Indigenous people make up about 21.5 percent of the Mexico’s population, but they remain one of the most targeted communities in the country. They face violence and repression at the hands of their own government while private business organizations torment them over land ownership and mining projects.
With the general election in Mexico drawing nearer, the delegates from National Indigenous Congress (CNI), which represents around 60 communities from around the country, voted in Chiapas – considered “the heart of the indigenous resistance” – to elect a Nahua woman, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, as its 2018 presidential candidate.
It is the first time an indigenous woman is running for the top office and the sixth time in history that a woman is competing for the position.
The 57-year-old, also known as “Marichuy,” is a traditional medicine practitioner and a known human rights activist who is determined to challenge social class prejudice, inequality and racism in the country.
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), a revolutionary left-wing political and militant group that has been fighting for the rights of indigenous people in Mexico for over two decades, also announced its support for Martínez – even though she is not a member of their organization.
“We are not interested in the election process, the votes, or winning the presidency,” said CNI representative Carlos González. “We want to make the indigenous struggle visible again. Like EZLN did in 1994.”
However, Marichuy still needs over 800,000 signatures to make it to the ballot.
If she succeeds, she would face off against established politicians with better financial resources.
Find out more about María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, the woman who aims to break stereotypes and bring attention to the plight of her people, in the video above.