Communities Resist and Provide for Themselves in Quarantine

https://i2.wp.com/www.albatv.org/local/cache-vignettes/L430xH288/alpargata1-81366.jpgFor some time now, the Latin American peoples have been facing various crises. Colonial plundering and impositions are undermining the spiritual and material conditions for a dignified life. Even so, we manage to survive through ancestral, community, solidarity and self-managed resistance. The difficulties caused by the coronavirus have unleashed other forms of resistance.

Added to this great crisis of the Western world system is the pandemic and at the same time the emergence of community practices of our peoples. In Guatemala, indigenous peoples are organizing and supporting themselves to guarantee food for their families. They take care of each other, they are very attentive to the health of their own and they re-invigorate food production and the preservation of native seeds.

“Despite the health and economic crisis in the communities, solidarity initiatives and new forms of support have also been strengthened, for example, the collection of food to help families or communities in quarantine; collective self-monitoring so that the pandemic does not infect members of the communities; as well as the role of community authorities who have had the capacity to implement specific measures to care for the life and health of the people,” according to a review on the Clacso website.

In Guatemala, Felipe Gómez, a Mayan researcher and author of the text published by Clacso, says that “The pandemic has also allowed us to reflect on the urgent need to strengthen local organization; to manage information independently; to return to traditional measures to preserve collective health, as well as to produce a diversity of healthy foods and to take care of native seeds”.

In Chile, Mapuche communities have donated food in the midst of the obstacles posed by the pandemic. Communities in the Trapilhue and Mahuidanche sectors of the Freire Commune donated 6,000 kilos of food to their neighbours in San Antonio de Temuco.

“They brought us vegetables, chard, potatoes, flour and many other things. People are in need in this sector, some of those registered with us came immediately to get boxes of food. Today we provided lunch for 135 families and about 35 more people are coming to register from a nearby camp as most of them have no work, so they will come to collect lunch as well,” explains Elizabeth Tejeda, one of the neighbours who leads the preparation of the common pot. according to the Temuco Diario website.

Venezuela, faced with the pandemic as well as all the other sieges, continues to demonstrate community and resistance initiatives to the world. Communes, organizations, collectives, and community councils remain in the front line to guarantee food for their families, neighbours, and the entire community.

Anacaona Marín, is a member of the Patriotic Force “Alexis Vive” and spokesperson for the El Panal 2021 Commune, in the 23 de Enero parish in Caracas. She thinks that food is not a commodity but a human right. She fights so that in her community no one is left without food. In particular, they have organized to provide 18 spaces for processing food that goes to the school canteens, and the commune as such has 5 canteens. All within the Pueblo a Pueblo plan. They also have a bakery where they sell the cheapest bread in Caracas.

“We maintain the levels of protection, we have made masks, we support CLAP to guarantee the day’s supply to the entire community, we support the children’s school activities to generate a different approach to learning, and we have disinfected the spaces in our community. The pandemic is not a game, we must take care of each other. We must continue to build popular power and community,” says Anacaona, a 30-year-old woman and mother of Fabricio.

Jenifer Milagros Lamus, is a member of the El Maizal Commune in Lara State, Venezuela, and also has a son named Fabricio. She has three children. The other two are named Hugo Rafael and Raul Alfonzo. “I have been in the Comuna El Maizal since 2011, I have seen the birth of many production units and also see how the commune grows in adversity”.

She coordinates the Company of Direct Social Property Communal “Ganadería Doble Propósito y Bufalino Argimiro Gabaldón”. This experience generated in the commune allows the supply of animal protein and dairy products, in the midst of the pandemic. They also distribute food directly, such as coffee, pre-cooked corn flour, cheese, among others, through their local stores and at fair prices. They practice barter with peasants and from all this resistance they confront speculation by the local merchants.

“We are on the path of Chavez… which we always have in mind,” says Jenifer.

Alba TV returns to Caracas again, this time in Coche, and we met Eglee Aponte, a member of the “Forjando los Sueños de Ezequiel Zamora” (Forging the Dreams of Ezequiel Zamora) Community, which is also part of the Pueblo a Pueblo (People to People) plan, which aims to link the rural producers with the urban consumers. They produce fruits, vegetables and tubers. They contribute to supply all the schools of the parish within the School Feeding Program (PAE) guaranteeing daily meals to children and older adults. They supply 19 schools of the Coche parish, in the midst of the coronavirus.

“We are proud of our work. Our commune is mostly composed of women. Every 15 days, we distribute 8 thousand kilos of food in the schools. It is a great experience that has allowed us to demonstrate that we can respond to any challenge that we face,” says Eglee, a retired lawyer.

The experiences of resistance continue to save the people. Beyond the exterminations of the capitalist system, there is a practice, will and community exercise that is opening up more dignified and hopeful paths.

María Mercedes Cobo/Alba TV