“I don’t want anyone to wish me a Happy Women’s Day on March 8th,” recently said Brendy Cuy Urizar. Elsa Siquín Montafúr doesn’t celebrate this day either. Brendy is the aunt of Yohanna and Elsa the mother of Yemmi; two of the 41 girls who died in the ‘Safe House’ fire in Guatemala on March 8th, 2017.
Indigenous feminists in Guatemalaencourage women to speak out against male violence, and to heal and defend themselves like they defend their ancestral territory. These are their stories of resistance.
“They killed my son. It hurts so much, it crushes me.” With a low voice Patrona del Carmen tells the story of her 22 year old son José Casco. José is one of the more than 300 killed in Nicaragua since the popular uprising began on the 18th of April.
José, everybody called him El Chino, grew up in El Viejo, a small town close to the Honduran border. At this rundown family house Patrona sits down beneath a massive picture of him adorned with plastic flowers in blue and white, the colors of Nicaragua’s flag and of the movement he died for on the 5th of June.
In Copán Ruinas everybody comes to see the ancient Maya ruins. But are the Mayans in this area really something of the past? Being Maya Ch’ort’i certainly appears to be a complicated issue in this area. While most Ch’ort’i are marginalized and ashamed of their roots, their name and identity has been co-opted and their culture became an exhibition. But other Ch’ort’i do not sit back idly. Theirs is a struggle to recover their culture, and their land. In a battle against a planned mining project the assertion of Ch’ort’i identity suddenly became a tool. Maybe this new pride in a Ch’ort’i identity will solidify their claim to land.
The pipeline project on Sioux territory and repression faced at Standing Rock was gut wrenching. Likewise, the protest was inspiring. An anti-imperialist struggle in the heart of the empire. Tribes standing with tribes continuing their centuries old resistance against colonialism and discrimination. Over a million virtual check-ins at Standing Rock on Facebook in just one day.
Nevertheless, when “Standing with Standing Rock” on social media gradually increased so did some thoughts and doubts concerning solidarity with indigenous resistance movements. Now that the battle at Standing Rock has been fought, and hopefully permanently won, I share these thoughts.