On the morning of 8 March, a march took place from Yabteclum to Acteal, a municipality of Chenalhó, in the Highlands of Chiapas in observance of International Women’s Day. The march was organized by women of the civil organization Las Abejas of Acteal, and it was attended by hundreds of women and men–indigenous, Mexican, and foreign.
Declaring that the march was intended to be a protest and not a celebration, Las Abejas and many other who participated in the march fasted during the day. A particularly prominent moment of the march occurred when participants reached the military base of Polhó, which was erected 12 years ago. There, Las Abejas read a document denouncing the military’s role in the current situation in Chiapas. Directing her remarks to the soldiers at the base, the women who read the appeal said that the military “leave this place with its weapons,” that it “not be here in this way.” She mentioned the humiliation and rights-violations visited on indigenous women by military units and went so far as to claim that “all Mexicans suffer your [that is, the military's] abuses, illegal searches, physical aggression, torture, rape, and arbitrary arrest.” She stressed, however, that “it is us women who suffer the most in this useless war.” She condemned the impunity that the Mexican public has experienced in face of abuses by the military, and she criticized President Calderón for defending his acts. The Las Abejas representative continued by reminding the soldiers that they “also have mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters,” and for this reason could come to resist the violence demanded of them by their superiors. She concluded by quoting the late Salvadorean bishop Oscar Romero: “No soldier has the obligation of obeying an order that contradicts God’s law. No one has to comply with an immoral charge.”
After passing the base, the march continued on to Acteal, where a mass was held.
For more information (in Spanish):
On their day, indigenous women calls for an end to military harassment in Chiapas (La Jornada, 9/3/2010)
Video: Indigenous campesina woman of Las Abejas (@Koman Ilel)