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The Caravans Arrive – is Cancun Ready?

4th December, 2010 - Posted by Carleen Pickard - No Comments

Global Exchange’s Medea Benjamin, Shannon Biggs and Carleen Pickard are joining fellow climate justice campaigners, environmentalists and social justice advocates from around the world for COP16 in Cancun. Today, Carleen Pickard reports:

After leaving Mexico City at 6:30am on December 1, reporting from the road proved challenging for the caravanistas, traveling day and night crossing eastern Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula. Only one short article appeared in La Jornada, reporting only on the crossing; listing the locations where they had stopped; saying that the caravans had grown to 20 buses and the participants were well.

All of this was good news, as I read it on the plane to Cancun. Although I like to fashion myself as an intrepid traveler and can continue through anything, I wisely decided to step off the caravans in Mexico City. Fighting a terrible cold, it seemed irresponsible to take down a bus of climate justice activists. Thanks to those of you on the caravan and off that counseled my ‘self care’!

So, I arrived in Cancun on Dec 2 and by following the buses’ eastern travel with text messages, myself and a contingent of North American activists from the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance organized into a mini-caravan and met the mega-caravan in the spiritual centre of Chichen Itza. Programmed by the Via Campesina team, the caravans were to stop there and share a ceremony with local indigenous leaders.  With the en route delays, however, the caravan arrived too late to access the site and after a brief confrontation the municipal authorities provided the town square of near by Piste to the caravans for the programmed ceremony.

At 7pm the ceremony began. A Mam elder welcomed everyone and spoke about the actions of so many to protect Mother Earth. She said that climate change was a result of Mother Earth being upset at all the damage being done to her. She said that the increased storms in her community are a result of Mother Earth’s tears. She noted that under the Mayan calendar today was a celebration of Mother Earth and Women, who are created in her image. All this time a small altar was being created with offering from the earth – corn, palm leaves, water and coffee. Copal (incense) was burning and we were passed out burning candles.

IEN members from the Ponca and Dakota Nations also offered blessings and song and Casey Camp named it as “sharing ceremony with relatives”.

Before boarding the buses for one last time, I had the chance to catch up with my former caravan compa, Angela Adrar, who summed up what they had seen en route and what’s next: ‘We are moving and we are getting to Cancun, I hope that Cancun is ready.”

Check back here on our Climate Justice blog for updates from Cancun and COP16. If you’re on Twitter, follow @globalexchange for related COP16 updates from Global Exchange, and use hashtag #COP16 for general COP16 tweets.

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