For many of the indigenous peoples in America, the earth is sacred. From their involvement with the land, comes their strength and daily life. People may use the land and benefit from it, but they should also give back to it. In the case of the indigenous people of San Salvador Atenco, Mexico are an example to the world in the way they didn’t surrender the land for a new airport near Mexico City.

The decision was made without their consent. The plans were drawn and probably the constructing companies hired, but the people did not want to give up their land. The people organized themselves and the government tried to suppress their efforts. But they won.

Maybe it was right timing. The Pope was about to arrive to Mexico for the canonization of Juan Diego, an indigenous man. All the indigenous groups in Mexico had been invited to the event.

The campesinos from Atenco, descendants of the indians, were not among the guests, but they wanted their voices to be heard.

The Pope made a public appeal to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas. The ‘natives’ on stage danced in colorful native outfits and the mariachis sang in Nahuatl. The choreography for a successful event was perfect, but once the event is done what happens to the rights of the natives?

How many battles will the people from Chiapas have ahead? How many oil and tourist interest will be more powerful than the rights of the owners of the land?

I think that today, once more the people of the land courageously opposed the powerful and won. Maybe this is a lesson that many militaries have to learn.

There is a communal spirit that is very difficult to overpower. Such spirit mingles with the earth, the wind, the plants, the landscape. The spirit of the people is what makes long wars with no resolve. The powerful have the money , technology and the arms. The poor have their strength in the numbers, the land and above all the truth.

In many places on earth the poor and oppressed have reached their maximum tolerance. Many contemporary war leaders should take notice of the lessons imparted by people like the peasants from Atenco.