Zapatistas in Mexico City
A group of Zapatistas has come from Chiapas to Mexico City to join the 1 May demonstration on the Zócalo, where they had the opportunity to witness the mounting of a controversial 8 metres high sculpture titled The Pillar of Shame. The sculpture is now placed for two days in most centric square of the Mexican capital. Set up in front of the Parliament, the Pillar is an overt accusation of the Mexican government.
The Pillar was set up during one of the worlds biggest 1 May demonstrations. Immediately after Mexican president Ernesto Zedillos speech to the crowd of the official demonstration, the huge Zócalo was invaded by hundreds of thousands anti-government demonstrators.
The mounting of the Pillar was a joint initiative of the CNI (a confederation encompassing all indigenous peoples of Mexico) and CLETA, an organisation for promotion of popular art and theatre. The sculpture was set up to commemorate the victims of the sanguinary conflict between the Mexican government and the indigenous peoples. The atrocities of this conflict have taken a toll of numerous victims, culminating in the hideous massacre of Acteal where paramilitaries massacred 45 martyrs in the village of Acteal in Chiapas. Men, women and children were murdered while they prayed for peace.
On the plinth of the sculpture is engraved a declaration by the CNI, the confederation of indigenous peoples of Mexico, expressing an excruciating denunciation of the white mans basic values:
"They stole our fruit,they cut off our branches,they burnt our trunks,but they could not kill our roots.The indigenous people have their own deep-rooted cultural heritage through which they experience the basis of life itself. These conditions provide hope for life, both for mankind and for the nature of which Man is so integral a part. For five hundred years unscrupulous forces have waged war against our people. They have forced access to our resources and they have stolen our spiritual values. They have attempted to subdue, bribe, or extirpate whole populations."
The Pillar of Shame is a gift from the Danish artist Jens Galschiot to the indigenous peoples of Mexico. They have now adapted the Pillar, and they are going to use it for the promotion of their cause, of which the main claims are autonomy, democracy and right to the land on which they live claims that from a democratic view seem to be quite moderate.
The Pillar of Shame is a sculptural outcry a world wide art
manifestation consisting of a network of similar sculptures set up to pillory outrageous
encroachments against Humanity. The first Pillar was set up in Hong Kong 1997 to
commemorate the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing 1989, where the democracy movement was
crushed down by military force. The sculpture fanned a heated debate on the limits for
free speech in Hong Kong after the Crown Colonys reunion with China.
More about the Pillar of Shame in Hong Kong | Photos from Hong Kong
The next sites for setting up a Pillar of Shame will be Berlin in
November this year and northern Brazil in April 2000.
More about the Berlin Pillar of Shame | More about the Brazilian Pillar of Shame
|1999: The Pillar of Shame in Mexico|