On 6 and 7 November, women from different towns and organizations from Chiapas attended the Meeting of Women in Resistance and Hope to Defend Mother Earth and the Land, held on the campus of CIDECI-Unitierra. The women who attended shared experiences regarding the Earth, the situation lived by their families, and how they see justice in their communities. In the final declaration of the meeting, the Earth is defined as a source of food, customs, and traditions, and of their history as a people. On the other hand they stress various problems related to the defense of the Earth that they have to confront as women.
In the communiqué, the women explain how they resist projects advanced by the government and big companies that affect their lands: “[the rural-cities project] requires that we leave the Earth’s natural resources in the hands of the government and firms that take these away from us so as to exploit them, thus violating our rights to live the way that our grandparents have. Other projects htat threaten our communities are the dams that are to be built in our territory; their construction would force us to leave our lands. But there are also other resources–specifically mineral ones–that lie below Mother Earth, and for this reason we reject the large firms that exploit our lands, that damage the health of our sons and daughters through the pollution of our rivers and communities. They destroy the paths, divide the communities through money, and bring death to those who confront these foreign companies.”
Additionally, the women pronounced themselves against militarization and police-presence in their regions: “our territory is also affected by the presence of the police and soldiers, who supposedly arrive to help or give aid, but what we see is that they only arrive to control our daily lives. At the checkpoints they seek information and treat us with disrespect. In the places where they put their camps there is prostitution, alcoholism, drug-addiction, and problems in the community.” The women also indicated that the cultural patrons of their communities as being causes of inequalities between women and men: “the customs of some communities are not all good, because it is the men who continue having control and power over the land, even if it is us who work it; also in some communities in which the majority of the authorities are men there are sought agreements that exclude the word of all. They want to control even those with whom we will get married. They don’t recognize our rights as women.”
For more information (in Spanish):
Communiqué, sound, and video of the Meeting (Denuncia pública, Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights)
Women’s meeting held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas (Cuarto Poder, 10 November)