Weekend Update #27: Dying of Racism
In this edition of Weekend Update, Russell Means speaks to the racist portrayals of Indians by Hollywood, the U.S. Government and the media of the left. He speaks as well to the soft racism of exclusion that too often ignores the Indigenous communites of the world and their concerns of their land and their people.
On December 22, 1997 paramilitary (state-trained and state-funded pro-governing party civil defense) forces surrounded a Catholic chapel in the pacifistTsotsil Mayan community of Acteal, Chiapas state, Mexico. During a period of several hours, this armed force, with the apparent consent of local Mexican Army units stationed not far away, proceeded to surround Acteal’s chapel, and shot to death those inside, and as many of those who escaped as they could find. A number of residents survived the massacre. Those murdered on that day included 15 children, 21 women (four of them pregnant) and 9 men.
On June 6, 2009, Police, supplied by the U.S. ‘War Against Drugs, shot dead more than 38 people. The government of Peru ordered for the National Police to attack the Amazonian Indigenous peoples. Civilians were shot from building roofs and helicopters.
Indigenous peoples in Peru were on strike for the previous 52 days protesting against free trade policies that would allow multinationals to take over their territories. The attack occurred around 5:00 AM in the morning, a day after the Congress of Peru decided not to debate one of the most important decrees that allow the sale of Indigenous land. The number of casualities is according to a Twetter sent by a Peruvian journalist who is in the area of Bagua, a city located in the Amazonas region of Peru.
In the first week of February, according to indigenous witnesses, Columbian FARC rebels massacred up to 27 Awa people in the southern Narino province, including women and young children (from ages 3 to 6), bringing the total number of murdered Native people to 50 since the national march in the fall.
FARC press statements have only acknowledged the “execution” of eight indigenous due to their alleged assistance of Columbian military, but witnesses deny that figure and the assertion that the Awa willingly assisted anyone.
The National Indigenous Organization of Columbia, ONIC and regional UNIPA, Indigenous Unity of the Awa People, issued a joint statement the week after the massacre, decrying the murders.
“The UNIPA and ONIC denounce the grave violation of human rights and the collective rights of the Awa people of Narino, which is nothing new. … in the last 10 years [in the AWA territory] there have been four massacres, approximately 200 murders and 50 people affected by antipersonnel mines (land mines). … and now 1,300 Awa people are trapped in the area due to confrontations between the army, the guerillas and the para-militaries.”
Guatemalan Civil War:
In its final report, the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH- Guatemalan Truth Commission) concluded that army massacres had destroyed 626 villages, more than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared, 1.5 million were displaced by the violence, and more than 150,000 were driven to seek refuge in Mexico. Further, the Commission found the state (funded largely by the United States) responsible for ninety-three percent of the acts of violence and the guerrillas (URNG-Guatemalan Revolutionary Union) responsible for three percent. All told, eighty-three percent of the victims were Maya and seventeen percent were ladino.