Antenna Uit de APC Nieuwsgroep: women.violence

Geschreven door op 19 Apr 1996 23:15:00 met als onderwerp: Re: The struggle of women in Oventic, C

## Nachricht vom 17.04.96 weitergeleitet
## Ersteller:

Dear folks,

here is a message I posted to Chipas-l which has gotten a great deal of
response. I thought you might like to see it. I've included one of the
responses I received at the bottom; it's from a med student who is
organizing a medical-relief trip to Chiapas in August, and is looking for
those interested in being involved in any way.

Hasta Ahorita, entonces,


NB: I wrote this in response to an article from La Jornada which reported
intensification of military activity in Oventic just after we left the
area. That included surveillance and intrusion by helicopters, planes and
troops, and the establishment of a new military encampment outside of
Oventic (that tiny, impoverished community is already surrounded by four!).

Date: Sun, 14 Apr 1996 22:37:42 -0700
From: (Geneve Gil)
Dear Co- listeros y listeras,

I visited Oventic before going to La Realidad and listened to several
members of the CCRI, mostly women, speak about their lives in their
community of resistance: what they are working for, what they hope,
believe, and need. I have extraordinary respect for their tenacity,
consciousness, and spirit. They are risking their lives and exposing
themselves to continuous harassment, intimidation and cultural disruption
from the federal soldiers camped around them.

Comandante David was so proud to tell us that they had not lost a single
member of their community to hunger in the past two years. The challenge
they have set themselves is extra-human. The women there were literally
falling asleep with exhaustion in the middle of the afternoon, tending
babies as they spoke, in Tzotzil, of the great many new difficulties facing
them since asserting their independance from the PRI. Their project, as a
'comunidad en resistencia', is to demonstrate their capacity to sustain
themselves without assistence from the government. The idea is to show
others, by example, that they need not be dependent on the PRI for
survival; that they could choose to vote PRD, or to challenge government
programs & policies, without necessarily losing their lives, livelihood and

While Zapatistas struggle to develop health and educational facilities in
their communities, the PRI offers 'assistance' to nearby communities in
order to dissuade them from affiliating with the Zapatistas. Comandante
David mentioned that, a year after promises from the PRI, some of those
communities have realized that the proposed improvements are not
forthcoming, and have begun to seek alliance again with the EZLN.

Comandantes Isabel, Ana Mari'a, Susana, Roselia, Amalia, and others spoke
of the soldiers' presence in their lives. They find it impossible to leave
Oventic anymore because soldiers proposition them, offer them money for
sex, and rape as well as threaten to rape them. The soldiers have brought
prostitution to the area, which deeply offends the Tzotzil people living in
Oventic. The behavior of the soldiers and prostitutes is abhorent to them
and in violent dischord with their cultural beliefs, views, traditions and

Finding it unsafe to travel to and from Oventic, the women are having great
difficulty supporting themselves with their artisanry. They are no longer
free to purchase the thread they need or to take their work to town to
sell. When they buy thread now, it is from a store which is closer to their
community, but more expensive. They expressed desire for assistance from
foreigners in creating an artisan's cooperative in which they could safely
continue to create and sell their weavings.

Comandante David added that even before the presence of the soldiers, when
they were able to travel freely, their work yielded scarcely enough money
for food. A woman will often spend two months working on a single weaving,
staying up till midnight or two a.m., with scarcely any light, day after
day. At the end, she can sell her work -- if she's lucky -- for 200 pesos
(less than three dollars). Since her initial investment in materials costs
her approximately one half of her sale price, she ends up making a profit
of one peso per day (less than one seventh of a dollar per day) -- if she's
lucky. (At the moment, the peso is at about 7.5 to the dollar.)

All this to say that I am deeply disturbed by recent reports of increased
military presence at Oventic. I am afraid for those people. Comandante
David has said that they have not used a single dollar ever given to the
pueblo Oventic for weapons. Every bit of support is invested in health
care, education, food, and work initiatives. These people do not need to be
under surveillance by military forces which could destroy them in a matter
of hours. I am afraid for them. I believe that the Mexican military is
waiting for people to forget about the Zapatistas so they can be eliminated
without an international scandal. I hope that this is never possible.


From: "Jonathan D. Kirsch"
Reply-To: "Jonathan D. Kirsch"
Subject: health care trip to Chiapas
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 96 17:16:31 -0500

Dear Geneve,

I just read about the struggle of the women in Oventic. It is very disturbing,
as is most news about the oppression in Chiapas. I am organizing a trip to
bring doctors and medical students to the Hospital San Carlos and CONPAZ
encampments with supplies this August. The planning is well under way and
Pastors for Peace is helping to do a lot of the administrative work for us. We
are currently seeking doctors to accompany us, as well as funds to support the
trip. I think we are doing fine as far as supplies, though we could use more
anti-parasitics, but really most of what we need is funds. If you have ideas of
people that would help out in such a project, I would really appreciate it. I
think that this project could help in the short term as far as relieving current
health problems that are life threatening, as well as help promote long term
health through whatever means possible. Part of the latter goal could be helped
by showing support for the struggle for human rights and democracy. We also
hope to work along with the health promoters to seek the most effective means of
disease prevention within the system available (i.e. not requiring supplies
often not available).

Thanks for your time and efforts.

If you'd like to call me, my number is 612 729-9245.

Jonathan Kirsch
University of Minnesota Medical School


Geneve Gil
4505 Duval St. #225
Austin, TX

(512) 459-5678

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