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zaterdag 9 oktober 2021

#WORLD #WORLDWIDE #CZECH #ANARCHISM #News #Journal #Update - (en) #Czech, #AFED: Slowly but forward - #Zapatism and #emancipation of #women in theory and practice [machine translation]

 Although women's struggle for equality has become one of the most prominent

external features of the Zapatista movement, it cannot be said to have taken
place only in the public and political spheres. Perhaps the opposite is true: the
toughest battles must be fought in the privacy of home, especially in kitchens
and bedrooms. In this sense, the path of Zapatista women to freedom and equality
becomes an example to us. After all, let us be honest with ourselves: who of us
is really willing to resist established customs and consistently fight, for
example, against the petty-bourgeois tradition of housewives and their men with a
higher mission?
* * *
They dominate photographs, look at us from T-shirts and magnificent murals, write
political texts and speak from videos and podcasts. Their cloth figurines are
sold in markets all over Chiapas. Undoubtedly, women dominated at least the
outside face of the Zapatista movement, distinguishing it from other
revolutionary liberation movements around the world. But what is the reality? Can
it really be said that the Zapatistas approached the issue of women's rights
radically and impartially and solved this problem once and for all? Or rather, as
some critics claim, that these are mere political slogans and that the Zapatistas
did not really do much more for the emancipation of women than the authoritarian
left-wing regimes, which had women's rights full, but didn't they really move
with them? American journalist Hilary Klein spent a total of six years in
Zapatista communities in Chiapas. There she focused specifically on the question
of the position of women and their role in the revolutionary struggle; she heard
and recorded hundreds of testimonies, mapped the fates of dozens of people who
were trying to achieve something in this matter. Her bookBased on the following
text, Compañeras says - as you might expect - that reality is complex and that
nothing is free. That political slogans and murals are really something other
than hard facts. That the revolution in human hearts is progressing much more
slowly than the revolution at the social and political level. But he also says
that if there is a clear goal and enough determination, you can end up with even
the biggest boulder.

Before and after

When women from Zapatista communities talk about their position in society, they
often use the terms "before" and "after." The turning point for them is the year
1994 and the first armed performance of the EZLN revolutionary army. They
describe their situation "before" as double oppression. On the one hand, the
indigenous community as a whole was oppressed and marginalized by the majority
Mexican society, and on the other hand, the women themselves within their
community were oppressed:

Before 1994, women had no respect. Even our fathers told us we were useless. We
did not have the right to bear any public responsibility. When we wanted to speak
at meetings, the men made fun of us. They insulted us and said that women didn't
even know how to talk.

In the days before the armed appearance, fathers decided who their daughters
would marry, and husbands decided how many children their wives would have. Only
a minimum of women had access to school education. Women faced domestic violence
and had no tool to deal with it. However, it cannot be said that the issue of the
status of women was never raised in Chiapas in the years before the uprising and
that the EZLN organization started from scratch. The first signs of new thinking
appeared as early as the 1960s, and surprisingly the local Catholic Church played
an important role in this process. This religious organization occupies a very
controversial position in the history of Latin America. For centuries, it
provided moral protection for the colonization and oppression of the natives,
keeping millions in servitude and ignorance. On the other hand, the opposite
tendencies appeared in it from the beginning. The first bishop of Chiapas was
named Bartolomé de las Casas, who in the bookBrief report on the devastation of
the Indian countriesof 1552 provided the first fundamental analysis of the
progress of the Spanish conquerors and its catastrophic consequences. This legacy
lasted in Chiapas until the twentieth century, and a new life was given to him in
1960, when Samuel Ruiz, a supporter of liberation theology, became the bishop of
the Diocese of San Cristobal. He actively opposed the oppression of the Indians,
often acting as a mediator between them and the government, and also addressed
the issue of women's equality. Under his leadership, several civic groups emerged
to actively address this issue. Many of the offspring of these organizations
later became important organizers and fighters in the ranks of EZLN. This is how
Samuel Ruiz is remembered by a Tzeltal woman who took part in the work of the
Catholic Center for Women's Rights of the State of Chiapas in the 1980s:

Don Samuel told us about the Bible. He said that we are all equal, that we should
value our rights and that no one should discriminate against anyone, because we
all have the right to participate and speak. At that time, women did not
participate in anything. But Don Samuel said: No, I want women to participate
too. He said that men and women are human beings, that no one must stay away and
everyone must get involved - young people, children, men, women and the old.
Everyone has a place in the church. He placed great emphasis on this.

The Church's connection to the revolutionary leftist movements is one of the
specifics of Latin American culture, which is difficult to accept from a European
point of view. However, it should be noted that in addition to very strong -
perhaps predominant - conservative and reactionary currents, there are also very
progressive currents in the Church in Latin America, such as the theology of
liberation. In addition, the Catholic Church has been able to graft its doctrine
into older indigenous traditions and, in the form of remarkable religious
syncretism, significantly enrich the local culture. It was therefore natural for
the original inhabitants of Chiapas to begin the process of revival within the
Catholic Church.

Eye opening

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the advent of EZLN has meant a huge change
for women, or rather a series of changes that have been common in society for
decades. The women's issue has been one of the main topics for the organization
from the beginning.

Already at the time of secrecy in 1983-1994, EZLN promoted gender equality and
women were always represented in its ranks. An important step on the path to
emancipation was the adoption of the so-called Women's Revolutionary Law. It took
place in 1993, before the armed performance. This short text defines women's
fundamental rights as follows:

1. Women, regardless of race, creed, color or political affiliation, have the
right to take part in the revolutionary struggle, in whatever way their desires
and abilities lead them to do so.

2. Women have the right to work and to receive a fair wage for their work.

3. Women have the right to decide how many children they will have.

4. Women have the right to participate in and hold leading positions in community
life if they are freely and democratically elected to them.

5. Women and their children have the right to basic health and nutrition care.

6. Women have the right to education.

7. Women have the right to choose a partner; they must not be forced into
marriage against their will.

8. No woman may be beaten or physically ill-treated, whether by family members or
strangers. Rape and attempts at rape will be severely punished.

9. Women have the right to hold leadership positions in the organization and
military ranks in the revolutionary armed forces.

10. Women will have all the rights and obligations contained in revolutionary
laws and regulations.

The adoption of the Women's Revolutionary Act meant a small revolution directly
in the ranks of the EZLN. This is how Subcomandante Marcos later described his
proceedings:

In March 1993, comrades discussed provisions that would later become
"Revolutionary Laws." Susana went around all the communities, talked to women,
and their views then consisted of the so-called Women's Law. When the CCRI met to
vote on the laws, representatives of all the commissions spoke: agrarian,
justice, war taxes, the rights and duties of the people in armed struggle, women.
Susana was asked to read the suggestions she had made from the opinions of
thousands of indigenous women. As she read, the CCRI assembly was a little
uneasy. Whispers and various remarks were heard in Mayan and Spanish. But Susana
did not allow herself to be disturbed and continued to read: "We do not want to
be forced to marry someone we do not want. We want to have just as many children
as we want and how many we can take care of. We want to have the right to hold
leadership positions in the community. We want the right to speak in public and
we want our views to be respected. We want to have the right to study and maybe
even drive a car. "

And so she continued until the end. There was a heavy silence. The women's laws
that Susana read marked a real revolution in Native American communities. The
women's representatives had listened to the translation of Susan's words into the
indigenous languages. The men looked at each other, fidgeting uneasily. However,
as soon as the interpreters were finished, all the women began to clap and cheer
on command. Needless to say, the Women's Laws were passed unanimously.

One Tzeltal man remarked, "Also that my wife does not speak Spanish, because
otherwise..." A woman who had the rank of major in the rebel army immediately
spoke to him: The comrade lowered his eyes to the ground. The female delegates
sang enthusiastically, the men scratching their ears. I'd rather take a break...

The first EZLN uprising took place in March 1993 and was led by Zapatista women.
They won in it without shedding a single drop of blood.

One thing, however, is laws and another is their fulfillment. From the beginning,
things were no doubt slow. As one woman, who now holds a highly respected
position in the organization, told Hilary Klein, women did not participate much
in political life in the early years, despite all the statements:

At first, they invited only my husband to EZLN. He started going to meetings, but
he didn't even tell me where he was going. But because he knows me and knows who
I am, he later started telling me about the organization himself, and I liked
everything I heard. He explained to me how the powerful oppressed us. That the
peasants work hard, but they can sell the fruits of their labor only at very low
prices. He explained a lot to me about the organization and that we had to
support each other as brothers and sisters. For example, if someone gets hurt, we
have to carry firewood for heating. Then they appointed me and another woman as
representatives of the organization, but it didn't work, maybe because we were
the only ones there. They didn't even invite us to meetings; we were only
formally responsible.

Although there were not many real results at first, the introduction of the topic
alone was of great importance. As activist Amelia told Klein, "for all the
reasons they presented to us, this was the most important thing for me: that
women would no longer be treated badly. Before, women had no freedom, we were
under the domination of husbands. We felt that EZLN was opening our eyes. "

Of great importance in the process of "opening the eyes" was the direct
experience of women from the revolutionary struggle. Not only did they actively
participate in the first armed performance in January 1994; they played an
absolutely key role in the next five years, when there were fierce clashes
between the government army and paramilitary units on the one hand and the
inhabitants of the newly established autonomous communities on the other. Without
the contribution of women, many of these communities would not be able to
survive. During the invasions of the liberated territory, the soldiers focused
mainly on the men they dragged to prison, tortured and humiliated. In the end,
whenever the army approached the settlements, the men left everything and quickly
disappeared into the hills. However, the soldiers destroyed the equipment of the
settlements, unloaded the cattle and committed violence against the women, who
were left to their own devices. But with each subsequent attack, women's thinking
changed. They knew that they had nothing to lose in the situation, and were
increasingly determined to defend themselves and their villages. And it worked.
After two unsuccessful attempts to disperse the Zapatista movement with brute
force, the Mexican government sought to maintain - especially internationally - a
friendly face and forbade soldiers from entering into a direct armed
confrontation with the inhabitants of Mayan villages. The liquidation of the
movement was to be achieved through a "low-intensity war", in particular by
persecuting, imprisoning and torturing individuals, harassing the population on a
daily basis and destroying their economy and crops. When the soldiers met the
women's determination to defend the settlements literally with their fingernails,
they were unable to respond effectively. Although the army was present in Chiapas
literally everywhere between 1996 and 2000 (more than a third of the total
government force was called in), she did not achieve anything significant and
gradually became more of a target of ridicule. After the year 2000, when the top
positions of the state administration changed guards, the government finally
withdrew from the strategy of the "low-intensity war" and the number of troops in
the area was significantly reduced.

Two shortcomings

The Zapatista society has undoubtedly made enormous progress in the thirty years
of its existence. Women work as commanders in the revolutionary army, they are
active in many spheres of public life, especially in health care and education.

Nevertheless, even today this issue is not completely resolved. The biggest
problem remains the private sphere, ie family life, relations between spouses and
between parents and children. As usual, many men who are very active and
progressive in the public sphere change their views and attitudes as soon as they
cross the threshold of their house. Although the Zapatista movement provides
instances to which victims of violence can turn, the fact remains that women do
not do so often and prefer to remain silent about their problems. Revolutionary
justice remains powerless in such cases, and it is not always able to develop
mechanisms through which it can approach problems sensitively and individually.
EZLN faced criticism from civil society organizations and the Mexican feminist
movement, which expressed concern about "discrepancies between EZLN's political
statements and its actual policies."

EZLN indirectly responded to this criticism in 2004 in a communication entitled
"Dos fallas" (Two Shortcomings) by Subcomandante Marcos. He was essentially
forced to acknowledge that outside criticism was justified and that the position
of women was one of the two main problems the movement was facing at the moment
(the second problem was the EZLN's continuing leadership in the structure of the
Zapatista society):

Women still do little to participate in the organization's work and are hardly
represented in the Good Government Committees and Autonomous Councils. percent.
Women remain aloof in filling the posts of ejidos commissioners and building
militia units. Leadership work continues to be primarily the work of men... And
that is not the only problem. Although Zapatista women have played a vital role
in the resistance movement, their rights often remain on paper. It is true that
we have achieved a decrease in domestic violence, but the reason is the reduction
in alcohol consumption rather than the flourishing of a new culture in the field
of family and gender. Women are not yet able to participate to a large extent in
activities that require their absence from the village. It is not written or
explicitly stated anywhere, but it does not change the fact that a woman who
leaves the house and leaves her husband or children faces the disapproval of
others and others think badly about her... It is a shame, but we can only be
honest with each other: As far as women are concerned, we do not have much good
news yet. We fail to provide them with the conditions in which they can develop,
we fail to build a culture that sufficiently recognizes all their talents and
skills. It seems to be a job for a very long time; yet we hope that one day we
will be able to say that, at least in this matter, we have been able to change
the world. Even if we couldn't do anything else, it would be worth it. but all we
have to do is be honest with each other: when it comes to women, we don't have
much good news yet. We fail to provide them with the conditions in which they can
develop, we fail to build a culture that sufficiently recognizes all their
talents and skills. It seems to be a job for a very long time; yet we hope that
one day we will be able to say that, at least in this matter, we have been able
to change the world. Even if we couldn't do anything else, it would be worth it.
but all we have to do is be honest with each other: when it comes to women, we
don't have much good news yet. We fail to provide them with the conditions in
which they can develop, we fail to build a culture that sufficiently recognizes
all their talents and skills. It seems to be a job for a very long time; yet we
hope that one day we will be able to say that, at least in this matter, we have
been able to change the world. Even if we couldn't do anything else, it would be
worth it.

The issue of alcohol consumption, which Subcomandante Marcos mentioned in its
report, plays a very important role in the process. The fact today is that there
is a strict dry law in Zapatista territory, which is usually also enforced and
enforced, often with the help of relatively severe penalties. Such a harsh
approach may seem a bit exaggerated in terms of our culture, where without
alcohol, there would perhaps not be social interaction, but it must be borne in
mind that the society of the indigenous people of Mexico presents a very
different context. Alcohol has been one of the colonizers' main weapons in the
past; its consumption was consciously promoted by the conquerors, leading to the
decimation of entire nations. Even today, the Mexican government deliberately
imports alcohol into Zapatista territory and seeks to weaken and divide local
communities through it.

In the past, when men were still drinking, there was no money in the families.
Men always found some money for alcohol, but then they didn't care at all if
there was anything to eat in the house. And then the women suffered. Our children
had nothing to eat and we had to find it hard to raise money for food. All men
drank, not just some. It could be said that it was such an established custom.
The women could not even leave the house because they were drunk on the streets.
Sometimes a man came home in a fighting mood, and when the woman asked him why he
was drinking, he immediately hit her. The woman preferred to run away from home.
The men then felt guilty, for example, but it was too late, the beating could not
be taken back. Sometimes men beat children, and when the children saw their
father going home drunk, they preferred to run away right away.

Thus, alcohol was the cause of the vast majority of domestic violence, and its
consumption resulted in a deepening of poverty, apathy and escape from reality.
He was one of the main obstacles on the path to political awareness and people.
Therefore, it had to be removed from the life of the communities. Women played a
key role in this process - perhaps more difficult than the armed uprising itself:

Although anti-alcohol was already preached in the church and things were starting
to change a bit, the real change came only after we joined the organization
(EZLN). Women knew well that alcohol was a bad thing. But the men were furious at
first, even though they also belonged to the organization. Somehow the men did
not understand that alcohol was evil. They thought that drinking was right, that
it was an established habit. Slowly, however, they began to realize that alcohol
was harmful.

When the Zapatista law banning alcohol was introduced and discussed in all
communities, women spoke. We said that alcohol causes many problems. The men who
drank didn't like it when the women talked. They wanted us to keep quiet. But we
have spoken quite clearly about the problems associated with alcohol. That's why
the law was finally passed - because so many women from so many villages didn't
want men to drink.

Everyone must change

In connection with the position of women, there has been some unrest in the
Zapatista society in recent years. Despite the changes achieved and the undoubted
successes, it is clear that the road is far from over. This leads to the question
of what should be done and what exactly needs to be changed. It has been rumored
that the Women's Revolutionary Act of 1993 is insufficient in its current form,
does not cover all areas of social life and should be extended. There are lively
discussions on this topic. There are opinions that the new version of the law
should take into account areas such as land ownership and the right to care for
children in the event of divorce, the right to inherit property, the right to
rest and the right to defend not only against physical violence but also against
verbal violence. But it is clear that these are all just written laws and that
the main change must take place in people's thinking.

Hilary Klein describes a situation where a group of men and women running a
cooperative business learned to keep accounts and work with a calculator.
Especially for older people from rural areas, even such tasks are very difficult,
because they have hardly encountered school education in their lives. An elderly
woman hesitated a little over her calculator, and a young man took it from her
and said, "Look, this is how it's done." That might end, but it didn't end there.
The women expressed displeasure at such behavior and later asked the instructor
to explain to the men that no matter how hard they tried to help, their
benevolence only complicated everything. The instructor fidgeted, but eventually
promised to talk to the men about it. Then, when men and women worked together
again, and one woman took a little longer to work with the calculator, again some
willing individuals rushed to her and offered help out loud. But the others
shouted at them, and the woman was able to finish the job at her own pace. All
the women looked at each other with joy and a sense of victory.

Klein places this seemingly insignificant incident in the broader framework of
societal change and presents it as a great success: "Several things came together
here: a group of women who understood each other and stood together; a man who
was willing to act as their ally and intervene in their favor; and a group of men
who were able to rise and adapt their actions to the new situation. None of these
things are the exclusive domain of the Zapatista movement, but it seemed clear to
me that day that the Zapatista movement has the main merit that all three of
these elements appeared at the time. "

Many people in the Zapatista community have come to the conclusion that real
progress must be the work of all. "Women need to change; but men must also
change! "Without men's cooperation, equality will never be achieved and a truly
free society will never be built. Therefore, there have been attempts to involve
men directly in the work and get them to look at things through women's eyes.
"During one meeting, a commander asked the men if they remembered being
humiliated. The men said yes, citing clashes with landowners and police as
examples. The commander then asked them to relate these memories to situations
described by women. At another meeting, participants said that they had been
exposed to sexist images for generations, and therefore it took so long for
things to change,

Workshops and educational groups are appearing to help men in particular on this
difficult journey. That it is necessary is evidenced by the testimony of the
coordinator of Esmeralda:

Recently, women told us, "We want workshops on gender, but this time we want men
and women to participate together." For example, in the northern zone, we are
planning a workshop on masculinity. We will invite political leaders, members of
autonomous councils and all others who are interested. We'll see how it works.
(...) Sometimes men say, "What about us? Don't we have rights? "But when they
start talking like that, we ask them," So what rights do men have? Do they have
any rights at all, don't they? What things bother the man? How about alcohol?
Where did Machism come from? "During a meeting with women, we talked about the
right to decide how many children a woman will have. Several men were also
present. The women all spoke very clearly, "She should have as many children as
she wants, only she can decide." But the men began to argue, "A woman should have
as many children as God sends her. If a woman uses contraception, she is cheating
on her husband. "It turned into a pretty wild debate. And it must be said that
the men I am talking about were all Zapatistas! One then asks how men who are not
Zapatistas think...

Even in the area of the status of women, the pupa of the Zapatista snail is
right, which calmly states from the many murals throughout Chiapas: "Lento pero
avanzo" (I'm going slowly but forward). True, it's a long and tedious journey,
but every step counts. We will end with the words of Zapatista Pacheka from the
Santo Domingo region, who previously served as a member of the local Commission
for Honor and Justice and now serves on the local Good Government Committee:

Before, when I was eighteen, twenty, twenty-five, it never occurred to me that
women have any rights. I thought that women did not have the right to speak, that
only men could speak. I thought women didn't really understand anything. But my
opinions have gradually changed, because I like to ask questions. If I don't know
something, I'll ask. I saw in the organization that even women could talk, so I
asked me to understand. I researched my own experience, the seed was sown, and my
opinions began to change.

In 1994, I still mostly remained in the old views. But in 1994, we all heard that
women also had rights, and we set out on the right path. Women began to work in
autonomous health care, in education, everywhere. We began to realize that women
must also get involved in the fight, and that as we gain more and more
experience, we will gradually get rid of bad habits. In the past, parents didn't
even allow their daughters to leave the house, but today things are changing. I
have seen that women can fight, work, talk.

Both of my daughters hold political positions. One is a member of the autonomous
council and the other is the coordinator of the craft cooperative. I felt it was
important for them to learn, to break free from the bad habit of working only in
the kitchen to get rid of their fear. I tell them to work hard, to learn as best
they can. I encourage them to ask questions whenever they don't understand
something. I give them freedom. In the past, young women did not have much
freedom. I want them to gain more experience, to learn as best they can, even
though they never went to school.

The citations are taken from Hilary Klein's book: Compañeras: Zapatista Women's
Stories (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2015).

https://www.afed.cz/text/7476/pomalu-ale-kupredu
_________________________________________
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