Last week the Black and Indigenous Liberation Movement (BILM) organized a coalition congress between Black and Indigenous communities throughout Abya Yala, which includes the regions of North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean.
BILM held the congress in Quito, Ecuador which has been the center of nationwide strikes throughout this year. This strike led by Indigenous and Black community leaders, against rising food and fuel costs, awakened a decades long issue of the Ecuadorian government excluding Indigenous and Black Ecuadorians politically, socially, and economically. The strikes brought together Black, Indigenous, student, and women groups, to bring the country to a halt, and proved that solidarity between Black and Indigenous peoples is an absolute necessity in the Land back movement.
The BILM congress gathered Black and Indigenous peoples together to discuss how to move in solidarity to push our movement for liberation forward. As our communities continue to be the most impacted by armed conflict, the climate crisis, and displacement on the continents, this step towards solidarity signifies an instrumental move in ending the imperialist systems that force our communities into a cycle of poverty and violence. In attendance were delegates from the Afro-Mexican community in Guerrero, Mexico; Afro-Colombians from Cali, Colombia; Indigenous Nicaraguans from Matagalpa, Nicaragua; Afro and Indigenous Ecuadorians from Ezmaralda and the Amazon Basin; as well as Black and Indigenous folx representing Haiti, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and more. Each group brought in a different perspective on creating structures to organize Black and Indigenous peoples based in racial and climate justice.
BILM also worked on structures to maintain a cohesive alignment between Black and Indigenous groups internally, to sustain and project a strong foundation of solidarity. From the start, the congress followed an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti misogynist and anti-homophobic agenda. It created a framework that centered the inseparable link between the climate crisis and the oppression of Black and Indigenous people. BILM opened up the congress for different communities to have honest conversations about multiple issues facing their territories and the tools they could and are using to maintain and create new opportunities for autonomy.
The coalition began the process of aligning a wide representation of Black and Indigenous communities on the issues of foreign intervention, Land Back, white feminism, and machismo. The question of what solidarity actually looks like remained a theme during the congress. It was well understood that the division of Black and Indigenous peoples on the continents is a tool used by the same systems that oppress us to prevent us from creating power amongst ourselves. It also discussed the role diaspora communities have in movement building, and how they can be used as a support tool when organized with the leadership of communities on the ground. It gave space for young organizers to speak on the struggles of self-empowerment when growing up in racist societies, communities, and even homes by delegates from Ecuador and Mexico.
A real vision of Land Back, where autonomy and the right to live off the land as a protected right that exists for both Black and Indigenous communities alike, was supported unanimously by participants in the coalition. The role police and prison have in suppressing the movement, and the necessity of abolition was discussed in depth by delegates from Brazil, Colombia, and the United States. Delegates from Trinidad and Tobago warned against the dangers of organizing around the identities given to us by colonial systems, and that only community awareness around these colonial histories will allow us to use these identities to our advantage. Delegates from the Indigenous territories in Matagalpa, Nicaragua consistently grounded the congress, reminding us that we could not do anything without including the voice of La Pachamama, and brought all four elements into the space.
The congress ended with a protest starting at the Ministry of Environment where the coalition protested against the mineral mining that continues to displace Black and Indigenous communities for the sake of profit. Afterward, BILM led a march down to the statue of queen Isabel of Spain, where Black and Indigenous peoples came together by way of music, language, and dance to condemn the celebration of colonial figures and the systems they uphold today. Overall, the congress was successful in creating a coalition of Black and Indigenous groups to revive a foundation of solidarity.
The Black and Indigenous Liberation Movement represents and organizes the most revolutionary communities on the continents who can not only envision but act on what it takes to create and maintain autonomy and protection of our Land. For the coalition’s future, it aims to create a larger movement for liberation and Land autonomy through smaller networks of solidarity, calls for and in support of direct actions, and making it impossible for nation states to weaken the movement through division of our communities. This move for Black and indigenous solidarity brings together two very strong movements grounded in liberation and has the potential to bring to life a brand new future for our communities.