Category Archives: Rights of Mother Earth

Cayuco Maya, the venue for the XV Vision Council, “Call of the Water,” was held on the shores of Bacalar Lagoon. Foreground: The Circus Tent has been a trademark gathering space for two decades in Vision Councils from Peru to Mexico.

XV Vision Council “Call of the Water” harvests solutions for threatened Lagoon of Seven Colors in Bacalar

Above: Cayuco Maya, the venue for the XV Vision Council, “Call of the Water,” was held on the shores of Bacalar Lagoon. Foreground: The Circus Tent has been a trademark gathering space for two decades in Vision Councils from Peru to Mexico.

BACALAR, Quintana Roo, Mexico — The XV Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth gathering drew more than 600 participants from 27 countries and representatives of nearly a dozen indigenous nations to the shores of this pristine yet imminently threatened Caribbean lagoon. This time, the weeklong itinerant gathering chose the Yucatan Peninsula for its venue, and it was the “Call of the Water” that convoked activists, healers, artists and indigenous and community leaders to generate proposals and solutions to environmental problems that endanger the lagoon as well as the Great Maya Aquifer, the second largest reserve of fresh water in the country.

The XV Vision Council, "Call of the Water," brought more than 600 participants from all over the world to the shores of the endangered Lagoon of Seven Colors in Bacalar for a multidisciplinary event seeking solutions for protection of the water. (Martín López photo)
The XV Vision Council, “Call of the Water,” brought more than 600 participants from all over the world to the shores of the endangered Lagoon of Seven Colors in Bacalar for a multidisciplinary event seeking solutions for protection of the water. (Martín López photo)

As always, the Council was organized through nine thematic councils, each one offering a separate series of activities – workshops, forums, working groups, performances – that seek to promote a better relationship between human beings and the environment: The Councils of Ecology, Education, Social Movements, Art and Culture, Health, Spirituality, Natural Time, Youth, and Children.

: Indigenous leaders and healers such as Cheryl Angel, Lakota from South Dakota; Abuela Tonalmi, Mexico City; Clemente Ramirez and Lucio Lopez, Wixáritari from Jalisco, Mexico; and Ernesto and Aurora Saquí, Mopan Maya, Belize, to participate in the activities and share their visions and prayers.
: Indigenous leaders and healers such as Cheryl Angel, Lakota from South Dakota; Abuela Tonalmi, Mexico City; Clemente Ramirez and Lucio Lopez, Wixáritari from Jalisco, Mexico; and Ernesto and Aurora Saquí, Mopan Maya, Belize, to participate in the activities and share their visions and prayers. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)

Within the framework of this event, several roundtables were organized, including a working group held with the participation of representatives of the municipal and state governments, civil society organizations and various key actors who met with the objective of creating agreements and strategies to promote the sustainable management of the territory, which is currently at risk because of the lack of environmental protections, adequate wastewater treatment  management and a sustainable urban development plan that take into account the fragility of the local coral-based karst topography and the fragility of the rare Bacalar lagoon ecosystem.

The Water is Life roundtable/work session brought together environmental leaders, local business people and state and local officials such as Quintana Roo Secretary of the Environment Alfredo Arellano, Biologist Silvana Ibarra of Ecosur (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, speaking) and Silvio Madrid of CONANP (National Commission for Protected Areas. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
The Water is Life roundtable/work session brought together environmental leaders, local business people and state and local officials such as Quintana Roo Secretary of the Environment Alfredo Arellano, Biologist Silvana Ibarra of Ecosur (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, speaking) and Silvio Madrid of CONANP (National Commission for Protected Areas. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)

The Ecology Council’s roundtable/work session featured a series of breakout groups to generate solutions toward sustainable development in the region. Researcher Héctor A. Hernández, director of the South Border College (ECOSUR) Chetumal unit, discussed research revealing a high level of connectivity of the lagoon system of southern Quintana Roo, illustrated with a “Coastal Transverse Corridor” model, and commented on the extreme importance of careful management of three ecosystems in particular: the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system, the world’s second largest, that depends on the carbonates from the aquifer below Bacalar; the mangroves in the freshwater lagoon (rare, because mangrove is generally found in saltwater habitats); and the largest and oldest stretch of stromatolite structures in Mexico, dating back more than 9,000 years and one of few such structures that are actively reproducing, according to Dr. Luisa Falcón, researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

: Quintana Roo Secretary of the Environment Alfredo Arellano addresses the group at the Water is Life Roundtable, XV Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth gathering in Bacalar.
: Quintana Roo Secretary of the Environment Alfredo Arellano addresses the group at the Water is Life Roundtable, XV Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth gathering in Bacalar. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
Marco Jerico, founder and director of Agua Clara Bacalar, explains the urgency of decisive intervention to prevent irreversible degradation of Bacalar Lagoon and the Great Mayan Aquifer. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
Marco Jerico, founder and director of Agua Clara Bacalar (www.facebook.com/aguaclarabacalar), explains the urgency of decisive intervention to prevent irreversible degradation of Bacalar Lagoon and the Great Mayan Aquifer. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)

During the meeting, different “eco-techniques” were utilized in order to demonstrate that it is viable to create sustainable human settlements in which the human being lives in harmony with nature, generating minimal environmental impact. The goal of the Vision Council gatherings is always to leave the venue in better condition than when the meeting began. To that end, participants used dry toilets, solar energy, composting, recycling, and a wetlands system for treatment of graywater, all installed by participants. In addition, only biodegradable repellents, skin care and cleaning products were permitted on the premises.

Ana Ruiz, Ecology Council coordinator, inspects the composting toilets set up for the event.
Ana Ruiz, Ecology Council coordinator, inspects the composting toilets set up for the event. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)

While the Ecology Council worked to resolve threats to the region’s water, the Children’s Council organized a day of educational activities in the town of Bacalar, including a search for the lost pirate’s treasure in the lagoon on a regatta of sailboats (upshot: the lagoon IS the treasure), and a children’s theater performance featuring mangroves and stromatolites (the primeval cyanobacteria formations found in the lake).  The Art and Culture Council organized a series of talent shows in the encampment and culminated with two free concerts in the main plaza, featuring major artists such as Lengua Alerta, Olinka, Navajo songwriter and poet Lyla June Johnston, Telhuane y Mexikan Soundsystem, and regional rising stars from the DNA Maya collective. The new videoclip-discourse “Alerta Bacalar” (Bacalar Alert), produced by Olinka and Gran Om, had its world premiere.

A merry band of pirates set sail on Bacalar Lagoon in search of treasure.
A merry band of pirates set sail on Bacalar Lagoon in search of treasure.
A young actor portrays a stromatolite, the primeval bacterial complexes found in Bacalar Lagoon.
A young actor portrays a stromatolite, the primeval bacterial complexes found in Bacalar Lagoon. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
Lyla June Johnston, left, performs with Olinka, right, and members of the ADN Maya (Mayan DNA) collective (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
Lyla June Johnston, left, performs with Olinka, right, and members of the ADN Maya (Mayan DNA) collective (Tracy L. Barnett photo)

The Spirituality Council hosted indigenous elders, healers and teachers from nearly a dozen nations, including Standing Rock activist and Sacred Stone Camp cofounder Cheryl Angel, Diné recording artist and activist Lyla June Johnston, Hopi elder Ruben Saufkie Sr. of the Water Clan and Maya elder Francisco Javier Mass Padilla, founder of a new university for herbal medicine. Seven days of ceremony culminated in a high-energy Water is Life ceremony featuring Cynthia Valenzuela on the Water Harp.

Songs and prayers called for healing and reconnection with the sacredness of water in the "Water is Life" ceremony. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
Songs and prayers called for healing and reconnection with the sacredness of water in the “Water is Life” ceremony. (Tracy L. Barnett photo)

The Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth chooses a different bioregion for each event, seeking to influence the local population in a proactive way. The goal is to support local communities in moving toward sustainable and resilient land and water management. In the case of Bacalar, the focus was on promoting biologically sensitive alternatives that in turn promote sustainable tourism and agriculture as the economic engines of the region and thus ensure a clean and transparent lagoon for present and future generations.

For interviews with organizers, contact Erika López at +52 1 55 1605 7982 or erikaproduccion.s@gmail.com.

See a photo gallery here. Photos available in high resolution upon request.

Dawn in the Cayuco Maya, seat of the XIV Visions Council - Guardians of the Earth "The Call of Water."
Dawn in the Cayuco Maya, seat of the XIV Visions Council – Guardians of the Earth “The Call of Water.” (Tracy L. Barnett photo)
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Mayan systems for predicting weather through the observation of nature show a 70% accuracy rate, says agronomist and radio personality Bernardo Camaal, also known as “Arux.” Camaal has been studying ancient and modern agricultural techniques for nearly three decades. Visit his blog at https://culturamayahistoriasanecdotasyucatanmagico.wordpress.com/
Ecology Council Coordinator Dr. Ana Ruiz, left, and writer/musician/activist Chris Wells present the 2017 Seed Broadcast, an international publication focusing on food sovereignty and conservation of native seeds. See www.seedbroadcast.org for more information.
Ecology Council Coordinator Dr. Ana Ruiz, left, and writer/musician/activist Chris Wells present the 2017 Seed Broadcast, an international publication focusing on food sovereignty and conservation of native seeds. See www.seedbroadcast.org for more information.
The Forum on Food Security brought together scientists, environmentalists and peasant farmers to discuss the threats to food security, local communities and the environment being brought about by intensive, chemical-based agriculture and the spread of transgenics.
The Forum on Food Security brought together scientists, environmentalists and peasant farmers to discuss the threats to food security, local communities and the environment being brought about by intensive, chemical-based agriculture and the spread of transgenics.
The Water is Life roundtable/work session brought together environmental leaders, local business people and state and local officials such as Quintana Roo Secretary of the Environment Alfredo Arellano, Hector Hernandez Arana of Ecosur and Silvio Madrid of CONANP (National Commission for Protected Areas.
The Water is Life roundtable/work session brought together environmental leaders, local business people and state and local officials such as Quintana Roo Secretary of the Environment Alfredo Arellano, Hector Hernandez Arana of Ecosur and Silvio Madrid of CONANP (National Commission for Protected Areas.
Setting up is an important part of the Consejo, when participants learn different eco-techniques such as building with bamboo, management of dry toilets and setting up water treatment and drainage systems for the camp.
Setting up is an important part of the Consejo, when participants learn different eco-techniques such as building with bamboo, management of dry toilets and setting up water treatment and drainage systems for the camp.
Each Vision Council gathering begins with an opening ceremony around the central fire. This year. the element of water was added, with participants bringing offerings of water from many different countries.
Each Vision Council gathering begins with an opening ceremony around the central fire. This year. the element of water was added, with participants bringing offerings of water from many different countries.
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Cecilia Yellow Self Existing Seed is explaining two Natural Time Counts: the 13 Moon/28 Day calendar, and the Tzolkin, a 260-day count of days, both based on the Mayan time system. Both are very important from liberating the mind from mechanized time and connecting it to the harmony of Natural Time.
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Luis “White Electric Mirror” Zavala shares with Consejo organizer Santiago Paloma his kin, or galactic signature.
Ricardo Velez of Transition Querétaro, author of " Creando dinero comunitario: El Kuni, El nuevo dinero ecológico glocal," offers a workshop on alternative and local currencies in the Social Movements Council
Ricardo Velez of Transition Querétaro, author of “Creando dinero comunitario: El Kuni, El nuevo dinero ecológico glocal,” offers a workshop on alternative and local currencies in the Social Movements Council
The Red Tent provides an intimate environment for young women to share amongst themselves and with all members of the Consejo.
The Red Tent provides an intimate environment for young women to share amongst themselves and with all members of the Consejo.
A mapping project linking extractive industry megaprojects and points of resistance throughout the hemisphere was organized in the Social Movements Council.
A mapping project linking megaprojects and points of resistance throughout the hemisphere was organized in the Social Movements Council.
A forum on the Rights of Mother Earth, facilitated by Alberto Ruz Buenfil, was among the plenary presentations during the Consejo.
A forum on the Rights of Mother Earth, facilitated by Alberto Ruz Buenfil, was among the plenary presentations during the Consejo.
In addition to a full lineup of workshops and presentations, the Health Council offers a variety of therapies and a clinic staffed by volunteer health care professionals.
In addition to a full lineup of workshops and presentations, the Health Council offers a variety of therapies and a clinic staffed by volunteer health care professionals.
The Education Council explored innovative and ancient ways of learning.
The Education Council explored innovative and ancient ways of learning.
The Youth Council is a space where young people of all ages gather to organize projects and explore a variety of relevant themes.
The Youth Council is a space where young people of all ages gather to organize projects and explore a variety of relevant themes.
Every day at the Consejo starts with a sunrise ceremony, each one led by a representative of a different tradition.
Every day at the Consejo starts with a sunrise ceremony, each one led by a representative of a different tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coyote Alberto on the Rights of Nature

By Keala Carter

 “Coyote” Alberto Ruz Buenfil has devoted his life to nurturing the bonds that connect humans with the place we inhabit and its other inhabitants, from the beaver to the bee to the wind and the water. His ethic has been influenced by and has in turn influenced movements toward intentional communities, ecovillages and bioregionalism. He has assiduously advocated for the inclusion of the Rights of Nature in legal frameworks and was instrumental in the inclusion of Article 13 ‘Rights of Nature’ in the Constitution of Mexico City in 2016. With a sense of history and the survival of the earth at stake, Alberto is keen to arm people, poets and politicians with the knowledge of our inherent interdependence and the belief that we can do something to change the course of our collective future.

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Ruz, a founder of the Rainbow Peace Caravan, the Vision Council-Guardians of the Earth and the first Forum for the Rights of the Mother Earth in Mexico City, is preparing for a rare free web conference on Monday, Feb. 27 for Gaia University. We took advantage of the moment to visit with him about this most timely subject. Details about the conference follow. 

EP: The title of the upcoming Gaia University conference “Why rights of nature is an essential issue today.” Can you explain to me why now is a ripe moment in time for the rights of nature and a shift toward biocentric jurisprudence?
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Lessons from Standing Rock

By Tracy L. Barnett

STEELE, N.D., Dec 8 – We only made it 70 miles from Oceti Sakowin Camp in Standing Rock when a whiteout and fierce winds forced us to seek refuge in this tiny town, where the Kidder County Ambulance District and a wonderful EMT nurse named Mona Thompson took us in like a mother. Mona, we soon learned, has led her volunteer emergency services in manning the front lines on the reservation side after the attacks on the Water Protectors from the paid law enforcement personnel of neighboring Morton County. This improvised emergency shelter is filled with people, many of them coming from or going to Standing Rock, and were up until all hours talking about this historic phenomenon and how it has impacted them and the nation. I will share more about Mona and her story soon.

As for myself I am moved more deeply than words can express. To see the quiet resolve on the part of our Native brothers and sisters, to see their compassion for us in the face of our distress – both physical, for the bitter cold, and emotional, for the bitter truths we are facing. Not for the first time but for the strongest time, face to face with those that our government has deceived and betrayed time after time over the past 250 years, and it keeps going on.

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Communiqué of Coyote Alberto

By Alberto Ruz Buenfil
Forum for the Rights of the Mother Earth
Translated by Katy D’Oporto

October 26 must have been a very special day at the level of the conjunction of the planets and the forces of Nature.

images-2Knocking on the doors of the temple where human laws are made, we had the privilege of being witnesses and actors in setting out a very important proposal that our collective Forum on the Rights of Mother Earth gave birth to and delivered in the Casona Xicoténcatl, headquarters of the press conferences being carried out to present citizens’ demands to present to members of the legislature who are preparing the new Constitution of Mexico City.

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