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Remembering Yuka+ye: Wixarika teacher and activist left a storied legacy

By Tracy L. Barnett
For El Daily Post

If Wixarika, or Huichol, culture and language have a future, if the world view of this magical people persists, if their sacred lands remain a spiritual sanctuary, the tireless struggle of Jesús Lara Chivarra will not have been in vain. The death of this indigenous fighter leaves a void in the hearts of many.

Wixarika (Huichol) culture lost a champion when Yuka+ye died

Jesús Lara Chivarra and Cilau Valadez face the entrance to First Majestic Silver Corp. headquarters in Vancouver, demanding entrance to the annual stockholders meeting. All photos: Tracy L. Barnett

While most people were celebrating the holidays, others  from Canada to Mexico mourned the loss of a leading Wixarika scholar and teacher, a cultural ambassador and an indigenous activist whose work on behalf of indigenous unity spanned North America.

Yuka+ye Jesús Lara Chivarra’s path took him from the Huichol Sierra to the halls of power. He hobnobbed with rock stars and artists, he faced down police and corporate executives, he taught college students, film producers, attorneys, journalists – but he was always most at home in his village.

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Victory is theirs! Ahuisculco villagers save their water supply

Tracy L. Barnett
for El Daily Post

It was one of those heartwarming victories that can renew your faith in the possibility of achieving justice peacefully. Mountain villagers in Ahuisculco, Jalisco, who had camped out for months in front of bulldozers were finally able to broker a land swap with the sugar company that was threatening their water supply. Here’s how they did it.

 

Church bells clanged, fireworks exploded and a brass band blared as the Virgin of Ahuisculco made her way down the streets of her town Wednesday, part of a procession of hundreds of villagers celebrating the victory of their fight to save their water supply.

After nearly three months camped out in front of  bulldozers that threatened their drinking water supply, the villagers celebrated the news of the project’s cancellation with a Mass and one final fiesta in the encampment as they prepared to disassemble it and resume their lives.
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Ahuisculco villagers ring in 2016 camped in front of bulldozers

Tracy L. Barnett
for El Daily Post

The battle to defend the natural springs of clear water might not only have gotten this Jalisco community to protect its natural resources, it might also have unified the residents like never before.

Ahuisculco villagers see in the New Year camping in front of bulldozers

Ahuisculco villagers celebrated New Year’s Eve with a gift exchange and another all-night vigil at the encampment. From left to right, José Montes, Raúl Ramírez, Andrés Santana and Juan Orozco. Photo: Salvador Ortiz Villa.

Townspeople from the Jalisco village of Ahuisculco have maintained their encampment blocking a construction company from damaging their drinking water source, with reinforcements coming in for the holidays from as far away as California to show their support.

“It’s been very heartening to see that our people are staying strong and committed despite the fact that these are days when most people want to be home with the family,” said Juan Carlos Montes Medina, a local veterinarian who has been one of the leaders of the Committee in Defense of the Natural Resources of Ahuisculco.

The ad-hoc group formed in September in response to the excavations in the recharge zone of the treasured blue springs that provide their village with natural potable water – a rarity these days in Mexico. Villagers just passed the two-month mark entrenched in a roadside encampment blocking the construction site, complete with a tent chapel housing their precious Virgin of Ahuisculco.

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