What is the National Indigenous Congress (CNI)?
The National Indigenous Congress (CNI) was constituted on October 12, 1996, as the home of all indigenous peoples, a space where originary peoples can find shared thought and solidarity to strengthen their struggles of resistance and rebellion, with their own forms of organization, representation and decision-making. It is the house of the indigenous peoples, tribes and nations we are, speaking Amuzgo, Binnizá, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal of Oaxaca, Chontal of Tabasco, Coca, Náyeri, Comcac, Cuicateco, Kumiai, Lacandón, Matlazinca, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Nahua, Ñahñu, Ñathô, Popoluca, Purépecha, Rarámuri, Tepehua, Tepehuano, Tlapaneco, Tojolabal, Totonaco, Triqui, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Wixárika, Tohono Oódham, Mame, Tlahuica, Guarijío, Sayulteco, Yaqui, Zoque.
When we say we are peoples, it is because we carry in our blood, in our flesh and in our skin all the history, all the hope, all the wisdom, culture, language, identity.
We are the peoples we still are despite 523 years of extermination, violence, domination and plunder from capitalism and its allies, the owners of money and power, the representatives of death. Capitalism was born from the blood of our peoples and keeps feeding from it.
We do not forget. Because that blood, that history, those lives, those struggles are the essence of our resistance and our rebellion that turns into autonomy, ancestral revendications of education, security, justice, spirituality, communication, self-defense and self-government.
We collectively built, embrace, defend and exercise the San Andrés Accords as the constitution of our peoples, because they represent the only way for us to keep existing as the peoples we are, they are our right to self-determination and autonomy, that is, deciding over our own territories, our own forms of collective organization and the way we want to build our future.
The peoples that conform the CNI rule ourselves by seven principles, and our maximum decision-making space is the general assembly gathered together in Congress, where we all have the word to decide collectively.
1.- To serve, not serve oneself.
2.- To build, not destroy.
3.- To represent, not supplant.
4.- To convince, not defeat.
5.- To obey, not command.
6.- To go from below, not from above.
7.- To propose, not impose.
In 1998, during our II National Indigenous Congress in Mexico-Tenochtitlan, we declared: “For the integral reconstitution of our peoples”, so we decided to impulse, together with our brothers and sisters of EZLN, the National Consultation for the Recognition of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and for an End to the War of Extermination.
In 2001, during our III National Indigenous Congress in Nurio, Michoacán, we declared: “For the constitutional recognition of our collective rights”, and we joined the March for Indigenous Dignity led by our brothers and sisters of EZLN, where the first voice of our peoples and the voice of the majority of Mexican society was expressed demanding recognition.
But the answer of this bad government was treason, by approving an indigenous counter-reform in 2001, proposed by the Executive power, materialized by the Legislative power and supported by the Judicial power, evidencing that our word and our feeling was only for the scorn and derision of the powerful. We realized that the time of looking above was over, that the time of looking below was shaking us and demanding from us to take the steps that history demanded from us.
In 2006, during our IV National Indigenous Congress in San Pedro Atlapulco, after much reflection we decided to adhere to the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona: to exercise autonomy in practice and indigenous resistance until its last consequences.
But at the same time we built our autonomies, the plunder and extermination war became more violent and our pain more profound. War wants to kill us as peoples and kill us as persons.
At the face of the plunder that multiplies in new forms and new corners and at the face of so much death, we still are peoples alive and collective, peoples with dignity in our rebellion, our resistance, our struggles in which we see mirrors that reflect the mirrors we are.
These mirrors are the plunders we suffer and live in our territories, they are what makes us know that we are in an emergency against our lives.
From our pain, our rage was born; from rage, our rebellion was born; and from rebellion, the freedom of the peoples of the world will be born. Because the heart of our mother earth lives in the spirit of our peoples.
This is what we are, this is our word, our walk, our sovereign struggle. We are the National Indigenous Congress and ours is the future of our peoples.