Hacer memoria es otra forma de conseguir la justicia: Sabino Vive


Lucía Martínez Romero, esposa del Cacique Sabino. FOTO: Miguel Moya


El 9 de febrero de 2013, un mes antes de que fuera asesinado por sicarios en el Municipio de Machiques, el cacique Yukpa Sabino Romero Izarra dice ante las cámaras de Sabino vive. Las últimas fronteras:

…La Sierra Perijá es esto, pues, donde nosotros estamos arrinconados hace muchos años. Desde 1980 estamos pidiendo la demarcación de territorios de los pueblos indígenas, de nosotros, los Yukpa y los Barí y los Wayuu. El problema del territorio no se ha resuelto.

Estas palabras quedaron registradas en el documental que hoy les recomendamos: Sabino vive. Las últimas fronteras, dirigido por Carlos Azparúa con el Apoyo del Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía de Venezuela.

VER AQUÍ => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E91H73AdSU4 





Yukpa Chief Sabino Romero Izarra. Picture: aporrea tvi

On February 9th, 2013, a month before being murdered by sicarios (hired assassins) in the Machiques County, the Yukpa chief Sabino Romero Izarra opened Sabino vive. Las últimas fronteras with the following words:

The Perija Mountains are these, you know, where we have been cornered for years. Since 1980, we have been asking for the demarcation of the indigenous territories, our territory, the Yukpa, Barí and Wayuu. The problem of the land hasn’t been solved.

These words are part of the documentary that we would like to recommend today:  Sabino vive. Las últimas fronteras, directed by Carlos Azparúa wih the support of the Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía.

WATCH HERE => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E91H73AdSU4 

(Documentary is In spanish only)

Featuring an important archive of news, interviews with politicians, ranchers, activists and indigenous advocates, Sabino vive. Las últimas fronteras documents the tensions that have existed for more than eighty years between the landowner families and the indigenous nations in the valleys around the Yasa river and the Negro river, Zulia Province-Venezuela. In this long battle against impunity, which involves Capuchin Missionaries, the Venezuelan state, and the Narco-Paramilitarism along the Colombo-Venezuelan borderland, Chief Sabino and Elder Adolfo Maikishi’s voices remind us that in order to defend the territory one needs to know it first. This is how Sabino explains it:

Here are the Yukpa, working, not ordering anyone [around], but working themselves. This pineapple here is my own sowing, mine. Nobody here is going to be the boss of someone [else]. My children are planting because of their own will. The name of this land is not Tizina, but Kuna Tizina. The ranchers call this Kusare; and Kusare is not Kusare, but Pamocha. Brazil [Venezuela] is not Brazil, but Chirai. All these lands have their own names. My father himself told me that all these lands were named by the ancestors.

In If this is your land, what are your stories? (2004), Edward Chamberlin states that stories and oral tradition give meaning to the places we inhabit. From his point of view, only those who own this type of knowledge can claim to belong to a specific land. Criticizing Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, Chamberlin holds that while indigenous nations preserve their origin stories, settlers built their own “stories of belonging”, such as nation-states’ constitutions (Chamberlin 25). In deed, as in the case of Chief Sabino and his wife Lucía Martínez de Romero, the Yukpa, Barí and Wayuu Elders are those who know the Perija’s cosmography, and understand the organic relationship between hills, rivers, tunnels and prairies.

In the YouTube description of Sabino vive. Las últimas fronteras offered by Sociedad Homo Et Natura, we can read:

In Friday’s hearing on August 14, 2015, the hired assassin and Machiques ranchers’ bodyguard Angel Antonio Romero Bracho, alias El Manguera, was convicted to 30 years in prison in the Itinerant Court 17 of Greater Caracas, for the assassination of Yukpa Chief Romero Izarra Sabino on March 3, 2013, and for hurting his wife Lucia Martinez Romero and his young son Briceño Martinez Romero.

After the sentencin of the actual assassin, the question that remains is this: when will the intellectual assassins be judged? Not only in Chief Sabino’s case, but also in the case of Lenca activist Berta Cáceres, and all the indigenous and peasant advocates who have risked their lives to protect their territories. As early as 1584, the Muisca Chief Turmequé denounced in his famous letter to the Spanish King (the original text is in old Spanish):

They [the Spanish] have used the biggest cruelty and inhumanity that you can imagine against the miserable Indians, thus instead of protecting and preserving them in their land and planting, they [the Spanish] have divided the best crops and lands they had, and have kept them for themselves as farms and ranches (Read the original here)

Between Chief Turmeque’s concern and Chief Sabino’s concern more than four hundred years have passed. Nevertheless, expressions such as “divided land”, “defense of the territory”, “exploitation of the land”, “territories in dispute” are still part of the daily vocabulary in courts, scholarly papers, and mass media, whether in Bogota, Caracas or Ottawa. How can we transcend the unsolved problems of the colonial period, and the nation-states’ project toward a shared future with the First Nations?  Sabino vive. Las últimas fronteras reminds us that memory is another way of pursuing justice.

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