This guy lives from agriculture, he grows plantains and ‘chontaduro’ and other produce to eat, that is his sustenance. He used to cut wood but now that land is a protected area, so wood cutting is not allowed. He said he is one of the settlers, but event though he arrived here more than 25 years ago, he arrived to a place with land that had already been broken, from the Valencia family.
The corn is ours, our harvest and the name is really clear: “MAIS”: “Movimiento Indígena Alternativo y Social” (Alternative and Social Indigenous Movement). Is what I have always said: this movement is not only for indigenous people but for every social field and everything it involves: afro-americans, peasants, Yanaconas (indigenous people). Because it has been clear for a long time: if we are not united, next wars are not going to be for land but for water, that’s why we need to be united.
What characterizes La Plata Bahía Málaga as an ancestral territory of our black community is that the population has been here since 1624. This community is the expression of the expansion and territorial appropriation of that black community, initially on the islands and then on the mainland, and its path to improve the living conditions of its people.
There has been a historical process, we understand that outside our territory there is unfair competition, we attack each other, the capitalist model absorbs us and we end up slaves of the model in the city. So, what I analyzed was that, to see how with the Community Council we can help improve the quality of life and thew well-being of the community.
We had a clear idea of the economic model we wanted from the very beginning, and how it would include the black people with low literacy and education. Staying in our territory and building the future of well-being that we dream of is important, because we know we are not welcome elsewhere. We go to the city and women end up in bedrooms and kitchens, men in construction; or in the past people would go North, in the 80s and 90s. People would go as stowaways to the U.S., or more recently, to Central
and South America. That is why we build our future here in our territory.
We are focused on building a future that allows us to support ourselves and to sustain the future generations that will maintain our territory. Territory is the place where the thoughts live, the thoughts of our elders, and those of our children. That is the most important thing. Other important prinicples and rights in our community are autonomy, participation, our own view of development, and self-determination. This is how we will improve collective welfare and how we can remain in our territory.
We have lived here from wood cutting, but it was very controlled, because when we see a big tree we can cut it down, when is a small one we can not. That is what we call ‘thinning’, we take the big trees and let the small ones grow. Then we declared some areas as conservation zones and we don’t cut wood there at all. Now that we are a Community Council, we have legal title to around 35.000 hectares of collective territories. We are all owners of this territory, and we can work with the government to create
projects that will give us our livelihoods.