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Paula Irene del Cid, member of the Guatemalan feminist group La Cuerda, participated in a European tour in April, together with Natalia Atz, to expose the action of transnational corporations in Guatemala.
The communities are under constant threat as a result of their resistance to big extractive projects. The most recent violent advance was the declaration of a state of emergency in four municipalities that were resisting a mining project of Canadian corporation Tahoe Resources.
In interview with Real World Radio, Paula Irene del Cid describes the women’s struggle in Guatemala, the different roles they play and she exposes the different impacts of the advance of transnational corporations on women that defend their territories, culture and livelihood.
Firstly, the activist says that in some cases the women lead the struggles in Guatemala. Such is the example of La Puya, a place where women have led the peaceful resistance to a US mine for over a year.
The demand for peaceful resistance is another feature highlighted by Paula about the struggle of Guatemalan women. She said women are the ones that are speaking up in demand for peace in Guatemala under the slogan “we don’t want any more war children”.
One of their struggles is resisting the advance of transnational corporations in their territories. They call the people of their communities to not sell their lands because “the corporations use that mechanism to appropriate land when the eviction of peasants through judicial means fails”.
Women have been proposing to have political discussions to question the concept of private property, for example. She said: “indigenous women question things such as ‘how is It possible that people be owners of the soil, but the State owns the underground layers’?
Mining is not the only problem faced by the communities. The activist said they also face the impacts of palm tree monoculture plantations. “When these evictions take place the use and habits of the communities are interrupted as well as their livelihood. Women of Polochic would harvest food and they are now harvesting to produce fuel. They say: ‘We are left with no food’”.
Paula said that exposing agrofuels in their recent European tour was very important: “in Europe they think they are producing clean energy, and what we say is that it is not clean, it is stained with blood”.
Lastly, she said sexual violence is used as an instrument of political control and it is used in the advance of transnational corporations in Guatemala. There are many cases of sexual harassment and rape by State forces and by the corporations.
“We are victims of an extractive policy that has been ordered and planned outside, with the government’s approval, where women are especially under attack and we are also part of the resistance”, said Paula about the current development model in Guatemala and the women’s role there.
La oposición a la minería debe entenderse como la lucha por los derechos que esa actividad no respeta, pues “cada derecho que se le otorga a una empresa, es un derecho que se le resta a una comunidad”, asegura el coordinador del Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), César Padilla.
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