Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Sierra Tarahumara is calling

"The land is our mother, she feed us and she is going to receive us the day of our death"

A Raramuri popular though.

The Yumari dance is an imitation of a deer's movements and it is one of the most important dances of the Raramuri nation, the main purpose is to persuade father son and mother moon to produce more rain. However, the practice of these traditional dances might not be enough strategy to convince Mother Nature to produce rain. The constant and massive deforestation over the years is causing dramatic climate change, human suffering, and extreme poverty to the bio region and the people living in the forest of the Sierra Madre Occidental located at the south of the state of Chihuahua Mexico, according with the study, "The political ecology of deforestation in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua" by Randall W. Gingrich.

As many traditional agricultural systems, the raramuri's system is based on equitable land, labor and resource distribution; they have a reciprocal obligation with a network made during social and religious gatherings and through the sharing of tesguino (traditional maiz beer).
Their traditional social organization system is in opposition to the official ejido system which tracks government-owned land held in trust the ejido members who maintain their membership as long as they are actively working the land. Over 70% of the forest land and over 50% of the all agricultural land in Mexico is held in ejidos,(World Bank,1989).
However, most of ejidos in the Sierra Tarahumara are politically controlled by a mestizo minority group "the caciques," a local boss who controls the business of many ejidos through manipulative and coercive methods including violence, coercion and granting favor by political support; they also work with the Mexican mafia which is powerful in the state. The cacique domination in the ejidos has a devastating impact in social, financial and ecological aspect of the ejido, because these individuals made lucrative deals with the forest industry and federal officials from the Agriculture Ministries (SARH) and the Agrarian Reform officials (SRA), (Gingrich,13).

The raramuri demonstrate passive resistance before the cacique domination. They don't participate in their meetings or expose corruption's management in the ejido, because they are threatened, beaten by the caciques. Other alternative for survival for the raramuri is to migrate out of the region for temporary work to El Paso and Mexico City. These migrations causes dificulties in keeping their ejido's membership because there is not written documentation to prove their temporary migration.
The effects of climate change not only affects the environment causing erosion, persistent drought and infertile soil for the agriculture but also these effects have a strong impact on social and economic aspects of the raramuri causing malnutrition for the lack of appropriate diet in children, according to Jose A. Laguno, The Tarahumara Foundation, (
The most important characteristics of the raramuri is their straight and resilience, because over the years they had survived abuse, labor exploitation, migration, malnutrition, narcotrafic violence, and cacique intimidation; but perhaps the must challenge problem they are facing is the climate change cause by deforestation. It is a is a matter which they cannot solve alone. Today, 84088 indigenous raramuri are living in a desperate and marginal conditions, and the Sierra Tarahumara is calling.