University of California, Los Angeles
Upon his invasion of Central America, Christopher Columbus declared, “Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de estas honduras! [Thank God we’ve escaped these treacherous depths!]”, which led to the naming of the territory now known as Honduras. The legacies of military coups, imperialist interventions and extractive industries in this region have led to the mass exodus of the local populations. Mining concessions, tourist development projects and monocrop plantations are contributing factors to the environmental degradation and forced displacement. Yet, mainstream media tends to overlook these factors and feed into the dominant discourse of xenophobic migrant criminalization.
Through the work of visual artist Alicia Maria Siu Bernal, this article will address the role of art in addressing the legacy of settler colonialism. The art piece entitled “From Our Voices” serves as a historical document to preserve a collective memory by not just depicting injustices, but rather highlighting the beauty in the resistance of a valiant people confronting state-sponsored violence. The heart of the piece is dedicated to the martyred environmentalist Berta Caceres who is pictured passing on the light of resistance to the viewer. In recanting Berta’s words, the piece calls upon humanity to wake up, there is no time in the face of capitalist, racist and patriarchal depredation.
Alicia’s art work utilizes the imagery of Pedro Alvarado to represent the legacy of colonization. As an icon of the Spanish invasion, an Alvarado mask is worn by a judge condemning a child migrant to confinement. The written law serves as a continuation of the Doctrine of Discovery intended to legitimize settler colonialism. Alongside the judge are images of state-sponsored violence in the form of police repression stemming from the US military training grounds.
Through the art, a harmonious ecological balance is depicted through nature’s resiliency and a motif of native animals. The jaguar is noted as exerting autonomy through its relentless prowling, while the Melipona stingless bee is used as a representation of memory and mobility. As the beehive is invaded, the Melipona leaves its hive but retains in its memory the location. As conditions improve, the bees return to reconstruct and reinhabit. All these artistic components contribute to the expansion of a living collective memory within a decolonial era and the overall artwork contributes to the counter narratives exemplified through the NaKan journal. The methodology will include an oral history documenting the artist’s creative process and the works solidarity aesthetics.
Upon his invasion of the isthmus now referred to as Central America, Christopher Columbus declared, “¡Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de estas honduras! ‘Thank God we have escaped these depths!’”, which led to the naming of the territory known as Honduras. The countries of Central America are divided in governmental administrative polities known as departments, which are equivalent to states or provinces. The Honduran coastal department named after Colon (Columbus is the anglicized version) is the site of on-going land conflicts that stem from the Spanish invasion. The fertile region along the banks of the Aguan river that cuts through Colon has been the location of a bloody conflict between small farmer cooperatives and multinational corporations controlling large swaths of land. Mining industries have always had an interest in the region due to the richness of natural resources and most recently, the community of Guapinol has been fighting the construction of an open-pit mining project in the Carlos Escalera Nature Reserve. The reserve is named after an environmentalist who has killed for his political activity. Now, eight members of the Guapinol community are facing charges of usurpation for their attempts to protect their waterways from environmentally devastating mining projects.
During 2019, ten years after a military coup, protests across Honduras erupted in response to the ultra-right wing government’s austerity measures against the educational and health sectors. Street protests escalated to attacks on symbols of imperialism including the burning of the US embassy in the capital city of Tegucigalpa and Dole trucks in Colon. These acts of resistance were quickly quelled through violent repression and political persecution but continue to represent moments of defiance against imperialist intrusion. The series of protest organized in defense of education and public health were part of a surge of resistance that reignited the ever-evolving social movements organized against the military dictatorship. On-going support for political prisoners such as the Guapinol water defenders and educator Romnel Herrera Portillo sustain a social commitment to the popular resistance against austerity measures, militarization and extractive industries.
In addition to the post-coup political climate, the covid-19 pandemic, recent category four hurricanes and global inequalities have further devastated communities across the Central American isthmus. The impacts of Hurricanes Eta and Iota are examples of how capitalist-induced climate change is a global issue rooted in colonialism disproportionately displacing communities made vulnerable through existing injustices and inequalities. Extractive industrial projects such as open pit mining, hydroelectric dams and monocrop plantations are contributing factors to the recent waves of capitalist-induced climate disasters and forced displacement. Transnational corporations profit from corruption and political instability through decades-long contracts that allow for the exploitation of the land through destructive projects of extractive industries. Communities resisting such extractive industries are systematically persecuted by security regimes and migration becomes a survival mechanism amidst rapid climate change induced by global capitalism.
Through art, depictions of the legacies of resistance can aid in strengthening the collective memory of the Central American solidarity movements within the isthmus and across the diaspora. Through the work of visual artist Alicia Maria Siu Bernal, this article will focus on the role of art in addressing the legacy of settler colonialism. The 100 sq. ft. mural entitled ¡Ya no hay tiempo! ‘There is no time!/Xan tesu kanah Iman!’” serves as a historical document to preserve a collective memory by not only depicting historical injustices, but rather highlighting the beauty in the resistance of a valiant people confronting state violence. The heart of the piece is dedicated to the martyred Indigenous eco-feminist Berta Caceres who is pictured passing on the flame of resistance to the viewer through a lit candle. In recanting Berta’s words, the piece calls upon humanity to “wake up, there is no time in the face of capitalist, racist and patriarchal depredation”. ¡Ya no hay tiempo! elaborates on Berta’s words by urgently calling the world to take an introspective look and act upon the injustices and inequalities implanted through a colonial matrix of power. Today’s neoliberal economic policies privatizing natural resources are part of a legacy in settler colonialism established by the Doctrine of Discovery and maintained through the institutionalization of genocidal violence. Acts of resistance to such colonial violence are amplified in Siu’s artwork which helps to strengthen a collective memory of struggle and practice of solidarity through narratives defying the violence of settler colonialism.
Doctrine of Discovery and Settler Colonialism
The Doctrine of Discovery is rooted in fifteenth-century papal bulls which are decrees utilized to justify colonization through the theological credence and imperialist impulse of the Catholic Church. The religious documents served as an “affirmation from the church for European atrocity and a political, even military doctrine that provided political boundaries and mediation between colonial settler powers”. The theologically ordained ‘legal’ instrument of the papal bulls justified colonization by Spain and Portugal in the so-called New World through civilizing missions that “governed land acquisition and land ownership”. Christopher Columbus was a proponent of the Doctrine of Discovery as the “church acknowledged Columbus as doing evangelistic work for the church and specifically favored by God” . The series of documents were decrees established by Catholic Popes who granted permission for Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms to
invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens (Muslims) and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit.
The Doctrine of Discovery is integral to settler colonialism as the papal bulls ordained and justified the colonial invasion and genocidal violence in the so-called “New World”. At its origins, settler colonialism was established to “eliminate the Native via physical and political erasure” through acts of genocide with “the purpose of political control and domination…to gain access to territory”. The colonizing settlers seek to annihilate, expel or assimilate the Native population in order to appropriate the lands. Settler colonialism is characterized by the genocidal violence committed in attempts to control the land and the “population economy as a marker of a substantive type of sovereignty” . Apart from the genocidal acts of violence, colonizer settlements require the total “appropriation of Indigenous life and land, rather than the selective expropriation of profit-producing fragments”. Complete annihilation of Indigenous populations is the intended goal of settler colonialism as control of the land becomes the most important concern.
The colonial process ordained and justified by the Doctrine of Discovery implanted “ideologies of racial, cultural, and religious superiority of European American settlers”. The genocide of Indigenous populations is inextricably connected to the kidnapping and slavery of Africans as the “slave trade and colonization alike broadly coincided with the formation of mercantilist thought in the West”. As such, Columbus’ ordained invasion “paved the way for the transatlantic slave trade” by clearing the land of the original inhabitants and implanting slave labor to create extractive plantation economies. Life in all its forms has been commoditized through this process. Land and people continue to be subject of exploitation due to the colonial legacy of slavery and dispossession. Mercantilism developed through colonization forced slave labor to work as “part of a vast project to subordinate the environment in view of its rational and profitable development” Under settler colonialism, racialized hierarchies are sustained based on the “subjugation and forced labor of chattel slaves, whose bodies and lives become the property, …[in which] the slave is a desirable commodity but the person underneath is imprisonable, punishable, and murderable”.The qualification of humanity under the terms of western colonialism positions Natives and Africans as sub-human commodities.
The legacy and ongoing genocidal violence of colonial rule is sedimented in its institutionalization as the colonial matrix of power (CMP) maintains the imposition of Western civilization on ungranted contested Indigenous lands. The institutionalization of the Doctrine of Discovery is evident in the settler colonial violence that is “operated by setting up visible, rigid, and hierarchical distinctions between the colonizers and the colonized”. The creation of reservations, encomienda haciendas (racialized feudal land tenure), residential schools and plantations are forms of settler land control and management designed to exterminate those racially categorized as uncivilized. Settlers use/d different approaches to violently target “aspects of indigenous life: their legislatures agitate for removal, missionaries for assimilation, the state operates by way of administrative transfers, and so on”. Contemporary state practices representing the institutionalized legacy of settler colonialism also include the redlining of housing districts to racially demarcate segregation, English-only policies in education, and mass incarceration as an evolution of indentured servitude.
The Doctrine of Discovery exerted through papal bulls provided the “words that justify the use of guns and armies, convincing you that it is for the good, the salvation and the happiness of humanity”. The papal bulls established the violent colonial structure that gave religious justification to genocide and slavery under the banner of expanding Western civilization. In framing coloniality as a “complex structure of management and control,” the legacy of settler colonial institutions is evident through the “‘underlying structure’ of Western civilization and of Eurocentrism”. The imposition of European languages and forms of governance foreign to the land demarcated by the geographical boundaries of the modern nation-state modeled from Westphalian form of state sovereignty are aspects of Western civilization violently implanted on land usurped by European colonizers.
The Doctrine of Discovery led to formation of the CMP based on the genocidal violence of extermination and ecocide through dispossession and extractivism. Although there may have been independence movements that have expelled colonial forces, “nation-states [have] remained within the management of CMP even if imperial settlers were no longer in the terrain”. Although there may be some independence gained through the formation of sovereign nation-states of formerly colonized land, the CMP has remained through epistemic and material realities. The nation-state continues the legacy of genocidal violence through its “inheritance of settler colonialism, enslavement, the nuclear family, the paradigm of war, neoliberal governmentality, and extractive and racial capitalism”. The export orientated plantation economy installed through settler colonialism and reinforced through neoliberal economic policies allows for transnational corporations like Dole and Chiquita Banana Co. to thrive off the exploitation of the land and people.
The violence of settler colonialism and its legacy maintained through the institutionalized CMP have also served as sources of environmental injustice for Indigenous peoples dispossession of land that is “continually reproduced in what is inherently a culturally genocidal structure that systematically erases Indigenous peoples”. Environmental injustice is a component of the CMP that is linked with a “larger ongoing process of Indigenous erasure that is built into the structure of the State […] depriving Native peoples of the conditions necessary for life and the continuance of cultural existence”. A primary concern of the colonial mission is to control the land as a commodity that is “most valuable, contested, [and] required” to sustain the invading settlements.
Capitalist modes of production developed through settler industrialism has been sustained through the CMP. Settler industrialism refers to the “ways settler societies inscribe themselves on top of Indigenous homelands by means of industrial processes”. The capitalist development on colonized lands is based on the growth of the globalized market economy as commerce and “industrialism itself has played a central role in consolidating settler power over Native nations, contributing to their confinement”. The modern settler state thrives through the CMP that has maintained the exploitive relationship between “industrialism, resource extraction, and infrastructure development [which] exposes the collusion between corporate interests and government”. Relationships of power developed through the CMP by way of Western imperialism and the invasion of Indigenous lands must be “understood and deconstructed in order for us to properly assess the impact” of such relationships.
Known as Banana Republics, the countries of Central America have historically been dominated by foreign agricultural businesses. The Standard and United Fruit companies (now doing business as Dole and Chiquita) owned swaths of lands throughout the region. Their economic control was threatened by the October Revolution of 1944 and the policies of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. Arbenz proposed a land reform law that would redistribute idle fields back to landless farmworkers. This was viewed as a dangerous precedent in the region. With the discourse of the red scare and the backyard policies of the United States, the redistribution of land was viewed as a threat to the interests of the US, with the possibility of replicating in other parts of the region.
The intricate connection of private business ventures and governmental affairs was exemplified through the Dulles Brothers who were lawyers for the United Fruit Co. appointed as the Secretary of State and the Director of the CIA. The Brothers treated Guatemala as a testing grounds for foreign intervention. Through the mechanisms of psychological warfare and military aggression, the operation, codenamed Operation PBSuccess, forced Arbenz to resign and live in exile while the US sponsored military leader Castillo Armas assumed power. The use of military force in favor of private enterprise through gunboat diplomacy and the practice of coup d’etats are not of the past as foreign interventions persist in the region.
Although Central America was liberated from the Spanish Empire in the 19th century, US imperialist intrusions and the neoliberal projects of extractive industries continue to exploit the land and people. However, at the turn of the 21st century, Latin America was going through a surge of populist left wing leaders. Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution helped create counterhegemonic regional institutional bodies such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). The socio-economic policies of nascent counterhegemonic institutions provided more equitable trade agreements in opposition to US free trade impositions. Honduras under Manuel Zelaya joined ALBA and benefited from Petrocaribe gas subsidies and social reforms. Zelaya had supported communal land claims of indigenous and fieldworker communities, while also raising the national minimum wage. This was a threat to the economic interests of the Honduran oligarchy, and the reform proposals of converting the US military base into a civilian airport threatened the geopolitical interests of the United States. On the day leading up to a constitutional referendum, a military coup d’etat was carried out, ransacking Zelaya’s home and expelling him to Costa Rica. Zelaya was flown out of the Soto Cano Air Base, which hosts joint military operations between the US and Honduras.
The 2009 military coup d’etat in Honduras led to the consolidation of power between the private sector, military and government. The state legislatures of the coup governments have passed policies in favor of the economic interests of the business sector and utilizes the military to protect the profits. Protests against the privatization of public goods and services, such as water rights and mining concessions are violently repressed by the military. The privatization of natural resources and public agencies are modeled under the logic of market efficiency through the elimination of public goods and services in exchange for private profit. Since the coup, there has been a staggering increase in extrajudicial killings, gender-based violence, the expropriation of indigenous territories, and attacks against independent media outlets. Such state sponsored violence has led to the mass exodus of the population through migrant caravans and the dubbing of Honduras as one of the most dangerous places in the world outside of active warzones.
The extermination of students, environmentalist, community organizers, and journalists has installed a culture of fear for those who choose to speak out against injustices. The case of the Guapinol political prisoners is the latest example of political persecution against those fighting in defense of the land and natural resources. Living through these circumstances require a space of imagination to project towards a future based on survival and a collective form of self-determination. Artists remain at the forefront in promoting narratives of resistance and resiliency. Art as a tool of popular education has the capacity to provide a critical framework that not only address coloniality but can also help in projecting alternative futures.
The CMP maintains “brutal, exacerbating economic, racial and gender inequalities”, and the work of socially engaged decolonial artists is based on the importance of addressing these inequalities in terms of being “demystified, reexamined, and theorized”. Breaking from the CMP requires an “analytic framework that is attentive to the micropolitics of everyday life as well as to the macro politics of global economic and political processes”. The artwork of Alicia Siu reflects an aesthetic and practice of solidarity efforts addressing the CMP. By incorporating testimonials, life stories, and oral histories, which serve as significant modes of “remembering and recording experience and struggles”, Siu addresses the micropolitics of everyday life while still addressing the macro politics of global capitalism and imperialist aggression.
Solidarity is a form of social relationship that connects global communities through an empathetic discourse of interconnectivity against the exploitive geo-political economy instilled through the CMP. The social consciousness that arises from informative solidarity work helps create a shift in behaviors that sustain unequal relationships, such as consumerism in the global north. Works of socially conscious art utilize images “aimed at informing and expanding the consciousness of the viewing public and others with whom the work interacts.” The cultural production of Siu’s ¡Ya no hay tiempo! was created as “part of solidarity action, participating in the work of framing social issues and discourses” by utilizing testimonies of social struggle. The body of artwork created from a position of solidarity “can potentially yield invaluable knowledge concerning the inherent ability there is in art-making to bring about deep transformation at the individual and collective level”.
Alicia Siu’s Ya no hay tiempo! “There is no time!”
The ¡Ya no hay tiempo! artwork was developed through a creative praxis informed by an analysis on the CMP and serves as “its own site of theory production”. Created through a creative praxis, the work allows us to “think, feel, desire and enact politics together”. Artists like Siu provide an avenue for a decolonial form of popular education through visual art by “reaching deeper into historical and structural inequalities and by imagining beyond the traditional affairs of the state”. As migration leads to the ever-growing diasporic communities, ¡Ya no hay tiempo! serves as a historical document to preserve a collective memory of resistance. Conceptualized through a series of workshops led by Alicia Siu, those involved in the creative process included a mix of community organizers, artists, recently arrived asylees. A central component to the art piece and collective process was the testimony of recently arrived asylees. The art piece does not just depict the injustice and suffering of forced displacement, but rather highlights the beauty in the resistance of a valiant people confronting state violence. The inspiration for this artwork comes from the collective energies put into strengthening the awareness of the numerous children who have recently died in US Border Patrol custody as well as the life of transgender asylum seeker Roxsana Hernandez.
This art piece serves as visual culture to convey stories of struggle and resistance while addressing the structural violence that lead to the forced displacement of Black, Indigenous and fieldworker communities. From afar the art piece looks just like the map of the US-Mexico border region extending down to the Central American isthmus. Although focus is primarily on the geographical region of Central America and Mexico, the artist’s work seeks to reimagine a harmonious ecological balance across the globe by depicting different aspects of nature’s resiliency amidst capitalist depredations. With the topics of forced displacement, militarization, and environmental degradation, the geographic map is detailed with images of resistance. Through a printed collage technique, Siu provides background images embedded in the physical terrain to address the roots of migration. Extractive industries like open pit mines, hydroelectric dams and monocrop plantations are plotted across the isthmus but are contrasted with pictures of popular mobilizations in resistance to the environmentally devastating projects.
Through art, Alicia Siu addresses the legacy of settler colonialism found evident in the construction of the nation-state and its illegitimate legal framework. Alicia’s artwork utilizes the imagery of a Pedro Alvarado mask to represent the legacy of colonization. Alvarado was a Spanish conquistador who invaded the lands of Central America. As an icon of the Spanish invasion, the Alvarado mask is depicted as the face of a contemporary judge condemning a child to confinement. The image of the modern legislative conquistador is illustrated through the act of punctuating rulings and proclamations with a wooden gavel. The documents of the papal bulls are used as imagery springing from the act of hitting the gavel, which evolve into forming the imagery of the US-Mexico border wall. This aspect of the art piece shares the message that written law and its enforcement serve as a continuation of the Doctrine of Discovery intended to legitimize settler colonialism.
Alongside the judge are images of state-sponsored violence in the form of police repression stemming from the military training grounds of the US Southern Command and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). Painted images of riot police depicted assaulting protestors with batons and teargas are placed alongside the Pedro Alvarado mask to reinforce the colonial legacy of state violence. Military training grounds such as the Soto Cano base and WHINSEC provide a background collage to this subsection of the mural to represent the occupying force of imperialism. During the 1980’s, the base served as the strategically located intelligence and operation center for US military in the region, coordinating attacks against the guerrilla liberation fronts in neighboring El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The location of the Soto Cano military base is a sacred site of the Lenca people which served as a central trading zone amongst tribes across the region but is now occupied by an invader military force. The imagery of the military, police, and colonial judiciary representing imperial rule is contrasted images of popular resistance, such as the burning of the US embassy and the mobilization against mining projects.
The heart of the art piece is dedicated to Berta Caceres, who was assassinated for protecting the sacred Rio Gualcarque river from the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Honduras. This project was one of many concessions made to foreign companies by the coup government. In this case, DESA, a Chinese company with international funding and partnerships with the Honduran elite bid for a contract to work in the alternative energy sector and “modernize” the indigenous communities by providing electric energy. Berta serves as an image for the people struggling against the expropriation of indigenous territories across the continent. Her legacy as a martyr has transcended borders as global environmental movements use her as an inspiration to continue with the struggle for a just world free of exploitation.
During the process of creating the elaborate mural, protests raged across Honduras. In response to the government’s attempts in austerity measures against the educational and health sectors, students, educators and health professionals organized “La Plataforma de Lucha en Defensa de la Salud y la Educación Pública/The Platform of Struggle in Defense of Public Health and Education”. Protests took place across the country and reignited the resistance movement against the legacy of the 2009 military coup. The interruption of commerce through street blockades and targeting symbols of imperialism like the US embassy and military base continue to be a strategic form of protest addressing the CMP. Despite the targeted assassinations, incarceration and forced disappearances of resistance leaders, social movements continue the struggle to end the military dictatorship and imperialist collusion.
During these protests, Dole suspended its operations due to local uprisings in response to government corruption. Around thirty of the multinational’s trucks were set on fire by protestors targeting symbols of US power in demonstrations. This particular action took place near the village of Guadalupe Carney, which is a campesina/fieldworker community created over twenty years ago through land reclamation efforts. This community has been violently repressed since its inception stemming from the reclaiming of idle stolen land used as a Regional Center for Military Training (Centro Regional de Entrenamiento Militar – CREM). The land conflict persists as transnational corporations and the allied government seek to maintain control of the region through the plantation economy and repressive military forces. Documenting the land based resistance through art helps build dialogue and strengthen solidarity efforts across borders.
Banana companies like Dole, which acquired Standard Fruit Company, has a legacy of exploitation in the region. With a discourse of sustainability, corporations like Dole utilize the certification of international organizations to promote best practices for “responsible business” to ensure the upholding of standards related to “workers’ health, safety and welfare” in addition to environmental protocols to “protect forests, improve the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promote their human rights, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis”. It may seem that a food giant like Dole “going green” can be a victory for environmental organizations, but the plantation economy rooted in ecological and worker exploitation remains in place. The CMP is evident in the plantation economy developed through the legacy of settler colonialism. The colonial power relations deriving from the Doctrine of Discovery and imperialist invasion is not only represented symbolically by the geographical names of Colon, Gracias a Dios and Honduras; the lived material reality of the extractive economy benefitting transnational corporations proves evident the extension of the CMP. The evolution of these violent colonial relationships helps banana companies thrive despite their public relations campaign around environmental sustainability.
The assassination of Berta Caceres and the recent conviction of the current dictator’s brother for drug trafficking highlights the levels of governmental corruption and impunity linked to military aid. The brother of sitting president was recently convicted and sentenced to a life sentence for drug trafficking by the US Federal Southern District Court in New York. The son of the previous coup president is also in prison facing decades long sentences on drug trafficking charges. These cases shed light to the levels of corruption embedded in the coup government. However, politician or family member may be imprisoned for acts of corruption, while the structure of the CMP remains in power. The paid hitmen who did the dirty work off assassinating Berta Caceres can be charged for their crimes, but the financial tycoons who serve as intellectual authors continue to hold reign over society.
Art can serve as a tool to not only document histories of social movements, but can also provide an avenue to strengthen international solidarity efforts seeking justice. Artistic contributions such as ¡Ya no hay tiempo! have been produced with the intent of disseminating messages of solidarity across borders through an accessible visual medium. Through art, communities can create spaces of imagination to convey not just lived realities, but projections of liberated futures as well. ¡Ya no hay tiempo! is completed with a vision towards the future represented by a child carrying the legacy of ancestral knowledge and self-sufficiency. Utopic projections created by artists can “lead us out of the confining, normative and often stifling politics of the nation-state.” The social crisis of coloniality can be addressed through art forms “working to create different, less market-oriented imaginary of a future society”.
Through Alicia’s artwork, a harmonious ecological balance is depicted through nature’s resiliency and a motif of native animals. Continuing with the themes of resistance and perseverance in the face of colonial violence, an image of a jaguar is used to represent courage as the feline teaches us how to launch ourselves towards goals. The image counterbalances the image of Pedro Alvarado and with the mural’s background collage, we are given a narrative and projection of resistance against the colonial matrix of power. The jaguar is noted as exerting autonomy through its relentless prowling, while the Melipona stingless bee is used as a representation of memory and mobility. As the beehive is invaded, the Melipona leaves its hive but retains in its memory the location. As conditions improve, the bees return to reconstruct and reinhabit. The collective memory of the beehive is used metaphorically through images of martyrs of Central American social movements depicted inside the honeycombs as a lifeforce which binds people together.
The genocidal violence embedded in settler colonialism is the capitalist, racist and patriarchal depredation Berta Caceres valiantly confronted with her life. The work of Alicia Maria Siu continues Berta’s legacy by documenting social movements and sharing narratives of resistance to inspire further acts of solidarity. Land and water defenders may be assassinated or imprisoned, but the struggle against colonial violence persists as an intergenerational fight for the preservation of life in all its forms. Acts of protest in defense of life are complemented with solidarity works of art that help strengthen a collective memory and propel autonomous futures free from the colonial matrix of power. Art and social movements go hand in hand as creative means of popular education serve as a tool to raise consciousness and build solidarity, but “critical consciousness does not translate into action that disrupts settler colonialism”. For this reason, socially engaged art forms need to be in constant dialogue with social movements to maintain an all-encompassing goal of delinking from the colonial matrix of power.
Achille Mbembe, Necro-Politics, English Translation by Steven Corcoran, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, “Theory in Forms”, 2019.
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders – Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2003.
Dina Gilio-Whitaker, As Long As Grass Grows – The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Coloniaztion to Standing Rock, Boston, MA, Beacon Press, 2019.
Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization is not a Metaphor” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2012, accessed 31 January 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1747016117733296
Jessica Stites Mor and Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas (dir.), The Art of Solidarity – Visual and Performative Politics in Cold War Latin America. Austin, TX, University of Texas Press, 2018.
Lorenzo Veracini, Settler Colonialism – A Theoretical Overview New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Macarena Gomez-Barris, Beyond the Pink Tide – Art and Political Undercurrents in the Americas, Oakland, CA, University of California Press, “American Stories Now: Critical Histories of the Present”, 2018.
Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah, Unsettling Truths – The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, Downers Grove Illinois, Intervarsity Press, 2019.
Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh (dir.), On Decoloniality – Concepts Analytics Praxis, 2018, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, “On Decoloniality”, 2018.
 Translation into English and Lenca
 Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah, Unsettling Truths – The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, Downers Grove Illinois, Intervarsity Press, 2019, p. 22.
 Ibid, p. 108
 Ibid, p. 73.
 Ibid, p. 14.
 Dina Gilio-Whitaker, As Long As Grass Grows – The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock, Boston, MA, Beacon Press, 2019, p. 24.
 Lorenzo Veracini, Settler Colonialism – A Theoretical Overview New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, p. 12.
 Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization is not a Metaphor” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2012, p. 5.
 Dina Gilio-Whitaker, op. cit., p. 72.
Achille Mbembe, Necro-Politics, English Translation by Steven Corcoran, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, “Theory in Forms”, 2019, p. 10.
 Dina Gilio-Whitaker, op. cit., p. 24.
 Achille Mbembe, op. cit., p. 10.
 Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang, op. cit., p. 6
 Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders – Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2003, p. 59.
 Lorenzo Veracini, op. cit., p. 34.
 Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh (dir.), On Decoloniality – Concepts Analytics Praxis, 2018, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, “On Decoloniality”, 2018, p. 140. [
 Walter Mignolo and Catherine Walsh, Ibid., p. 125.
 Walter Mignolo and Catherine Walsh, Ibid., p. 222.
 Macarena Gomez-Barris, Beyond the Pink Tide – Art and Political Undercurrents in the Americas, Oakland, CA, University of California Press, “American Stories Now: Critical Histories of the Present”, 2018, p. 109.
 Dina Gilo-Whitaker, op. cit., p. 36.
 Ibid, p. 39.
 Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang, art. cit.?, p. 5.
 Dina Gilio-Whitaker, op. cit., p. 75.
 Dina Gilio-Whitaker, op. cit. 72.
 Dina Gilio-Whitaker, op. cit., p. 72.
 Jessica Stites Mor and Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas (dir.), The Art of Solidarity – Visual and Performative Politics in Cold War Latin America. Austin, TX, University of Texas Press, 2018, p. 4.
 Chandra Mohanty, op.cit., p. 230.
 Ibid, p. 230.
 Ibid, p. 77.
 Jessica Stites Mor, op. cit., p. 3.
 Ibid, p. 5.
 Ibid, p. 10.
 Macarena Gomez-Barris, op. cit., p. 12.
 Ibid, p. xiv.
 Macarena Gomez-Barris, op. cit., p. 2.
 The community is named after James “Guadalupe” Carney who was a Jesuit priest that joined a guerilla movement in the 1980’s.
 Macarena Gomez-Barris, op. cit., p. 2.
 Macarena Gomez-Barris, op. cit., p. 25.
 Eve Yang and Wayne Tuck, op. cit., p. 19.