From Cyprus to Mexico, how our hearts unite…
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Cordelia Rizzo from Mexico writes about Cyprus and the `missing persons` and our poetry… In a recent article called `Poems about loss` she draws parallel lines between the losses of Mexico and Cyprus… She takes our poetry and uses it to show how our stories of pain are quite similar with Mexico…
We had connected with her through a friend and I had sent her my book `Oysters with the missing pearls` and last year, we had exhibited the scarves embroidered by the relatives of `missing` persons from Mexico with whom she is working with – we had the exhibition of scarves on the Green Line in Nicosia, at the Cyprus Community Media Centre – every Sunday relatives of `missing persons` from Mexico gather in different towns to embroider the stories of their `missing` on scarves and then they exhibit these scarves. Currently the exhibition of scarves with the stories of `missing persons` is in Barcelona… I invited Cordelia Rizzo to come to Cyprus and stay in my house, to take her around, to look at what we have been doing in Cyprus as an investigative journalist and as civil society and for her to tell us her stories of what sort of activities they have been doing in Mexico about `missing persons`. Although the reasons for people becoming `missing` might differ, the essence is the same since for whatever reason whoever is `missing`, the colour of the pain of relatives is exactly the same… From Cyprus to Mexico we unite our hearts and we try to learn from each other…
In her article entitled `Poems about loss` Cordelia Rizzo from Mexico writes:
`These two poems by Fikret Demiragh, a Turkish Cypriot, are included in Sevgul Uludag's compilation of chronicles on the Civil War in Cyprus, Oysters with the missing pearls. Her book groups stories of the aftermath of forced disappearances from both the Greek and Turkish sides of the island during the 70's. Sevgul's meticulous and heartfelt storytelling gives the reader a look at the absurdity of the 'ethnic' conflict.
Much of what is experienced by the relatives of victims in Mexico resembles what the protagonists of this tiny state share with the journalist, and is expressed in the poems. Mexico's war has been represented as the result of an offensive launched to counter the 'insurmountable' battling amongst drug cartels or the excesses of transnational capitalism, but it shares much more with the Cypriots' conflict than those who are the most responsible for the offensive have cared to admit.
Young men, mostly of low-income backgrounds, are dying without having the opportunity to try to live a decent lifestyle within the rules of the formal economy. Lives are cut too short.
Poverty in Mexico has been historically linked with ethnicity. What had been the stimulus for the 1910 Revolution, the fair distribution of wealth -at that time land- is far from being a reality. Guerrero and Michoacán, two of the states which have been devastated the most by the war are home to ancient indigenous cultures. These are communities whose peoples have managed to organize and have taken the task of arming themselves to defend their territories from organized crime and government abuse. Their capacity to do this is also culturally embedded. In the case of places like Cheran in Michoacn, it is closely related to upholding a cultural identity and a source of income: safeguarding the trees.
Hence the lack of opportunities and risk to join drug trade organizations, or be harassed by organized crime, seems to increase if one belongs or identifies with an indigenous group. Racism in Mexico is still a force that hinders economic and social growth. Needless to say, it is an issue that is in the backdrop of the current conflict and a tetchy subject, as it involves a cultural aspect which would imply that society is also responsible.
Fikret Demiragh is a Turkish-Cypriot poet who experienced the war as a soldier and bears testimony to its injustices and arbitrariness. His poems signify the sort of suffering that relatives of the missing undergo. Uludag tells the story of Demiragh in virtue of the value of his testimony, as most of the other stories speak about the direct relatives of the missing. His poetry is also sung, and he is praised for writing for all the Cypriots regardless of their ancestry. `
Tragedy of roots and soil
When a root is pulled out it feels remorse,
so does the soil separated from the root,
and a tragedy of flesh and bones emerges
however shaken, something will remain in the root
from the soil it has been pulled out,
and in the soil, capillaries will remain from the root.
This, because they're not wholy separable
from the flesh they've left in each other.
The incurable cavity the root has left in the soil,
is the wound the parting son has left in the mother,
and what remains of the soil in the root, is a souvenir
to the one parting.
The root rots far away, while the soil keeps bleeding.
The wounds do bleed of the deserted and the pulled out;
in the son, something does remain of the place pulled out,
from the son, something does remain in the heart of the
Let's go to sow the wheat of peace
You old woman in black! Where are you heading to
with your sad face, like something from the Bible;
where are you going to,
as if you are in a congregation singing hymns?
Are you going to cry after your dead ones?
Here is also a mourning Turkish mother;
she is going to wrap a green cover
around the tomb of an unknown saint!
We have to go to plough our little land
with your son Nicos,
before we sow the wheat of peace in our homeland!
What we need are songs full of the experience of life.
Photo: Every Sunday Mexicans gather in different town squares to embroider the stories of their missing persons on scarves...
(*) Article published in the POLITIS newspaper on the 20th of October 2013 Sunday.