With the cold weather around the corner, many of you are in the midst of planning your winter getaway. A significant number of potential vacationers will be enticed to Mexico. The major factor is the low cost. For those considering making one of Mexico’s hot-spots such as Cancun or Acapulco your winter playground, please provide me with an opportunity to enlighten you on what you will contribute to.

The ruling party of the Mexican government, which has been in power for 68 years, derives a significant portion of income from the tourist industry. Taxes derived from the tourist industry assist the government in implementing state policies against Mexico’s Indigenous population.

Presently, many Native communities are completely surrounded by the military. Most have been cut off from the outside world. Tuberculosis has embraced several Indigenous villages as a result of the people’s immune systems being weakened from hunger. Malaria has broken out in the community due to water sent which was contaminated with mosquito larvae. The only food and medicine getting into many villages is trickled in past the military units, by grassroots organizations sympathetic to the plight of the
Indigenous Peoples.

In order to evade a military sweep of their communities, entire villages are uprooted at a moment’s notice and are forced to flee into the mountains, where they remain for months on end.

As for tourist spots such as Cancun or Acapulco, all Indigenous People are prohibited from working in or around these hot-spots. Unfortunately, you can find many of their handicrafts sold throughout the marketplace or on the streets. Non-lndigenous businessmen travel into the Native communities and buy up all of their handicrafts below cost and resell them to the tourists with markups as high as 500 per cent.

For those with a sense of adventure who are still drawn to Mexico, you may consider travelling into areas population with Indigenous peoples, San Cristobal De Las Casas, located in the state of Chiapas, is an excellent start. This sleepy little town is considered to be the last stop before you venture into the heartland of Chiapas where 90 per cent of the population is Indigenous. Although there are no beaches, nor luxurious hotels, you will be transported back to where time has stood still. The streets and marketplaces are bustling with Indigenous peoples who have been exiled here since the Zapatista uprising two and a half years ago. The state of Chiapas is also a fully militarized zone, so be prepared for anything!

Ah, decisions, decision! Keep in mind that when you purchase your lost-cost ticket to the government-sponsored resorts of Cancun and Acapulco, you unconsciously are condoning the government’s genocidal policies against the Original Peoples of Mexico.

But now it will be a very conscious decision!!

This article is reprinted from the Oct. 17 edition of The Eastern Door of Kahnawake.