Once again, November 29 has arrived – International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. On this day that is so important to us, we celebrate the lives and struggles of women human rights defenders, and of their communities and movements.
We celebrate the women defenders who inhabit the different territories of Mesoamerica and those who live in other latitudes and continents, with whom we share indignation, paths and hope that another world is possible.
We celebrate our diversities and we honor the path of rebelliousness, transgression and transformation that we make together.
Because it is together that we confront the barbarism of capitalism, the cruelty of patriarchy, the persistence of racism and xenophobia. Together we denounce the power-holders that turn death, war and dispossession into a business and the institutions sold to the highest bidder. Together we build communities of care, feminist justice and territories that are free and autonomous.
This year, the searching mothers of Mexico continued finding graves and demanding justice for their disappeared family members; the Garifuna communities of Honduras reclaimed new lands from those who seek to grab their ancestral territory; the peoples of Guatemala occupied town squares and roads in an indefinite strike to denounce the corruption that sustains criminal elites and demand respect for people’s sovereignty; the women and feminists of El Salvador continued defending victims of the state of emergency; in Panama, they held mass demonstrations against green capitalism and extractivism; and in Nicaragua, despite the pain of exile, banishment and prison, women continue building paths towards justice.
On this date, we honor our ancestors and demand justice for the women defenders whose lives were cut short by exhaustion, illness or bullets in one of the most dangerous regions for defending human rights, ravaged by inequality and the lack of decent living conditions.
We do not forget that just in the first six months of 2023, three sister defenders were killed in Mesoamerica, without any reaction from the justice system. In addition to these killings, during this same period women defenders faced more than two thousand attacks in El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua – 1,300 during collective actions in defense of human rights, 734 against women defenders individually and 93 against women’s and feminist organizations. State-related actors were identified as the culprits in more than half of these attacks (60%): security forces and public authorities acting to protect, cover up and strengthen private interests.
We also take this opportunity to join the call of peoples around the world demanding a ceasefire, respect for international agreements and freedom for the Palestinian peoples. Before the eyes of the world and with the complicity of many governments, the State of Israel has massacred and committed crimes against humanity, condemned by hundreds of thousands of women human rights defenders who have demonstrated in Mesoamerica.
This terrible reality brings us to the conviction that together, we have the possibility to continue to be; that our capacity to continue resisting and building rests in care and tenderness, words, knowledge, energy and shared commons.
We at the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders and the networks that comprise it thank those who stand on the side of women defenders and for a life with dignity. We thank those who make it possible for this pact to care among ourselves to have more and more content and depth, and that each day we are more women and gender/sex non-conforming people, social movements, organizations and entities that, in one way or another, are part of this confluence of efforts to protect against the violence that tries, time and time again, to silence us.