Seven Indigenous members of Mexico’s Zapatista movement have set sail from Isla Mujeres for Europe, a voyage set to simulate in reverse the conquest of Mexico by Spaniards 500 years ago.
The four women, two men and one transsexual woman were waved off by well-wishers on Sunday as they left the port of the island in the southern state of Quintana Roo.
The Zapatista delegation is sailing in a boat they christened “La Montaña” or “The Mountain.”
They hope it will take them safely to Madrid by Aug. 13, the 500th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlan, the then-Mexican capital, at the hands of Hernan Cortes.
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (or EZLN) said they hoped to disembark in Vigo, on Spain’s northern coast, and then go on to Madrid.
The delegation also hopes to visit some 20 other European countries.
A spokesperson for the EZLN affirmed that unlike the Spaniards 500 years ago, the Zapatista delegation planned to make a symbolic invasion in order to “sow life”.
“We want to listen, we want to share to know how they are, to learn,” Subcomandante Moises explained.
The voyage started a day before the “Ceremony of Forgiveness” to the Mayan people, taking place in Chetumal in Quintana Roo.
Monday’s ceremony will be attended by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his counterpart from Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei.
López Obrador claims to be the great defender of his country’s Indigenous peoples.
But Indigenous groups and environmental and human rights organisations have criticised many of his actions, especially those related to infrastructure megaprojects.
The EZLN has made it clear that they are not interested in anyone asking for forgiveness.
The Zapatistas led a brief armed uprising to demand greater Indigenous rights in 1994.
Since then, they have remained in their “autonomous” townships in the southern state of Chiapas, refusing government aid programmes.