On November 13th, the XIII Assembly of the Movement in Defense of Land, Territory and for the Participation and Recognition of Women in Decision-Making was held in Acteal, the sacred land of the martyrs in the municipality of Chenalho. Collectives of women from the Coast, Valles Zoques, The Highlands, Bachajon, Palenque and the Jungle, the Chiapas Women’s Rights Center and people from other civil society organizations arrived.
The assembly began with a ceremony of gratitude to Mother Earth coordinated by Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society. Later, the women’s groups reported on the situation of construction of megaprojects and extractivism in their regions: “the government continues to advance with its projects, such as the Maya Train. We don’t know what will happen to those who live near the train. Some think it was for their good, but it is not.” “There is oil exploitation and hydroelectric plants that are invading our territories. But we, in our struggle, fight mining above all. Apart from that, we women lack the right to land”, said a woman from the Valles Zoques. Megaprojects and extractivism cause contamination of land, water and air, which has negative effects on the health of communities. “We demand good living, we do not want pollution and that is why we do not use chemicals or fertilizers.”
Several groups criticized the state program “Sembrando Vida” for causing an increase in alcoholism and drug use in men, as it was a monetary support. Consequently, violence against women has also increased. “Sembrando Vida people say they would like to support us, but in the end they take away our land, plant trees (oil palms), pollute rivers, kill fish, exploit the land”, said a woman from the Jungle area. Furthermore, it generates internal divisions in the communities because some want the program and others don’t. For this reason, some communities have two commissariats.
“We do not want more violence, we want justice”, said a compañera from the Northern Zone and highlighted male chauvinism in the communities. High militarization was reported in all areas, accompanying the state’s vaccination campaign. “Vaccination is a pretext to invade our territories and do what they want”, said a group from Palenque, referring to the National Guard. Among women’s groups, the position prevailed that the COVID vaccine “makes people sick and makes them die.” In some areas the commissariats did not allow the second vaccine. The women of the Zoque Valley shared their traditional medicine based on plants from their own land, which they prefer to cure diseases.
For more information from SIPAZ:
Chiapas: 99 Days after Murder of Simon Pedro, las Abejas de Acteal Denounce “Negligence and Zero Willingness” of Attorney General (October 17, 2021)
Chiapas: Indigenous and Campesina Women Protest Violation of Rights over African Palm Cultivation (August 27, 2021)
Chiapas: Presentation on Megaprojects and Human Rights in Mexico (August 25, 2021)
Chiapas: Las Abejas Repeat Request for IACHR Report on Acteal Massacre (May 25, 2021)
Oaxaca: 8M, mujeres reconocen su importancia en la lucha por la defensa del territorio. (March 10, 2021)