Loudspeaker: Companeros please form up at your community banner!
NATIVE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Gilberto Mendez: There’s still time, Companeros! The speeches start at 11, or at 11:30, or at 12:00. The mayor and municipal council are here, and the campaign workers. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy some music!
Municipal Elections in Huehuetla, Puebla, Mexico
First Woman: We can’t earn enough money for our needs.
Pedro Rodríguez Vega Mayor
Pedro Rodríguez Vega: Bring a written request.
Second Woman: We work very hard, but we only earn enough for our tortillas.
Pedro Rodríguez Vega: With your request form we can evaluate your eligibility for roofing materials. But you have to understand that first we must help the most needy.
Woman on loudspeaker: We don’t want to be treated the way the whites used to treat us. Since we spoke our Totonac language, they didn’t bother listening to us. They never helped us when they ran the government. That’s why they want to get rid of our PRD government!
Cruz García Romero
Cruz García Romero: My name is Cruz Garcia Romero, from the neighborhood of Leakaman, in the community of Huehuetla. I’ve been away for 16 years, because the whites treated me very badly when I was young, and I felt ashamed. That’s why I had to leave my home. But now I hear there is an Indian government. So I have come back to Huehuetla to find out what they have done, and how things have changed.
Pedro Rodríguez Vega: Those of us in the Indian government, who have an alliance with the PRD, made an agreement that we never let the whites take power over our Totonac people again. We’re not afraid even if they kill us. We will always carry on, because we Totonacs are the majority in Huehuetla. There are almost 15,000 of us Indians here. So if they kill some of us, if the earth is soaked with our blood, we feel we will like seeds planted to bring forth fruit another day. That’ s how we felt when they killed one of our Totonac companeros. We felt stronger, we felt more commitment, we felt more courage to govern our community.
Cruz: What problems have you had with the whites, who live in the town? Have they criticized you for not knowing how to govern? (
Pedro Rodríguez Vega: They’ve never liked us in the nine years the Totonac Indian government has been in power. At first we didn’t know about the aid we could get from the state and federal governments. We had to find out about this aid by ourselves, and learn how to get it. But we learned how, and we got aid for our projects. Now there is electricity in every neighborhood. (T)
Loudspeaker: In the name of the Independent Totonac Organization, and of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, we cordially invite all the citizens of Huehuetla to join us for the words of Juan Garcia Cipriano, the people’s candidate, the candidate of the PRD!
Juan García Cipriano (Ioudspeaker): When the PRI ruled our community, our town and our neighborhoods not only didn’t progress, but we actually went backwards, companeros. Now, the majority of the people of Huehuetla are still poor, but at least we have been able to provide the basic services they need. But how come some Totonac PRI supporters don’t have electricity? The reason is, they were too proud to participate in community labor to install the electric lines!
Loudspeaker: Please wait where you are, while our volunteers bring you tamales and soft drinks.
Juan García Cipriano
PRD Mayoral Candidate
Gilberto Méndez Municipal
Gilberto Méndez : Ten years ago, you couldn’t feel safe here, because the whites would steal everything you had, even your hat. They treated us like dirt. So finally the Totonacs began to get angry – they said, “How come things have to be this way? After all, we’re people too.” But the whites treated us Indians like animals. Some of them still do, but now some accept that we’re people, too. But ten years ago, the whites who live in the town and who wear store clothing thought they were the only intelligent ones. They thought they were the only ones who were human beings. They called us worthless and stupid. They believe we don’t know how to reason, how to think for ourselves.
Mario Vélez Menéndez
Democratic Farmworkers’ Union
Mario Velez Menéndez: You don’t have to go to Chiapas to see the subhuman conditions in which the Indians live. We in the Party of the Democratic Revolution have worked with the Independent Totonac Organization to give power to the majority, to bring power to the Indians. It’s not true, as the government says, that the Indians don’t know how to run the local government. They do know how to govern themselves. The problem in Huehuetla is that the state and federal governments refuse to provide financial support, because the Indian government has refused to give up its autonomy.
OIT Catechist: Those of us in the Independent Totonac Organization always go to mass, because we believe that our God will send us what we ask for from heaven. So we kneel before God to pray that he will help the Independent Totonac Organization by sending us a wise counsellor from the Party of the Democratic Revolution.
Jacinto Cruz Rojas
Father Jacinto Cruz Rojas: Unfortunately, the Indian renaissance we seek is limited by the reality that it cannot seek power directly to expand its control over the community. It is limited by the need to work through a political alliance with a party – in this case, with the PRD.
There are several elements that caused all this. The religious faith of the Totonacs in Huehuetla is the most important. In fact, that faith is so pure that it almost seems that they have not suffered almost five hundred years of domination by an alien culture. Another factor is that the oppression of the Indians here was more cruel. The whites were more ruthless in Huehuetla. Another element was the arrival of priests and nuns with a different vision of their faith. All of these elements combined to create an explosive situation, an explosive conflict with the white population.
The OIT is the result of this process. It made an alliance with the PRD, but it will never join the PRD. It has an alliance – and we have to recognize that this political alliance has corrupted the OIT. So one of our goals is the autonomy of the Indian communities, so that they can govern themselves in their own way, without political parties, but by the so-called Indigenous Democracy – not of 50 plus one, nor by a show of hands, but by consensus. Because all of them have a voice. The Indian world works that way, with the voice and opinion of everyone, no matter how long it takes.
The Council of Elders is the highest authority of the Totonac people. No decision which affects the life of the Totonac people can be taken without their consent. Not because the Counsel has a veto or some form of punishment, but because the people will not accept a decision if it has not first been approved by the Elders. They represent the wisdom of the people.
Miguel García Sotero
Consejo de Ancianos
Miguel García Sotero: We elders speak for the good of all. We meet for the common good. We ask God to bless us and to care for our crops. We watch over those who work for others. We pray to Saint Michael for gentle rains, that there will not be a hurricane, that there won’t be strong winds, for a good harvest. That is what we pray for, and that is why we gather.
Cruz: What are you doing?
Worker 1: This is a project to aid poor regions, funded by the state government.
Worker 2: The Indians think this is a political project, but it isn’t. As long as the PRD is in power in Huehuetla, the state and federal governments work through it. If they don’t fund the project, we can’t do any work. So if you’re the mayor, and you ask the state and federal governments for aid, and they don’t give you any aid, you can’t pay my salary for me to work here.
Engineer: You all know the Coordinator of Public Works for the town government. Until now we haven’t needed to ask for volunteers, but this next project wasn’t in our budget. So we’re here to volunteer to help us build an additional holding tank so we can pump water to more houses.
Cruz: Who are you going to vote for mayor?
Woman: I support the PRD. I don’t know what my neighbors think. They say a lot of them are going to vote for the PRI. I don’t know why. The PRD brought electricity, and the potable water system. And there’s a lot more to do.
Cruz: What if the PRI wins?
Woman: I don’t think they’ll help us.
Text & Titles for “Democracia Indigena”