be dynamited; There was nothing to discuss about whether the capitals are private or state, national or foreign, or whether it could be exploited minimizing the "environmental impact" ... It is No to the Mine because it is murdering the mountain, because we and our linked identity would die to this mountain, to the rivers, to the forest. Back in Chile, our brother Alexis Lemún, barely 17 years old, died fighting for his forest and his name was Lemún, "forest", that was his name: Forest. And he went out to defend his grandmother who was taken from the wicks, she who held ceremonies in that forest. We oppose the continued clearing of native forest to establish artificial eucalyptus and pine forests. Alexis paid with his life to defend the place he inherited from his ancestors. And so it is with the river. We don't want him to be murdered. They say? Well, we amputate a foot, we make a dam around here ... and well, since we're here, we amputate a hand and make another dam around here ... "We feel the pain that it causes to the river, of which we feel part, and It also has to do with our future existence.Within our Mapuche vision, culture is linked to identity with the land and what the elderly teach us is that if an element of nature disappears, an element of culture disappears.
-And are you articulating with people from other social movements?
-Yes, we are articulating with colleagues from different environmental and other social organizations such as picketers, human rights, unions, recovered factories… we have dialogues with everyone. And on occasions when we have to accumulate forces to stand up for an issue, we get support. Rather, we want to awaken the conscience of the decommitted individual, who does not identify with the picketers, nor with the people in the factories, nor with the teachers, and who does not identify with those who govern, but who does not decide to do anything to change the things. We want them to at least mobilize to protect life. Today, there is so much talk about insecurity and security has been raised as an emblem, as an objective to be achieved and the antagonism that insecurity holds for each one. For Blumberg, insecurity is that they murder his son, asking him for money, at an armed hand that came from the same police and that although he does not say it, insecurity is police. For us insecurity is evictions, it is floods, it is pollution. Insecurity are corrupt governments advancing with developmentalism based on cumulative speculation by corporations. We have the insecurity of being able to continue living in our place ... We have the insecurity of continuing to live ...
And here we stay, wanting to continue the dialogue, but knowing that at any time, on a march or shopping, we will meet again, to continue mixing struggles, complicities, and dreams.
* By Miriam Libertad Djeordjian
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Collaboration of Tania Fernandez for EcoPortal