Planet-wide protests against Monsanto ran into a snag in Mexico where the “criminalization of protest” has rendered the traditional march obsolete. So why not have a party instead? Thus, the Carnival of Corn was born!
“The carnival in Mexico is subversive,” said Carlos Ventura Callejas in reporter Alex Mensing’s story on this event. He explained that in the aftermath of the Spanish conquest, indigenous communities used the carnival as a way to preserve traditional religious cultures in the face of imposed Catholicism.
“Carnival time is a time to go out and think things that the system doesn’t allow you to think,” said Ventura.
The Carnival of Corn was a celebration of Mexican agricultural heritage. Children made seed bombs, known in Spanish as bolitas de vida, out of clay, soil and amaranth seeds.
Hundreds participated in a play written by a local playwright that showcased the importance of corn in Mexico and drew a parallel between traditional mythological characters and modern-day actors. Organizers distributed masks and audience-members-turned-actors assumed the role of either Olmecs, an ancient indigenous people from southern Mexico, or the minions of Tlaltecuhtli, pre-Hispanic god of the dead. A figure playing Monsanto used the death-minions to steal native corn from the Olmecs, but in the end the community organized to defeat him.
Throughout the day, artists used performance and creativity to inform the carnival’s estimated 2,000 participants about Monsanto. A theater troupe from nearby San Miguel de Allende performed a show illustrating the dangers of Monsanto’s genetically modified crops and the corporation’s business practices. As performer Diana Hoogesteger explained, “Theater is a way to get people to notice you. Once they see you, they listen, and then they can be informed in an entertaining way of the things that are happening in the world.”