Thinking and feeling the return to our lands

BY Anny. V, Lilia. P, Radio. M, Erick. H, Karolina. L, Esther. G, Helem. A, Andréa. I.


Borders have been imposed. People return to the earth through the spirituality of

plants and animals, tracing ancestral paths. Our paths, like those of indigenous peoples, come from generations ago. We are the continuity of a thread of wisdom that has been woven in different lands and of the mobility of our peoples over the earth.

Movement is the orchestrator of life. From different collective processes through which we have passed and the reflections gestated in them comes this text. We start from the personal experiences through which we have thought, seen and remembered. Each generation that has come before us has been thrown into a process of migration. We recognize migration as a natural process, unlike States that see migration as a forbidden movement of people. We, however, see it as movement belonging to nature: a pollination through which the living ecosystems in the world and all of the diversity that they represent become possible.

Borders are barriers imposed by States. They are cruel tools guided by a system of racial supremacy that justifies the violence they exert through their power as a part of “order.” Migration will not stop, but we want violence against migrants to stop. We have thought about migration as a collective and asked ourselves what happens if we go back?

Facing enduring migration policies and the prospect of returning to our lands, the first step is to see ourselves as migratory birds united by the defense of life in the face of death, destruction, and borders.

When the media talk about migration, they do it from a unidirectional logic of the Global North: in the restrictions and the supposed violation of them, in the violent forms of separation from spaces to incarcerate migrants, violating their human rights, who migrate to seek a better life for their families despite the violence. These forms of action are also based on an individualistic logic in the name of development: seeking what capitalism says are better living conditions, although it is not known if money will truly grant what it promises.

So, since when have we allowed the lives of our migrating brothers and sisters to become a form of political legitimization and tokenism? Why do Nation States allow them to stay when they hold up the economies of corrupt countries, only to do whatever it takes to make them go back when they are seen as a nuisance? They hunt them with banners that say “Migrants are a Threat!” despite knowing the labor, wealth, and diversity they bring.

They say they benefit from policies yet they lack rights and acceptance.

We at Volver a la Tierra raise our voice and proudly proclaim that migrants are a living solution to the climate crisis.

Kíché Mayan Voices

“Are ri mnaq che ki e’ chipam inq’ajchek taq tinamit ki binuwre cheinkotchik ri mnac chipan la tinamit Paxil Kayala”. Migration leads to the emptying of our lands. Guatemala is going through a sustained political crisis. At present it has been possible to see how the "pact of the elites’; and the “pact of the corrupt” are mobilized to ensure they maintain their privilege at all costs. Together with international actors, they have never ceased to see us as a large farm: a banana republic. In these scenarios there is no possibility for necessary structural change to take place.

The native peoples and peasants have sustained themselves in the face of these adverse scenarios, thanks to the resistance of the forms of social, political and economic organization. Yet it is increasingly difficult for them to do so because the sources of subsistence employment generation, the climate crisis, the cementation of the land, forced eviction, forced exile and natural resource extractive projects have increased migratory movements. Our lands are being emptied. Our knowledge is fleeing. Our social fabric is being fragmented.

We are very worried about how quietly people go and how ashamed they are to return. We are worried about the ancestral knowledge that is lost with them. Will it be erased from their minds by individualistic educational processes far removed from the paradigm of buen vivir? Will aggressive socialization processes erase their identity? When they come back in the name of development, will they unwillingly destroy the scientific wealth of their people?

Coming home shouldn’t be shameful. Our spirituality invites them to not forget their home, to ask permission before leaving and to pray that their return be synonymous with happiness. May they sow and reap their own lives, the lives of their families, and their communities.

Let us break imposed borders and walk the paths of our ancestors! Caminos Ancestrales is a collective effort that began during Territories of Transition 2023 by Culture Hack Labs.

Ayuujk Voices

“Näjxk tëjkëk” is a term in Ayuujk that can describe walking a path as a cycle. We walk and come home again. We walk and come back to our villages. We walk and come back to wherever it may be. To migrate is näjxk tëjkëk because it is to walk in search of income and better living conditions.

The collective memory of the people tells us that we have always been migrants locally, nationally or to other countries. My grandfather, for example, walked for days on foot to reach the city of Oaxaca, then took the train to Chiapas, and from there he went to the sanctuary of the Black Christ in Guatemala, he was never stopped in transit. Other grandparents told me that in the 40’s some people came to town to take workers to the US. They didn´t ask them for papers and promised them green money and safe work.

That´s where the promise began. At that time, the gringos needed labor to recover their economy; Years later, migrants began to suffer the reality of the imposed border, that sentence for traveling in ancestral territories that previously did not belong to those who arrived in these lands. Now migration is a national and international policy that limits, condemns, violates, persecutes, and deports those who dare to seek the dream that was once offered. While they continue to seek to grow their labor force, they also take our resources and annihilate those who inhabit our lands.

Caribbean Voices

The Caribbean was born out of migration. Our first immigrants were taken from Africa in conditions of slavery. Migration is intrinsic to the Caribbean because our original population was exterminated by colonization. Capital was born of slavery and the colonial project. Migrants, through forced work, helped to build the wealth and knowledge that the West now sees as its own and from which their own descendants are excluded.

Liberal democracy did not modify the conditions of slavery that the descendants of colonialism inherited. These conditions continue. Dominicans who die on the high seas on their way to Puerto Rico are no different than the Haitians who emigrate to survive. We exist because we migrate. Migration is anticolonial resistance.

Some reflections

Those who migrate leave the land where their ancestors lived and lie, where they sowed and harvested sustenance, where they tended their animals. When they leave, they also leave a part of life. Nation States have invented borders that parcel up the land and limit movement. Capitalism has devalued work with the land and the value of crops, provoking crises and impoverishing the people. Crises force people to move in order to make a living.

Let memory not forget that when people migrate, they also take with them knowledge, practices, spirituality, and essences to pollinate new territories. Migration is part of a natural movement of life and also a part of a long resistance to the death imposed on our peoples.

This map is a reminder that, in each territory, there are guardians and ancestral, spiritual energies that accompany, guide, and protect us. Each point of this map is a place that embraces, heals, and gives strength.

Let us break imposed borders and walk the paths of our ancestors! Caminos Ancestrales is a collective effort that began during Territories of Transition 2023 by Culture Hack Labs


  • Anny Gabriela Ventura Puac

K’iché Mayan from Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Spiritual leader, political scientist, Curator of Espacio/C

  • Lilia Héber Pérez Díaz

Ayuujk from Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca. Activist and defender of ancestral lands. Community communicator. Member of the Poj Kaa Women’s Association.

  • Erandi Medina Huerta

P’urhépecha from Paracho, Michoacán. Activist, researcher, and defender of ancestral lands. Member of the Emenda Tiempo de Lluvias collective and the Futuros Indígenas Network.

  • Ericka Hernández

Nahua from Cuentepec, Temixco, Morelos. Activist in defense of human rights and collectives. Cofounder of the Cuentepec Tosepan collective.

  • Karolina Lorenzo Cruz

Nahua from Tlaola, Tlaola Puebla. Member of Timo'Patla Intercultural and the Slow Food Pueblos Indígenas Network.

  • Esther N Giron Flete

From Valle de Bonao, Cordillera Central, Sierra de Yamasá, Island of Ayití, Caribbean. Antiracist politician, community weaver, defender of ancestral lands, cofounder of Aquelarre RD and Founder of Casa Cultural La Cimarrona.

  • Helem Andrade Bravo

Afro-indigenous woman from Cuenca de Papaloapan, Oaxaca, Veracruz. Artist, musician, physical therapist. Member of the Futuros Indígenas Network and Milpamérica.

  • Andrea Ixchiú Hernández

K´iche’ Mayan from Totonicapán, Guatemala. Defender of human rights, community communicator, documenter, and coordinator of Hackeo Cultural.