The following is the speech one of MJD's members, Sebastian Ordoñez, read out at our event "ONE YEAR ON: CHAVEZ'S LEGACY".
It’s time to wake up:
Movimiento Jaguar Despierto
“And if they ever try to tell you that you are as bad as a romantic, that you are merely a chronic idealist thinking only impossibilities, that you cannot hope to make the of masses an archetype for human life, then you must tell them once and a thousand times more that it can be done, and that it has to be this way, and that it must be this way, and that it will be this way, compañeros.”
I would like to take a few moments now to introduce to you who we are. MJD Movimiento Jaguar Despierto or The Awoken Jaguar Movement you could say is the consolidation of 6 years of experimenting and looking for young people within the Nican Tlaca community in London who feel a real desire for change. This family, MJD, is made up of seven people from what is now known as Latin America, we represent various regions in the area, but who don’t limit themselves to representing only those regions, we declare allegiance to our entire continent, from North to South. We are one people, we are Nican Tlaca which means “we the people of the land”. And we, Amaru, Awqa, Alejandra, Juana, Diego, Carlos and myself prefer to call our beautiful land Abya Yala or Tawantinsuyu, these are the original names our ancestors used and they depict a land fully developed in its maturity, this was and is the case, we were not discovered, we are a mature and autonomous land.
We live in a world governed by a series of technocratic governments who answer not to the needs of the people but rather to the needs of parasitic capitalism, this is a fact. Their attempt at politics and democracy centred around capital can never truly resemble the real needs of society. I'll give you an example: if if we take, say1 million people at random, there is a strong likelihood that the majority of these people would normally put a much higher value on personal progress and their individual well-being, as opposed to the collective well-being. The thing with capitalist democracy is that, if this is the case, then the collective needs of this million people can never be truly be resembled in their struggle. You could say that the collective needs of the group don't actually exist, let alone be acknowledged. You have one million people with personal needs, who only come together when those personal needs are being challenged. It might seem like a simplified version of the how this current system works but its the reason why you have a fiery trade unionist denouncing government in the morning who blames the poor for his struggle at night, or why you have 500 thousand Nican Tlaca in the UK divided to the point that a so-called Colombian feels he has the legitimacy to insult Bolivians by labelling them ‘Indios’ as if this were a bad thing. It is this sort of thinking that has dominated our continent for the last 500 years, and we have seen in those 500 years, how year after year, layer after layer of colonial screens are placed over our eyes. That being said, you can feel that we the world is at a point where people are realising that this sort of living is not feasible, its too materialistic, it has no transcendence, it is killing us. The problem however, remains that they are doing this realising within the framework of parasitic capitalism, which is in itself counter intuitive because any change that occurs will incorporate capitalist thought. It must not be this way.
It cannot be this way because we STILL have dictators put in place by capitalist hegemons, descendants of the first colonisers who STILL carry out massive violations of human rights in the name of capitalism. There is STILL uncontrolled corruption because of capitalism, and this all STILL seems to lead to a complete disregard towards Life itself in our continent. To give you an example we can talk about the colonial state of Colombia: deemed a fast-growing economy by orthodox neo-liberal economic indices, the 3rd in Tawantinsuyu, they say, is a 21st century miracle. However the fact remains that capital growth doesn't translate into the well-being of the majority. Corruption occurs at every level of society in Colombia, in fact, the biggest case of corruption in the last 30 years has recently been exposed in the last few weeks. More capital will only mean more corruption in a country that has seen 500 years of colonial rule, 50 years of internal war, 220,000 dead, 8 million internally displaced and 5 million who constitute the diaspora. These people can tell you that the peace process being carried out in Colombia at the moment can be and should be the basis on which we can build a new Colombia, however, what many in government repeatedly and bizarrely seem to be unable to realise is that peace can never actually be feasible until the conditions for peace are created. This situation is perfectly summed up by the highly ironic situation where the US State Department recently voiced their worries about Colombia regarding impunity, the inefficiency of the judiciary, forced displacement, corruption, social discrimination, and the actions of illegal armed groups. These are not conditions for peace, the US State Department knows it very well which is why it has worked so hard in creating these very conditions. The hypocrisy is astounding, but understandable, we can't have one of the fastest growing economies in Tawantinsuyu actually providing conditions that promote the well-being of our people. Then we would have examples like Venezuela and Ecuador and Bolivia and people might actually realise that there is another way. The US State Department cannot possibly allow this to happen and everybody here knows they will use any means possible to sabotage these efforts. They’ll do so because this threat might create a more equal interpretation of the world, and worse yet, this threat might spread, and this is bad for business, bad for capitalism. Chomsky called it the threat of a good example.
I could go on considering this obviously evil threat which has as its basis creating policy centred around the needs of those who are most in need, but I think the speakers will elaborate in much more detail the internal workings of this evil. We welcome this process of change, of decolonisation. But we are fully aware that if we don't embrace it while the US is at what could be described as a low point in their hegemonic destruction of the world, then the opportunity will pass and a new, unthinkable, more subtle, more controlling, more intertwined wave of parasitic capitalist domination might develop. The very thought of this makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up, so we take energy, inspiration and strength by referring to the teachings of our ancestors.
The Cosmology of our Ancestors: Hope
About 5000 years ago, the first known records of our ancient history came into being in the form of the Caral-Supe civilisation. Our people of Caral developed independently at the same time as the Egyptians and gave way for a complex and diverse array of civilisations that grew strong over the next 4500 years. The remains of our ancient cultures are still alive and practiced actively by about 30 million Nican Tlaca, however they are, as they have been for 500 years, in constant danger from western superpowers who are at the point of reeking havoc through pharmaceutical endeavours, but who for so many years have been pillaging the wealth of our land. The worst genocide in the history of mankind, which saw 95% of our race wiped from the face of the earth wasn’t enough to destroy us completely. We, the descendants of the 5% that survived, seek to rid ourselves and our people completely of all western capitalist influence, we still face many of the challenges we faced when the first colonisers began to subjugate us. This includes current forms of government that are in themselves a creation by and only for the benefit of western capitalist models. From the Mapuche in Chile, the Quechua-Aymara in Bolivia, the Maya in Mexico to the Mam in Guatemala and the Nahua in El Salvador, the sentiment is almost uniform in nature: We, the original people of this beautiful land come from the land and we demand the right to be able to grow in our land without fear of it being taken from us. It is from this original, organised civilisation and its subsequent development where we look to when we are corrupted by the capitalist western view of the world, it is an active and developing exercise which drives our actions. Though the complex array of cultures that flourished differ in many aspects in their evolution, there are some universal tendencies which, if applied, would change the very nature of our existence.
The study of nature shows us that there exists a natural order to the world which is governed by laws. Man discovers such laws in the constant examination and comparing of that which occurs around him. This natural order can only happen within harmony, which can be described as the complete relation between ‘the parts’ and ‘the whole’. That is why we describe nature in its entirety as uni-verse, the relation of one (uni) with many (verso). Our people understood the need to live their lives in the constant examination of this relation and combined their study and practice. Everything is connected, the cosmos, our body and nature. It was being conscious of this dynamic relation that permitted our people to live in harmony with their surroundings. Their understanding permitted them to develop complex societal systems that meant people never went hungry, never acted on individual interests and ALWAYS sought to make laws that took into consideration the opinion of ALL of the members of the group. Indigenous democracy, real democracy, works that way, with the voice and opinion of EVERYONE, no matter how long it takes.
The Quapaq Kuna, a path that goes from the City of Cajamarca in Peru to the Silver Mines of Potosí, Mines that saw 45 million kilograms of its silver pillaged over the course of 4 centuries, stretches for thousands of kilometres but it is much more than just a physical path. This journey, the journey of the righteous as it translates, depicts a complex, intricate understanding of astronomy, cosmology, geometry and its application to the workings of every day life. The physical path is at a perfect 45 degree angle in relation to the sunlight that hits the earth at different times during its natural tilt. The path tracks the sun, that sun which is life. From this path and its dimensions , we see the formation of the Chakana or the ‘Tree of Life’ which depicts the belief system of duality and proportionality so intimately developed by our Inca ancestors. Everything is linked, the mysterious path of the righteous whose secrets are shared only once a year, and in parts, by the elders is testimony to the complex understanding that our people have of the world and how this permitted them to live in harmony. The path is only available to those who involve themselves in it, who allow the intricacies of living it to shape their understanding of the proportional reciprocity of life. It is why many often attribute the title of holders of the Secret of Life to our honourable Inca ancestors, their knowledge is extensive.
And thus we are at the beginning of our journey, of finding out about the rich wealth of knowledge, culture and tradition that still reverberates in our land. We understand the importance of this, which is why it is the keystone for our work. It is inevitably the driving force behind it and the more we delve, the more we grow. We want to explore the possibility of applying the philosophy and the highly advanced models of society that our people enjoyed in the past to our people now, it is already happening. Our inherited identity is being lost in the confines of capitalist western thought and tradition, identity is both inherited and acquired and it is only through committing yourself to reviving your inherited identity that you will begin to comprehend your true identity, for this there is only one path: Education.
Why we need to Educate ourselves to Liberate ourselves
It is necessary throughout our experience of life to attain an identity, without it, you will never clearly understand what you want, why you want it or what you want it for, let alone how to get to what you want. Education is a means of forming and interpreting and understanding your identity. Education is not only essential because it will provide us with the necessary tools to combat the current way of thinking and inspire change in our community, but through it we will discover what it means to liberate our minds, and what it means to unite in thought. Institutionalised academic teaching is incredibly selective and with it we can only hope to achieve but a little of the potential of our minds. The selective, discriminative and idealised information we are receiving is simply part of a larger discourse designed to maintain us essentially uneducated. They don’t want us to see the world and it’s workings in its entirety, good and bad. It’s not good for business.
At MJD we know that Education is more than the simple transfer of knowledge, it is a process by which you are able to understand the bigger processes that occur in the world and with it begin to make sense of the realities that make up its existence. Education is a reciprocal dynamic where practice and theory are constant and your growing as a person depends heavily on how you apply what you learn to your own life. Through education we will learn about ourselves. When we discover new realities through reading, when we decipher new ways of life through experience we will become conscious of the need for growth in both mind and spirit. This will constitute further development in your identity and the inherent knowledge of the balance needed between your individual experience and your surroundings.
We plan to begin to educate our community. By this we mean we will break the barriers that are currently in place not allowing the smallest in our community to thrive. We will develop sincere and honest dialogue with our contemporaries, i.e young adults and we will promote a healthy exchange of ideas with our elders, for whom we have the upmost respect. All of these stages we hope will wake the curiosity in our community about itself, it is why we are the Awoken Jaguar Movement. We’re not going to indoctrinate anyone, we’re not going to tell them which way is the best way. Were gonna allow our children to fly and live and dream, we’ll be giving them the right tools so that they aren’t swayed wholly by the markers that are imposed in school everyday, we’ll give them new, broader, freer ones that will give them a new sense of exploring themselves in the world and for the world. Making education a means for exploring their duties, giving them hope, so that they may fill their parents with hope. It won’t be abstract learning about ancient civilisations whose existence, we are told, has no effect on us, education and learning requires a certain reading of our reality, we are all migrants, we are all here, our individual realities make up a collective reality and we must explore it. We must learn about the past in order to understand the present; in order to make a better future. Learning about the beauty in ours and other’s cultures is key to developing tolerance amongst each other and consequently uniting in solidarity against the oppressor. We, the young, hold the key now and it is necessary to take a step back and once again, look at the broader picture, look at the movement that is occurring in our land…interpret it and explore it so that what we find always aims to liberate our people and our land.
For this, we must have an understanding of the relation between politics, both national and international, and the people in our continent. Too much disinterest and too much reliance on heavily biased media has created barriers to our understanding of politics. If we accept education to be a democratic act where what we teach and how we teach it is in itself democratic then we must also make reference to the great importance of being politically educated. This is because the relationship between education and politics is heavily based around interest. Developing interest in change requires education in politics, which will only be a tool for change if there is an interest in change which can only be provided by education, and we want change, so we must delve into politics.
Delving into politics. A tool for the oppressed.
I must first make it clear that politics and democracy isn't simply voting once every four years in the hope that that person who represents you will be able to provide for your every need in the subsequent four years. No, politics is much more than that and it must be practised everyday without fail. The vote is simply the first step and it can only serve as a tool for organisation. Notice I say organisation and not mobilisation, as I mentioned when I first started speaking, it is easy to get a lot of people out on the streets protesting about the lack of individual needs which aren't being met. However organisation requires sustained action, it requires a complete change of consciousness and it must be seen as a means for turning the feelings of the oppressed into something more than just indignation. If the foundations for our liberation are based on education then we must see politics as the means by which we can organise to make our liberation tangible.
The dominant class will always, because of their own power, marginalise those who are oppressed, they will: first always reject what is different; second, never expect to be equal to what is different and; third, have no intention in allowing the oppressed class to ever be equal to them. This is why when economists hail the growing middle it shocks us to think that this middle-class, though it may be growing, will normally tend to forget that before they were part of the middle-class, they were part of the working class and their status as oppressed hasn’t changed. This then leads me to think that this is perfectly demonstrated by a majority of the migrant population here in the UK who believe that crossing the atlantic will automatically rid them of oppression. This is why organising is so important, everything in this current society invites us to divide. If we look at the problems facing our people back home you will find that the underlying factor in all these problems has to do with a number of conditions, normally implicit but never openly denounced or debated, which are designed exclusively to divide.
Organising must not be the coming together of a group of people seeking individual needs. If we are going to let organising unites us, that we must first understand that before we have a responsibility to ourselves we have a responsibility to our people. We have a responsibility to transform ourselves from people who think about living off the community to people dedicated to defending the community interested only in giving everything they can to the community.
Too often the western mainstream media reduces all problems outside their borders as problems created solely in those places outside their borders, solely as the problems of the poor, of the other… forgetting time after time that the reason why those places outside their borders face the difficulties they face is because they categorically created those problems. We all know the reality is different, but what seems even worse to us is the fact that the people of our continent, our people, also believe that their problems are their doing and their doing alone, they believe that the reason why this is , has to do with the fact they do not resemble the systems of the west and that it is not the systems of the west that created the problems. It is the reason why there is a growing number of people in the continent who are loosing their faith in politics and democracy, because like in the west, they succumb to moderation, to the centre, to capital, to nothing.
Coincidentally the places where people still have faith in democracy are the those countries where the majority places themselves somewhere on the political spectrum, where people still have a strong political consciousness, where they believe consciousness will bring them change. The country where this is most obvious, according to the recent report by the North American Congress on Latin America, is not surprisingly Venezuela. In Venezuela people Believe. They believe because they’ve witnessed it.
On the other hand, the country with the least faith in democracy, whose views resemble those of someone uninterested by the phenomenon is even less surprisingly, Mexico. There can be all sorts of reasons why this is but if you look at the bigger picture, it is clear that the Mexican state, another one of those neo-liberal economic darlings is slowly reducing their country to an image of the US, where capital and profit is put before the people.
If we are to accept that politics is a means for change, then we must understand the necessity for the change that must occur in ourselves first. For decades and decades governments in our continent promise reform after reform, reform the judiciary, reform land distribution, reform the welfare system and so on, well the reality is that these colonial governments will NEVER push reform enough to constitute any real change. Reform is for the reformists and reformists are apologists and moderates who do not believe things will actually ever change, they are an annex to the dominant class. It isn’t surprising when a large handful of countries in the continent still ascribe politics only to the oligarchy, these reforms so frivolously promised were never going to be delivered. This is why there needs to be an organised, united group of people conscious of the power of politics. We don’t want reform, we want freedom.
Revolution and Liberation: You have to believe in it
We have a responsibility to our people. If you’re Nican Tlaca then you have a responsibility to your people. You have a responsibility to denounce the wrongs, and praise the rights, follow that good example that threatens the US (*). Follow the good example of Evo, who has changed the face of Bolivia, a Bolivia that for so long resembled, so adequately, the oppression of our people 500 years ago, is enjoying its best moment in 500 years. Here, the indigenous population and their values are starting to represent modernity, its incredible. Follow the good example of Correa who openly uses the same economic training used to rob our people for the past 200 years, on the same multinationals that trained him. Who uses and abuses the dollar to generate funds directly used for developing more infra-structure, better education, better health, happier people not happier capital. We’re not saying these projects for change are complete or that they have no faults and limitations, but we must always look at the bigger picture, if it took 70 years for the US to impose its rule on our people, then we will take as many years as it takes to rid ourself of that rule. The threat of the good example is a threat because other countries might see that there is real change occurring in these places, it is a threat because we all know that sustained and democratic change creates new realities.
And as we get ready to listen to our speakers we feel the need to thank Venezuela. Thank you Chavez who, from the beginning announced the death of that mirage of development dependent on corrupt politics, thank you for bravely voicing the real need to make democracy more than just a stage only for the sophisticated, the proprietors and the lettered. Thank you Chavez for breaking the chains binding all Nican Tlaca to the will of the hegemon, thank you for showing us that western capitalist democracy is NOT fundamental for development. There is much to learn from Chavez and this should be done critically but if we are considering reviving our identity as Nican Tlaca then we must thank Chavez for giving us our voice back and laying the foundations on which to build an alternative. The Bolivarian Revolution has been crucial to the wider philosophy shared and applied by many governments of the Tawantinsuyu. And although multinationals have won over the mind of the middle class in Venezuela, fomenting a deeply rooted fear, burdened by the weight of history, savagely exploited and conveniently turned into irrational hatred, impossible to cure, the majority of Venezuelans believe with ever stronger passion that the start of something great is consolidated daily in our land, these people are not driven by economic reform, these people are driven by passion. They are a good example, and the voices and screams of the middle class who are keen on doing nothing else will undeniably fade away. In 1999 Gabriel Garcia Marquez wondered after interviewing Chavez whether history would render him either another despot confined to his illusions or a hero who had saved his country. Chavez, you’re legacy is changing history itself.
So please don’t let those who have resigned themselves to oppression and those who believe that more capital is the best option forward shape your thinking, don’t let our belief in basing all your actions for the betterment of your people shape your thinking either, develop your own critical thought. Educate yourself, build your identity, remember that this only happens when you appreciate identity is both inherited and acquired, organise, let us help you organise.
It’s simple, our great leader Tupac Amaru put it this way “The people who do not cultivate their memory will never be able to construct their own history, they will lack independence and sovereignty. They will not be able to interpret their past, confront their present or project their future.”