“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.
Last time I wrote I was about to cross the border. Into the Wild Wild East of Guatemala, the land of cowboy hats and boots. To one of the regions in Guatemala that holds a big piece of my heart. Chiquimula. A friend had invited me to an event in the community, Las Flores. Omar had not given me more details, only “that I needed to be there”. The event was on the 8th of March.
Time for sounds. But what sounds? Considering the reactions to my last and first post the expectations are rather high. I just considered it a post to friends and family, about me and about Honduras. But now it’s giving me the creeps to start writing a next post. Should I stick to Honduras and my observations? Or should I redirect somewhat towards me? After all, my idea of this blog was not having to repeat in every mail how I am, how the work is going, where I’m living, if I made any friends, etc. So this one’s on me….(at least that was my plan when I started writing)
In San Miguel Ixtahaucán, Guatemala, the Mina Marlin gold mine, operated by Goldcorp, has divided indigenous communities through gifts, benefits, and violence. The mine has caused a lot of damage. It has not only had a profound impact on the environment but also on the social cohesion of communities and families in the area, and on their cultural ties with the land.
Independent from the Occupy Movement in North-America and Europe, a movement of slum dwellers in Guatemala is occupying the street in front of Congress. They are protesting against the living conditions in the slums and a disfunctional housing policy. To change their situation they not only occupied Congress but made a bill and eventually started a hunger strike.
“This land is ours! It does not belong to the State. It is ours, as indigenous people!” says 20 year old Guatemalan Lorena Sanchez when on the 3rd of May 2011 a state representative from Fondo de Tierras, a government department regulating access to land, arrived in Tzalbal to tell its people they are living on state property.