~ News and Travel Events in Mayaland ~
News for The Maya Seed Ark Project - New Year 2015
Greetings Seed Keepers!
Winter is a time of gestation for our Mother Earth. Following her rhythm, forward movement with the growing light is slow and gentle. It is a time to look at your seeds and prepare to plant.
Last year was a time of extensive travels, research, and realization. In brief, most people in the USA and in certain other countries, are so fortunate to have access to organic heirloom seeds. My research in southern Mexico yielded alarming results. There are hardly no heirloom seeds available in the market to be bought. Farmers who know what is happening with GMO hybrid seeds, are doing their best to keep up the heirloom seed stock.
Further south, in Guatemala and Belize, in general, many farmers are buying their seed and farm supplies at the agro stores. These stores supply seed, fertilizer and pesticides. They do not have heirloom seeds. Because of climate change, many farmers have lost their heirloom seed and must depend on the GMO hybrid seeds in the agro supply stores.
Traditional Mayan farmers continue to participate in seed blessing ceremonies before planting, maintaining the custom of praying over the seeds and requesting a good harvest. One of the greatest gifts that I have been given by the Mayan spiritual guides, having been taught about the ceremonies, was learning to kiss the Earth. When you deeply understand that the Earth Mother is a living being, and you surrender yourself in reverence, kissing her, without any concept of “dirtiness”, you experience a shift within your own being.
The traditional Maya deeply believe in ceremony, and continue their practices against all odds. In the many seed blessing ceremonies that I have attended, always the greatest gift the Maya have given me are ears of beautiful corn that they grew from heirloom seeds. They call these seeds criollo (cree-o-yo). There are four colors of sacred corn grown for ceremonies, blue, white, yellow and red.
On our side of the planet only certain areas now exist where there are heirloom seeds. Mindful of the heart of the matter, The Maya Seed Ark Project continues to bridge the information gap in both directions, from north to south and from south to north. Considering that many of the Maya cannot read, creative expansion of information flow is maintained through video production, presentations at indigenous conferences, community radio and community events.
It is important to understand that many Maya live in remote communities where there are no computers. The technological world in which we live, in more developed countries, does not exist, or is in much slower development. In communities where there is computer access, it is through Internet cafes, where you have to pay to use the computers. Where there is no money for food, there is no money for computers. Thus the huge information gap.
Most Maya receive their news through the radio. There are alternative community radio stations that they tune into for the local and national news. In general the people do not read the newspapers. It is important to be aware that there is considerable violent social conflict in certain areas of Maya land. And so not all areas are safe to travel especially in areas where there are problems about mining. However, there are still some spectacular spots to visit. And know that the Maya are a gentle, respectful and welcoming people.
Continuing on, here’s what’s happening!
GMO in Central America 2014
2014 has been a landmark year for the indigenous people of Central America with regard to the protection of the native heirloom corn as well as sustainability.
In the Mayan communities of the Yucatan peninsula, Chiapas, southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, there has been positive forward momentum to inform the people about the dangers of GMO seed and food.
The film Alarma! No a los Transgenicos has gone viral and spread the word about GMO. This year, because of the awakening about the problem of GMO, there has been a huge push back in Mexico. Recently the government has advised SAGARPA, the governmental entity that controls agriculture, the cattle industry and the fishery, and SEMARNAT, the environmental protection agency, to not permit GMO to be planted. In general, the government takes two steps forward making these announcements, and then one step back when it continues to permit limited planting of GMO in certain states. Also recently the government agency for food safety has just approved a list of over one hundred GMO products which they have declared SAFE.
In the Yucatan, the Mayan beekeepers spearheaded a campaign called MA OGM (NO GMO). 40% of Mexico’s honey is produced here by Mayan farmers. Mexico is the worlds third largest exporter of honey. The Maya have seen the negative effects of glyphosate use on honey production. An information campaign about GMO was launched by Mayan allies of the Maya Seed Ark Project, and has proved effective. Continued discussion and resolutions about GMO has happened this year at the Encuentro de Pueblos Mayas held in Quintana Roo.
The Maya of Belize have done a fine job of spreading knowledge about the dangers of GMO, and now because of allies in the Belize National Indigenous Council, the government has tightened control regarding the planting of GMO crops. The Maya Seed Ark Project spearheaded this movement.
The Maya of Guatemala have risen to the cause and this past summer have done massive demonstrations against the planting of GMO corn and other crops. The government attempted to pass a clandestine law opening the doors wide for GMO and Monsanto, without any public review, and the Maya rose up in the streets of Guatemala City, coming from the far regions to take a stand for the corn mother, and mother earth. The law soon thereafter was defeated.
Meanwhile the government continues on its dissemination of GMO seeds under the auspices of NAFTA and the FAO.
The Mayan spiritual guides continue performing ceremonies every 20 days on the front lines of spiritual defense for their communities. The Maya have become more conscious of the necessity of preserving their heirloom seeds, and especially are highly valuing their corn. Now more community seed banks are being formed.
More Maya are waking up to the present situation and want more information. In this light, I am midway in the production of the film The Seed Mothers Transmissions, a continuum of spreading the word about GMO by the Mayan medicine women.
For the Maya in Central America, 2015 will be an important year in relation to food security because of increasing crop failure due to climate change. The illnesses related to GMO are manifesting in the communities.
It is vital to provide a continuum of this work, keeping up the momentum which has taken time to build up a head of steam, and now penetrating the general mind stream. This is done by promoting events about the seeds and the corn, encouraging the establishment of community seed banks and providing a flow of awareness through the media for the communities in resistance to the invasion of GMO.
My work in the communities has allowed me to participate in community radio programs sponsored by allies of the Maya, Cultural Survival, to bring out news about the effects of GMO.
Plan of Action: 2015
The film The Seed Mother’s Transmissions is completed!
Distribution to our allies within the 3 countries is forth coming.
The film will also be presented to our allies, Greenpeace Mexico, who will use it widely in their campaign against GMO.
In Belize, the location of the next Great Encounter of Maya Nations, the film and information will be presented on the panel about GMO. This panel is resultant of The Maya Seed Ark’s work with the Mayan elders who create the Encuentro. There will be a distribution of the film at the event.
What is needed:
Total request $60,000 annual budget.
Travel expenses: $15,000
This includes transportation, hotel and food
A $6,000 matching grant has been given to start the process and I need the match to move forward.
I am grateful for all your kind support and wish that together we can make further impact by supporting the Maya to educate through the media which can touch many. I request your help in realizing food security and sustainability for the Maya and native people through this effort.
In la’ketch (Maya for I am another yourself),
Camila Martinez, Director
Tax deductible donations $25 or more, please make your check our to WAKAN, and in the memo line put THE MAYA SEED ARK PROJECT, and you will receive a letter for your tax purposes.
All other donations, please make out your check to:
Please send all donations to Camila Martinez
11255 Mt. Hamilton Road
San Jose, CA 95140
May we all awaken together, and with strength, act, for the benefit of many.
Many blessings and food security for all!
As the Maya say, In la'ketch, I am another yourself.