Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: Why I Sued the U.S. Government
Sydney, AUS February 12, 2017
In October 2000, Zack de la Rocha walked out of Rage Against The Machine.
I am not implying that there is any connection, but there is a gentleman and environmental activist that goes by the name of Xiuhtezcatl (“Shu-tez-caht”) Martinez, who was born in the same year and has already grown to be what would be a formidable step in for the thirty year older American musician, poet, rapper, and activist should a need ever arise: A sixteen year old trilingual Indigenous hip-hop artist, who has inspired youth, politicians and audiences across six continents with his Earth Guardians activism movement.
With his appearance before the UN Earth Summit in 2015 being only the most publicized tip of the iceberg of his mission, the sense of caretaking of the planet instilled into his DNA by his heritage of being raised as part of the Aztec Mashika people thrust him into action and motivated his work with Our Children’s Trust and other youth representative to file lawsuits in all fifty US states to take their state and federal governments to court for a lack of action on climate change. The case rests on the legal argument that climate change is so catastrophic to their future that it threatens their fundamental right to life and liberty.
It raised awareness and garnered support for his claim that there are no true elected world leaders and that the responsibility lies with the people.
In person, Xiuhtezcatl has a refreshingly open, eloquent, calm and positive presence and is prepared to find a mid-ground with people who have difficulties coming to terms with the realities of climate change and its dire implications.
Given his impressive achievements to date and the bigger picture ideas he pursues, e.g. redirecting subsidies for fossil fuel companies into renewables like solar, wind and hydro, his actions exemplify that using one’s voice yields tangible outcomes and makes a difference, which is the basis for empowering young people to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Photos by KAVV