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Posts Tagged ‘Triqui’

The zócalo is a sea of red today.  It is the 38th anniversary of the founding of the Movimiento Unificador de Lucha Triqui (MULT) — one of the organizations of Triqui from the Mixteca Baja region of Oaxaca. They have come to (yet again) present their demands to the government.

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For background (in English) on the plight of the Triqui in Oaxaca and the many who have been forced by violence in their communities to migrate to California, check out David Bacon’s article, Can the Triquis Go Home?  Unfortunately, I don’t think much has changed since it was written in 2012.

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February 2, besides being Groundhog Day in the USA, is Candelaria in Mexico.  And so, late Monday morning, I went in search of Niño Díos.  None was to be found in the vicinity of the Cathedral.  Only the traditional red huipiles of the female Triqui members of MULT caught my eye.

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I continued my quest, heading up to Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.  However, as I walked through Llano park, no one was carrying a Niño Díos, dressed in this year’s finery, to the church to be blessed.  Only a giant red horse sculpture by Oaxaqueño artist, Fernando Andriacci (and its red feedbag?) was there to see.

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I turned west and headed for home, hoping I might possibly spot a Niño Díos as I passed Templo del Carmen Alto.   But no, only a red-shirted water delivery man caught my eye.

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Funny, if we allow ourselves to see things as they are and not as how we expect them to be, we can return home with something completely different and delightful from what we had set out to find.

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As I’ve mentioned before, Oaxaca is one of the most indigenous and (no surprise) one of the poorest states in Mexico.  And, the Triqui of the Mixteca region of Oaxaca are some of the state’s poorest residents.  They have recently come to the attention of sports lovers, as a result of the heartwarming story of their youth basketball team, dubbed the Barefoot champions of the mountains.

However, while their success story makes us feel good, it is rare.  Political violence and poverty continue to chase the Triqui out of their beautiful and ancient mountain communities in search of a better future for their families.   And, discrimination continues to follow them into el norte.  To add to the strikes against them wherever they go, Spanish is not their native language — the state of Oaxaca is home to 16 distinct ethnolinguistic groups, with Triqui being one.  And so, the story of Bernadina Hernandez and her grassroots efforts in Hollister, California should be known, appreciated, and celebrated.

A little background information…

Muchisimas gracias a Jody for turning me on to Bernadina’s story.

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Yesterday, as today’s article in Noticias states, “with great dignity and head held high” the Triqui families from San Juan Copala pulled up stakes and moved to temporary housing in Colonia Reforma.  The 105 displaced families had been occupying the front of the Government Palace for several years, but reached an agreement with the state government to relocate.

Meanwhile, on the east side of the Government Palace, the band played on…  September is “La mes de la patria” (the month of the motherland).  Tomorrow night, governor Gabino Cue will repeat El Grito de Independencia (the Cry of Independence) from the balcony of the Government Palace and Monday, an hours-long patriotic parade will pass in front of the Palace.

Today, the scene has changed.  Members of the Frente Único de Lucha (FUL), the new incarnation of APPO, have taken up positions in front of the Government Palace and vowed to remain until those arrested in clashes with the federal police, on December 1 and yesterday in Mexico City, are released.  Hmmm… I wonder what will happen tomorrow and/or Monday.

Just remember, when you read, hear, or watch the news…  Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca are the most indigenous and poorest states in Mexico.  And now, the tears of Mother Nature are raining down on Oaxaca.

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Some rare good news from Florida…

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Two young Triqui basketball teams qualified to participate in the International Tournament YBOA (Youth Basketball of America) in Orlando, Florida this month.  They are from the Academia de Baloncesto Indígena México (ABIM), an athletic project founded by professor Sergio Zúñiga, with the mission of “rescuing the youth of the Triqui communities of Oaxaca from the extreme poverty and violence that they live in… to better the lives of these kids through sports and education.”  Read their story, including why they play barefoot, HERE.

The tournament has ended and, though they did not win the tournament championship, they won hearts and (one can only hope) minds.  To me, these young ambassadors were winners in the important ways that matter.  ¡Felicitaciones!

For video of the team playing and information about the documentary that is being made about these kids, take a look at the blog, Mexico’s Barefoot Champions.

October 2013 update:  They came and saw and conquered: Triqui sweep in World Basketball

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In the last month, several articles in the US press referencing Oaxaca have been called to my attention.  They aren’t the usual travel features enumerating the “10 must see sites,” “best places to stay,” and “local fare dining.”  Nor do they cater to the ever more popular fear mongering and demonization of Mexico and her citizens.  Instead, these articles provide a window on Oaxaca’s indigenous past and challenging present.

Triqui women sitting on a sidewalk

Triqui women and children in front of the Government Palace in Oaxaca de Juárez

From the June 15, 2012 New York TimesThe Past Has a Presence Here by Edward Rothstein.

OAXACA, Mexico — The past casts a sharp shadow here, wherever you look. You see it on mountaintop plateaus, where the ruins of ancient pyramidal staircases and capital-I-shaped ball fields hint at mysterious rituals that disappeared over a millennium ago.

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We are not dealing here with imagined reconstructions, but with the past’s palpable presence. And most of these ancient cities and monuments were abandoned some six centuries before the Spaniards plundered the region. After 80 years of archaeological research, their meanings are still unclear, though much has been written about Zapotec social hierarchies, gladiatorial-style games and stone carvings.

What is more clear is that remnants of those worlds also exist in the valley, where the slow-changing cultures of this buffeted but protected region still reflect Zapotec and Mixtec heritages. So here everything is plentiful that in the United States is rare: indigenous ruins, ancient languages, signs of direct lineage. And there is an edge to it all. Centers like Monte Albán are monuments to power and accumulated material wealth; they are also clearly evidence of a large-scale political organization, relics of perhaps the earliest state in the Americas.  [Read full article]

From California’s June 7, 2012 Monterey County Weekly, Native speakers and local missionaries work to save an indigenous Mexican language by Sara Rubin.

Gloria Moreno walks with a slight limp under the weight of the black messenger bag slung over her shoulder. It holds something of a botanical encyclopedia, petals and leaves gathered from the streets of Greenfield, which Moreno says help alleviate any number of ailments – pain, anxiety, weak bones.

Moreno says her collection is part of a medical tradition she began practicing as a teenager in Mexico. It was there, at 15, that she says she was instructed in a dream to take up herbal medicine.

Moreno dreamt her directive in Triqui de la baja, an indigenous language of the Copala region of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

As native Triqui speakers disperse, leaving behind a notoriously violent region, there’s pressure both to preserve that language, and to leave it behind.

Of an estimated 40,000 Triqui speakers worldwide, about half of them are thought to have migrated away from Oaxaca, and as many as 10 percent live in the Salinas Valley.

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Moreno hopes for a generation of trilingual children, but many younger Triqui speakers are encouraged to trade their native tongue for English or Spanish, says a Salinas-based interpreter (who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal), because indigenous Mexicans are viewed as inferior. He trekked two hours to school from his childhood home in Oaxaca where he says he was bullied for being different.

“Because of the discrimination, parents don’t want their kids to learn [Triqui],” he says, “but then we lose tradition and culture.”

To reverse that, he hopes to get a grant or some cash to revive a bimonthly Triqui class piloted at the Greenfield Public Library two years ago. It drew about 35 students; of those, only a quarter were native speakers. The rest, mostly service providers, were there to learn Triqui.

“To speak Spanish, I used to think you had more value,” he says. “When I came here, I learned it is not that way. If you know three or four languages, you can explore and learn more.”

View Barbara Hollenbach’s Spanish-Triqui dictionary at www.sil.org/~hollenbachb/Posted.htm  [Read full article]

And finally from the May 28 Los Angeles Times, Epithet that divides Mexicans is banned by Oxnard school district, by Paloma Esquivel.

Rolando Zaragoza, 21, was 15 years old when he came to the United States, enrolled in an Oxnard school and first heard the term “Oaxaquita.” Little Oaxacan, it means — and it was not used kindly.

“Sometimes I didn’t want to go to school,” he said. “Sometimes I stayed to fight.”

“It kind of seemed that being from Oaxaca was something bad,” said Israel Vasquez, 23, who shared the same mocking, “just the way people use ‘Oaxaquita’ to refer to anyone who is short and has dark skin.”

Years later, indigenous leaders are fighting back against an epithet that lingers among immigrants from Mexico, directed at their own compatriots. Earlier this month the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project in Oxnard launched the “No me llames Oaxaquita” campaign. “Don’t call me little Oaxacan” aims to persuade local school districts to prohibit the words “Oaxaquita” and “indito” (little Indian) from being used on school property, to form committees to combat bullying and to encourage lessons about indigenous Mexican culture and history.

Indigenous Mexicans have come to the U.S. in increasing numbers in the last two decades. Some estimates now put them at 30% of California’s farmworkers. In Ventura County, there are about 20,000 indigenous Mexicans, most of whom are Mixtec from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero who work in the strawberry industry, according to local organizers.

Many speak little or no Spanish and are frequently subjected to derision and ridicule from other Mexicans. The treatment follows a legacy of discrimination toward indigenous people in Mexico, said William Perez, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University who has interviewed and surveyed numerous indigenous Mexican students.  [Read full article]

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Banner - close-up of eyes, nose, and tears running down cheeks.The Marcha del Color de la Sangre (Caravan of the Color of Blood), by the Triqui of San Juan Copala and their supporters, mentioned in my May 23 post, was prevented from entering the village.

Banner:  Face of mother and son and slogan:  Autonomia, justicia, paz, dignidad; Municipio Autónomo de San juan Copala.According to Angry White Kid, a National and International Day of Action in Solidarity with the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, Mexico has been called for June 3.

Banner in the style of a huipil with text:  Apoyo al planton de mujeres y niños desplazados de San Juan Copala.

These banners graced the portales of the Government Palace during the encampment.

Banner - Triqui woman with slogan: Justicia y paz con dignidad; Municipio Autónomo San Juan Copala

Beautiful and poignant, I could never pass by without pausing…

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