Embracing Life Through Feminist Solidarity
By Gabriela Paz – Program Officer FCAM
One month ago, on January 20, 2019, the “El Abrazo” (The Embrace) international feminist solidarity initiative was launched in Honduras, organized by the Mesoamerican Initiative of Human Rights Defenders (IMD).
Its objective is to accompany and recognize the struggles of organized Honduran women that are working to protect their lives and the public resources of their communities. Twenty eight organizations of human rights defenders and promoters from Latin America and activists from 13 countries participated.
The visit extended to three regions in continuous struggle: El Progreso; Tocoa and Guapinol de Colón, Tela, Garífuna territory and the Lenca sector; Santa Bárbara and Copan. For over ten years, there have been ongoing struggles led by rural workers, indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, environmentalists, and feminists to defend their regions, the environment, human rights, and women’s bodies and lives.
Defense of Ancestral Lands, Regions, Bodies and Customs
The Honduran government has granted concessions for 33% of its national territory for industrial and mining operations: there are 302 total concessions, with the department of Cortés topping the list with 56, followed by Olancho with 33, Choluteca with 28, Francisco Morazán with 27, and Santa Barbara with 25.This shows that the state is willing to place public resources belonging to the Honduran people in service of extractive interests.
Following the fraudulent reelection of the current president Juan Orlando Hernández, political participation has been forced under the boot of repression and persecution of organizations by State security forces. Activists that fight in their regions do so under constant siege by the authorities and informal agents that identify as “sicarios” (hitmen). In addition to criminalization of the work of women activists and their partners, state-sponsored actors are protected by national laws that place private interests and money above care for life.
Their constant efforts to demand respect for and to defend their ways of life, under conditions in which basic human rights are constantly violated, subjects human rights defenders to vulnerability, criminalization, persecution and control. This impacts their health, requires that they abandon their communities in the face of direct threats against their lives, and yet their commitment cannot be shaken.
Diverse women throughout the country sustain their fight while smiling, in joyful resistance, solidarity, dance, group healing, guarding and teaching their ancestral traditions, and sisterhood. They resist in the face of a criminal state, in the face of a community that judges them, and male partners that violate their rights and harass them. They resist from their most intimate places, owning their wellbeing and that of those around them and in their communities.
We call for solidarity, and the lasting enterprise of placing our energy and bodies towards the struggle, recognizing that protecting life is the work of everyone.