Thursday, July 14, 2011

News From Honduras, Women's Assembly

I've been recommending Adrienne Pine's blog Quotha for some time as the place to go for news and information about Honduras, and it continues to be. Much of the recent news is dispiriting and infuriating: an Amnesty International Urgent Action call about a mass eviction in Rigores, a story on the Canadian government and Canadian companies' actions there, and the final report of the International Fact Finding Mission Report on Bajo Aguán. But it's amazing to see, in the face of this onslaught, what people in Honduras are doing not just to defend themselves but to work toward a new constitution and country. The assembly, concluding today, of indigenous and Afro-Honduran women, for example, described here by Margaret Thompson:
Many of these women have been front and center in the popular resistance movement against the repression following the coup d’etat in their country in June, 2009, struggling against assaults on their lands, sovereignty, natural resources and cultures. Likewise, many have been specifically targeted as leaders in these struggles with aggressive and violent assaults and detentions by police and private security forces.

The Constitutional Assembly, which brings women from the Lenca, Maya Chortí, Garifuna, Tawaka, Miskito, Pech and Tolopan indigenous groups, is a key step in the “Refoundation” process now underway among indigenous peoples in Honduras to demand autonomy and sovereign rights. The women will contribute by developing concrete gender-specific proposals for the constitution related to land rights, protection of biodiversity, water, forests, and mining resources, as well as autonomy and self determination, and rights to communication.

Women delegates will meet to share their experiences in the resistance and the situation in their communities and within their own organizations, said Cárceres. This will enable them to better articulate strategies “to support the struggle not only against capitalism but also against racism and patriarchy…” And making these connections requires going beyond reports of ongoing violations of indigenous and women’s human rights today to examine the patriarchal roots of colonialism and neoliberalism that have provided historical precedents and current strategies for the ongoing repression of indigenous and Afro peoples. “This is part of the history of the resistence that we as indigenous and Afro-Honduran women continue to develop,” noted Cárceres.
This report from Tuesday cheered me:
Additionally, the event carves a new symbolic path with new social and cultural norms that are expressed in the sexual division of labor.

Melissa Condesa, feminist activist, writer and organizer said the event opened this new social and political field in a symbolic way, including changes in the traditional sexual division of labor within these groups. “Men make the food here so that the women can meet and some of them had never made a tortilla.”

She explained that there was an earlier Constituent Assembly that was mixed men and women in February that took place in San Juan Durugubuti, Tela, Atlándita, and later the men met and agreed that it was important for them to cook for the women’s assembly so they could talk. “The Maya and Garifuna Chortí are making tortillas, which is very radical because traditionally it was something only women did,” said Condesa.

She added that “this is important because it installs a different logic and highlights a very important issue about the oppression of women, the gender division of labor. Men are working in the kitchen because the work has significant value for everyday life, but also in the continuing political struggle. We are re-founding of the nation and this is a part of it."
What? Someone should really tell these people that they shouldn't be concerning themselves with trifles like who prepares the food at meetings when indigenous women in Honduras are having their land stolen and being assaul

Oh. Wait.

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