By Jason Pan. Indigenous Media Reporter, Dec. 7, 2010.- Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as the protest by activists in Cancun today ended peacefully without major incidents – hence no repeat of the violence and mass arrests in Copenhagen of last year.
Around 2,000 protesters from various organizations of Mexico and other countries took to the streets for a march to the UNFCCC meeting venues, with calls for climate justice, rights protection, stop cutting down forests, and defending Mother Earth.
They also do not want a repeat of Copenhagen – in terms of failure to reach a climate change agreement by State negotiators.
Calling it “’International March for Life, and Social and Environmental Justice”, the activists were however unable to reach their destination, the UNFCCC venue Cancun Messe, due to the massive show of force by Mexican police and security force.
Through a police road blockade on the main route to the venues, the protesters could not get near to the UN Climate Change summit meeting, as the march ended peacefully in the late afternoon.
Credits are due to both the police force and activists in showing restraint, and with minimum provocation, thus did not lead to violent incidents.
The march was mainly organized by La Via Campesina, an international farmers right organization, and supported by International Indigenous Peoples Caucus, and groups representing migrant workers, environmental activists, labourers, and other civil society organizations of Mexico, and with representatives from around the world.
For the indigenous representatives at the march, they were led by Cecilio Solis, head of RITA organizations, and other indigenous leaders from Mexico and Latin American nations.
Indigenous delegates to UNFCCC from North America, Asia, and Pacific Islands also took part in the protest.
Taking a stand against States and companies commoditizing the natural environment, the indigenous peoples shouted slogans to voice their objections, “La Madre Tierra no esta en venta; El Agua no esta en venta; La Tierra no esta en venta” (Mother Earth is not for sale; Our Water is not for sale; Our Land is not for sale”.
Speaking on behalf of the Indigenous Caucus, Cecilio Solis set out demands for full and effective participation at the UNFCCC negotiations, and the right to free, prior and informed consent.
He called for rights of indigenous peoples to be included in all sections of the agreement coming out of Cancun, and urged the State representatives to recognize the seriousness of the climate crisis.
In his statement, Solis also demanded for industrialized countries to assume their responsibilities for the defense and protection of Mother Earth, and commit to effective, and legally-binding actions to reduce emissions of Greenhouse Gases that are threatening life around the world.