Guatemala: Rallying for Plurinationality

Ollantay Itzamná
Communities and peoples on the move in Guatemala City.

In recent years, this category has begun to be reflected upon as a response to the civilizing project of modernity that, through nation states, has continued to colonize and dispossess the territories of the original peoples. Therefore, the idea of plurinationality is necessarily linked to the horizon of Buen Vivir (instead of development) and to the idea of the cosmic community (instead of the anthropocentrism of modernity).

The clock struck 5:00 a.m. at dawn on a rainy Wednesday, September 21. Several hundred, thousands, of indigenous people and peasants, descend from the buses in the stately city of Guatemala.

Covered with plastic, carrying their blankets and posters, they are ready to hurriedly eat their tamalitos and corn tortillas,some squatting down.

The clock is ticking. The city that despises them begins to wake up. This time, they do not come to sell their agricultural products. No. Nor do they come to buy.

They arrive determined to protest against the government and the colonial Creole State, and to redouble the proclamation of the urgent need for a Popular and Plurinational Constituent Assembly process, in the racist Republic of Guatemala, which for 200 years prevented effective plurinationality (even by means of genocide as a method).

They are the communities and peoples organized in resistance articulated in the Peasant Development Committee (CODECA) movement.

They entered into the political heart of the city in four columns

Zigzagging, like polychromatic feathered serpents, they traveled simultaneously, in four columns, through the main streets of Guatemala City, until they came together and became, in the Plaza of the Constitution, the plurinationality denied and re-denied in and by the bosses’ Guatemala.

Who finances these impoverished communities?

Peasant demonstration. Guatemala City

For full citizenship and/or permitted citizenship, it is unthinkable that indigenous people and impoverished peasants can manage on their own as social subjects, much less socio-political subjects. It is impossible to think that the “poor” self-finance their collective protest actions!

But, the communities in resistance, articulated in the socio-political movement (CODECA), are self-financed, with their own contributions. All their organizational, training, protest and communication activities are financed by their monthly community fees.

This action of community self-financing is perhaps one of the explanations for CODECA’s uncomfortable creative rebelliousness. Neither USAID, nor the NGOs, much less the political parties of the colonial left could, nor can, break it.

Why are they promoting a process of Popular and Plurinational Constituent Assembly?

The conscious communities and peoples in Guatemala understand that their problem is first and foremost political and state. That the different types of domination they suffer prevail because there is a colonial state, with a constitutional architecture that promotes and allows the various forms of internal colonialism.

In this sense, in order to advance towards the full liberation of the peoples of Guatemala, it is urgent to reach a consensus on a new Plurinational Political Constitution where a plurinational State with territorial autonomies is designed.

But this Political Constitution must be drafted with the ideas and participation of all the peoples of the country. The peoples, from their diversity, must give rise to the Political Constitution and the plurinational State, and not the other way around.

Challenges of plurinationality

Plurinationality is a political category that emerges as an antidote to the mononationality that the nation state tried to promote/impose in a failed way.

In its origins, it was assumed as an exceptional administrative tool for cultural decentralization within nation states. This is the case of the former USSR or Spain.

In recent years, this category has begun to be reflected upon as a response to the civilizing project of modernity that, through nation states, continued to colonize and dispossess the territories of native peoples. Therefore, the idea of plurinationality is necessarily linked to the horizon of Buen Vivir (instead of development) and to the idea of the cosmic community (instead of the anthropocentrism of modernity).

If plurinationality is assumed as a tool for political decentralization within the project of modernity, it requires no further commitment on the part of the peoples, other than some public policies for cultural decentralization on the part of the national states.

But, if it is assumed as an answer to overcome the nefarious project of modernity/development for the peoples, then, it necessarily implies new projects of lifestyles, new legal order, new institutions, new State, and new horizons of community existence. And this is the task of peoples, communities, families, and public, private and religious institutions.