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The  Milpamérica Declaration

We are the daughters, sons, and children of Mother Earth. Before the civilization and climate catastrophe that looms upon us and threatens to consume everything that is alive on this planet, we have come together to fight back against the extermination of all life. Milpamérica exists because it resists.

Published November 14, 2022

The original text in Spanish is also available at Futuros Indigenas website.

FIRST- We are Milpamérica, a territory that existed long before borders did. A milpa is an ancient crop-growing system where we seed corn and culture. Milpamérica is the home of the children born out of all the colors of the maize, born from gourd and izote and beans, born from tomatoes, sweet pepper, loroco, chipilín, pataxte, cocoa, avocado, amaranth, sapote, annona, jocote, nance, quelite, cassava and honey; we are one of the most biodiverse territories in the planet. 

We are Afro-Indigenous, Garifuna, Lenca, Nawat, Kaqchikel, K’iche’, Q’eqchi’, Chortí, Xinka, Ayuujk, Biinnizá, Nahuas, Ch’oles, Ñuu Savi, Peninsular Mayans, Kiliwa, Cucapá, Acolhua, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Hñatho, Amuzga, Purépecha, Popoluca, Zoque, Urban Diasporas and over 40 indigenous nations that are nowadays defending their territories. 

We are a 500 year history of resistance against dispossession. Our grandmothers were raped by colonization; our grandfathers were enslaved by racism. Every cell of our bodies – territories – spirits, feels the pain of trains running over jungles, of mining companies splitting hills in half, of oil drilling companies setting the oceans on fire. Every cell of our bodies – territories – spirits feels the pain of hydroelectric companies keeping rivers hostage, of inter-oceanic corridors forcing fissures into peninsulas, of eolic companies that leave behind nothing but arid land. Our bodies – territories – spirits are devastated by the pain of monocultures that drill through the forests, of megaprojects that dry out the lakes, of cities that devour entire peoples, of religions that satanize our spiritualities, of borders that desecrate the lands with razor wire, of Nation-States that eradicate all diversity, of corporations that exterminate us, of military and paramilitary forces that invade our territories.  This, our pain, is our last warning.

Mother Earth is being consumed by a fever that is out of control. Its symptoms are lengthy droughts, famines, flooding seasons, forced displacements and an acidic ocean. However, these are mere symptoms, not the disease in itself.  

  1. We have heard that the UN scientists have declared a climate emergency. Their reports speak of the human influence on this global fever. We want to clarify that 92% of the historic responsibility for this crisis falls upon rich countries;  1% of the richest pollutes more than what half of the impoverished population of the planet does. Despite this, they insist on their infinite economic growth on a finite planet.  Responsibility is proportional to privileges. 
  2. We have heard that the big beverage, banking, automobile, mining, real estate companies, agro industries and extractive governments want to fix this capitalism-driven earthicide (terricidio) with unfulfilled sustainable development agreements and big green washing while 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of all polluting emissions.  We want to clarify that our lives and territories are not for sale and the only urgent responsibility from Nation-States and corporations is to stop their war against Mother Earth and our peoples. Money does not solve the problems of capitalism. 
  3. We have heard that there are new climate justice movements rising all over the world. We thank them for joining us in this fight for life. We want to share that this is not an individual struggle and it cannot be solved by green consumption; colonialism is directly responsible for this crisis and a long history of segregation and development explains why our communities endure the worst effects of this catastrophe. In order to face this crisis we must fight structural inequities together. Climate justice is justice for indigenous peoples. 
  4. Ours are people who have understood the concept of the number zero long before the West. We have observed natural cycles to create calendars of great accuracy. We have developed interdependence and genetic selection that resulted in the milpa system. We have created watering infrastructure that created cultures and agricultures, political and social systems that allow us to coexist with the territories and have the smallest carbon prints in the continent. Today, the heritage of Milpamérica represents 75% of all foods consumed worldwide on a daily basis. We are part of the peoples who are guardians of the 80% of all biodiversity that is left on the planet. We are living solutions to the climate crisis.

We do not need to colonize space, energy transitions that destroy territories or extractive green technologies. We will fight green capitalism. Remember: they were men of clay, then men of wood, and now men of money. After one, two or three world endings they will learn respect, otherwise their linear history will cease to exist. 

Our times are cyclic. They are millennia-old stories being retold, reconnected. We learn from the mistakes that led to the fall of great civilizations. We have ancestral sciences that help us sow diversity, we have millennia-old teachings that defend life. Milpamérica has survived a 500-year old genocide and ecocide and Milpamérica will survive this colonization of the atmosphere that they name climate change. 

In order to cure this fever we are calling upon all people from all diversities to join Milpamérica and rise for Mother Earth. We make offerings, we ignite this word and devote it to the heart of the skies and the land. The time has come to be born again, to awaken our ancestors from their living dream. The time for ancient futures has come.

Before bad weather, we collect seeds
To grow new worlds
And harvest hope.

SECOND – All forms of violence are intertwined as they  are part of an economic and political system that values money over life. 

Milpamérica is one of the most dangerous regions in the world for life defenders. This enrages us and pains us. If we were to light a candle for every ancestor whose life was planted before time due to extractivism, the resulting fire would consume whole cities. 

Last year, over 200 land defenders were murdered around the world. Half of those assassinations took place in Milpamérica. Those deaths were no accident, but the result of conflicts over land, the imposition of mining, industrial and agro-industrial projects that lead to pollution, forestal exploitation, green capitalism, hydroelectric and eolic projects, and other megaprojects and lootings that tear away the lives of our sisters, brothers and siblings in cold blood.  

Genocide: we light a candle for all the deaths caused by famine and malnutrition, for the pandemics, forced displacement, floodings, fires, curable diseases; politics of death, and wars fought by armies against our peoples. We light a candle for all the deaths caused by poverty that has been manufactured and imposed by an industry of disposable bodies. 90% of the Milpamerica’s population was exterminated upon the arrival of colonizers. Our territory has been deemed as a sacrifice zone by the administrators of death. It has been deemed a collective grave, a cemetery upon which the big avenues of progress and development will lay their roads. 

Ecocide: we light candles for our extinct sisters: frogs, rodents, dolphins, turtles; birds, snails, wild goats, jaguars and other species that have perished during the last year due to the destruction of their habitats, due to pollution, due to the introduction of invasive species, due to urbanization and excessive consumption. 150 species go extinct every day and just during the last 50 years the animal population in our territories has been reduced by 94%. The sixth mass extinction was the result of rich people having fun playing war. 

Earthicide (terricidio): we light candles and build barricades for our territories – bodies – spirits. We have come to know the dispossession caused by governments and corporations by many names: the Mesoamerica Project, Special Development Zones, Free Trade Treaties, Interoceanic Corridors, War On Drugs, and Energy Transition. The names and acronyms might change, but the logic they follow is always the same: economic growth and capital accumulation for the rich which is paid by the ecocide and genocide of our peoples and territories.  

The existence of a First World requires the resources of 5 planets in order to satisfy the consumerism they call the American Dream. Even though our peoples are responsible for the lowest polluting emissions on the planet, all climate change indexes place Milpamérica among the most affected. The violences we face are wires of an extermination machine that puts money above life. This injustice is called capitalism.

The skies hurts,
The land hurts.
Our common home is on fire.

THIRD – Diagnosing the disease. The climate crisis is a result of structural inequalities of colonial origin. 

The climate fever is the symptom of a disease that disembarked in our territories over 500 years ago. We can identify this disease when people unlink from the network of life, when they stop thanking the sacred: the land that sustains us, feeds us, cures us, and provides us with health and dignity. This is the disease of those who have lost their spirit and have forgotten how to respect life.

The arrival of the colonizers meant the extermination of over 56 million people in Abya Yala (known as America). Over 15 million of lives were captured, sold and displaced from Africa, reduced to commodities and slaved in this continent. Jungles and forests were replaced by monoculture and big metropolises were swollen. Whole hills were looted. The colonizers stole so much gold, silver and precious stones that their ships would sink in the middle of the Atlantic, just like cities are now being sunk by the rising of sea levels.  

The heirs of those fortunes obtained by gunpowder and blood created narratives, Nation States, frontiers and armies to institutionalize inequality. Racism, classism, colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy, the same families keep growing richer with the extermination of Milpamérica. They now own international corporations, they have now become presidents, politicians, people who run multinational agencies. They now wear green suits and pretend to sell us solutions to the problems they themselves have caused. 

Before the imminent global catastrophe, the new colonizers seek ways to retain their privileges. They have now spent 26 Climate Change Conferences pretending to solve this problem with Carbon Markets, Sustainable Development Goals, with the Treaty of Paris or the Net Zero Initiative. They have framed green capitalism as the only viable solution despite the fact that their own scientists have proven that the models of infinite growth are not viable. Ever since 1992, the GHG emissions have increased by 65%. There are no reductions, only compensations to keep on polluting.   

Ajq’ijab’ K’iche elders remind us to question if what we’re seeing are diseases or consequences. A holistic diagnostic of climate fever would show the obvious: we cannot cure a 500 year old disease with Carbon Credits, hydroelectric companies that dry out the rivers, with electric cars that require mining. Any viable solution must question the economic growth model and its accumulation scheme. Any viable solution must confront the systems of inequality and must heal the colonial wound.   

We can keep waiting for governments and corporations to hold themselves accountable and fix this crisis, but that would be a sentence for our own extermination. What good is money to “mitigate”, “finance” and “adapt” if we don’t stop the war against our peoples and Mother Earth?

Green Poison is not Medicine.
Our knowledges are rivers
That ails the fever. 

FOURTH – Living, organized solutions to re-establish our connection between biomes and the fights in defense of land. We are cycles of planting, celebration and resistance. 

We are mountain ranges, valleys, forests, rivers, gulfs, coasts and seas; we are high, snowed mountains that hold fire inside, freshwater lakes, cenotes, jungles, swamps and mangroves. We are live territories with roots so deep they reach the stars.  

We are families of languages, songs, embroideries, and stories. We are multiple ways to organize life, to seed justice. We are music and poetry, sexual diversities; we are ancestral technologies and realities that are as complex as they are contradictory. Our past may have been ripped away from us, but our memory was not lost. We are a free internet, an urban vegetable patch, and cement-shattering roots.

We acknowledge that our struggles are a part of the cycle of life. Some of us are furrow on the land; some others are thirteen seeds, a maize cane that seeks the sun, a bean that nurtures the land. Some others are pollinators, wild quelite, and multicolored corn. Many of us keep raining hard, we are hands that harvest, we are crosses made of marigold, freshly made tortillas. We are a collective celebration that takes over the whole town, we are  banda music, marimba, drums and son, we are a long starry night that watches over us as we dance into the dawn. Each of us recognizes herself through her differences, but we know that we do not exist without the others.

This is why we come together like mycorrhizae do. We have learned from networks and the roots to branch out, rather than centralize. We are individuals that heal in community, heal with fire, prayer and plants, we have intertwined all across Milpamérica. We are peoples whose deep links with the lands know of no borders, we do not avoid conflict but rather resolve in collective assembly.

What these colonial languages can only name as indigenous, is in fact the world’s biggest biocultural diversities that colonialism and capitalism have not been able to devour. We seed multiple futures where we heal our ancestrality so we can inhabit our territories with dignity, so that the 40 nations of Milpamérica bloom. 

What scientists all over the world have declared as a climate emergency, is the warning made by our grandmothers and grandfathers hundreds of years ago. This environamental, social, political, economic and spiritual crisis that threatens us all, in all corners of the world, can only be faced through the organization of those who claim nature as a condition of existence.

The future is a territory
To defend
To bloom.

FIFTH – Cure of the Earth and re-enchantment of the hearts. Body – territory – spirit intertwined like the fabric that connects us with the network of life.  

Before bad weather, justice is seeded, cared after and harvested. Justice is a collective endeavor between the peoples who resist and the persons who fight against the extermination. It is part of the cure of Mother Earth.

Climate justice for our peoples means stopping the current ecocide and genocide, defending those who defend the territories, recovering the stolen land, reclaiming ancestral science. Climate justice means growing milpa, going back to the cyclic times, to the celebration of life, organizing fiesta in our neighborhoods and communities. Climate justice means solidarity with all displaced people, means creating our own means, redistribution of food, planting forests, defending all the colors of our diversity, strengthening the autonomies, imagining solidarity economics, deciding over our territories, saying no to green capitalism, extinguishing the oil industry, finding our disappeared ones, stopping militarization, derrailing megaprojects, suspending mining, shutting down the beverage corporations. Climate justice means to set the rivers free, to rise up for Mother Earth. Indigenous peoples justice, is also climate justice. 

This is our melody, this is our fight. Our languages are songs that become intertwined, songs that resonate beyond borders. We don’t seek unity, but rhizomatic ways to organize and reproduce life. We confront structural inequality and oppression systems. We learn from the milpa to reproduce diversity, interdependence, and life cycles. We cure our body – territory – spirit because this is the thread that embroiders us into the web of life.

There is enough water, food and land for all people and forms of life to thrive and coexist with dignity in this territory we call Milpamérica, in this common home we call Earth. We still have time to regenerate those life systems to which our future is bound. But we must make radical changes, after each crisis we don’t want to go back to normal, we want to go back to land.

This is an open call:

  • To the peoples in resistance in Milpamérica to re-interpret this declaration from their own ways of knowing and being in order to braid a territory beyond borders.
  • To the persons of all diversities to subscribe to this declaration and join indigenous resistances in the defense of life and territories.
  • To the climate justice movement to create spaces with no intermediaries to reflect, organize climate actions centering the living solutions.
  • To all other territories to organize in order to break structural inequalities, strengthen autonomies and seed narratives in defense of life.

The fight for Mother Earth
Is the mother of all fights.

October 12, 2022.