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Sowing Struggle: Social movements and the future of corn in Tlaxcala, Mexico

, Abramson Family Founders Room, SIS Building

Updated 9/9/13

Luz Rivera Martinez will speak about her 20 years of experience constructing autonomy, organizing outside the electoral system, and resisting genetically modified corn while protecting millennia-old varieties. Luz is an inspiring speaker and her talk will have important lessons for anyone interested in women's, peasant, and labor movements.

During the Mexican Revolution support for Emiliano Zapata was strong in Tlaxcala, and under the slogan of "the land belongs to those who work it" many peasants occupied the plantations their families had labored on as serfs for generations. On that land, they planted the 26 varieties of native corn that have been developed in Tlaxcala over millennia.

Today, the Revolution lives on through the work of the Consejo Nacional Urbano Campesino (CNUC). Luz established CNUC in the early 1990s to coordinate resistance to the impending North American Free Trade Agreement, especially regarding its dismemberment of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, which enshrined peasants' right to communally own the ejido farm lands redistributed during the Revolution. Luz and the members of CNUC also knew that NAFTA would decimate the small-scale agricultural sector that the Revolution had established at such a great cost.

As CNUC's lead organizer, Luz has worked tirelessly to demand government accountability, defend family farms, resist the use of GMO seeds, and build inspiring, community-based autonomous projects. CNUC has a long history of disposing of corrupt leaders, democratizing the budget, coordinating community-driven infrastructure projects, including peoples' history in education, and expanding access to healthcare.

CNUC's most recent work focuses on reviving traditional composting techniques, education on the dangers of genetically modified seeds, and dignifying the culture of corn and seeds that Tlaxcaltecans have nourished over generations. Luz and CNUC also work closely with the Apizaco merchants union, a bus-drivers' cooperative, and the National Assembly of Braceros. CNUC is also an adherent to the Zapatistas' Sixth Declaration, an international network of organizations struggling against neoliberalism and for autonomy from the grassroots.

*The Mexico Solidarity Network is an organization dedicated to popular education and autonomous community organizing. In addition to our community work in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood and speaking tours, MSN also administers a unique, social justice-oriented study abroad program that allows students to learn about grassroots movements in Mexico by living with the families that comprise them, including members of CNUC. For more information, visit
Panel Discussion
Partners of the Americas, American University Student Chapter
Ana Milena Sobalvarro

Send email to Ana Milena Sobalvarro


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