In early 2021, a group of interdependent artists and activists from Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec–a 215-kilometer-wide strip of land encompassing parts of Oaxaca and Veracruz–joined together to form a regional collective called Las Venas Que Nos Unen (The Veins That Bind Us). The name was chosen to represent the process of distillation: sharing ideas, listening, speaking, dreaming, thinking, and perceiving. The imagery was selected to evoke rivers that cross territories and nurture land like Earth’s veins, flowing with knowledge, history, a natural element that bonds space, peoples and cultures.
The vision of the collective paints a stark contrast to the industrialized irrigation network, Pan-American Highway extensions and Transoceanic Railway (Tren Transístmico) upgrades that threaten to dam, divert, or repurpose the lifeblood of the territory. Developing synergy and unifying communities throughout the isthmus against the perils of the Transistmico mega-project is essential. And so members of the collective climbed sacred mountain Guiengola, an ancient Zapotec site, lighting a path as they walked, to symbolize the paths they hope to build and move upon together.
Over the course of 2021, members of the collective filmed a series of short documentaries called Las Venas Que Nos Unen to cast light on the distinct cultural festivities and shared values that thrive within the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Damián López: Zapotec filmmaker also involved in the film-production industry, a committed promoter of community-based filmmaking.
Lukas Avendaño: Zapotec performance artist, anthropologist, muxe (a transgender identity traditionally recognized among Zapotecs in the Isthmus). His performance work challenges our perceptions around sexual, gender, and ethnic identity. His more recent work has touched on persons gone missing, caused by organized crime, a fate suffered by his own brother. Lukas prepares and performs his works locally and also internationally.
Altepee: A group of young musicians and activists dedicated to the promotion of traditional jaranero music. Performers, composers, improvisers, luthiers, cultural promoters, form part of a vibrant movement of activists in Southern Veracruz.
Xquipi’: A recently formed film collective in Ciudad Ixtepec. Their members include people with ample trajectory in the film industry and, especially, in political documentary filmmaking. Two of their main members were also war correspondents in El Salvador and worked as collaborators with the Faribundo Martí Liberation Front.
Stalin Pedro: Zapotec cultural promoter, involved with literature and grass roots organizing in his town of San Juan Guichicovi and in Matías Romero.