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2 de julio de 2013 | | | | | | | | |

Fighting for power through the use of “political weapons”

Interview with Wendy Cruz, from Vía Campesina Central America

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“We must create dignity and equity conditions for peasant women all around the globe”, said Wendy Cruz to Real World Radio. She is the representative of Vía Campesina Central America. This Honduran leader shared with us her viewpoint on the situation of peasant women around the globe and about the challenge of gender equality in the fight for food sovereignty.

In order to contribute to better social justice at international level, she also insisted on the engagement that is necessary in the campaign against violence towards women.
Cruz comes from a country that is ruled by a government heir to the coup d’état of 2009. Every day, more than 30 people are persecuted and murdered. During these last four years, dozens of journalists have been annihilated and so have more than 100 farmers from the Bajo Aguan region, in the department of Colon.

The farmer was interviewed by Real World Radio during the 6th International Conference of Vía Campesina, which took place in Jakarta (Indonesia) from the 6th to the 13th of June, after the IV International Conference of Women of the same movement.

Cruz mentioned the main challenges faced by Vía Campesina. From her point of view, the movement must take into account and debate about the issue of feminism in the rural and popular world, and that is the reason why women from Vía Campesina include it in its Manifesto. The challenge related to the lack of security that many women suffer everyday and that too often means violence and forced migrations was also mentioned in the Manifesto.

“Another main axis that we women propose is our concern for the issue of militarization and everything it implies. This is a phenomenon that can be seen in every country and women are the first affected by it.”

Women’s contribution to the peasant movement goes beyond their participation in the Organization. In fact, women are behind more than half of the world’s food production. Roughly 60% of the food consumed in the world is produced by women. That is the reason why one of the proposals of Vía Campesina is to fight for food sovereignty in order to ensure gender justice.

“We are talking here about a small-scale and medium-scale agriculture and not an agro-industry that nourishes the whole world, since there is no doubt that peasant men and women are the ones who are in charge of nourishing the world”, said Cruz.

In this sense, the special link between women and land can be seen in some practices such as agroecology. According to Wendy Cruz, practices such as this one must be promoted so as to resist phenomena like climate change.

“We are living a food crisis and a climate crisis, and a friend of mine told me we are even living a crisis of values, ethics and a moral one, so women and the whole peasant movement as a whole must meet the challenge of creating real collective processes such as the one for gender equality. In these processes, men and women must realize that we are all necessary and that we must work together, hand in hand.”

Wendy Cruz welcomes the fact that women have managed to organize towards the movement and impose themselves. She repeats the motto: “we are the mothers of food sovereignty!” Apart from extending the idea of a world that is more just, Cruz appealed to women all over the world so that they will claim their rights and their dignity.

After that, with tears in her eyes, Wendy Cruz talked about the situation in Honduras, since the country is living a deep crisis of human rights that is affecting specially farmers and indigenous peoples, who are fighting for access to land. Some 3,000 people are in this moment in prison just because they claimed a better access to lands. Hundreds more are being persecuted and murdered, after the coup of 2009.

Therefore, leaders from these indigenous and peasant movements have undertaken a “daily resistance fight”. Some weeks ago there was a large popular defense act from activist Bertha Caceres, from the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and she was arbitrarily sent to trial. The leader from COPINH was acquitted, but social movements and organizations are on the alert for any changes.

Wendy also underlined the importance of an “international solidarity” that does not ignore the situation of Honduras, a country in which persecutions and murders are coupled with a poverty rate of 74%. Wendy Cruz believes that nobody expects anything from justice in Honduras because there are laws that criminalize the social protest. This means that the police forces have openly declared “war” against the Honduran people, says Cruz. Fights and resistance acts for a better access to land are still important in Bajo Aguan, the region with the best resources of the country.

“It is terrible to know that every week or every fifteen days, one of our comrades is murdered, but we cannot stop our fight.”

The activist believes that the coup d’état of 2009 has given way to a political context in which there are no more institutions, but leaders who steal land and resources from the people. According to Cruz, the approval of the “model city” project is a violation to the people’s sovereignty. Finally, Cruz talked about a proposal that is being prepared to create a delegation of international observers that will make sure that the election process next November in Honduras will not be subject to frauds of any kind.

Photo: Vía Campesina

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