On Sunday, May 28, Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez, an Indigenous traditional healer and activist, was nominated by the Indigenous National Congress (CNI) and the Zapatista National Liberation Army known as the Zapatistas to run for the presidency of Mexico. They want her to run as an Independent but on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples.
Patricio Martinez was chosen by hundreds of Indigenous representatives of the CNI—including members from 58 different Indigenous communities—along with leaders of the Zapatista National Liberation Army.
Patricio Martinez (Nahua) was one of the founders of the CNI and an early supporter of the Zapatistas. She is the director of Casa de Salud, a health center utilizing Indigenous traditional medicine in the Nahua community of Tuxpan.
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The new candidate did not issue any public statements after the CNI Assembly meeting, but she did speak about her background and perspective in an interview in 2010 in Tukari, an academic journal affiliated with the University of Guadalajara.
Patricio Martinez reminisced about growing up in the small Nahua community of Tuxpan, in Jalisco state, where most of the homes were made of adobe and there was pavement in only a small section of the town. She remembered hauling water from a well, balancing two metal cans on the ends of a piece of wood that was placed on her shoulders; that at night she had to also carry a torch to fetch water for emergencies.
Her interest in traditional medicine began in that small town.
“I observed the older women, among them my aunts and my grandmother, curing sick people,” she said. “My Aunt Catarina, for example, did cleansings with plants and she prepared unguents that she spread all over the bodies of the sick ones.”
Patricio Martinez remembered too that when her mother lost the use of her legs in 1987 she was taken to specialists in local hospitals and was under the care of modern doctors for three years with little success. She said her mother finally started to recover after going to a traditional healer who helped her regain the use of her legs.
By the time Patricio Martinez made it to university, she had decided to focus on traditional medicine and herbal treatments.
Another important development for her came in 1994. “The uprising of the Zapatistas in 1994 was very inspiring to me…In that same year our community was invited to participate in a national Indigenous forum organized by the Zapatistas. I had the good luck to be asked to represent our community.”
“It was at that meeting that I found that we were not the only poor ones, and that the same problems that affected us affected Indigenous people throughout the country and I discovered that this was my space, and that I must join with the struggle against the powerful.
“From that point on I decided to participate in the meetings, acting as a bridge between my community and the rest of the organized communities. My mission is to fight against machismo and towards the rebuilding of our communities.”
There was no mention of campaign plans after the announcement of Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez’ candidacy but it was noted that the next meeting for the CNI and Zapatistas and their new candidate will be October 12, “in Zapatista territory.”
The presidential election in Mexico is scheduled for July 1, 2018.