FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS: GUATEMALAN WOMEN’S STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE by Tal Nitsán BA, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2003 MA, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2006 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Anthropology) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) August 2014 © Tal Nitsán 2014 ii Abstract From Left to Rights is study of a social movement mobilized in the new age of rights—Guatemalan women’s organizations’ campaign to eradicate violence against women. The movement relies on and derives from women’s human rights discourse and the transnational feminist movement, yet it is a local manifestation of a search for justice, dignity and hope. The main protagonists of this campaign are Guatemalan women who have decided, for historic and strategic reasons, to use women’s human rights discourse to promote their struggle. Considering some of the discourse’s internal contradictions, and based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Guatemala City, I argue that in order for women’s human rights discourse to promote a substantial change in the lives of Guatemalans, the discourse is framed and practiced in terms of dignity. As I illustrate, Guatemalan women’s organizations emphasize and legitimize women’s diverse lived experiences. They encourage women to see themselves as worthy beings, as actors, and as the rightful protagonists of their own lives. They also motivate women to draw support from other women and to see themselves as part of a worthy community. Hence, these organizations inspire women to begin to imagine themselves not only as worthy of life, but also as worthy of happiness. In a reality in which envisioning change is an act of resistance, hope—the ability to imagine a better future—is the key mechanism to explain the social transformation attempted by Guatemala’s women’s rights campaign. Such individual and collective transformation further requires transforming the spaces in which they live to allow and encourage these new subjectivities. This dual, dialectical transition, I illustrate, is both an outcome of a long process, and a method to keep the (transformation) process going. iii Preface This dissertation is an original intellectual product of the author, Tal Nitsán. The fieldwork reported in chapters 1 was approved by the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board: Certificate number H08-01959; Principal Investigator: Dr. Bruce Granville Miller. iv Table of Contents Abstract ..................................................................................................................................... ii Preface...................................................................................................................................... iii Table of Contents ..................................................................................................................... iv List of Figures ......................................................................................................................... vii List of Abbreviations .............................................................................................................. vii Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................. xii Dedication .............................................................................................................................. xiii Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 1 Just Rights(?) ............................................................................................................ 8 When Women Became Human: Women’s Rights as Human Rights ..................... 14 GuateMala, GuateBuena ......................................................................................... 25 Left, Right(s), and other Directions ........................................................................ 36 Chapter 1: Moving Fieldwork ................................................................................................. 40 Timelines................................................................................................................. 45 Space(s) ................................................................................................................... 47 Acquaintance(s) ...................................................................................................... 54 The Women-Beings .......................................................................................................... 55 The Organizations ............................................................................................................ 56 And … The Uninvited Girl .............................................................................................. 62 Methods................................................................................................................... 70 The Observed Participant: Fly’s-Eye View(s) ........................................................ 82 (Desde) La Vista de Una Mosca ...................................................................................... 82 Fly.com ............................................................................................................................ 84 “La Aquella Famosa” (foto, no mosca) ........................................................................... 87 Chapter 2: From Left to Rights ............................................................................................... 92 Guatemalans' State(s) of Violence: An Introduction to Violence and Struggles .. 104 Women in Action, State (in)Actions ..................................................................... 119 v Back to (the) Present(e) ........................................................................................ 134 Chapter 3: Alcémonos / Let Us Rise Up ............................................................................... 140 Spaces of Transformation and Hope ..................................................................... 143 Public Transformation .......................................................................................... 147 Mujeres al Aire ..................................................................................................... 155 We Are Witches .................................................................................................... 162 Alcémonos/ Let Us Rise Up: A Grounded Utopia ................................................ 171 The Right for Wings ............................................................................................. 175 Chapter 4: Herstories of Violence......................................................................................... 178 Practicing Hope ..................................................................................................... 182 Building Walls Against Violence. ........................................................................ 187 Let Us Present: Voces de Mujeres ........................................................................ 197 Making Space for Moving HERstories ................................................................. 208 Whose Story? ........................................................................................................ 217 Chapter 5: Make It Right ...................................................................................................... 219 (Feminist) Popular Education ............................................................................... 223 In Search of (in)Formation.................................................................................... 226 Derechos Humanos de las Humanas ..................................................................... 230 “Experienced” Knowledge .................................................................................... 234 Doing (Popular) Education ................................................................................... 245 Becoming a Collective of Women-Beings ........................................................... 252 Women-Beings. porque no es una sola. ................................................................ 256 Chapter 6: Presenting the Present(e): Guatemalan Feminists' Anti Violence Performances................................................................................................................................................ 260 Radical (Antiviolence) Street Performances ......................................................... 262 Presenting Utopia .................................................................................................. 266 vi Femicide and the Crime Scenes of Inaction .................................................................. 267 Sobrevivi estoy aqui estoy viva: Present(ing) the Past. ................................................. 275 Aquellare: Spelling out HIV+........................................................................................ 282 Ni en la calle, ni en la cama: Intimate Violence in Public ............................................. 287 From Plaza to Plasma............................................................................................ 290 Show Time: Carnival or Dress Rehearsal? ........................................................... 295 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................... 297 Bibliography ......................................................................................................................... 307 Appendix 1: Time Line ......................................................................................................... 325 Appendix 2: Women’s Organizations ................................................................................... 328 Appendix 3: Interviews ......................................................................................................... 331 Appendix 4: Documents ....................................................................................................... 333 Comunicado (Press Release) Coordinadora 25 de Noviembre ............................. 333 Somos Brujas /We are witches ............................................................................. 336 Alcémonos (Let us rise up) / Hilda Morales Trjillo .............................................. 337 vii List of Figures Figure 1: Getting ready to move, November 25, 2011. ........................................................................................ 63 Figure 2: Vigilia, November 24, 2009. ................................................................................................................. 83 Figure 3: Aquellare, Dec 1, 2010. ........................................................................................................................ 85 Figure 4: March, November 25, 2011. ................................................................................................................. 89 Figure 5: Isabella Cruz sets a square within the square while other activists are entering Plaza Mayor, marching along the Metropolitan Cathedral on their way to the National Palace. ............................................. 94 Figure 6: A square within the square: in the center, archival pictures of past demonstrations, in the background the fountain and Portal del Comercio. ................................................................................................................. 94 Figure 7: Archival pictures of past demonstrations (left), a giant effigy of Indigenous woman (right), and Archival pictures of local protagonists, the National Palace in the background (below). ................................... 95 Figure 8: Sandra Moran’s closing speech. ........................................................................................................ 102 Figure 9: March Route and Schedule ................................................................................................................. 103 Figure 10: Entering Plaza Mayor, the National Palace on the left (above), and the “We Demand” sign at the entrance of the Palace (below). ......................................................................................................................... 136 Figure 11: Gathering for the third political act at the entrance to the National Palace, by the metal plaque that marks kilometer 0, Guatemala’s geographic center. (The “We Demand” sign in the center). .......................... 137 Figure 12: Back to the improvised plaza: We demand! ..................................................................................... 138 Figure 13: A Flock of Butterflies. ....................................................................................................................... 159 Figure 14: MuJER's Butterfly. ............................................................................................................................ 160 Figure 15: A Party of Witches. ........................................................................................................................... 164 Figure 16: The Vigilia's flowers at Tierra Viva’s inner patio. ........................................................................... 188 Figure 17: Tierra Viva, 6:30, Initial preparation. The sign reads: “Stop Femicide.” ....................................... 189 Figure 18: Pre-made martials to be mounted on the trucks. .............................................................................. 190 Figure 19: Tierra Viva Presents: A Mobile Graveyard. (Continues in the next page). ...................................... 191 Figure 20: Tierra Viva Presents: A Mobile Graveyard...................................................................................... 192 Figure 21: “Women are Done Waiting. We Stop Violence Against Women and HIV NOW.” ........................... 194 Figure 22: Placing demands, Coordinadora 25 de Noviembre. ........................................................................ 195 Figure 23: The Coordinadora 25 de Noviembre presents. ................................................................................. 196 Figure 24:8:30, Human Rights Plaza, in front of the Supreme Court. ............................................................... 198 Figure 25: AMES: No Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health is also Violence Against Women. ............... 199 Figure 26: ATRAHDOM with signs by Sector Mujer. ........................................................................................ 200 Figure 27: MPA’s cars call for Justice, Respect, No more Violence, and Access to Femidom. ......................... 201 Figure 28: “Rural Women in Struggle for Land. The Invisibility and Devaluation of Women’s Contribution is also Violence.” “Visible Women. No more Violence.” ...................................................................................... 202 Figure 29: “Exclusion is also Violence. We Demand Complete Rural Development that Includes Women. ..... 202 Figure 30: CODEFEM: I’m a woman! I’m a citizen! I’m important! I’m happy!” ........................................... 203 Figure 31: UNAMG “We are looking for JUSTICE for Women. We will not forget nor be silenced. ............... 204 Figure 32: Sector Mujer: .................................................................................................................................... 205 Figure 33: The Space of the Movement, Human Rights Plaza, 9:00am. ............................................................ 206 Figure 34: 10:00, Moving the “stories” to the streets. The marching crowd, headed by the Coordinadora’s truck, takes the road, and by distributing materials, expends to the sides. ........................................................ 209 Figure 35: The sign reads: “For the life of Indigenous Women, No More Machismo or Discrimination.” Below a vocera announces the comunicado, also read by passers-by. ......................................................................... 210 Figure 36: The Space of the Movement takes over the street, with some help from the youth. .......................... 211 Figure 37:Spaces of Im/mobilization. ................................................................................................................ 212 Figure 38: Taking over the Constitutional Plaza, from the Cathedral to the Palac, 12:00pm. ......................... 214 Figure 39: Youth-run activity at the Constitutional Plaza, 1:00pm. .................................................................. 215 viii Figure 40: The—almost empty—Constitutional Plaza, 3:00pm. ........................................................................ 217 Figure 41: UNAMG organizational and mission statement. .............................................................................. 229 Figure 42: UNAMG graduation certificate. ....................................................................................................... 229 Figure 43: UNAMG’s Chapter in Ciudad Peronia. ........................................................................................... 229 Figure 44: The workshop is presented as a stages performance, and “the cast”. Reprinted with kind permission ............................................................................................................................................................................ 233 Figure 45: Meeting by the communal Pila. Reprinted with kind permission. .................................................... 233 Figure 46: Doña Chayo learns the term “discrimination.” (Coalición 2008:26,34) Reprinted with kind permission) ......................................................................................................................................................... 239 Figure 47: Experienced and new knowledge at the “Inequalities” workshop. .................................................. 248 Figure 48: “We have to demand that our governments comply.” Reprinted with kind permission. .................. 254 Figure 49: “All women have a right to know that this law exists and that we can use it.” Reprinted with kind permission. ......................................................................................................................................................... 254 Figure 50:Doña Chayo wants to start a new women’s organization. (Coalición 2008:52) Reprinted with kind permission .......................................................................................................................................................... 255 Figure 51: Isabella in “her” plaza within a Plaza, November 25, 2011. .......................................................... 259 Figure 52: 9:30, Human Rights Plaza: "I was killed because I'm a woman." ................................................... 268 Figure 53: 11:00an, The Congress: “Legislation Light.” .................................................................................. 270 Figure 54: 12:00pm, ATRAHDOM “serves the state” with the movement’s demands at the entrance to the National Palace. ................................................................................................................................................. 272 Figure 55: Plaza Barrios. ................................................................................................................................... 277 Figure 56: Conjuring Spells to Dignify Life for Women Living with HIV. ......................................................... 284 Figure 57: Neither in the Street nor in the Bed. ................................................................................................. 288 Figure 58: Wrapping up the Space of the Movement. ........................................................................................ 302 ix List of Abbreviations AGMM Guatemalan Association of Women Doctors (Asociación Guatemalteca de Mujeres Médicas) AMES Association of Women in Solidarity (Asociación de Mujeres en Solidaridad). AMG Guatemala City metropolitan area (Área Metropolitana de Guatemala) ASC Assembly of Civil Society (Asamblea de la Sociedad Civil) ATRAHDOM Association of Domestic and Maquila Workers (Asociacion de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila) Belém do Pará Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women. CalDH Center for Human Rights Legal Action (Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos) CCPM Women’s Civic Political Convergence (Convergencia Cívico Política de Mujeres) CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. CEH Historical Clarification Commission (Comision para al Esclarecimiento Historico) CERIGUA Center for Informative Reports About Guatemala (Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala) CGRS The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. CICAM Center for Women’s Research, Training and Support (Centro de Investigación, Capacitación y Apoyo a la Mujer) CIM Inter-American Commission of Women CODEFEM Collective for the Defense of Women’s Rights in Guatemala.(Colectiva para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres en Guatemala) CONAPREVI National Coordinator for the Prevention and Eradication of Interfamilial Violence and Violence against Women. (Coordinadora Nacional para prevenir y erradicar la violencia intrafamiliar y en contra la mujer) x CONAVIGUA National Coordinating Committee of Guatemalan Widows (Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala. CUC Peasant Unity Committee (Comité de Unidad Campesina) DEMI The Protectorate of Indigenous Women (Defensoria de la Mujer Indigena). ECAP Team of Community Studies and Psychosocial Action (Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial) EGP Guerrilla Army of the Poor (Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres) FAR Rebel Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes) FLACSO Latin American Faculty for Social Science (La Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales)’ GAM Mutual Support Group for Families of the Disappeared.(Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo) GGM Guatemalan Women’s Group (Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres) IACHR Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ICCPG Institute of Comparative Studies in Criminal Science Guatemala (Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala). IMF International Monetary Fund INACIF Guatemalan National Institute for Forensic Sciences (Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses de Guatemala) INE National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadística) INGUAT Guatemala’s Tourism Institute (Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo) MAIZ Broad Leftist Movement (Movimiento Amplio de Izquierda) MESECVI Mechanism to Follow-up on Implementation of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women. (El Mecanismo de Seguimiento de la Convención de Belém do Pará). MP Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministerio Publico) MPA HIV+ Women in Action (Mujeres Positivas in Accion) xi MuJER Women for Justice, Education, and Awareness (Mujeres por la Justicia, Educación, y el Reconocimiento) OAS Organization of American States OJ Judicial Body (Organismo Judicial) ORPA Revolutionary Organization of Armed People (Organización Revolucionario del Pueblo en Armas) PDH Human Rights Ombudsman (Procuradoria de Derechos Humanos) PGT Guatemalan Party of Labour (Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo) PLANOVI National Plan for the Prevention of Violence in the Family.( Plan Nacional de Prevención y Erradicación de la Violencia Intrafamiliar y contra las Mujeres) PNC National Civil Police (Policia Nacional Civil) RedNoVi No Violence Network (La Red de la no violencia) REMHI Recovery of Historical Memory (Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica). SEPREM Presidential Women’s Secretariat.(Secretaría Presidencial de la Mujer) SNU The United Nations System (El Sistema de las Naciones Unidas) UNAMG National Union of Guatemalan Women (Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas). UNDP United Nations Development Program (PNUD: Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo). UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women (now UNwomen) UNFPA United Nations Population Fund (Fondo de Población de las Naciones Unidas) URNG Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca) USAC University of San Carlos (The National University) VIF Interfamilial Violence (Violencia Intrafamiliar) WTO World Trade Organization xii Acknowledgements xiii Dedication ʩʩʡʱʥ ʩʺʥʡʱ ʬʹ ʭʸʫʦʬ ʹʣʷʥʮ ʤʩʦʥʬ ʭʤʸʡʠʥ ʤʷʡʸ-ʯʤʫʤ ʬ"ʦ ʥʩʥ ʭʩʸʮʰ ʬ"ʦ ʩʰʱʩʰ ʯʺ ʠ ʭʤʩʩʧ ʺʠʹʩʰ ʩʩʧ ʺʠ ʯʩʡʤʬʩʣʫ ʺʰʩʩʮʣʮ .ʯʩʡʤʬ ʩʬ ʺʸʦʥʲʹ ,ʭʩʡʥʨ ʭʩʩʧʬ ʬʣʡʺʹ ,ʯʩʮʩʰʡ ʸʺʱʠʬʥ In memory of my grandparents, Rivka and Avraham LuzyaHacohen Miryam and Yonatan Nisani whose life I imagine in order to understand mine. And for the life of Esther Benyamin, who helps me to understand. INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction We have to find new ways to connect with this world and this country; we have to disengage from this discourse of victims. We need to talk about violence, but not as victims, as political subjects and survivors. We need to recover happiness and hope. (Yolanda Aguilar) The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring a genuine change. (Audre Lorde 1983:108) Right /rīt/ Adjective Morally good, justified, or acceptable. Healthy, sane, competent. Noun That which is morally correct, just, or honorable. A legal, social, or moral principle of entitlement, as well as property ownership or privilege. A political view opposing change in a liberal direction and usually advocating maintenance of the established social, political, or economic order, sometimes by authoritarian means. Verb Restore to a normal or upright position. Exclamation Used to indicate one's agreement with a suggestion or to acknowledge a statement or order. Synonyms adjective. Correct – proper- just- true – fair- fit – straight noun. Justice – law – title verb. Straighten – redress – rectify – correct (Oxford English Dictionary) INTRODUCTION 2 From Left to Rights is an ethnographic study of a social movement mobilized in the new age of rights—Guatemalan women’s organizations’ campaign to eradicate violence against women. The campaign relies on and derives from women’s human rights discourse and the transnational feminist movement, yet it is a local manifestation of a search for justice, dignity and hope. The Guatemalan campaign to eradicate violence against women is directly related to Guatemalan socio-cultural structures of power and the manner in which they have been maintained through various forms of violence. Widespread general violence together with local meanings of gender (Merry 2009:3) affects the high prevalence of physical violence against women. However, the campaign not only addresses physical manifestations of violence, but also condemns “assaults on the personhood, dignity, sense of worth or value of the victim” (Scheper Hughes and Bourgois 2004:1). Much of the campaign therefore focuses on finding ways to re/establish women’s sense of worth and value on both individual and societal levels. Local forms of structural violence affect the everyday lives of Guatemalans yet remain invisible and normalized. Guatemalan women in general, and poor, Indigenous, and displaced women in particular, have limited access to basic services such as health and education. This inadequate access among marginalized populations results in high mortality levels. This structural violence is not only destructive, but is also a mechanism that reproduces this very inequality (Scheper Hughes and Bourgois 2004:1). Devalued individuals are more susceptible to different forms of abuse, as they lack means to resist. It is also socially justifiable to abuse them, and even rationalized as “needed” in order to maintain the INTRODUCTION 3 local structures of power. Institutionalizing women’s inferior social worth aggravates assaults on their personhood and self-value, at both individual and societal levels. Due to particular socio-cultural structures of power and local meanings of gender, much of the violence experienced by Guatemalan women—such as lack of access to information and methods of family planning, or to land rights—is legalized, thus considered “legitimate.” Such forms of violence, especially among marginalized populations, are destructive, as they generate health risks and further legitimate women’s devaluation, resulting in the reproduction of violence. These consequences are particularly apparent in periods of intensified violence—such as the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the first decade of the new millennium—when sexually abusing and killing poor, displaced, often indigenous women became socially permissible, justified, and even practiced by the state. While destructive and reproductive, structural violence also forces individual women and communities to fashion “safe” ways to exist in a reality of everyday violence. Therefore, an important aspect of the structural violence discussed above is that it generates new forms of social mobilizations meant to challenge the existing reality and suggest an alternative future. The campaign to eradicate violence against women is one such productive result. The main protagonists of this dissertation are Guatemalan women of diverse ethnicities, social classes, ages, and sexual orientations who have decided, for historic and strategic reasons, to use human rights discourse to advocate for the eradication of violence against women. Many of the women involved in this campaign, like Yolanda Aguilar, cited earlier, were previously involved with left-leaning socialist organizations struggling for INTRODUCTION 4 social justice in Guatemala during the Internal Armed Conflict (1960-1996).1 Like in other locations in Latin America, their struggle to advance social justice was deemed “subversive” by the state and was eliminated with the guidance and support of the United States, as part of its campaign to “promote freedom” (Carothers 1991, Immerman 1982). Aguilar, like many other activists, continued to promote social justice while in exile, and upon returning to Guatemala, began to advocate not only for social change, but also for new ways for seeking such change. In the post-conflict era I see three main changes in the modes of operation of left-wing women activists’, a transition I call from left to rights.2 First, the 1996 Peace Accords between the government and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG), which were heavily influenced by foreign policies, opened a greater space for political participation and facilitated the inclusion of new sectors of society, including women, in the national discourse. The fact that women were acknowledged as a sector with its own needs and demands during the peace negotiations facilitated the creation of women as political subjects. Namely, beyond their participation in left-leaning socialist organizations struggling for social justice, a space was now open for women’s participation through women-specific organizations, promoting women-specific agendas. Second, these newly established women’s organizations began to make demands of the state; i.e., their former revolutionary mode of operation was replaced with a civil sense of 1 Guatemala went through the most brutal wave of state terrorism in the western hemisphere in the late 20th century, which I address later in this introduction. Considering the extent of brutality, the term Internal Armed Conflict may seem technocratic, bureaucratic and also de-politicizing, however this is the term at use by women-activists, the Guatemalan state and much of the literature. As my research project is not focused specifically on the topic, I, with reservation, use the existing term. 2 The rights discourse was adopted by both left and right wing actors, yet this account focuses on the strategic use of the discourse by left wing activists. INTRODUCTION 5 being rights-worthy political subjects entitled to make demands of the state and aiming to promote reform through collaboration with the state. Similar to other social struggles taking place in Guatemala, the state became a site for struggle, not an enemy to crush (Nelson 1999:46). Third, these women’s organizations strategically chose transnational, neoliberal human rights discourse to articulate and represent their demands over the socialist discourse they had engaged with in earlier struggles. In this account I call the women who chose to assume the human rights discourse women-beings, emphasizing that one can be rights-worthy and a subject of rights while woman.3 Hhuman rights discourse is a powerful apparatus and by using it, the transnational feminist movement was able to considerably advance women’s rights globally and in Guatemala. At the same time, it invokes practical and ideological concerns. On the practical level, the fact that global pressures motivated states to abide by international legislation, policy, and institutions in favor of women’s rights does not guarantee their fulfillment on the ground. Once they are nationalized, laws are subjected to national legal discourses that often strip them of their original intention. Redressing them through different practices and methods then tends to fall onto the shoulders of civil society actors, as I address in length in this research project. On the ideological level, the women’s human rights agenda is a unifying discourse that collapses categories of women. Its emphasis on violence against women portrays all women as victims or potential victims; i.e., using it prevents a complex, multilayered 3 As women—as a social category—are legally discriminated against, this term comes to mark the radical notion of their demand to be considered fully, valuable human beings, i.e. it challenges the notion of woman as a second class individual, as well as the universal perception that equates human with man. The fact that spoken, it sounds similar, further emphasizes the slight different between woman-being and (hu)man-being. Here assume the position of women-beings, refers both to “assume identity,” and to the need to imagine this specific position. INTRODUCTION 6 discussion of violence experienced by different women. Again, civil society actors take it upon themselves to bring these particularities and complexities back into the conversation, as this project unfolds. The multiple layers of discourses and interests that this campaign brings together invite an array of tensions and contradictions. In this account I discuss how the women’s movement negotiates between particular and general dimensions of violence, between local and transnational dimensions of the women’s rights discourse, and lastly, how they maneuver between transforming their own consciousness and transforming societal policies and norms. I am not the first to address the Guatemalan women’s movement. In 2006, political scientist Susan Berger published her research about the history of the Guatemalan women's movement (1986-2003) and how it has responded to the forces of democratization and globalization. A more internal overview of the history of the movement (1975-2007) was published in 2010 by historian Ana Lorena Carrillo and sociologists Norma Stoltz Chinchilla, who previously published separately about the movement (Carrillo 1991, Chinchilla 1998). Collaboration between local activists and government agencies resulted in an edited volume about Guatemalan women in the 19th and 20th centuries, published in 2011 (La Cuerda and SEPREM 2011). Chronologically, my research is a continuation of these earlier projects. While I rely on these political and socio-historical accounts, my dissertation contributes a new perspective by examining the particular ways in which this movement organizes itself around transnational feminist and human rights discourses, and its potential effect on their search for justice, dignity and hope. INTRODUCTION 7 While many of the activities generated by these organizations can be seen as reformist, their premise—incorporating women in the national discourse—requires a reimagining of the nation, and as such, it is a revolutionary attempt. Hence, while activists of different Guatemalan women’s groups promote a women’s rights agenda, their efforts (intentionally or unintentionally) promote a new vision of a just society. Put differently, I claim that although the ideological framework (socialism) and mode of action (revolutionary) changed in the post-conflict, neoliberal era, Guatemalan women activists, using a new ideology—women’s human rights—and a new—reformist—mode of action, are working towards the same goal: social justice for Guatemalans. This doctoral thesis focuses on the actions of organized women in Guatemala. In order to better understand the strategic choice of Guatemalan women’s human rights platform and its challenges, it is important to first explore the circumstances and structures of power within which they operate and which they attempt to transform. In this chapter I first discuss human rights discourse and some of its strengths and critiques. Then I turn to women’s human rights agenda, which developed as a critical response and collaboration with human rights discourse. Subsequently, I look at the lived circumstances of many Guatemalans focusing on legacies of structural inequality and their violent reproduction. Having established the main structures that shape and are shaped by the Guatemalan campaign to eradicate violence against women, I turn back to women activists and the different modes of action they adopt to promote their cause. INTRODUCTION 8 Human rights discourse in general, and particularly women’s human rights discourse is central to this account, as so much of the movement’s activities draw on it. While popularly considered as an apolitical, neutral ideology (Habermas 1998, 2010), there is a growing body of literature that views the idea of “human rights” more critically (Abu-Lughod 2013, Bedi 2009; Benhabib 2011; Buonamano 2008; Douzinas 2000,2007; Goodale 2005, 2006). In order to consider the potential complexities this discourse may convey, I begin this account by looking at the origin and initial motivations of the idea of human rights, the ways in which it was developed, and its contemporary relation with the new, neoliberal, world order. Just Rights(?) The idea that every person is entitled to universal and egalitarian rights by virtue of being human began to evolve during the early modern period, in relation to the political philosophy of the Enlightenment and Liberalism. These rights were meant to protect the civil and political interests of Western-educated propertied men in the public sphere and were limited to the specific sector that advanced them (Bunch 1995:13).4 The development of these rights as international instrument has influenced—and was influenced by—different national liberation struggles, and in relation to slavery. The establishment of the Red Cross in 1864 and the early Geneva Conventions (1864, 1906, 1929) set the foundation for the development of International Humanitarian Law, an international system attempting to legally limit human suffering.5 4 This exclusion was often intentional and conscious. Olympe de Gouges (1748–1793), a French playwright and anti-slavery activist who challenged the Revolutionary government, and demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men, was executed by guillotine. 5 The International Humanitarian Law aims to regulate the conduct of armed conflict and protect non-combatants from violence. While it regulates relations between states, it legally establishes the need to view individuals of different nationalities as human, worthy of protection. INTRODUCTION 9 The main impetus for the age of rights, though, was the adoption of the charter of the United Nations in 1945, which made the protection of human rights one of the main stated aims of the organization. Three years later, the UN general assembly passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a non-binding proclamation of minimum standards of treatment of citizens by their state authorities. This paved the way for hundreds of human rights conventions, treaties, declarations and agreements that have been negotiated and adopted by the United Nations, regional bodies, and states. The suggested universal set of substantive rights was based on Western liberal values and ignored the richness of diversity in moral systems. Hence, the declaration, intended to protect the powerless from different forms of totalitarianism, reflected an imposition of Western moral values on less powerful groups of people whose patterns of behaviour were misunderstood and reviled by Western elites (Goodale 2006:486). However, while initially limited, the universal premise of human rights encouraged more people to claim them, and thus expanded the meaning of “rights” to incorporate a wider range of needs (Bunch 1995:13). Consequently, from the initial “first generation” civil and political rights associated with liberalism, human rights were diversified into “second generation” economic, social, and cultural rights associated with the socialist tradition. Finally, the “third generation” emphasized group and national sovereignty rights, associated with the decolonization process (Cmiel 2004, Goodale 2006). The development of the human rights concept, together with its duality as a legal category and a moral claim, helped portray human right discourses as neutral, apolitical ideology (Douzinas 2007, Habermas 1998, 2010). It is thus important to carefully examine the motivations for the discourses’development. According to Costas Douzinas (2007), at the INTRODUCTION 10 end of World War II, the new superpowers’ commitment to morality and the defense of rights served their need to legitimate their new world order. The US promoted civil rights and political rights and castigated the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) for their violations. 6 The USSR viewed economic and social rights as superior because matters of survival and decent conditions of life are more important than formal liberties.7 Consequently, the ideological battles of the cold war were fought over human rights (2007:190) or, essentially, about what is the right (just) ideology. Human rights, thus, is a moralistic ideology conceived and nurtured through ideological struggle. As such, it is founded on inherent contradictions. While established as a higher law, meant to protect individuals from the punitive expression of their own governments, this commitment was accompanied by the principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, which protected the victorious states from criticism about their own violations (Douzinas 2007).8 “Rights” are inevitably in conflict with other rights or with the rights of others. Their interpretation and application determine their meaning and effects (Douzinas 2007:188-9). The emphasis on values enables ambiguity and flexibility that allows rights to be widened or narrowed, given the current priorities of those who invoke them. This ambiguity allowed the US, as part of its struggle to defend principles of formal liberties, to support some of the most oppressive regimes in the world, and to generate and fund various campaigns meant to 6 Civil and political rights include the right to life, the right to join a political party, the right to vote, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association. Economic, social and cultural rights include the rights to adequate food, to adequate housing, to education, to health, to social security, to take part in cultural life, to water and sanitation, and to work (UN Office of The High Commissioner of Human Rights, OHCHR). 7 The situation on ground, of course, was more complicated; the Soviets, for instance, delighted in pointing out how little the US lived up to (civil and political) rights claim when it came to African Americans. 8 Douzinas explains that: “Weak implementation mechanisms ensure that the shield of national sovereignty is not seriously pierced, unless the interest of the great powers dictates otherwise” (2007:25). INTRODUCTION 11 eliminate “subversive” social agendas that favored economic and social rights (Rabe 2012, Roniger & Sznajder 1999). The collapse of communism not only marked the victory of the principle of market capitalism, but also signaled the victory of the formal liberties version of human rights. Human rights became “the ideology after ‘the end of ideologies,’ the only value left in a valueless world” (Douzinas 2007:177). Moral, universal, and to a certain extent legally binding, human rights became the only set of values, accepted by all.9 They became the way people speak about the world and their aspirations and the expression of what is universally good in life (Cmiel 2004:126). Human rights have become “ingrained in the new world order, their claims adopted, absorbed and reflexively insured against challenge” (Douzinas 2007:33). This conviction allowed the US, as part of “the Responsibility to Protect” doctrine to justify (military) interventions as means to address circumstances—such as the lived experiences of many Muslim women—interpreted and propagated as human rights violations (Abu-Lughod 2013, Bumiller 2008:136). While arguably well on the way to becoming the constitution of the new world order (Kennedy 2004:169-170), human rights became the vanguard in the global consolidation and naturalization of the (neo)liberal world order (Goodale 2006:498). According to David Harvey, “Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices” (Harvey 2005:2, 2007:22). As the core meaning of freedom was economic—the freedom to buy and sell goods, capital, land and 9 Some ideologically identify with this ‘victorious version’ of human rights; others strategically accepted it. INTRODUCTION 12 labor (Harvey 2007:24)10—and since trade was seen as a means of liberation, its imposition on others (even by force) did not seem to undermine its original premise (Douzinas 2007:185).11 Consequently, new global legal rules were created to regulate the world neoliberal economy, including rules on investment, trade, aid and intellectual property. Broadly speaking, these rules were an attempt to redefine states and citizenship to better suit global free trade. States that wish to benefit from foreign investment or financial aid have been required to open themselves up to the interference of international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to foreign countries like the United States.12 These requirements routinely impose privatization, deregulation policies, market economics and conformity to human rights discourse. The impositions of neo-liberal economic politics, claims Anne Orford, “constrain the ability of peoples or their representatives to make decisions about wage levels for workers, education policy, health policy, social security provision of services, constitutional reform, levels of unemployment, and federal/state relations within federations” (1997:465). Accordingly, states become “disinterested administrators or technical managers facilitating free movement of capital, products, and labor,” while the citizens must become (neo) citizens: “individualistic, self-sufficient, and self-motivated, and thus no longer need the state’s safety net” (Berger 2006:4). 10 David Harvey claims that individual liberty and freedom were situated as sacred and central human values by the founding figures of neoliberal thought (Harvey 2007:24). 11 Some nations were ‘liberated’ through military campaigns meant to incorporate them in the ‘free world,’ others were economically pressured to participate in the ‘free’ market. 12 This practice was established in the mid-1970s, when the US Congress passed legislation linking foreign aid to human rights performance (Cmiel 1999:1235). INTRODUCTION 13 Further, formally adopting new (human rights related) legislation is a relatively simple way for a state to show that it is in the process of reshaping its relationship with civil society. Thus, it is not surprising that many countries emerging into the new neoliberal order adopted international human rights legal instruments (Comaroff 2006:4). However, Oona Hathway claims not only that most citizens of these countries do not benefit from the imposed neoliberal socio-economic policies, but also that the ratification of human rights treaties did not improve living conditions in target countries and further increased violations (2002:1935). Ironically, although directly related to the formal liberties agenda, this view of human rights removes the citizen aspect of the human as it disengages the human-citizen from the state. First, states are required to limit or privatize social services and utilities, minimizing state accountability to the wellbeing of their citizens, leaving them more vulnerable to poverty and related social illnesses. The needs of these individuals are now met by civil society agents—individuals and organizations—funded by external funds. Second, states are less autonomous to set their own moral norms, or as Douzinas puts it, “sovereignty and human rights are presented as a zero sum game,” and “sovereignty bends the knees before morality” (2007:178). Consequently, citizens become humans who are subjects of the global legal system. The global system introduces a range of international organizations and mechanisms where humans can run their grievances on the international (instead of the municipal/ provincial, national) level, based on the new global norms and legislations. At the same time, many humans lack the knowledge and resources to do so and frequently international mechanisms cannot interfere with the situation on ground. INTRODUCTION 14 Turning citizens into humans was meant to protect individuals from their governments. However, it also prevents people from running their lives in relation to their own cultural views and needs, relieves government from the responsibility to nurture their “humans,” and prevents them from protecting these humans from destructive external interventions done in the name of “democracy,” “development” and “free market.” In this section I highlighted some of the complexities of a discourse popularly viewed as neutral and apolitical, as the expression of what is universally good in life (Douzinas 2007), and as a means to facilitate social justice. However, examining the origin and initial motivations of human rights discourse, the ways in which it developed, and its contemporary relation with the new neoliberal world order, helps us question this popular view, and invites us to ask whether it is a just (fair) discourse and whether this discourse is just (only) about rights. The just (moral) representation of the human rights discourse and its largely secured status as such, is an important aspect of this study. Women’s human rights agenda, a particular development of this discourse, which relies on its authority and resources, is central for the Guatemalan campaign to eradicate violence against women and thus discussed broadly in the next section. When Women Became Human: Women’s Rights as Human Rights In the previous section I explored the international human rights discourse as a powerful apparatus that greatly affects inter/national politics and some of its critiques. While a central point of critique is in relation to the discourse’s claim to universality, this very premise encouraged more people to claim them, and thus to expand the discourse. Women’s human rights agenda is such an endeavour. On the one hand, it challenges the discourse’s INTRODUCTION 15 original understanding of “human” by indicating that some humans have different needs than the ones originally declared as universal. On the other hand, acknowledging human rights’ dominant role, feminist scholars and activists advocate incorporating some of these additional needs within the discourse. The fundamental tension between critique and incorporation is inherent to women’s human rights agenda and the source of many of the challenges to its implementation discussed in this account. In this section I will look at the development of women’s human rights discourse, its accomplishments and limitations. The 1975 UN Conference on Women in Mexico City marked the International Women’s Year that started the UN Decade for Women, and was a massive global consciousness-raising moment. The conference brought many women, both as governmental delegates and as civil society, into the orbit of the UN for the first time; and introduced activists to the potential of pursuing their interests through the UN, at a time when there were few international venues for women’s rights (Bunch 2012:214). The following UN Decade for Women, claims Elisabeth Friedman, placed women on the international intergovernmental agenda and facilitated women’s cooperation. Many women participated in the official delegations at the General Assembly at the three meetings of the Decade. More important was their participation in nongovernmental organizations forums that accompanied each official meeting, in which women from different countries met and were able to exchange strategies and develop ongoing working relationships (1995:23). One of the most effective tools for promoting women’s equality that came out of the decade was the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW, often described as an international bill of rights for women, was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly. It established discrimination as the root INTRODUCTION 16 of gender-based violence (Bumiller 2008:134), defined what constitutes discrimination against women and set up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.13 Compliance with CEDAW is monitored by the UN by submission of national reports, but successful implementation depends on national (NGOs) and international (human rights community) pressures (Bumiller 2008:134). The second World Conference on women in 1980 took place in Copenhagen, and was overwhelmed by North-South debate over “what are women’s issues;” polarized between a predominantly “Western” tendency to single out a limited gendered specific list of women’s issues and a more “Southern” approach that saw “all issues” as “women’s issues” (Bunch 2012:215). Acknowledging that for many women who lack access to water, food or shelter, talking feminism made no sense, feminists began to build tools to bridge this divide. They recognized that gender must also be analyzed in relation to other factors such as nationality, race, class, age, and sexual orientation in order to discern the multiple forms of human rights abuses that women suffer (Bunch 1995:12), and attempted to explain these abuses from a feminist political perspective or even in terms of how they specifically affected women (Bunch 2012:216). Since 1981 Latin American feminist activists have been organizing as a regional women’s movement, especially around the issue of violence against women. The day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, was declared in the first Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentro (Encounters) in Bogota, Colombia that year. Since then, every three years, feminists throughout the region have been meeting in broad-based, massively 13 The 1979 CEDAW does not mention violence against women, but the CEDAW monitoring committee formulated a wider definition that included Gender-based violence as a form of discrimination in 1992 (Merry 2009:78). INTRODUCTION 17 attended, loosely themed gatherings to offer a plethora of workshops, exhibits, activities, plenary sessions, and maybe most importantly, possibilities for free exchange and dialogue (Alvarez et al. 2003). Overall, claim Alvarez et al., the encuentros have served as critical transnational sites in which local activists have refashioned and renegotiated identities, discourses, and practices distinctive of the region’s feminisms (Alvarez et al. 2003:537). The Nairobi World Conference on Women in 1985 was particularly important for global feminism as it was the place where it became clear that the movement indeed was global (Bunch 2012:217). By 1985, women activists of local groups and international organizations were sharing information across regions and gaining exposure to the human rights framework, establishing the groundwork for the women’s human rights movement. Their work was further advanced using different human rights mechanisms such as international treaties, legislation, and networks. For instance, groups in many countries established international networks to promote and monitor CEDAW. Searching for mechanisms to hold their governments accountable for abusive patterns, women in specific countries began documenting abuses, using this as a resource to convince human-rights policymakers of the need to create a gender-sensitive human rights policy (Friedman 1995:24-27). The growing practice of women activists’ use of human rights law clarified the extent to which women were excluded from international human rights norms and the potential for using these norms to advance women’s rights. The main impetus for the age of Women’s rights took place in 1990, when Charlotte Bunch called to transform human rights from a feminist perspective: to understand women’s rights abuses as human rights abuses and women’s rights as human rights (Bunch 1990). Human rights, she noted, were originally defined in terms of the needs of the limited sector INTRODUCTION 18 of the population who first articulated them—Western, educated, propertied men—who most feared the violation of their civil and political rights in the public sphere. They did not fear, however, violations in the private sphere of the home, because they were the masters of that territory (Bunch 1995:13). Consequently, the dominant definition of human rights and the mechanisms to enforce them in the world, she claimed, are narrowly defined as a matter of state violation of civil and political liberties, and as such tend to exclude much of women’s (and that of many non-elite men's) experiences. However, most women, and many men, endure daily violations that are not so narrowly confined, but are part of a larger socio economic and cultural web that entrap women, making them vulnerable to abuses that cannot be delineated as exclusively political or solely caused by states (Bunch 1990:488, 1995:13). Bunch suggests that when human rights mechanisms (such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights) are read from the perspective of women’s lives, many violations of women’s rights such as rape and battery can be interpreted as forbidden under existing clauses such as “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Since women and non-elite men were not well represented in human rights discourse, little elaboration of these rights was made from their point of view, and therefore we have no significant body of international human rights law and practice in this area (Bunch 1995:13). The distinction between public and private, she explains, is largely used to justify female subordination and to exclude human rights abuses in the home from public inquiry (1995:14); the physical territory of this political struggle is women’s bodies (1995:15), and the most dangerous place for women, a frequent site of cruelty and torture, is home (1990:490). Focusing on violence against women’s bodies, often perpetrated by “non-state INTRODUCTION 19 actors,” Bunch claims, “illustrates the limited concept of human rights and highlights the political nature of the abuse of women” (1990:490). The importance of control over women can be seen in the intensity of resistance to laws and social changes that put control of women’s bodies in women’s hands: reproductive rights; freedom of sexuality, laws that criminalize rape in marriage; and so on.14 Abusing women physically maintains this territorial domination and is sometimes accompanied by other forms of human rights abuse such as slavery (forced prostitution), sexual terrorism (rape), or imprisonment (confinement to the home). “Private” violations, such as confinement, limit women’s access to their “public,” civil rights (Bunch 1995:14-15). Further, much of the exclusion and abuse women experience is related to cultural practices (Peter & Walper 1995:5). Contesting such violations in local communities can be seen as a threat to critical aspects of the social order, and is thus dismissed or provokes hostility. Hence allies across national borders and human rights discourses are essential to promote women’s demands (Friedman 2003:316). Finally, Bunch claimed, sometimes women suffer similar political abuses to those inflicted on men. Yet most women’s experiences of human rights violations are gendered, and many forms of discriminations or abuse occur because the victim is female. Women whose rights are being violated for reasons other than gender often also experience particular forms of abuse based on gender, such as sexual assault (Bunch 1995:12). Bunch’s call reflected and reinforced the emerging global feminist discourse, placing violence against women (and women’s bodies) as the touchstone of their struggle to develop new discourse and mechanism pertaining to Women’s Human Rights. Consequently, in the 14 Such resistance is not limited to developing countries. The US, for instance signed, but failed to ratify CEDAW due to conservative opposition (Bumiller 2008:134). INTRODUCTION 20 1990s women emerged as a global force and were able to bring gendered perspectives to the UN agenda through regional campaigns and caucuses at UN World Conferences that were not specifically about “women.” A global campaign for women’s human rights started in 1991. As part of the campaign’s strategies, women’s rights activists began commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, through localized actions that called attention to violence against women as a human rights issue. The campaign takes place during the sixteen days that link November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, with December 10, Human Rights Day, noticeably connecting violence against women and human rights (Friedman 1995:27-28). In addition to participating in the 16 Days campaign, more women participated in regional human rights’ meeting, hearings and forums. They also increased their representation in UN formal forums through participation in “satellite meetings,” that could actually generate reports, to be included in the UN official documentation (1995:29). Consequently, the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, adopted by consensus at the 1993 UN World Conference on Human Rights, declares (paragraph 18) that women’s rights are “an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.” The declaration, though important, did not ensure compliance with its recommendations. The next move was promoted by two regional actors, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). Collaborating with (Latin American) civil society organizations they were inspired to create the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence INTRODUCTION 21 against Women (Belém do Pará).15 The convention was adopted in 1994 by the General Assembly. It defines violence against women as “Any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere.” Following the Vienna Declaration, it views violence against women as “A violation of their human rights, an offense against human dignity and a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between women and men.” The Convention of Belém do Pará, unlike any other international law, is legally binding (“hard” law); If ratified by a state, it prescribes action that states must take, which makes it an unrivaled regional institutionalization of feminist norms (Friedman 2009:362).16 In the same year, the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development’s Program of Action redefined Reproductive Rights as a set of rights meant to enable individuals to exercise control over their sexual and reproductive lives. Further, it set reproductive rights and health of individuals as governments’ responsibility rather than demographic targets. One of its primary stated goals was to make reproductive and sexual health services, including family planning, universally available by 2015, as part of a broadened approach to reproductive health and rights.17 15 While the Convention of Belém do Pará aims to Prevent, Punish, and Eradication Violence Against Women, November 25 was set as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the UN campaign calls to “End Violence Against Women.” Naturally, activists use all three concepts and in this account I maintain the original use, as communicated to me. 16 The US and Canada, both OAS members, did not sign/ ratify the Convention of Belém do Pará. 17 Including: Family-planning counseling, pre-natal care, safe delivery and post-natal care, prevention and appropriate treatment of infertility, prevention of abortion and the management of the consequences of abortion, treatment of reproductive tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases and other reproductive health conditions; and education, counseling, as appropriate, on human sexuality, reproductive health and responsible parenthood. Services regarding HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, infertility, and delivery should be made available, As well as active discouragement of female genital mutilation (FGM). Additional, though related, goals were reducing infant, child, and maternal mortality, as well as providing universal primary education, with a specific urge to countries to provide women a wider access to education. INTRODUCTION 22 In the following year (1995) the Fourth UN World Conference on women in Beijing consolidated the women’s global movement gains on the UN agenda. Meant to accelerate the implementation of previous accomplishments, such as CEDAW, the Vienna declaration that women’s rights are human rights and the Cairo focus on reproductive rights, Beijing’s action platform is an agenda for women’s empowerment in relation to women’s human rights. It aims to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all women throughout their life cycle, in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making. It states that equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace.18 There have been no more UN world conferences on women since Beijing, but the Commission on the Status of Women has conducted three well-attended reviews on implementation of the Beijing Platform—in 2000, 2005, and 2010. These events have reaffirmed the Platform and added to it in areas, such as HIV/AIDS, but they are less bold in spirit and reflect the impact that more conservative forces have had on governments’ attitudes toward women’s issues, especially in areas like sexual and reproductive rights (Bunch 2012:219). Claiming a space for women within human rights discourse, feminists were able to articulate a dramatic expansion of human rights. The UN Conferences set the stage for the 18 The platform stated twelve critical areas of concern: Women and Poverty, Education and Training of Women, Women and Health, Violence against Women, Women and Armed Conflict, Women and the Economy, Women in Power and Decision-making, Institutional Mechanism for the Advancement of Women, Human Rights of Women, Women and the Media, Women and the Environment, The Girl-child; and suggested strategic objectives and actions. INTRODUCTION 23 institutionalization of new key concepts grounded in feminist ideas as well as for their incorporation into human rights’ language, and for a wave of feminist policymaking around the globe. It called attention for the effects of different forms of violence on women’s lives and set in place methodologies for protecting women from violence (Bumiller 2008:1, 134). Once feminist ideas were established as part of human rights norms, many Latin American countries, pressured by neoliberal economic politics, signed and ratified these conventions. In accordance, signing countries adopted relevant domestic legislation. At first glance, it seems that the expansion of the discourse generated a large scale commitment to stop violence against women. A closer look, though, reveals a more complicated situation. Being pressured to adopt international legislation and policies in favor of women’s rights does not guarantee their fulfillment on the ground. Further, often there are gaps between women’s human rights discourse and its translation into national policies. Elisabeth Friedman (2009) suggests a three-phase analysis of the process(es): first, establishing feminist ideas as international norms, second, adopting these norms through national legislation (following various pressures), and third, the local implementation of these policies, frequently subjected to additional global pressures and mechanisms, together with local advocacy and activism. In addition to the practical gap between the new international norms and their local adoption and implementation discussed by Friedman, women’s groups committed to the new women’s rights discourse had to deal with additional ideological concerns. The first concern relates to the notion that the legal discourse that politicised the demands of millions of women and changed the way violence against women is now understood, overshadows the fact that the violence that many women experience is often shaped by other dimensions of INTRODUCTION 24 their identities such as race, ethnicity, religion, class, and sexual orientation (Crenshaw 1991:1241-2). Patricia Hill Collins further indicates that cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society, mediated by and produced through overlapping articulations of power and historical legacies (2000: 42). Hence the legal discourse that the women’s human rights agenda relies on emphasizes a communality of women’s experiences and erases the relevance of diversity. The second concern focuses on the discourse’s tendency to depict women as thoroughly victimized—as abject, passive, incapable of exercising any will or agency. According to Sally Engel Merry, vulnerability is central to human rights interventions in general. In order to elicit help, individuals need to be represented by others, and constructed as victims, i.e. helpless, powerless, unable to make choices for themselves, and forced to endure forms of pain and suffering (Merry 2007:195). As “victims” are represented in ways that are appealing to funders and to governments, this image of vulnerability fails to capture the agency and initiative of those who endure violations (Merry 2007:202). More particularly, women’s rights discourse focuses on violence (mostly physical and sexual) and portrays all women as already victimized (or potential victims) and subjected to sustained violence. Focusing attention on the victimisation of women reinforces stereotypical assumptions about women’s dependency. As such, the women human rights agenda provides little possibility for agency or the articulation of sexuality or sexual desire in terms that are more affirming and positive. These major concerns reflect the inherent contradictions and tensions fundamental to women’s human rights agenda and the fact that the transnational movement, by adopting the discourse accepted several problematic assumptions. On the ground, feminist activists all INTRODUCTION 25 over the world are struggling to advance and implement a discourse that does not challenge and at times reinforces some of their main concerns, such as the patriarchal order. These circumstances further complicate their endeavour to promote the women’s rights agenda. At the same time, their persistent efforts to do so demonstrate that—at least for now—the women’ rights agenda might be their best option to secure a better living reality for women all around the globe. The Guatemalan campaign to eradicate violence against women is one such an endeavour, further subjected to particular local circumstances. In this account I discuss how the Guatemalan women’s movement negotiates between recognizing differences and working together through this recognition, between the need to express their complicated life realities and the struggle to maintain and further develop their agency, between local and transnational dimensions of the discourse, and lastly, between transforming their own consciousness and transforming societal policies and norms. In order to discuss the local struggle to implement the transnational women human rights discourse, it is important to look at the ways Guatemala has been formed and shaped by and in response to external ideological interventions through history. As this research project is situated in the era of rights, in the next section I begin to explore the ways in which the neoliberal world order and human rights discourse shape the contemporary Guatemalan reality. GuateMala, GuateBuena “Guatemala,” is a distortion of the Nahuatl word Cuauhtēmallān, “place of many trees,” the name that was given to this territory by the Tlaxcaltecan soldiers who accompanied Pedro de Alvarado during the Spanish Conquest (1519). The country’s name, INTRODUCTION 26 thus, maintains the violent legacy of colonial conquest as a fundamental experience in the forming of the Republic, almost two-hundred years after its independence. In Spanish, the language of the conqueror, and the main language spoken today, Mala means bad while Buena means good, and Guate is used to distinguish Guatemala City, the capital, from Guatemala C.A., the state. GuateMala/GuateBuena is thus a common word-play to convey the multifaceted nature of the country and the city. The contemporary Republic of Guatemala is a representative democracy with an estimated population of 15,137,600 (UNDP 2013). It is located “in the heart of the Americas,” and advertises itself as “a country of extraordinary natural beauty with glorious weather and beautiful landscapes formed by green mountains and rivers that emerge between volcanoes, magical lakes, and extensive semi-tropical jungles, framed by calm Caribbean white-sand shores and wavy Pacific shores” (Guatemala’s Tourism Institute-INGUAT). Its abundant natural resources of minerals, rare woods, and hydropower together with its agricultural production (coffee, cacao, sugarcane, bananas, beans) reflects the rich diversity of the population, represented by 24 officially recognized Amerindian languages (in addition to Spanish). Its vast cultural diversity and history are evidenced by the archaeological remains of glorious Mayan cities, together with colonial towns, contemporary rural Indigenous communities, and the modernity of the capital city. Self-defined as “multicultural and multiethnic” (INGUAT), Guatemala’s ethnic categories reflect centuries of population movements and power relations. The basic categories of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people are complex and contested—the percentage of Guatemalans who are identified or identify themselves as Indigenous depends INTRODUCTION 27 on who is counting and ranges from 40 to 80 percent of the population (Nelson 2009:327).19 Ladino, the category to refer to Non-Indigenous people, implies mixed-race individuals yet, for centuries it was a culturally-based category, referring to urban, professional, Spanish-speaking individuals. The Indigenous population includes 22 Maya and two non-Maya groups, who often self-identify in relation to their village or ethno-linguistic group. The terms Maya or Indigenous emerged into the local discourse only since the mid-1980s, and are less common for self-identification. In Guatemala, these categorical identifications, claims anthropologist Diane Nelson, are always relational, and produced through constant repetitions in sites of power (such as law, schooling) that themselves are historically over determined, and through unconscious investments and resistance (1999:5). While the nature of these identifications is never fixed, the changes are more apparent in critical historical moments of re/construction such as the Spanish Conquest, National Independence, the Internal Armed Conflict and the Post Conflict period. As these identifications are relational, a shift in one modifies the others. Guatemala is a rich country with rich, but mostly poor, people. While it is the biggest economy in Central America, Guatemala is among the Latin American countries with the highest levels of inequality, with poverty indicators—especially in rural and Indigenous areas—among the highest in the region (World Bank 2009).20 The unequal distribution of land (UNDP 2004) formed through the colonial period and further developed with the liberal reforms of the 19th century (McCreery 1990:106) resulted in inequalities in education, 19 While most Guatemalanist scholars claim that the majority of the Guatemala population is Indigenous (60%, 75%, 80%), all the official statistics I’ve seen since 2000 (INE, UNDP) indicate the opposite (at least 60% Non-Indigenous). 20 According to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 2007 Human Development Report, within Latin America, Guatemala ranks among the lowest four positions (with Bolivia, Haiti and Guyana) for the overall Human Development Index, Infant Mortality rate, Under-five mortality rate, Maternal Mortality rate, Adult Illiteracy and Net Secondary Enrollment rates. INTRODUCTION 28 literacy, and income. Most of Guatemala’s population (54%) lives in poverty, out of which 13% live in extreme poverty (INE 2011).21 These official indicators of structural inequality encode history and legacies of injustices, abuses, and the powers used to maintain them. While excessive powers were invested in maintaining these multilayered structural inequalities, they have been constantly resisted. At times, against impossible odds, these “everyday forms of resistance” (Scott 1985) were translated into organized, at times violent, contestations of the social structure. One such moment took place in 1944, when a coalition of middle-class intellectuals, professionals, and junior army officers overthrew the liberal dictatorship of Jorge Ubico. Unlike Ubico, who adopted a pro-US stance to promote economic development, the two administrations of the following “Ten Years of Spring,” promoted various social reforms including land redistribution policy. In the midst of the Cold War’s fear of communism, these policies seemed to threaten the interests of global capitalism, and resulted in a CIA-backed coup that unseated the elected government (Broder 1999, Immerman 1982, Schlesinger & Kinzer 1999). In the next four decades Guatemala’s government became increasingly militarized, not allowing any political opposition. The political repression resulted in guerrilla forces mobilizing, first in the capital city and the ladino-dominant eastern region, and later also in the Indigenous-dominated central and western highlands. Social and cultural demands made by different organized sectors of the population were brutally suppressed by the government, especially between 1978 and 1982, and included the destruction of union leaders, peasants, students and entire Indigenous communities through large-scale massacres, scorched earth 21 These numbers increase in departments with large Indigenous populations, such as Alta Verapaz (78% poverty, 38% extreme poverty) and Sololá (77% poverty, 18% extreme poverty), and dramatically decrease in the Capital (19% poverty) (INE 2011). INTRODUCTION 29 tactics, and widespread disappearances and displacements aimed at annihilating anyone who was considered part of the political opposition in thoughts or deeds (CEH 2000, Falla 1994, Levenson 2011, Manz 1994, Thomas et al 2011, Torres Rivas 2010).22 The high levels of violence led to international pressures to end the conflict and the country's harsh economic situation forced it to consider these pressures and seek reconciliation. In 1985, in order to legitimate their rule and delegitimize the guerilla movement (Torres Rivas 2010:4) the military returned the government to civilian rule. Like other nation-states emerging out of conflict into the new neoliberal global order, the military government began with a legal reform to mark the national (re)constitution, and a new constitution was inaugurated in 1985.23 The same government also called for a civil presidential elections that, although free of fraud, were severely restricted and unrepresentative of large sectors of the population, as only rightist and centrist parties that had reached agreements with the Army were allowed to participate (Jonas 2000:26). The civil government elected in 1986 adopted an economic restructuring project, and began peace negotiations with the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union (Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca-URNG). The national restructuring project has heavily depended on external support, which required the Guatemalan administration to achieve a sense of legitimacy amongst possible donors and supporters worldwide. The Peace Accords of 1996 further committed the Guatemalan government to legislative and institutional reforms, especially in the area of 22 State-sponsored violence against ladinos tended to be selective, while violence against rural Indigenous populations was massive and indiscriminate (Nelson 2009:59). 23 According to Jean and John Comaroff more than one hundred new national constitutions were (re)written since 1989, to mark “a new beginning, a radical break, at once symbolic and substantive, with the past, and its difficulties,” a new constitution that represents the aspiration for “equitable, just, ethically founded pacific polities” (2006:22-23). INTRODUCTION 30 international human right. Consequently, according to the 1985 Constitution (Article 46), in issues of human rights, international treaties and conventions accepted and ratified by Guatemala hold precedence over domestic legislation. This commitment was reinforced with the signing of the 1994 Comprehensive Accord on Human Rights. These four decades of armed conflict are often characterized through human rights discourse, foregrounding the transition to the era of rights. The situation of violence is typically accounted through numbers (Nelson 2010), and a terminology such as “victims,” and “violations.” Namely, the conflict cost the lives of about 250,000 people and the displacement of more than a million and a half, in a population of eight million people (at the time). According to the UN Commission for Historical Clarification (Comision para al Esclarecimiento Historico, CEH), 92% of the victims were non-combatant civilians; 54% were younger than 25 years old, and 12% were women raped or physically attacked in various humiliating ways. The commission determined that the Guatemalan state agents were responsible for 93% of all human rights violations and the guerrillas responsible for three percent, with the remaining four percent of violations committed by unknown assailants. The CEH concluded that in accordance to international law, agents of the Guatemalan state committed acts of genocide against groups of Mayan people (CEH 2000).24 Those responsible for these acts have rarely been prosecuted and punished. Although extremely troublesome, these numbers do not capture the complete postwar trauma. Four decades of state violence resulted in a torn social fabric (Godoy 2006:84), and for Guatemalans, fear continued to be “a way of life” (Green 1994,1999). While the conflict 24 The term ‘genocide’ has been contested in relation to the Internal Armed Conflict since the release of the CEH report. In the spring and summer of 2013 this discourse reached new levels with the genocide trial of the former president General Ríos Montt. INTRODUCTION 31 officially ended with the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, “democracy” and “peace” did not end state violence (Green 2002, Harbury 1997, McNeish & Rivera 2012, Nelson 2009:45, Torres Rivas 2010, Wilson 1997). Discussing the end/s of war, Nelson reminds us that “people make war to achieve certain ends” (2009:xiii). In the 20th century many Guatemalans went to war in order to reform and transform a social structure based on ethnic and class exclusion; in order to liberate themselves from different forms of injustice and structural violence. Others went to war in order to protect their structural privileges and the existing social order. “Depending on one’s perspective,” Nelson states, “this violence ended either the threat of or hopes for radical change” (2009:xiv). Further, the peace accords, claims anthropologist Linda Green, did not redress the various structural injustices that motivated the resistance, but set the means—through immunity and free market economy—to maintain and reproduce these structural inequalities (Green 2011:371). As structural inequalities were maintained and reproduced through war and peace, further undermining accountability between individuals, their communities and the state; portraying collective action and spirit/ vision of community as hopeless/ irrelevant/ unattainable, it is not surprising that the post-conflict era is one of the most violent moments in Guatemala`s history. With 47 murders per capita, rising to 108 in Guatemala City, it is one of the most violent countries in the world (UNDP 2007). According to the National Civil Police (PNC), in a population of 14 million, 17 people, two of whom are women, die of violence every day.25 Guatemala’s current homicide rate far exceeds the average number of 25 Guatemalan women-activists often reject the limited view of violence this estimation reflects and claim that ten women die of violence daily. To the two targeted by physical violence they add one who dies of insecure abortion, cervical cancer, HIV, two maternal deaths, and three women who die of poverty ( from malnutrition to living too far from a medical center). INTRODUCTION 32 Guatemalans killed each year during the armed conflict (Thomas et al 2011:11).While homicide is an important measure of violence, it is also important to note that the lives of Guatemalans are shaped as well by the climbing rates of “lower level” violent crimes taking place in the capital’s commercial and residential areas and on public transit, including physical and sexual assault, theft, robbery, extortion and kidnapping, resulting in a collective, internalized sense of insecurity. These modes of violence have been most intense in the urban areas of Guatemala City and its surrounding municipalities (Godoy-Paiz 2009), yet not all parts of the city are experienced as being “violent” in the same way. While some areas are marked as zonas rojas (red zones), i.e. affected by high levels of crime and violence, other areas, mostly inhabited by local elites, tourists and international workers, are considered safer. However, the wealthier, more protected inhabitants of these “safe areas” are exposed to other threats; they are kidnapped for ransom, their homes are robbed, and their cars are stolen from even well-guarded parking areas. They thus require higher levels of security, such as private security guards, high, barbed wire fences, and shaded car windows (Levenson 2011:46). Overall, the seemingly random “peacetime” crimes intensify a constant sense of insecurity, and Guatemalans live in a constant anxiety that they—or their loved ones—may become victims. The national restructuring project, which began with the return to civil government in 1985, included the standard adjustments mandated in many countries via World Bank and IMF loan programs: market liberalization, privatization of industry and state services, reductions in public expenditure, and opening to foreign trade. The subsequent (required) reduction of social service expenditures, decline in formal sector employment, and lifting price controls on basic necessities, left many Guatemalans vulnerable to poverty, chronic INTRODUCTION 33 unemployment, health problems, crime, and violence (Benson et al 2011:140, Dickins 2011,Green 2003,Thomas et al 2011:8). These neoliberal geopolitics, Green emphasizes, “make life in Central America and Mexico increasingly untenable,” and should be seen as “far-reaching magnitude crimes” that deny people a “dignified existence” (2011:378). In rural areas, two of the main paths to survive are wage labour in rural maquilas26 (often in dehumanizing conditions) or (illegal) migration to the US. On the personal level, these two practices are “assaults on the personhood, dignity, and sense of worth or value” (Scheper Hughes and Bourgois 2004:1) of rural Guatemalans. On the national level, it further destroys the Guatemalan social fabric (Green 2003, 2011).27 The lack of jobs in rural areas has driven thousands of Guatemalans into urban areas. Lack of opportunities for employment or education drive local youth to “search for social and economic resources at the very border between legal and illegal activities” (Camus 2011:58). Further, lack of access to social services/networks in the cities drive disconnected, often domestically abused youth, to search for alternative structures of support and protection (Levenson 2013:216). The largely ineffective police force and justice system make a fertile ground for gang activity. Maras (youth gangs) are thus an increasing problem in the capital, as well as in smaller municipalities.28 Gang members are involved in robbery, extortion, drug 26 The Guatemalan term for maquiladoras, or assembly plant. Maquilas are infamous for their abusive and unsafe working conditions. 27 Work migration mostly includes men in working ages, as whole villages are left behind with mostly women, children and elderly population; they are highly vulnerable to different forms of violence, at times inflicted by “war veterans.” (Linda Green, personal communication, May 2013). 28 The maras were formed in the 1980’s by immigrants (many of them demobilized army soldiers or guerillas) fleeing the brutal civil war in Central America and settling in Los Angeles and San Diego. To protect themselves from already established street gangs, they formed their own gangs, named after their barrio mara 13/18) and their place of origin (Salvatucha=Salvadorian). They began returning Central America in 1996, when the US began to deport immigrants. The maras operating in Guatemala maintain the connection to the gangs they originated from in the US (McNeish and Rivera 2012:291). INTRODUCTION 34 dealing, human trafficking, and turf wars with rival gangs. While violence and terror are popularly linked to the maras, there has not been a clear investigation in regards to their numbers, the nature of their activities, and their actual culpability for violence in the country. However, most of the nation’s security problems are attributed to them (Levenson 2013:216, McNeish and Rivera 2012:291-292, Thomas et al: 2011:12, Winton 2005). The post-conflict violence can be characterized as “neoliberalized” (Fisher &Benson 2006); as acts of violence are outsourced and privatized, their direction or means are no longer controlled by the state.29 Private crime is addressed with private security and dangerous forms of community vigilante responses, including lynching (Godoy 2006, Sanford 2008, Thomas & Benson 2008). As of 2010 there is a free market of 140 security agencies, with at least 65,000 armed and poorly trained guards, while the National Police has 20,000 police officers (Dickins 2011; Torres Rivas 2010:5). In the neoliberal age, violence is presented in the language of freedom—bringing together free marker and free choice. By focusing the attention on the maras, violence is explained by the media and the state as a result of informal economic activities and through a narrow focus on (individual) delinquency. The structural and social conditions that place disadvantage groups at greater risk of violent behavior or victimization are not part of the official narrative told by the state and mass media. In this section I discussed Guatemala’s legacies of inequality, as an ongoing negotiation between domestic forces and external interventions, as well as different forms of structural violence meant to maintain these inequalities. These legacies of structural inequality were not resolved through the Armed Conflict or through the Peace Accords. The 29 The legal reform that followed the peace accords, intended to protect the citizens from state violence, debilitated the state’s ability to control criminal violence (Personal communication with the executive director of the Justice Education Society, Rick Craig, April 2010). INTRODUCTION 35 new neoliberal order introduces new ideologies and structures that allow maintaining this ongoing state of inequality and injustice. *** This doctoral thesis focuses on new methods adopted by women- activists in Guatemala that attempt to promote a better society. The primarily new tool these women use is women’s human rights discourse and the platforms that support it, and in this thesis I explore the ways in which they adapt this discourse to be more suitable to their needs. In 1979, Audre Lorde, a black, lesbian feminist, wrote a short essay criticizing the feminist movement for practicing patriarchal tools, i.e. maintaining and reproducing differences between women, in order to dismantle patriarchy. Lorde claimed that the movement’s success is dependent on adopting a new set of tools—women should not try to unite “despite our differences,” but differences between women should be acknowledged and used as a source of creativity. In the new age of rights, I consider the idea of human rights as a moralizing agenda, a constituting set of tools for the current neoliberal world order, one that unifies individuals as humans, and replaces a local sense of community with the imagined larger global community. Borrowing from Lorde, I suggest looking at human rights discourse as the “master’s tools,” morally supporting the neoliberal world order, and wonder can the “master’s tools” be used to challenge the “master’s house”? While human rights globally motivated various improvements in people’s lives, I wonder: are these temporary achievements, or will they enable “a genuine change?” And ask: Can the practice of women’s human rights discourse in Guatemala enable a genuine, revolutionary change in the life of Guatemalans? Can these “master’s tools dismantle the master’s house”? INTRODUCTION 36 In this doctoral thesis I argue that when the idea of human rights is based on dignity, the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect, such a revolutionary change is possible. Going back to Lorde’s original critique, the success of such an endeavour depends on feminist solidarity founded on critical awareness of difference and on its creative utilization. As I show in this account, Guatemalan women’s organizations emphasize and legitimize women’s diverse lived experiences. They encourage women to see themselves as worthy beings, as actors and as the rightful protagonists of their own lives. They also motivate women to draw support from other women and to see themselves as part of a worthy community. Hence, these organizations inspire women to begin to imagine themselves not only as worthy of life, but also as worthy of happiness. Imagining oneself as worthy of dignity and thus transforming oneself into a woman-being is the first step toward a wider social transformation. Left, Right(s), and other Directions From Left to Rights tells the story of (women) survivors and political subjects in search of new ways to communicate with the world. Like most survivors’ stories, this account is not told in a linear form, and varies every time it is told, offering more details on some events and neglecting others. In order to highlight this quality, I chose to organize this dissertation around what one expects to be a linear event, the annual march commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. While the march has a clear beginning (6:00 am, Tierra Viva’s office), middle, and end (1:00pm, Plaza Mayor), my account continually disrupts this timeline, moving within and beyond these seven hours, visiting past experiences and imagined futures. In the first chapter I present my encounters with the field as a process of relationship building. I situate myself, my particular experiences in Guatemala, my research, and the INTRODUCTION 37 ways in which my place in the field influences how I approach my questions. The following chapters discuss various aspects of the Guatemalan campaign to eradicate violence against women, including diverse modes of action designed in response to women’s experiences of violence. The chapters represent an ongoing process of dialogue between activists and the rest of society. This dialogue illustrates how topics and methods intersect and talk to each other and demonstrates how the women’s movement negotiates between particular and general dimensions of violence, between local and transnational dimensions of the discourse, and lastly, how activists maneuver between transforming their own consciousness and transforming societal policies and norms. Chapter 2 begins with the closing ceremony of the events commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women organized by a network of Guatemalan women’s organizations. I use this ending point to begin exploring the shift many of the women activists involved in this campaign went through: from left-wing revolutionaries to women’s human rights activists. This transition reveals how particular and general dimensions of violence experienced by Guatemalan women motivated the formation of the Guatemalan feminist movement. Once local women begin to adopt and adapt the rights-discourse and to assume an identity of rights-worthy subjects, or women-beings, they begin to demand the transformation of the social structures in which they live, i.e., the implementation of legislation, policies, and institutions in favor of women’s rights, namely, an alteration of the public sphere. Chapter 3 begins at the same time and place as the previous chapter, yet offers a different reading of that same moment. While chapter 2 portrays a relatively formal version of the transformation process, chapter 3 suggests an alternative, complementary, aspect of the INTRODUCTION 38 process, which requires some familiarity with key symbols adopted and adapted by the movement. It outlines the process of transformation, emphasizing the spatial—corporal and public—aspect of the process, its dialectic nature, and hope as a key mechanism for the facilitation of social transitions. Following the two complementary accounts of the transformation process, chapter 4 portrays the act(s) of sharing stories of violence and struggle as a way to establish political subjectivity, i.e. in itself a mode of transformation. It emphasizes different phases and audiences in the process of telling such stories, starting from intimate sharing, through collaborative creative acts that politicize individuals’ stories, to their “publication.” While the intimate sharing shed light on activists’ experiences of structural and symbolic violence, presenting their stories in pubic and demanding space for them in the national (hi)story, illustrate the strength of coming together. Chapter 5 discusses a similar process in which (some) Guatemalan women begin to politicize their lived experiences and learn to see themselves as women-beings. Unlike the previous chapters, it takes place on the back stage, and serves as an intermission that allows us a closer look on the ways in which previous transformations—of individuals and society—generate further transformations. The chapter weaves together different sources: a story of a Guatemalan activist, interviews with Guatemalan activists facilitating women’s workshops, a workshop booklet created by a coalition of Guatemalan women’s organizations, observations from workshops in which I participated, and literature about popular education. Through these different viewpoints I explore how local experiences of violence are explained through the transnational language of women’s human rights and INTRODUCTION 39 repositioned in the local context. By grounding their transformation process within their own context, women-beings learn not only their rights, but also their right to demand these rights. In chapter 6 we return to the front stage of the march, to witness several public political actions that I call antiviolence performances. These performances publically articulate the root of the problem, presenting (suggesting and performing) a vision of an alternative future, and calling for action. The public nature of these performances motivates and encourages women’s participation, encourages the general public to take a stance, and presents the ways in which the processes of denouncing a problem and suggesting an alternative and of (in)forming and (re)forming are in constant dialogue with each other. The conclusion re-presents the Guatemalan campaign to eradicate violence against women as a product of (local experiences of) violence and the (transnational women’s) human rights discourse that transforms women into political subjects and alters the public sphere within which they operate. This brings me back to my larger argument, that when the idea of human rights is formed in terms of dignity it has the potential to enable a genuine, revolutionary change in the life of all Guatemalans. Acknowledging that the realization of the social transformation outlined here relies upon an accumulation of sociopolitical circumstances, I contextualize the Guatemalan campaign and this doctoral thesis within larger sociopolitical structures, and remind the reader that the mere act of proposing an alternative reality is in itself a challenge to that status quo reality. MOVING FIELDWORK 40 Chapter 1: Moving Fieldwork People from all over the world come to Guatemala, “a land of Eternal Spring and Eternal Tyranny” (Simon 1988), with various intentions and hopes. They don’t always find what they were looking for, yet they are often pleased with what they do find. I am one of those who came for a short visit, and was never able to completely leave. In this chapter I present my encounters with the field as a process of relationship building. I begin by briefly describing the circumstances that motivated this research. It is the text I opened my interviews with; hence it also invites the reader to witness the first moments of these relationships. I then discuss the particularities of my field site and the challenges it poses for anthropological fieldwork. I introduce the reader to the time, place and people that this project revolves around, together with the methods I used to learn about their work. I conclude by offering an additional view of this relationship. I first visited Guatemala in 1999 as part of a yearlong backpacking trip in Central and South America.30 Although I spent only three weeks in the country, it was enough for me to become attached to Guatemala, more than any other place I have visited. In those short three weeks I was captivated by the beauty of the country and the friendliness of its people. I was also exposed to (and targeted by) the everyday violence and the poverty prevailing and rising even in the touristic areas. La Antigua Guatemala, a small colonial city near the capital, which later became a place I call home, was where I started learning Spanish. It was also in 30 A yearlong backpacking trip in Latin America (or other locations in the world) is a common practice among young Israelis, taking a year or two off between their national service and university. MOVING FIELDWORK 41 that Spanish school that I was first exposed to the experience of violence Guatemala endured in the 20th century. My fascination with Guatemala stayed with me when I returned to Israel, and I continued exploring it during my undergraduate degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Latin American Studies and Social Anthropology. These years were colored by the Al-Aqsa Intifada, a period of intensified Israeli-Palestinian violence, during which everyday life in Jerusalem was marked by acute violence. I supported myself delivering workshops and seminars for the Israeli Centers for Citizenship and Democracy, where I developed my understanding of the practice of human rights. Eventually, my initial interest in Guatemala, a degree in Latin America Studies, together with my everyday experience of violence woven with a discourse of human rights, matured into an interest in legacies of violence, especially gendered violence, in Latin America. For my Masters degree in Anthropology I focused on gender violence, mainly wartime rape in different locations in the world, and wrote my MA thesis about the rarity of military rape in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. During these three years, I volunteered at the local rape crisis center, giving weekly workshops in schools. I was also involved with several left wing political initiatives, especially around the building of the West Bank Separation Barrier.31 When I planned my PhD project, I hoped to bring together my interest in wartime gender-specific violence and my interest in the legacies of violence in Latin America, more specifically, Guatemala. 31 I have been involved with different left-wing political activism since I was 14. I took an active part in the 1992 political transition from right to left, witnessed two peace accords being signed, and my prime minister murdered in a peace rally, marking the return of the political right. My 4 ‘years of spring’ ended 10 days before my 18 birthday. MOVING FIELDWORK 42 I intended to study the social consequences of the prevalent wartime rape (especially of rural Indigenous women) that took place during the Guatemalan Internal Armed Conflict. I was interested to learn how this specific form of violence shaped contemporary social relations in the rural communities where state oppression was particularly widespread. Considering the rising violence, especially gender violence, in the urban areas, I also planned to explore the relations between legacies of gender violence during the armed conflict and contemporary “peace time” gender violence. Like every good plan, it has changed and been reshaped several times since. When I first returned to Guatemala in the summer of 2007, the changes—for better and for worse—were quite apparent.32 Above all, the situation of everyday violence had clearly escalated since the late 1990s. I was happy to leave the more violent urban centers and travel to the rural area of the western highlands (ironically, the former heart of state repression and terror). Spending time in a community recovering from harsh state oppression, I realized that traditional fieldwork in the area would probably not allow me to fully address my questions.33 How would I distinguish the social consequences of wartime rape from those of general widespread violence, such as a massacre? It seems as if I had to choose between the romantic idea of rural fieldwork, studying the aftermath of (general) violence in the area, or the contemporary gender violence in the urban areas, mainly the capital. At the time, it seemed like a minor adjustment. As I assumed the two experiences were related, I thought 32 This visit coincided with the (notably violent) 2007 presidential campaign in Guatemala, which resulted with the election of Álvaro Colon. 33 A similar project was initiated by an alliance of women organizations (Consorsio de actoras de cambio) that developed small support groups for local women, which with time (about seven years) began to also discuss the issue of sexual violence during the internal armed conflict. Their work employed more people, more time, than the traditional year or two of fieldwork could address. The ongoing project resulted so far in a book: Tejidos que lleval el alma (2009), a museum exhibit: sobreviví, estoy aquí y estoy viva (November 2009), a yearly festival for breaking the silence, and symbolic tribunal (March 2010). MOVING FIELDWORK 43 the new project would be, in a way, a reversed version of my initial one. Instead of starting in the past, interpreting contemporary gender violence in the city as one of the wartime rape's consequences, I would start in contemporary violence and identify its roots in the violent past. The violence Guatemalan women endured was not an isolated experience. At the beginning of the millennium, rising levels of violence against women in Latin America became an acknowledged regional problem and led local Latin American women’s organizations and human rights activists to adopt and adapt the concept femicide—the killing of a woman for being a woman, first coined in the 1970s by Diana Russell—in order to describe the situation of violence they live in (Fregoso & Bejarano 2010). The term femicide helped them emphasize the notion that violence against women was not a private issue, but a political act that requires urgent social response.34 By using the concept, local feminists mobilized an international attention to the killings of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.35 While international attention was drawn mostly to Juárez, some accounts about the reality of violence against women in Guatemala began surfacing as well, with several human rights reports such as No Protection, No Justice: Killings of Women in Guatemala (Amnesty International 2005, 2006) and Getting Away with Murder: Guatemala’s Failure to Protect Women and Rodi Alvarado’s Quest for Safety 34 For further discussion about the development and the uses of the concept fem(in)icidio in Guatemala see Godoy-Paiz (2012), Morales-Trujillo (2010), Musalo et al. (2010). 35 The City of Juárez, in Chihuahua State, is a border city across the Rio Grande and El Paso, Texas. Several hundred women (about 30 a year) were killed or disappeared since the beginning of the 1990s, many of them young teen who died as a result of grotesque, sexualized torture. Most cases stayed unresolved due to indifference, impunity and corruption. While there are similarities in the patterns of registered murders of women in Juarez and Guatemala, the murder rate of women in Guatemala is much higher—Between 1993 and 2003, there were 370 registered murders of women in the Mexican state of Chihuahua in which Ciudad Juarez in located (Ertürk 2005: 10). In 2003 there were 383 registered murders of women in Guatemala escalating to 720 a year in 2009, and 6731 between 2000 and 2012 (PDH). For more about the situation in Juárez see Staudt and Campbell (2008), Monárrez Fragoso (2010), Olivera (2010). MOVING FIELDWORK 44 (Center for Gender & Refugee Studies 2005, 2006), as well as the documentary film, Killers’ Paradise (Portenier 2007). These accounts illustrate the gravity of the situation in Guatemala, and the work done by Guatemalan activists who joined the regional movement, adopted the femicide concept, and began politically theorizing the issue. With time I became more sensitive to the extent to which the popular and scholarly images of Latin America in general and Guatemala in particular are associated with violence and I became reluctant to contribute to this portrayal.36 Indeed, the Guatemalan reality has and still is embedded with different kinds of ongoing violence. However, focusing on violence risks depicting Guatemalans as victims, objects of (internal, external, regional, and global) violence in need of salvation. Such a focus can veil Guatemalans’ everyday resistance to this violence—creating life, maintaining life, and struggling for creating better life chances for themselves. Facing this representational dilemma, I decided to reorient my research, and focus on women’s responses and actions against the different forms of gender-based violence they endure. In the summer of 2008 I returned to Guatemala to work with women’s organizations in Guatemala City that address violence against women. Before leaving, I contacted the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) at the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and they suggested several key contacts from different organizations in Guatemala City. My preliminary meetings with these activists were highly inspiring. I was intrigued to learn about the different ways in which they understood violence, and fascinated with the ways they chose to struggle against it, especially considering their violent everyday reality. I 36 I first acknowledged this growing discomfort when I presented in a panel about experiences of violence in Latin America in the Canadian Latin American Studies conference (Vancouver 2008). MOVING FIELDWORK 45 then became interested in learning more about Guatemalan women as subjects, as actors who take action to change the social situation they live in. My purpose in this account is thus to bring forward experiences of anti-violence activism, taking place in a violent reality, by people whose lives were shaped by various experiences of violence. Timelines Following my preliminary fieldwork in the summer of 2008, I conducted my doctoral fieldwork in Guatemala City between June 2009 and December 2010 (excluding several in-and-out trips), and returned for another short follow-up trip in the fall of 2011. The time I spent in the field was framed by academic and personal constraints. Moreover, my presence in the field was subjected to several locally significant timelines: the local activity calendar, the diurnal cycle, and the political period. First, the organizations function around a yearly calendar composed of national (Guatemalan), religious (Christian), and international dates. The year is organized around several commemorative dates, starting with a series of events taking place at the time period around March 8, International Women’s Day (sometimes called “Women’s month”) and closing with a series of events taking place in preparation for November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the following 16 Days of Activism, taking place between November 25 and Human Rights Day, December 10.37 The last part of the year is dedicated to year evaluations and celebrations, followed by the yearly Christmas holiday. The beginning of the year is marked by reorganization, redistribution of roles, and redefinition of goals, within each organization and its alliances and network. The cycle of 37 Both dates are commemorated in a well-attended march. The focus of the March events varies; the November 25 events include a festival “for women’s life,” on the Sunday before November 25, and a memorial service for the killed women, vigilia, on November 24, as well as a variety of unfixed events. Other eventful time periods take place in May, related to women’s health and reproductive rights, and in September, related to women’s citizenship. MOVING FIELDWORK 46 activity thus climaxes at specific calendric points. Other times of the year that may seem less eventful are nonetheless packed with strategizing, planning, as well as creating and maintaining collaborations. Another important timeline that shaped my work was the diurnal cycle. Most of my fieldwork took place during daytime—from sunrise to sunset—in Guatemala, roughly between 6am and 6pm. Regular working hours in most organizations I studied ended before sunset. Some public activities took place outside of working hours, but they were not frequent. As my fieldwork progressed, I expanded my participation in the field to include more after-dark hours. Before dusk, lineups for public transportation were particularly long, and a sense of almost urgency (to make it on the already very crowded bus) was projected by most prospective passengers. Soon after dusk, these same streets were emptied; buses became less frequent and less crowded, and waiting for the bus became an unpleasant and at times eerie experience. Some areas of the city were still (or became) quite lively after dark, yet they usually required a different modes of mobility—namely taxis (driven by a known, trustworthy driver, taxista de confianza) and privately owned cars.38 Politically, my fieldwork took place under the administration of Álvaro Colon, the first center-left president since the 1954 coup, who expanded social programs and access to health, education, and social security. While the social actors I discuss here have been active before and after his administration, the actions I discuss in this account took place under this particular, left-leaning administration. While difficulties in the implementation of human rights discourse under the Colon administration were often explained as “lack of political 38 Contact information of a trustworthy taxi driver was one of the first resources local and foreign friends extended to me. Using a taxi meant trips needed to be pre-scheduled, and included long waiting periods. MOVING FIELDWORK 47 will,” the subsequent administration – currently in power – seemed to revert much of the already limited political support (policy, financial, legal) the government extended towards the implementation of women’s rights norms. It was only after the change in administrations, and the shift in political atmosphere that accompanied it, that I realized how this particular timeline influenced the field I participated in.39 Overall, I spent 20 months in Guatemala in the past five years, and maintained an electronic contact with individuals “in the field” while being away. Fieldwork is “an inherently imperfect mode of knowledge, which produces gaps as it fills them” (Price in Clifford 1986:8). Hence the longer one stays in a certain location, the further one understands its complexities and contradictions, and one’s aspirations to represent this place become much more humble (Nelson 1999). My time in Guatemala taught me a lesson in humility. I learned a lot, on practical and theoretical levels, yet I also learned, and am still learning, how much more complex the situation that I am attempting to represent is. From Left to Rights is thus my small, partial contribution to a much bigger socio-political project, and I am solely responsible for all misunderstanding and misinterpretations. Space(s) My research was framed not only by timelines, but also by spaces. Indeed, I study a social movement, yet, it has long been recognized that social relations are spatial relations (Hagerstrand 1970; Lefebvre 1974 [1991 translation]; Soja 1980; Giddens 1984), and that space is the medium through which “all social relations are made or broken” (Miller 39 As many of the groups and individuals I worked with are involved with political life and advocacy, important political events that impacted the country, such as the Rosenberg case (see Grann 2011), Castresana‘s resignation, the nomination of new head for CICIG (Francisco Dall'Anese Ruiz) and a new attorney general (Claudia Paz y Paz), reoriented the(ir) focus of attention and daily activity. The tropical storm, Agatha (May 2010) was also quite impactful; as it changed the situation of violence women lived in, and shift attention and priorities from general political advocacy to emergency aid. These sorts of “destructions” demonstrate the general social justice motivating their work, far beyond “women’s issues.” MOVING FIELDWORK 48 2013:286). Therefore, I find it important to discuss the spaces that facilitate and prevent certain flows and encounters that shape this social movement; the spaces that reify and reproduce social views in regards to how these flows (and which) should move, meet and interact. While this is not ethnography of space, I bear in mind that these same spaces are being continuously shaped by the social interactions and relations they facilitate. The campaign to eradicate violence against women involves a wide spectrum of social spaces, i.e. spaces shaped through social interaction, from the abstract transnational community, through physical locations in the city, to the corporeal space of individuals’ bodies.40 The campaign is organized around physical movement of people, funds, and ideas from one location to another as well as the materials produced when these flows come together, and then distributed and posted. As a space, it is created by and continuously creating movement. Further, a social movement, by definition, is meant to move, change, and transform social structures; to transform the social norms and spaces that maintain and reproduce these structures. The women at the center of this research endeavour to transform, from within, the social structures that have shaped not only the ways in which they learned to view the world, but also their access to resources. Therefore, the space that shapes this research project is a space of (a) movement. Methodologically, this endeavour poses an additional challenge: how does one represent a social structure in a process of transformation? In this account I do so by maintaining the movement through the account. That is to say, I organized this dissertation around the annual November 25 march, in itself an act of movement and mobilization, but 40 I discuss the transnational movement in chapter 2, locations in the city below, and dedicate chapter 3 to discussing the ways in which all the spaces mentioned above are negotiated and challenged. MOVING FIELDWORK 49 also used it as entry point to address back-stage processes. By moving between different sections of the march and between the march and other activities, I aimed to invite the reader to experience some of this sense of movement. It is important to acknowledge that social change relies upon an accumulation of sociopolitical circumstances. The mere act of proposing an alternative reality is in itself a challenge to that same reality. In this account of a temporary moment, I wish to portray the sense of possibility for transformation, the vision of an alternative reality, and the hope for a better future for all Guatemalan people communicated to me. I begin this section looking at an additional space shaping my work, the space of academic research. I then address the city as a sociopolitical space, and the particular locations it enables for (the) (women’s) movement. Guatemala has fascinated and intrigued generations of scholars: archaeologists, botanists, zoologists, linguistics, historians, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists and so on. At any given moment and at any given location—central or remote—one might encounter scholars (veterans and newly emergent) who study the land and its people. This affluence offers different levels of collaborations and mentoring as well as competition and territoriality. Further, the generation of research offers a vast scholarship to build on and facilitates interdisciplinary creativity. On the other hand, much of this information “has been multiply encoded and recoded, filtered through rumor and personal histories, and encased in a hard veneer derived from political antagonisms” (Nelson 1999:31). It is thus important to look at it as particular political reflections of Guatemalan realities. Traditionally, ethnographic scholarship did not focus on the capital city, but on small rural Maya communities. As the massive rural to urban migration became more notable in MOVING FIELDWORK 50 the 1970’s and 1980’s, more ethnographic work took place in the city, studying the rural, mostly Maya migration to the city (Bastos and Camus 1995, 1998, Camus 2002). Further, as “power” became a key analytical term in the field, anthropologists began to look at the city as the center of political, economic, and social life, in order to explain the situation in the rural areas (Thomas et al 2011). In the past decade, research on urban Ladinos (Camus 2005, 2011; González Ponciano 2013; Hale, 2006; Levanson 2005, 2011, 2013) and the city as a neoliberal space (O’Neill and Thomas 2011, Way 2012) has also increased. Unlike the studies mentioned above, I do not study an urban community—migrant, impoverished, or Indigenous—but a social movement operating in the city. My fieldwork was based in Guatemala City, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala, and the most populous in Central America.41 Popularly called Guate or La Capital (the capital) it is the political, financial, and cultural center of the Republic. As such, its population is quite diverse: Ladinos, Indigenous, other Latin American groups, as well as minority-groups such as German, Jewish, Chinese, and a big international community. Historically, the city has been associated with Ladino people and modernity while the countryside has been associated with Indigenous people and tradition. This distinction in many ways justifies, reifies and reproduces legacies of inequality in Guatemala. At the same time, a careful examination suggests that much of this distinction is imagined, as both urban and rural spaces are shaped by circulations of people, goods, and politics. Established by a royal decree in 1776, the city is divided into 22 zonas (zones), laid out on a standard grid, with avenidas (avenues) running roughly north-south, and calles 41 Estimated population in Guatemala City: 1,168,000 (INE 2011). MOVING FIELDWORK 51 (streets) running east-west. 42 It has been growing rapidly; mostly due to internal migration that peaked between the 1970s and 1980s, as the rural population relocated to the city following the devastating earthquake in 1976 as well as in response to untenable life conditions in rural areas that resulted from state oppression and long-lasting economic inequality (especially in regards to arable land). The city, affected by similar circumstances, had very little to offer to these newcomers, many of whom, in a need of an immediate refuge, invaded unoccupied urban (private or state owned) lands, mostly on the sides of gullies within the city, producing new precarious urban settlements. Built from whatever materials newcomers could scavenge, these settlements still exist beyond the reach of most basic social services, such as water and electricity. Consequently, the city developed in a disorganized way—without infrastructure, planning, or permits. Some of this growth has been channelled to neighbouring municipalities that together form the Guatemala City metropolitan area (Área Metropolitana de Guatemala or AMG).43 The city faces problems common to many other rapidly expanding cities, such as transportation, employment, and high levels of crime. Most of my research took place in a strip of five zones (1, 2, 4, 10, 14) considered, except for zone one, to be safer and wealthier. Zone One is the city’s heart, the location of many important historic, religious, and national buildings together with public spaces and low level (two to five storied) residential, academic, and office buildings. Most of the women’s organizations, and several of the relevant governmental agencies are located in 42 City zones are ranging between 1 and 25 (excluding 20, 22, 23), and are not organized in a consecutive order. 43 Villa Nueva, San Miguel Petapa, Mixco, San Juan Sacatepequez, San José Pinula, Santa Catarina Pinula, Fraijanes, San Pedro Ayampuc, Amatitlán, Villa Canales, Palencia and Chinautla. The estimated population in Guatemala City metropolitan area is 4,100,000 (INE 2011). MOVING FIELDWORK 52 Zone One.44 It is in the midst of renewal project by the municipal government, relocating street vendors, their clients, and public transportation in favour of car-free pedestrian zone with upscale cafes, chain restaurants and stores visited by tourists and Guatemalan elite and secured by private security guards. Zone 2, north of zone one is a less densely populated area, with several residential communities, academic centers and governmental units. Zone 4, south of Zone One hosts the civic center, several government buildings, a modern shopping mall, mixed with the chaotic public transportation and street vendors. Zone 10, southeast to Zone 4 is a wealthier zone, the financial center of the city and is known as Zona Viva (lively zone), the center of pop culture and nightlife. It hosts many embassies, office buildings, several academic units and international agencies, together with an abundance of luxury hotels, restaurants, and shops. It is a greener area with notable high-rises. Zone 14, south of Zone 10 is another relatively international and wealthier zone, the location of the Europlaza World Business Center (four modern 19-story towers), the home of most UN agencies. Overall, the city, while laid out on a standard grid, is a complex space. At the time I began my fieldwork, a general map was impossible to find. Maps of the more touristic area were available, but they featured separated zones, making it difficult to grasp the city’s flow and movement between the zones. While the zones I mentioned above are in walking distance, it is highly uncommon for people to do so. Most people use local public transportation (including two systems of privately owned buses and two state operated systems: transmetro and transurbano), “trustworthy” taxis and private cars.45 From day one I 44 A few are located in Zones 2, 3, 4, 7, 9; in relative proximity to zone one’s margins. 45 The transmetro and transurbano run on a set route, including set stops, and both are pre-paid systems. Local buses are far less organized, their routes often change, there are no set stops, or capacity limit. Passengers pay the driver or the ayudante, usually in exact change, and the fee changes after dark and during the weekend. In MOVING FIELDWORK 53 learned to rely on the advice and guidance of total strangers I met in the street or on the bus, as well as bus drivers and their assistants (ayudante), to make it to my destination.46 I often walked from one destination to another, as I found it a faster and safer way to move in the city, much to the dismay of the people I worked with. All the offices I visited are gated and the entrance is controlled by a receptionist. Most of them also have a guard (and at time an extended security team), and entering without an appointment is often impossible. They were usually a complex of personal working spaces and gathering areas. Many have documentary centers with relevant material produced by the organization and their inter/national collaborators, as well as general literature about gender, feminism and other related topics. Some dedicate personnel to maintain a learning center and keep an updated media archive; others have a shelf or two in a multipurpose space. They all have a waiting room and a non-professional employee who, once approved by the receptionist, offers the visitor a hot beverage. Some offices are located in older buildings with a traditional pila, a water basin that serves as an all-purpose washing station; others are in modern buildings.47 Most of the public activities I observed took place on the route connecting the National Palace, the Constitutional Plaza, the Congress, and the Supreme Court (all located the past years these buses are often robbed, resulting in injury and death of drivers and passengers. In some zones an armed guard stands behind the driver. Being privately owned (yet functioning as a cooperative) bus drivers compete for passengers, a competition that provokes additional violence. Drivers often make slight shifts in their route to make it faster than the bus ahead of them to a street corner where passengers wait. This practice of “stealing passengers,” can provoke blatant violence (for example, shooting the ayudante). Other times drivers race each other in the streets, a practice that often results in losing control and flipping the road. These trends (together with strait forward armed robberies) results in buses being one of the city most dangerous sites. 46 My then (North American) partner, following a visit to the city, commented on the extent to which local men are willing to go out of their way in order to guide me around. As the majority of passengers travelling to the city in the early morning bus were men, excluding particular cases, I was unaware of the way being a young woman impacted the guidance extended to me. 47 Offices with pilas are located in the city’s older houses, built originally for the Guatemalan elite. If well maintained, they are true architectural pearls. MOVING FIELDWORK 54 in Zone 1). Some events, especially marches, had some police presence to facilitate the interaction with general society. Yet often these public gathering were relying on (and advocating for) a sense of safety created by public participation and presence in the streets. Other events took place in gathering venues (hotel conference rooms, the Mexican embassy, academic centers) all located in Zones 1, 4 and 10. While not necessarily gated, these spaces are semipublic, guarded by thick imagined walls, which keep out uninvited, undesirable groups, marked by ethnicity, language, and dress (Velásquez Nimatuj 2011). As I discuss in the next section, this particular social movement is composed out of diverse women’s groups, based in separated locations. They most notably come together and materialize as a community in public events, when personal and organizations’ alliances are displayed, together with the main differences and similarities between them. These events take place in public spaces, displaying the ways in which the city as a sociopolitical space shapes the women’s movement. Yet, as I will discuss through this account, these public events challenge and transform the nature of these spaces. Acquaintance(s) In this section I introduce the reader to the organs that shape and are shaped by the space of movement, the organs that move and are moved by this field. First, Guatemalan women who have decided, for historic and strategic reasons to use human rights discourses to advocate for the eradication of violence against women; women that see the state as a site of struggle and struggle for (a just) representation in that state/site. By choosing this particular segment of the population I attempt to understand women’s rights activism in relation to the Guatemalan state and society. Second, local women’s organizations created by the above mentioned activists in order to promote and facilitate their struggle. Like the women-beings, they have their own life trajectories, they are brought to the world, develop, MOVING FIELDWORK 55 engage, and eventually cease to exist; while active they have their own particular views of the reality they exist in. Last, I discuss the ethnographer, who is not only conducting this research and reporting its “results,” but whose body and mind are the apparatus used by the researcher to explore the field. The Women-Beings The majority of the women I interviewed are urban Guatemalan activists, scholars, and state officials incorporated with the Guatemalan campaign to eradicate violence against women.48 While all currently live in the city (or the AGM), many were born and raised elsewhere in Guatemala, or spent substantial time periods outside the country.49 Most of them are employees of local women’s organizations, with a variety of professional backgrounds such as lawyers, university professors and independent researchers, psychologists, social-workers and communicators. A few have advanced degrees from foreign universities, others have local post-secondary education, or much less. Some of the scholars are well established and participated in the same professional conferences I attended (in North America) during and after my fieldwork.50 They come from diverse economic and ethnic locations in Guatemalan society and have varied life histories; most of them are survivors of violence and still struggle with different aspects of violence in their everyday life (political, domestic, criminal, HIV, 48 Four of them were not nationally Guatemalan, but were highly involved with the campaign (an independent scholar, two international activist incorporated in a UN organizations, and an international activist incorporated in a local NGO). Two were not directly involved with a specific organization at the time of the interview but are well incorporated in the campaign. 49 I find it important to address the point that i was not the only one moving in and out of the field, we are all constantly moving (Clifford 1997) and it is this movement that enables our physical and intellectual encounters. 50 Scholar activists attended papers I delivered about this research in the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference in 2010,2012, 2013 (and I, naturally, attended theirs). My “subjects” presence in international academic conferences attests to the mobile and transnational nature of the field. The first time I experienced it, while I was still doing my fieldwork, was a bit unnerving, but grew to be a reassuring and supportive experience, marked by a public sense of approval and collegiality. MOVING FIELDWORK 56 poverty, racism, lesbophobia, and all the above). They live and raise children and grandchildren in a machista society, dominated by patriarchal, sexist, and at times, misogynist ideologies. Many, but not all, self-identify as feminists, and view it as a political position. Some of them have been incorporated in social justice campaigns in Guatemala since 1960s onward, while others are young adults taking their first steps into the field of social action.51 Many of these women, often the principal financial supporter of their families, are over-worked and underpaid. While some of them maintain long term affiliation with a specific organization, other move between organizations and projects. There are key actors who initiate organizations or projects and then, once established, move to their next challenge. Other key actors shift from a position in a civil society organization to a position in a governmental agency or an international organization, or from an activist to an academic position. Others, due to the grant-based nature of funding for such projects, have to constantly look for emerging opportunities in other organizations. Frequently I met women who take temporary contracts funded by international agencies, while volunteering their time and limited funds to advance non-funded local initiatives. The Organizations52 Like other locations in Latin America, and globally, NGOization (Alvarez 1999, 2009) is a strong trend in Guatemala. Civil society organizations were always part of Guatemala’s social sphere, but the post-conflict political opening and the neoliberal policies motivated the creation of many more. NGOization, by nature, brings together local civil 51 During my fieldwork I met and collaborated with younger (minor) activists, but I did not interview any of them. 52 In Spanish the word organization (as well as the terms alliance, coalition, network) is feminine; this feminine aspect is unfortunately lost in the English discussion. MOVING FIELDWORK 57 society actors, state agents, and international players. While my original intention was to study the civil society sector, I soon realized that the field is intertwined and organized around flows of people, funds, and ideas (Alvarez 1999, Appadurai 1996, Merry 2006). Consequently, I expanded my research and also looked at state agencies representing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and international (mostly United Nations related) organizations. However, for the purpose of this research project, I specifically look at these organizations in relation to the ways in which they respond to and influence the work of women’s organizations. All the organizations discussed here are located in the capital city, although some of the organizations had branches in different provinces, some in the rural areas.53 The more veteran organizations have been active in the field since the 1980’s, while others are relatively new, and new organizations continue to emerge.54 Many identify as “feminist organizations,” while others are uncomfortable with the term “feminist” and use “women’s organization” instead. At the same time, many of the latter’s employees are self-identified feminists.55 Some organizations, often the feminist ones, incorporate men, and hold gender inclusive youth programs. Violence against woman is a wide, complex concept, and the actors—individuals and organizations—incorporated in the campaign have diverse views in regards to what it entails, which inevitably influence the modes of action they employ. Beyond denouncing physical 53 For a list of the organizations and their main focus see appendix 2. 54 For further discussion about the veteran organization see chapter 2. The governmental agencies were created as part of the state’s attempt to respond to international pressures in relation to women’s human rights in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. For a further discussion on the process, see chapter 2. 55 The division between ‘feminist’ and ‘feminine’ organizations is not unique to Guatemala, though the patriarchal nature of the Guatemalan society further influences the rejection of the term, as feminism is often associated with lesbian and communist (in this context, both are used as derogatory terms). For a further discussion about the differences between feminist and women’s movement (and the connections between them) see Marx Ferree (2006: 6-10). MOVING FIELDWORK 58 and sexual violence, they condemn violence at home and in the workplace. Some organizations focus on reproductive rights, others on HIV or sexual rights. Some focus on education for citizenship and democracy and others on labour and land rights (including land ownership and mining). Indigenous and rural women’s experiences of exclusion, discrimination and inequality are denounced as violence, as are limited access to education and health services. While most organizations focus on contemporary violence against women, several work with survivors of state-sponsored sexual violence during the Internal Armed Conflict, working towards breaking women’s silence and cracking state impunity. Some of the veteran organizations emphasize a legacy of struggle, and almost all include some references to Indigenous culture. Most organizations use varied modes of action and extend diverse forms of assistance to the publics they work with. While they may emphasize different issues, almost all are involved to some extent in political advocacy in relation to the eradication of violence against women, promoting both public awareness and legal changes. Much of this advocacy is practiced through public outreach events (theme-based forums and conferences, book/ document launch/readings), and public political acts (festivals, memorial services, street rallies/actions). Most organizations offer gender and women’s right training, focusing on different topics (from citizenship rights to reproductive rights) aimed at different audiences (from youth, women, and community leaders in urban and rural communities to state actors like police and judges).56 Several investigate and present research documents on violence against women. Some are monitoring the application of new laws and the ways in which popular media represent the situation of violence. Several organizations are deeply involved 56 Many of the activists are themselves trained in these workshops, programs or “schools,” often organized or delivered by an organization different than theirs. MOVING FIELDWORK 59 in proposing and promoting new legislation in favour of women’s rights, and others project all these efforts through different modes of media such as newspapers, radio and TV programs, and different electronic media. Many of the organizations also extend legal, psychological, and social support for survivors of violence and the families of victims and survivors of violence. Most organizations are incorporated in at least one—and usually more than one—network, alliance, or coalition of organizations. Some of these collaborations are theme-based, like the eradication of violence against women. Others focus on an event that the participating organizations collaborate in organizing, promoting, and/or attending. A few collaborations are created around particular project, bringing together organizations with different capacities, for instance political advocacy, gender training and psychological support. Several are rooted in the movement’s early stages, although their members change; various are created as temporary and others are relatively new. Power relations between veteran and emerging organizations, as well as ideological and methodological differences can wreck what, on paper, seems to be a promising and successful collaboration. The civil society organizations’ collaborations with international human and women's rights organizations and state agencies vary. First, on the human level, employees of both state agencies and international organizations are frequently Guatemalan women, associated with the campaign to eradicate violence against women.57 Many of them, thus, participate in political acts like the marches—some state agencies participate as a group, under their own 57 For instance, Hilda Morales Trujillo former director of CONAPREVI (the National Coordinating Agency for the Prevention and Eradication of Interfamilial Violence and Violence against Women), currently in the MP (Public Ministry), was a founding member of the civil society women’s organizations Mujeres Vamos Adelante, and CICAM. Similarly, Dr. Lili Caravantes and Sonia Escobedo, former presidents of SEPREM (the presidential women secretariat), were members of Sector de Mujeres, a civil society women’s alliance. MOVING FIELDWORK 60 flag; others join as individuals. Similarly, actors of all groups often participate in public outreach theme based discussions and forums (as presenters and/or audience). On a practical level, state agencies mostly promote and lobby for policies in favour of women’s rights, while the international organizations usually provide financial support for projects and politically accompany public initiatives that local women's groups organize and promote.58 The grant-based nature of international funds is often short term, making it complicated to guarantee a long-term project, and set these collaborations as temporary. Some projects are state-supported, but the state, like international funders, is not always a dependable source of support. Fixed, set funds are not always fully allocated, political transitions often result in shifts in priorities, and various sources of state support are rejected by some of the organizations.59 Another important aspect of collaboration is the ideological influence of the international campaign to eradicate violence against women and women’s human rights discourse on the local discourse. International women’s human rights conventions and statements are used as foundational texts, as training tools, as well an apparatus for making political claims. International commemorative dates such as March 8 and November 25 are the main dates the activity calendar is organized around. The grant-based nature of this collaboration further influences local discourse, as applicants are required to use human rights discourse. In order to be funded, a local project needs to be justified and presented through terminology, objectives, and general agendas set by the granting foundation. Local 58 For elaborate analyses of relevant inter/national organizations see Cabrera 2009, and Partida 2008. 59 Being political agents, some individuals and organizations disdain support linked to right-wing (state) political actors. Some feel that by granting this support, right-wing agents simply attempt to gain political capital. Accepting support or collaborating with such sectors can mark the difference between feminist and women’s organizations. MOVING FIELDWORK 61 projects thus either translate local needs into the transnational vocabulary, or cater to causes prioritized internationally in order to sustain the organization. Academic research, local and transnational, is an additional aspect of influence, and at times, collaboration. There are several local academic units that work closely with the campaign, such as the masters program in gender and feminism studies at the Latin American Faculty for Social Science (FLASCO) and the Women’s Institute at San Carlos University (USAC). Many of the activists received their advanced degrees in these institutions, under the supervision of faculty who are also incorporated in the movement. In addition to academic training, much relevant research takes place by established gender scholars. Similar to the governmental units, employees of the academic units often participate in public outreach activities and political acts, as individuals or under their own flag. Transnational academic research, mostly, but not only, North American, is quite common in Guatemala.60 The constant presence of scholars creates a savvy field; many of its inhabitants, incorporated in diverse socio-political projects, are accustomed to communicating with scholars and other foreigners. Some research projects, such as the one conducted by educational psychologist Lykes M. Brinton and gender studies scholar Alison Crosby (2009, 2011, 2013) with a specific organization, is experienced as a welcome collaboration. Yet many actors in the field have a sense of excess contact and at time a sense of abuse and reluctance to participate in research projects. I opened this chapter stating that I wish to describe a process of relationship building. So far I introduced the people I worked with, and positioned them in time and space. While I am not the focus of this research project, it is important, I believe, to position myself in this relationship. 60 Regional scholars, like Mexico based historian Ana Lorena Carrillo, are often considered local. MOVING FIELDWORK 62 And … The Uninvited Girl My graduate methodological training began with the postmodern crisis of representation, most notably, James Clifford and George Marcus' Writing Culture (1986) and Marcus and Michael Fischer’s Anthropology as Cultural Critique (1986). The recognition that “ethnographic truths are [thus] inherently partial” (Clifford 1986:6) was the lens through which I learned to understand ethnography. The legacy of imperialist attitudes that continues to “exemplify and reinforce Western domination” (Marcus and Fischer 1986:1) made me painfully aware of the power relations inherited in the endeavor of representing others. Ruth Behar and Deborah Gordon’s Women Writing Culture (1995), was the next evident step. Focusing on “the legacy of women’s anthropological writing and on the dilemmas women anthropologist encounter as writers” (Behar 1995:2) they challenged and further developed the premise of Writing Culture. Bringing forward the voices of feminist authors of diverse cultural, ethnic, and national backgrounds they established a feminist, multi-voiced, decolonized discourse that is not afraid “to offer a vision of a different anthropology” (Behar 1995:2). Behar opens the volume by discussing the position of the-woman-who-writes-culture. Reflecting on a self-portrait pencil drawing by Yolanda Fundora, Behar states: The woman who is turning others into the object of her gaze is herself already an object of the gaze. Woman, the original other, is always being looked at and looked over….The eyes on a woman’s back are also her own eyes. They are everything she has seen in her travels and in her return home (Behar 1995:2). Following Behar, in this subsection, I turn the observing eye to myself or—if you may—join the others looking at me. MOVING FIELDWORK 63 Unlike Behar, I chose to gaze at the women-in-preparation-to-write-culture, i.e. a woman in the process of gathering materials in the field. Like Fundora’s, figure 1 is a group self- portrait (1995:2). The picture was taken during my follow-up visit in the fall of 2011. It features a group of women affiliated with the organization Tierra Viva, who spent the morning decorating the pickup truck they are now seated on, in preparation for the November 25 march. A minute after the picture was taken (by Alitza Navas), the pickup truck, with several more activists, took off and headed toward the march’s starting point, the Human Rights Plaza in front of the Supreme Court of Justice. At first glance, I look like the women I accompany, and on a regular day in the city (less so in the rural areas), I easily passed as a chapina (a Guatemalan woman). Here, I’m also dressed like them and doing the same thing that they are doing, which adds to the sense of resemblance.61 Yet, I am not a chapina like them. At the same time, unlike many other scholars in the field, I am not an obvious “other,” namely, I’m not a gringa. According to Abigail Adams, gringos are “Americans from the United States when they live in Latin America.” (1997:610). In Guatemala, she explains, the term is used to describe foreigners with a North 61 This is a Tierra Viva truck and I’m wearing a RedNoVi T-shirt, representing not only my position as an activist, but also my position in the movement, as a member of a network, not a particular organization. Figure 1: Getting ready to move, November 25, 2011. MOVING FIELDWORK 64 European physical appearance, and embodies the legacy of North/South power dichotomy (1997:611-613). The term gringa is not simply the feminine form of gringo but a reflection of the unstable intersection of the North/South power dichotomy with gender hierarchies (1997: 613). This disruption of the Guatemalan gender hierarchy is experienced as an anomaly, and at times as a threat (Adams 1997). Following Adams, Diane Nelson illustrates the ways in which this power dichotomy is experienced by young solidarity activists from the US; their light-skinned phenotype and “eagle passport” allowing them the privilege of safe movement and freedom of speech locals are denied (1999:52). At the same time, she demonstrates how this marked privileged is undermined when a gringa is attacked (1999:65-66). Gringa, thus, is marked by phenotype, assumes a place of origin, but mostly indicates power relations. “I’m not a gringa” refers not only to my physical appearance and place of origin, but also to my complex position within and outside the North/South power dichotomy. Obviously, I was never entitled to the privileges accompanying the above mentioned phenotype and passport, nor did I wish to be associated with or make amends for the legacy of the US intervention in Guatemala. Indeed, I came from Canada, another wealthy North American country, with its own complex relations with Guatemala. On the one hand, its international development fund supports many important projects; on the other hand, in the past years Canadian mining companies in Guatemala have been a central site of struggle. Maya women activists often described both interventions as rape; the US was associated with the rape of women during the Internal Armed Conflict and Canada with rape of the land, women’s vitality.62 Having my research supported by a Canadian university, 62 The topic is vastly addressed by activists, journalists and scholars; for example see Nolin and Stephens (2010), also see documentaries: Defensora (Schmidt, Rachel 2013, USA/Guatemala/ Canada 39 min), Sikapaka MOVING FIELDWORK 65 linked me, of course, to the violent resource extraction taking place in Guatemala. Yet, being a non-Canadian, I was not condemned for it, as my ability to change this reality is limited. Coming from North America, while not North American, meant, for me, that my presence in the field was relatively free of gringa sense of entitlement and guilt. Yet being viewed as “an Israeli woman (from Canada),” had its own complexities. The legacy of Israeli intervention during the Internal Armed Conflict was mentioned in a few conversations, but the women I worked with were generally more concerned with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict than with the Israeli support of the US intervention in Guatemala.63 My record as a left-wing woman political activist in Israel helped establish a bridge of trust, and together with my experiences as a women’s rights activist awarded me the title compañera.64 Being “freed of entitlement” further meant that I did not have the privileges of the relatively protected North American upbringing. I am the granddaughter of an underground activist who was tortured in a Syrian jail and hunted as a terrorist by the British Army; who, without an acquired profession, raised a family in the most notorious barrio in Israel; the daughter of a refugee who spent his teens moving between a series of refugee camps; not to mention the granddaughter of two women who struggled to sustain their families in states of extreme/poverty. My family history of political activism, forced displacement, which intersect with poverty, and the scars they generate, is thus more easily relatable to the people I worked with in Guatemala than my North American friends’ histories. no se vende (Revenga, Álvaro, 2006, Guatemala), journalist reports, such as Dawn Paley & Karl Nerenberg and virtual communities such as Goldcrop out of Guatemala, MiningWatch Canada. 63 Not a lot was written about the topic of Israeli involvement in the Internal Armed Conflict. It remains unclear how much of the military advisory was delivered by independent professionals vs. state initiative. For more information see Rubenberg (1986). Interestingly, beyond comments such as “in that building sat your countrymen and trained intelligence investigators,” I also heard nostalgic stories about socialist labor union training in Israel organized and sponsored by the Histadrut (the Israeli labor union). 64 The word compañera has many meanings such as female companion, friend, and co-worker. In this context it meant “a sister in struggle.” MOVING FIELDWORK 66 Beyond my family’s legacy, growing up in Israel meant living in the shadow of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, marked by tides of violence. One such intensified period of violence was the Al-Aqsa Intifada, a time when every public space could abruptly turn into a death trap. Living in Jerusalem during that time period did not only mean witnessing everyday violence, but also the ways in which such violence restructures and redesigns how people live their everyday lives. This experience equipped me—mentally and practically—to live in a state of ongoing violence in Guatemala. Moreover, it was an essential tool for me in understanding how people around me made sense of the reality in which we lived. Growing up Jewish in Israel also meant being raised as part of a majority group and entitled, even when on the “wrong side of the political map,” to be nurtured, respected and protected. Namely, I grew up knowing I have the right—and duty—to critique my government. Unfortunately, this fundamental experience of my freedoms and rights as a woman-being was not always shared by my Guatemalan compañeras.65 In the field, though, being Jewish provoked much more interest than I anticipated.66 Many of the women I talked to were raised Catholic and were now extremely critical of the church—especially in relation to women’s rights. Others were devout Catholics who struggled with those same issues. For both groups, my theological opinion on these subjects was of interest. For the evangelical (Cristianas) women, being Jewish (from Israel) meant I was part of “the chosen people,” a terminology I was, and still am, uncomfortable with; yet I was not sure how to address it without hurting their feelings. 65 Distributing political manifestations against a right-wing government at the age of 14 with a group of peers, is an experience I shared with Yolanda Aguilar (and others). My weekly activism was labelled a ‘contribution to the community.’ Hers got her arrested, tortured, gang raped, and blinded for a short time (Chinchilla 1998:351-385). 66 As a non-observant, I never manifested this part of my identity; yet being Israeli tagged me as Jewish. (Even people with strong opinions on the Israeli Palestinian conflict never considered the possibility that “Israeli” can also be Muslim or Christian, let alone “Palestinian.”) MOVING FIELDWORK 67 While I was honored with the term compañera, I was often viewed as a young woman needing to be taken care of. That I was away from my family in Israel was a constant concern; my repeated answer—I live with (local and North American) friends—never eased. I was often given rides to the bus, particularly when I stated it was not needed; whenever possible, my meals where paid for me; and I was generously hosted in activists’ homes when I ended up spending the night in the Capital. I was not married and was not a mother, thus for many of the women activist I worked with, my professional credentials and my actual age did not matter: I was not viewed as a mature woman.67 When I wasn’t called compañera I was called “a student,” a term that at times seemed a bit inappropriate, considering my level of education was higher than most of the women in the field. At first I wondered if I should address the fact that I’m not an undergraduate student, but hold a master’s degree, in order to be taken more seriously. As the time passed, I realized that I liked to be identified that way, since it framed our relationship the way I envisioned it. I was a student because I was there to study. I studied their work as a scholar, and I learned from them as an activist and a woman being. Calling me “a student” allowed the women I worked with to teach me like they’d never do had I insisted on positioning myself as an established scholar. Beyond my complex position within and outside the North/South power dichotomy, it is important noting my dual position as a scholar and an activist. It was clear that I am a scholar, and that I was in Guatemala to study the movement and write about it. Yet, it was just as clear that I am committed, ideologically and practically to women’s rights. This dual position opened more doors for me, such as “back stage” data; yet, it came with the unspoken 67 Through my fieldwork I had a (North American) partner, but there was a unanimous agreement (on a question I never asked) that I should not marry him before I graduate and secure myself a job. MOVING FIELDWORK 68 commitment that I use this data carefully to promote and assist in their struggle. Going back to Clifford (1986), such commitment brings up the question of partiality. Diane Nelson explains this position as a “methodology of fludarity,” i.e., “a practice and analytics that combine solidarity—being partial to, as in on one side of, the people I work with—with an acknowledgment of how partial, how incomplete, my knowledge and politics have to be” (1999:32). Similarly, my research project, from its first steps and motivations through its different continuing stages, is a relational, deeply partial, project, both in the sense of incomplete and extremely subjective (Nelson 1999). While my work was based in Guatemala City, I set my “ethnographic tent” (Clifford 1997:20) in a “nearby village:” Antigua Guatemala. Living in the capital meant living in a very violent reality that could cause physical and psychological vulnerability that I hoped to minimize (Passaro 1997:147). Yet while violence is not as prevailing and as lethal in Antigua, it is present, common, and an important factor that shapes everyday’s reality.68 Further, travelling to the city meant taking at least four buses a day. With buses being a central site of violence, some of my friends claimed that this practice is just as dangerous as living in the city (not to mention the hassle of leaving as early as 6am to make it to my morning meetings at 8:00am).69 Naturally, the fact I “camped” in Antigua impacted my fieldwork in various ways. First, it added another layer of movement to my research project. During my four-or more-hours of daily commute I left the transnational, relatively well-off, community in Antigua, in the company of local (mostly male) lower middle class and labourers, on my way to engage 68 Out of the seven times I was physically attacked in Guatemala, five took place in Antigua. Three of them were sexual assaults, the other four attempted robberies. Sexual harassment was a common practice in the street, but I was never physically attacked or harassed on the bus. 69 In the later stages of my research I spent more nights in the city, mostly staying with friends. MOVING FIELDWORK 69 with local women social activists and government officials.70 Seated, pressed, between two men on the dangerously curvy road to the capital, I engaged in conversations with people I’d never had the opportunity to meet elsewhere, whose sociopolitical opinions where very different than the ones I was usually exposed to.71 It was also time for preparation (on my way to the capital) and reflection (on my way to Antigua), precious time I’m not sure I would have given myself otherwise. My daily commute, like my research, was a journey between the transnational and the local, between general society and women’s groups. This commute marked my daily entrance to and exit from the field, and helped me, particularly when I became further involved with the campaign, to maintain some distance and perspective. Living in Antigua also meant that at times, “the field” came to visit me. While in Antigua, I spent my days in the Spanish Center for Education and Collaboration, a cultural center hosting a library, art exhibits, film series, and various cultural events, together with diverse training initiatives. As such, when events related to the campaign took place in Antigua, they were usually held there, allowing me to be the proud and generous host of my friends from the capital. It was yet another reminder of the flows this campaign relies on. These flows were also essential in the process of reflecting on and analyzing the reality I observed and participated in. Beyond my bus conversations with locals, coming home to Antigua included recounting my daily experiences to the people I shared accommodation with, as well as friends, both locals and transnational, all outsiders to the campaign. Namely, on a daily base, I had to contextualize every experience and thought I had in the capital, and explain its importance and relevance in the greater framework of this 70 Antigua is relatively close to the capital but the morning traffic, together with unpredictable nature of city buses makes this 50 minutes ride much longer. 71 For instance, a man in his 70s, on the way back to Antigua fervently advocated that I, being “a pretty young woman,” should spare myself these long stressful bus rides. His suggestion was that I’ll get married and allow my partner to support me while I “do nothing.” MOVING FIELDWORK 70 campaign. While I wasn’t always keen to deliver in-depth daily reports, my weekend conversations with family and friends familiar with the Guatemalan settings were usually an elaborated “field report,” as my weekly “stories” became an initial analysis in progress of my research. “Reporting” in three different languages, Hebrew, English, and Spanish, was another key experience in understanding my own “stories.” As my involvement in the field grew deeper, it became more complicated to “report” in English. Hebrew, my native language, like Spanish, allows for a more community-oriented discourse that at times was hard to express in English. Beyond the sense of being in relation, both Hebrew and Spanish convey a strong sense of gender, while English time and again strips the discourse of its gender aspects.72 I soon learned to look at my linguistic frustrations as an invitation to explore the less evident local (cultural) aspect of the campaign. Therefore, while I view my fieldwork as a process of relationship building, I believe that my analysis was just as relation-dependent. I will now turn to discuss the modes in which I engaged in this relationship. Methods Unlike many other scholars (Goldstein 2033:27-28, Nelson 1999:31-32), I did not have key contacts to facilitate my entrance to the field. Although I conducted preliminary fieldwork in 2008, my entry to the field in 2009 was difficult and slow. The people I met in 2008 were no longer in the positions they held in the previous summer and only two were still active in the campaign, and in a relatively high profile position. One of them, Hilda Morales Trujillo, a legal scholar (and a candidate for Supreme Court), poet, a founder of several Civil Society organizations, Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, who 72 For example, in a common sentence such as: “In our alliance all the member organizations are feminist,” every word but “in” and “are” is gendered (feminine). MOVING FIELDWORK 71 held several governmental and international positions, remained a source of inspiration and support through and after my fieldwork. While participating in public events she introduced me to relevant actors, yet these were mostly governmental functions and functionaries and I was too new to the field to actively participate in these conversations.73 Most of my attempted communication at that point was electronic—approaching activists whose names I received from my initial contacts or found on organizations’ elaborated websites—which was not very successful.74 I also used these websites as windows to the field, learning about their views regarding the reality of everyday violence, their ongoing activities and public events. Thinking back on my basic anthropology training, I often thought about Geertz’s “ten days or so” (1973:413) of being completely ignored by the Balinese villagers that he and his wife came to study in 1958. As the “ten days” turned into ten weeks—and more—I kept trusting that, like Geertz, my persistent physical presence in different public events would open a path for my fieldwork. Trying to figure my way into the field, I developed my understanding of the place, its politics, and the ways in which people communicate with each other. I participated in cultural events and volunteered in various small scale projects. While my future contacts were not very responsive, my physical presence did not go completely unnoticed. My liminal appearance—somewhere between local and foreign—as well as the ways in which I moved—unaccompanied, by foot—provoked much uninvited reactions, mainly men’s comments directed at my body. This combination of lack and excess responses to my presence created a rather frustrating everyday reality. 73 For instance the inauguration of the new protocol of care for victims of sexual abuse, an event sponsored by CONAPREVI held on November 20. At that point of time there were too many gaps in my knowledge to understand the power dynamics between these actors and their different interests in promoting the new protocol. Hence, these conversations never developed to the point in which I felt comfortable asking for an interview. 74 Months later, people I worked with reported that they were not able to find materials I sent; apparently, the email address I was using was often channeled directly to people’s spam folder, and probably influenced the minimal responses I received for my introductory emails. MOVING FIELDWORK 72 While frustrating, this experience was helpful in grounding me in the field. I began thinking about my body as a tool through which I can better understand the reality of being a young woman in this space, an experience that I have learned to view as rather violent. Documenting the comments made towards my body as well as my responses helped me have a better sense of Guatemalan urban society. Further, situating this constant harassment in a cultural context helped me be less emotionally impacted by it. Naturally, bodies are marked not only by gender, but by complex intersections of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, age, body able-ness, and so on. These markers, combined with the locations and times of day that these bodies are present and move in social spaces, provoke different responses. However, while the responses vary, some experiences are shared—women’s bodies in the public/private sphere are objectified and subjected to diverse forms of discipline that reify, maintain, and reproduce masculine supremacy. Placing my embodied experience as a woman in Guatemala prior to my positions as a woman scholar from North America or a woman activist from Israel was essential, I believe, for my future communication with the women activists I engaged. It has also been healthy and valuable to negotiate those other positions in and outside the field. In November 24, the night before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I participated for the first time in the annual memorial ceremony, the vigilia that takes place at the Constitutional Plaza in front of the National Palace. It was the first time I participated in an event organized by a civil society alliance; in this case the coordinadora 25 de noviembre, a committee assembled every year of representatives of member-organizations, in order to organize the events commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It was a stormy night that dramatically reduced the number of participants. MOVING FIELDWORK 73 As the rain calmed, the organizers waited for more people to join. While waiting for the event to start, I had a short conversation with Hilda about the next day’s march. Due to an injury, she did not intend to participate, but introduced me to “nuestra defensora,” Ana-Gladys Ollas, head of women’s protectorate unit at the Guatemalan office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights (PDH). Hilda explained to Ana-Gladys that I would like “to help” the next day, and asked if she would be there to facilitate. I immediately confirmed that I would love “to help,” and asked what that would entail. “Just be there,” they both answered. And Hilda elaborated: “just being there with us is great help.” Another person in the crowd actually mattered, as was soon emphasized through a practice I was introduced to that night. A name of an organization was called, and all incorporated activists responded “presente” (present, here). Being there, “just being,” was meaningful. It was a political statement that entailed sociopolitical implications.75 Being present was something I was able to do simply by being a person, a woman-being. The 2009 vigilia was my first presente. Waiting for the event to start, another international student and I played with a group of young kids, children of some of the women activists.76 Once the event was over I engaged in a conversation with one of the kids’ mother, who was part of the organizing committee, and she invited me to come and “help” the next morning in preparation for the next day’s march. This “help” entailed arriving at the office of one of the member organizations, Tierra 75 At that specific political time, being identified as part of crowd did not put participants in physical danger, but many of these activists carried the scars of political oppression in previous years and struggles. In interviews many activists mentioned that being seen as part of this crowd limited women-activists’ employability, especially in regards to public positions such as supreme judge or university faculty. 76 Many activists find it important for their children to participate and witness the different activities. While teens are often incorporated in various youth groups, the younger children usually accompany their mothers (and at times, fathers) or being entertained by other activists. At the same time, their presence also attests to their mothers’—often single—inability to find or pay for alternative arrangements. MOVING FIELDWORK 74 Viva at 6am, and take part in decorating two big trucks with messages denouncing violence against women. When I arrived, the next day, I did not work with the woman who invited me to join the night before, but with the Tierra Viva representative to the coordinadora, Maria Ixmucané Solórzano. When we finished decorating the coordinadora’s trucks, we had breakfast in the office. As I commented on the T-shirts the Tierra Viva activists wore, Ixmucané was happy to give me one that I wore through the march. At the end of the march, I approached her again, explained—for the first time that day—that I was there as an anthropologist, and asked for an interview, which we conducted a few weeks later. That same day, towards the end of the march, I participated in a political act meant to condemn sexual violence during the internal armed conflict—stamping my hands in paint on a huge cloth hanging at the entrance to the Plaza Mayor. Having done that (while wearing the Tierra Viva T-shirt) I engaged in a conversation with an activist who invited me to a public testimonial event the following day. The next day I learned that she, Amandine Fulchiron, was the main organizer of the event, and member of the organization actoras de cambio.77 Later on that day, after I assisted Amandin coordinating the participants to the next activity she agreed to sit with me for a formal interview. My hands that “helped” to decorate the coordinadora’s trucks and were later stamped on a huge cloth in solidarity with military rape survivors and my physical presence in those three events facilitated my way into the field. My interviews with Maria and Amandine in January were instrumental for my fieldwork. Once interviewed, they put me in contact with other women activists in their 77 Beyond the public testimonies, the event (Nov 26 2009) included a visit in the museum exhibit sobrevivi estoy aqui y estoy viva, performances by a theater group, a dance group, and a musical group la banda Centroamericana Feminista led by artist and activist Sandra Moran. For more about the event, see chapter 6. MOVING FIELDWORK 75 organizations and beyond. Once I became a bit more familiar with these two organizations and the organizations they collaborated with, I began to simply walk into offices, introduce myself to the receptionist, and ask to talk to relevant people. This strategy worked better when the receptionist had seen me before, even if we were not formally introduced; in cases where I was a complete stranger, they did not always open the door.78 These interviews were also instrumental as the women I talked to informed me of other relevant events where I met and was introduced to more relevant people. As time passed, my physical presence in the field was noticed, observed, and generated curiosity and interest in ways that my previous direct communication did not accomplish. After a certain time-period of general participation I was approached by actors in the field who wondered what my position in the field was; this also opened the way for further communication and collaborations.79 My following work was a combination of participatory observation, in/formal conversations, and collecting tangible and electronic materials produced by local organizations. Participatory Observation: The common term for this ethnographic practice is participant observation, emphasizing that the observer is a participant. Here I choose to use participatory observation in order to emphasize the participatory nature of my work, distinguishing the initial period of my fieldwork, in which I observed public events as a participant, i.e., “participant observation” and the later time period in which I observed 78 For example, in “Mujeres transformando el mundo” conversation with the receptionist took place through a closed door, and I was not allowed in. Several months later, I approached the director, Lucia Moran, in a public forum, and scheduled an interview. When I arrived, she opened the interview by apologizing and explaining that they were threatened and terrorized by different groups, so although I had “proper” documentation (University forms with description of my research, business card) in my first visit, the receptionist was too afraid to open the door for me. However, when I approached her in person in that event, she already knew of me and saw me before, so she was more confident to invite me to come. 79 Once I was cornered in Antigua’s Spanish Center for Education and Collaboration’s bathroom during a film screening by an activist inquiring who I am, who am I working with, and where did I get my shoes. She is still a close friend. MOVING FIELDWORK 76 events I was invited to participate in. For example, the first time I participated in the November 24 vigilia (2009) I observed the event seated in the audience. I audio recorded speakers, took pictures from afar, careful not to interrupt the speakers or activity. When invited, I joined the rest of the audience in lighting a sequence of candles, forming the emblem of the network for the elimination of violence against women (RedNoVi) and the number of women who were killed violently that year. The following year, I helped set up the stage, was in charge of creating the candles’ sequence, took pictures for the organizers, including close-ups and posed group pictures, and helped clear the stage and load the truck. This was partly due to the fact that in the fall of 2010 I was invited to be part of the coordinadora 25 de noviembre, the committee that organizes the events commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Attending the general meetings and participating in a subcommittee became a key experience that extended my understanding of the field. Prior to this point, I was, like many of the local activist, less exposed to the complex political circumstances, manoeuvring, and negotiations through which women’s rights and antiviolence advocacy come to be. Once “inside,” I gained a far better, first hand, understanding of the broader context in which the events I observed and actively participated in took place. These diverse levels of participation broadened the scope of my interviews in several ways. Obviously, it helped me reach out to more actors in the field, quantity-wise. But there were several “qualitative” advantages as well. For instance, once activists knew me (or of me) trust became less of an issue; more personal, at times extremely painful, experiences MOVING FIELDWORK 77 were shared, together with controversial comments about other actors in the field.80 Further, I was able to ask about activities and actions in which I participated in and had my own views of. These experiences informed my questions (such as “how did you feel singing on the same stage women gave public testimony about state-sponsored rape, an hour earlier?”) allowed for a conversation, not only “a report.”81 Interviews: In my time in the field—and while away, through the internet—I engaged in countless conversations with actors in the field. Some non-formal conversations took place in public events, others in a random meeting on the street or a bus, while getting a ride somewhere, over lunch, or in social events. These less-formal or non-formal exchanges were highly valuable for my understanding of the social situation I studied and its complexities. In this process, I had the honor and privilege to form friendships with people who have been generous in helping to explain those complexities. These conversations, being part of everyday practice, where not audio recorded, yet I did incorporate some of them in my notes. Some actors made a point about talking to me “off record,” elaborating on certain issues only after the recorder was turned off, or commenting on a specific issue on our next, occasional meeting. My formal conversations, or “interviews,” were conducted in Spanish and all translations of spoken and written words are mine unless otherwise noted. Considering the work overload and hectic reality in which activists operate, it often took a while to schedule time to meet, and even when scheduled, interviews were cancelled in the last minute or 80 For instance, after entertaining an activist’s child through a public event, I learned that he was conceived in a gang rape. In an interview with his mother, six months later, we both knew that I knew of her ordeal. While she spared me the gory details, she often mentioned events before and after “it happened.” While she was not interested in talking about “it,” mentioning “it,” while I never asked about it, was, I believe, an expression of familiarity and trust. 81 Here I refer to an event I earlier mentioned, organized by Actoras de cambio (see FN 77). MOVING FIELDWORK 78 stopped in the middle, when a more pressing issue emerged. A few activists generously offered to meet with me before the beginning of their workday, and with others I was never able to set a time for an interview. Five of the interviews were not individual, and involved two to seven participants.82 The informed consent process included a question regarding the usage of the interviewee’s name.83 None of my interviewees chose to be described under a pseudonym, but I decided to use pseudonyms or not mention the names of people who specifically indicated that they went through a form of abuse.84 Some of these stories are known within this small community and omitting the names does not considerably conceal people’s identity, yet it does maintain some privacy in relation to general society. However, by making this decision on their behalf I feel that I may impede their agency to decide what is in their best interest, and in my future writing I may use their names. Yet, as we cannot always 82 The first, with Colectivo Nazareth, included seven members of the colectivo. The second, at the UNICEF included three employees and a volunteer of the organization, the third, included two activists representing Mujeres en Resistencia, the fourth, included two members of Convergencia, and the last one included two employees of SEPREM. 83 All formal interviews included informed consent in which interviewees had at least one day to review a written description of my study, my intentions, and contact information of my supervisor in Vancouver. At the majority of cases interviewees did not pay much attention to this procedure. However, there were two cases in which the legal approach alarmed the interviewees; yet we were able to come up with a different approach that eased the process. In the first case, the collective interview in UNICEF, the participants asked that each one of us will get a copy of the form signed by the five of us (I always left a copy with my interviewees, but in this case they asked for a signed one). In another interview at a governmental agency the interviewee was happy to be interviewed without signing the form. She claimed she does not have the legal authority to sign such a document. It was resolved as the head of the agency passed by the room where the interview was held, and entered in order to greet me. She was happy to sign the form and relieve the employee of organizational liability. Once she signed, the employee added her signature. In another case I interviewed a woman whose level of literacy was not sufficient to fully understand the text, thus we had a similar, oral consent oral consent procedure. 84 All quoted conversations, unless otherwise indicated, were recorded in formal interviews with activists, in such cases; I use the activist’s first name (as was used in the interview). When reporting a text delivered in a different format (publication, public speech, poem) I use the activists’ last name. For a list of dates when interviews took place see appendix 3. MOVING FIELDWORK 79 control the consequences of our actions, and considering the violent nature of the environment in which this research takes place, at this point I choose to be overly cautious.85 A more pressing ethical issue, communicated by several actors, was a sense of abuse by scholars who “come and go as they please and give nothing back to the field, not even a translated version of their work.” It was an important reminder of the different ways in which research ethics is perceived. Although I had to leave the field several times (for professional and personal reasons), the fact that I returned at the time I stated, that I maintained contact while being away, and did my best to be accountable and diligently participate in important events and meetings, was helpful in establishing a greater sense of trust and interest in collaboration. I often shared my own experiences, methods, and materials from similar workshops I had delivered and political activities I had organized and participated in, in the past. Also, as I mentioned before, I brought my body to the field, doing simple manual work, such as loading equipment on or decorating a truck, taking pictures of behalf of an event organizer, leading speakers to the stage, accompanying threatened speakers (“human shield”) in events, and simply adding my body to the crowd gathered in public events – an embodied demonstration of my ethical and political commitments. Interviews were mostly conducted in offices, but also in coffee shops (one coffee shop in particular became my “city office”), in cars, and in people's homes. Sometimes an interview was a beginning of a conversation, other times I was very familiar with the person by the time we sat for a formal interview. The length of time I spent in the field and the different relations I developed with activists allowed me to have multiple conversations with 85 Experiencing an overtly violent response to the publication of my MA thesis might have made me more cautious and protective towards my interviewees than needed. For me, this is just another illustrations of the ways in which our personal experiences influence our research and our decisions as scholars. MOVING FIELDWORK 80 people at different points of my fieldwork and share my initial analysis and thoughts with them. With some I maintained electronic contact after leaving the field. Interviews varied depending on the organization the actor was involved with and her position in it, or in the movement in general. Following a description of the process that motivated the research I opened this chapter with, I asked for basic information about the organization’s structure, aims, and activities (I later found a helpful survey of organizational structure and activities written by Spanish sociologist Luisa Cabrera in 2009). Once the aims, structure, and position of an organization were discussed, I asked, what, given infinite power, would she do to make world better for Guatemalan women. A follow up question was how that world would look. These two broad questions were meant to address the difficulties in their everyday reality in an alternative—hopefully empowering—mode. Following a discussion about an alternative, utopian, reality, I asked about the actions and activities taking place in order to make this reality more possible. The rest of the interview focused on actions and activities, initiations and collaborations. I asked them to elaborate on specific concepts, such as feminism and femicide, and the ways in which they impact their work. Issues such as the relation between past and current violence, past and current activism, transnational movement, and legislation were often an important part of the conversation. I made a point ending the interview by asking about the movement’s, their organizations’ and their personal accomplishments, achievements, and triumphs. Overall, I meant these interviews to be empowering moments. Not in the sense that I was empowering them, but by focusing on their actions and not on the violent experiences in their lives, I MOVING FIELDWORK 81 hoped that these formal conversations with the outsider I am, will reaffirm their position as actors of change.86 Material analysis: In most of the interviews and public events I, like other participants, was handed published materials produced by the hosting organization/s. These materials range between one page of event-related flyers or political proclamation handouts, small publications (research, reports, information about the organization, information about a certain topic, legislation, and organization newsletters), actual books, and other materials such as T-Shirts, bags, and other accessories carrying the organizations’ logo, motto, and often the sponsoring agency. At times materials produced by a governmental agency or another civil society NGO, were distributed by another organization, often a member organization of the same alliance or network.87 Other materials I collected include similar materials posted on different websites, news articles, radio program broadcasts, and pictures I took in different events. I use these publications as support and affirmation of ideas, agendas, and strategies expressed in the interviews, but also to expand on issues I chose not to discuss in the interviews, such as violence, and issues I was less aware of, such as different perceptions in regards to ethical conduct.88 Several images are frequently part of these materials, allowing me to explore alternative ways in which discourses are communicated to both participants and general society. The rich materialization of ideas, i.e. the material presentation of 86 This strategy meant that unless activists chose to tell me about experiences of violence that influenced their lives, which many of them did, I did not always have a way to learn about them. 87 Governmental agencies such as CONAPREVI, SEPREM, OJ had greater budgets to produce promotional and educational materials for their own needs, but they were able to also share them with women’s organizations. 88 For instance, most ethical protocols I am familiar with (academic, medical, police) mandate the anonymity of survivors. In contrast, the organizations I worked with often celebrated survivors identity and their pictures appear on publications’ front covers. MOVING FIELDWORK 82 political agendas, calls for an analysis of this process, within the particular circumstances of transnational and local social movement. As my analysis is directly related to the relationships I developed in the field I would like to offer an additional viewpoint of these relationships. The Observed Participant: Fly’s-Eye View(s) “Describe your research fantasy,” was my first graduate assignment. Bearing in mind that an anthropologist is not “a fly on the wall,” observing and reporting from the position of an objective, unseen, outsider; the research fantasy I described was to be the fly on my own shoulder observing my presence in the field. As a true fantasy, it didn’t come true, yet, unexpectedly, I was extended some additional perspective on my presence in the field from what I will call, fly’s-eye view. (Desde) La Vista de Una Mosca89 As I discussed earlier, the 2009 Vigilia was an important fieldwork moment for me. I observed the event seated in the audience, audio recorded speakers, took pictures and participated in candle lighting. The next day I participated for the first time in the annual November 25 march, walking in a big crowd of activists wearing an activist’s T-shirt, collecting materials and meeting people.90 Later that day I returned to Antigua, and found the family I lived with waiting for me with the newspaper. It was a copy of Prensa Libre, the most prestigious newspaper in Guatemala, the same newspaper I saw a few times that day sold in streets corners and on Tierra Viva’s bulletin board. The cover page featured a picture from the act of candle lighting at the vigilia, explaining that it was women’s organizations’ 89 (From) a (she) Fly’s-eye view. 90 While it was the first time I physically attended, I was strangely familiar with the event, as it was featured in the documentary Killers’ Paradise (Portenier, Giselle, 2007, Canada/Guatemala, 83 min). This familiarity added a layer of interest to my participation. MOVING FIELDWORK 83 homage for violence’s victims in Guatemala, and I was impressed that that little act actually was presented as nationally meaningful. I thanked them for getting me a copy of the newspaper and started telling them about the events, but they were excited about something else: Me. I was in the photo. Third on the right, kneeling and not looking at the camera; I did not recognize myself in that same picture I saw several times that day. But my Guatemalan friends did. And they were very proud. Raul, the head of the household, said: "you are the first person I know who did not die and still made it to the front page of the Prensa!" Intrigued, and a bit annoyed, I assumed that it takes a local to set apart "me," the foreigner anthropologist, from "them", the local activists. Yet, Raul did not exclude me from the crowd. On the contrary, he saw me as a person whose probability to experience violence is similar to any other person in his general social circle. This early stage of my research was a frustrating time for me; feeling, figuratively and literally, “out of the picture,” I didn’t even consider looking for myself in the picture. My Guatemalan hosts, on the other hand, knew I had participated in that event and for them it was enough to consider me “part of the picture;” thus, they looked for me in the picture. Interestingly, while I was seeking the approval of local campaign participants, two non-Figure 2: Vigilia, November 24, 2009. MOVING FIELDWORK 84 participant local agents, the family I lived with and the local media positioned me (figuratively and literally) in the picture. The local media reassured the family I lived with that I was “part of the picture;” and by celebrating that picture, they reassured me of my place in the field. This double placement marked, metaphorically and practically, the moment in which I entered the field. Symbolically, it was a moment when I, the woman who came to turn others into the object of her gaze became herself, an object of the gaze (Behar 1995:2). To be a participant, I needed to be observed, recorded, and posted. Put differently, participatory observation in public acts includes being observed. Fly.com A year later, my place in the field was very different. During the fall of 2010, I was part of the coordinadora 25 de noviembre. Working closely with representatives of the member organizations, I interacted and formed friendships with activists representing groups I originally did not consider part of the Campaign for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, such as domestic women workers, and women HIV positive. While I did not directly work on issues of HIV/AIDS, I was later invited to participate in a special event organized for World AIDS Day, December 1 (part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign). It was a radical public action, to which only 50 activists were invited to participate, and the activity's content was kept secret until the last minute. Dressed as witches we gathered at the Constitutional Plaza, located between the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral, MOVING FIELDWORK 85 and staged acts of witchcraft sorcery, defying the government's neglect of both women HIV positive and the general public.91 It was quite an exceptional activity that drew a lot of attention in the street, from both general public and media. As we were leaving the plaza, a photographer walked with us, and constantly took pictures. He did not stop to ask for our permission, or even to inquire what was it that we were doing. At some point, I got a bit annoyed, raised my broom, and pretended to push him away. He took another picture and moved on. A few days later I received an email from a friend in Vancouver asking if I had participated in a World AIDS Day activity in Guatemala City. To my surprise, that final “click,” made it to the BBC World "photos of the week," as well as several other websites.92 What first struck me about the photo was that the photographer captured the anthropologist instead of “the tribe”: a fact I found hilarious. I looked like them. I did what they did. I am them! But at the same time, this photo shows how different I am. It was not coincidental that I was the one to get annoyed. As an anthropologist I am trained to engage with people and ask for their permission. But this was 91 For a further discussion about the symbolism of the witch see chapter 3, a further discussion about the activity in chapter 6. 92 This is when I learned that the photo was taken by Reuters' photographer Daniel LeClair, who I unsuccessfully attempted to contact several times. Figure 3: Aquellare, Dec 1, 2010. MOVING FIELDWORK 86 not a professional matter, I was not an anthropologist protecting her “tribe,” it was about me as an observed participant. Coming from Canada, I was not used to being an object of a gaze, let alone recorded and posted, without my permission. Further, considering my Israeli formation as a respect-worthy woman-being, it was not accidental that I was the one to act upon her annoyance. While the photo was celebrated in the field, it was an important reminder for me, at a point in time when I was closer than ever to “going native,” that I was an outsider. It took one picture to capture the differences—I looked like them, I did what they did, and lived in similar circumstances, yet, I was inherently different. I was constituted elsewhere, with the right and expectation to be a woman-actor, unlike my compañeras who had to teach themselves and constantly struggle for the right to be actors.93 More than any other experience in the field, this picture taught me the meaning of feminist solidarity; one that, following Lorde (1984) and Mohanty (2003), is founded on knowledge and critical awareness of difference rather than on essentialist identity. Looking at the face of a non-Guatemalan woman, captured by a non-Guatemalan man, posted on the worldwide web as a representation of a Guatemalan women's action for World AIDS Day, funded by international organizations, highlighted how transnational this campaign is. Namely, having my face at the forefront was a good reminder that I’m merely one of many other external agents involved with this campaign. It was further humbling to recognize the pace and extent of journalists’ readership. Indeed, the caption: “Activists dressed as witches leave a demonstration on World AIDS Day in Guatemala City December 1, 2010” did not portray an in-depth description of the event. At the same time, unlike a 93 I never operated under the assumption that being an outsider guarantees my safety; a notion that grew stronger when one of my closest friend, an international activist, was brutally raped. Namely, I believe that the main difference was not the passport I hold, but the circumstances in which I was brought up. MOVING FIELDWORK 87 thorough scholarly work, it was posted in close proximity to the event, and circulated much more widely than an academic work. Circulating, “flying,” on the web, this picture drew attention to the local campaign and was used as tangible evidence for (and then by) the international funders, and a world-wide affirmation for the women organizers and participants. Can my work be as impactful? “La Aquella Famosa” (foto, no mosca)94 In November 2011, after ten months as a student in Vancouver, I returned to Guatemala to participate in the events around November 25 and 16 Days of Activism. In contrast to 2009, when I made my first steps into the field, and 2010, when I was part of the organizing committee, this time I was a welcomed visitor. As a visitor, I helped set up the traditional vigilia on the evening of November 24, and helped decorate the march-tracks in two different locations early morning on November 25.95 Wearing my blue RedNoVi T-shirt, I spent the march walking through the marching crowd, taking photos and meeting friends and acquaintances. At a certain point we stopped for a short activity by the Constitutional Court. While there, a few of the women-leaders lined up in a row, and invited me to join them. It was a great moment for me, I felt very proud to be invited and to be part of this row, to be acknowledged as part of the happening, even as part of the representing faces of this campaign. Following the activity, until the procession made it to its final destination, the National Palace, this human-row led the march. It was a very exciting place to be. Situated 94 “That famous one” (picture, not fly). The name Sonia Acabal (RedNoVi), and others gave the picture described in this subsection. 95 Unlike previous years, the coordinadora’s truck was not prepared for the march at the same location as the Tierra Viva one. I therefore began the morning helping with the coordinadora’s truck and then made it to the last stages of preparing Tierra Viva’s truck, with whom I got a ride to the starting point (see figure 1). MOVING FIELDWORK 88 directly behind the policeman who opened the way for the march to go through, I was able to feel the city's pulse a step before we were interrupting its rhythm, before the policeman paused it for us. As he parted the ocean of traffic, I was part of the first row of people to walk on the dry land. Directly behind us walked Sandra Moran, a well-known activist, holding a big drum; her drumming and singing was transmitted powerfully through a sound system located on the leading truck, pumping the air with additional energy. The leading truck itself had a strong presence of a mighty giant, followed by a sea of activists advocating the cause through their T-shirts, bags, flags, demonstration plaques and other accessories. On the one hand, I felt honored and empowered taking part in this human-row. On the other, I was eager to document, to capture this moment. It was a powerful moment in which I felt the conflict between being an activist and a scholar: I wanted to be in that human-row and at the same time I wanted to take a photo of it. I wished to simultaneously observe and be observed, record and be recorded. At that moment, I was able to find a simple way to deal with my own conflict: I handed my camera to one of the news-photographers surrounding us, and asked him to take a few photos for me. It allowed me to participate and record at the same time; to simultaneously be an activist and an anthropologist. The next morning, my landlady left an article clip from the Prensa Libre with a photo from the march on my door. Unlike the photo taken with my camera (interestingly, by the same photographer) in which several activists and myself are smiling and posing for the picture, in the Prensa Libre's picture I am the only one looking at the photographer. Further, while joining my arms with two activists, I'm holding my camera in my hands, and carrying my audio-recorder in my front pocket. This picture, thus, captured well my complex position in the field: on the one hand, a women's rights activist, on the other, an anthropologist who MOVING FIELDWORK 89 studies that movement. The photo reflects my momentary unease with this complex position, and how trivial and insignificant was this complexity for the people who joined hands with me. Looking at the picture not only confirmed that it is physically possible to be both, but also that the women I worked with accepted me as both. This time, the local photographer, with whom I had chatted for a while, knew that I was a foreign anthropologist, a fact that did not seem to keep him from using the picture. Like the women I worked with, he was aware of the extent to which foreign ideas, individuals, and currency affected Guatemalan social activism. Unlike other pictures, this image was published several times, granting it the codename “that famous one.” That particular moment was also featured in another Guatemalan newspaper, Nuestra Diario, in which the picture gave a better sense of the marching crowd behind the leading human-row. Yet that same picture appeared again, three weeks later, the day I returned to Vancouver, in the newspaper's magazine. A different angle of the photo appeared about two months later, accompanying an article about the new president's policy changing. Links to those articles were sent to me by local activists, celebrating my continuous (virtual) presence in the field. Figure 4: March, November 25, 2011. MOVING FIELDWORK 90 All the above mentioned pictures were pointed to me by others: foreigners and non/participant locals. Beyond their anecdotal aspect, I tried to use them to gain a better understanding of my place in the field.96 I, of course, was not the only one to notice these pictures, and they were mentioned mostly after I left the field.97 In long distance communications around events taking place after I left, women often commented something along the lines of “we were thinking about you today… that had you been here, you’d probably end up in the paper again …” While these were jests, made by the women I was closer with, I tried to use these pictures to discuss my position in the field with women activists I was less close with. In an interview with Norma Herrera (UNAMG) a few days after the last picture was taken, I asked how she felt about my presence in that picture. I wasn’t sure that a direct question was the right way to go about it, but decided to give it a try. Norma explained that Guatemalans are used to foreigners and foreign interventions in every sphere of life. “Participation such as yours,” she continued, “the one that gets you to the front page, is the type we are happy about.” “Naturally,” she said, “ we would have liked to see more locals participating, but when foreigners come to support us, they are not taking locals’ place but encouraging locals’ participation.” Similar commentaries were offered by other activists in more casual conversations, but I assume the situation is more complex, or that not everyone shares this sentiment. However, these commentaries highlight the objective state of constant foreign intervention together with activists’ self-view as actors who can support or reject, 96 An unexpected revelation was that my dear friend Carolina Alvarez (Tierra Viva) appears in all three pictures, including the 2009 one, taken before we met. 97 The second picture was taken several days before I finished the official part of my fieldwork. The third picture was taken during a relatively short visit. It is not surprising, thus, that they were not discussed too much while I was in the field. MOVING FIELDWORK 91 approve or condemn non-local actors, and not only be supported or rejected, approved or condemned by them. When activists sent me links to articles in which “that famous picture” appeared I assumed that the act of sending them to me was beyond the anecdotal, but demonstrated a sense of endorsement of my participation. I thanked them and asked, still directly, but from a safe distance, how do they feel about it. Walda Barrios Klee’s, a former guerrilla, 2007 candidate for vice presidency (URNG), a current activist (UNAMG) and a social science and gender professor (FLASCO, USAC), response was heart warning and enlightening. “I’m happy that you are in the picture… I believe you were involved in the right way. You put on the shirt. “Put on the shirt,” is a metaphor for getting involved. …” Indeed, I put on the shirt, and became involved in this complex, transnational, exciting, painful and hopeful campaign. Hence, my analysis in the following chapters is directly related to the relationships I developed in the field and my personal position within its networks of people, power dynamics, and politics. As this research project is subjective and partial, my purpose in this chapter is to provide a detailed representation of the time periods and spaces this campaign operating within, the actors operate within these time periods and spaces, and therefore, of the relationships and embodied experiences that constitute my analysis. In the next chapters I step back and bring the campaign and its participants back to the center. In order to maintain my multilayered position I discuss in this chapter through the account, I alternate the pronouns I’m using in my description, shifting between they/we, their/ our. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 92 Chapter 2: From Left to Rights It was 12:30 pm, and a great crowd of activists—women, men, youth, children, Indigenous, Non-Indigenous, and foreigners—gathered in the Constitutional Plaza, one of the two large Plazas that compose the Plaza Mayor, Guatemala City’s hectic center. Framed by the neoclassical buildings of the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (National Palace of Culture), the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Plaza de las Armas, meant for military displays, and the historical shopping arcade, Portal del Comercio, the Plaza brings together the great powers of Guatemalan society: the government, the church, the army, and commerce.98 A decorative fountain and a pole holding a huge national flag in the Plaza’s center mark it as the country’s leading space for civil and political gatherings. In the middle of this urban political setting, using the flag pole as its center, a square was marked by scattered grass. Resembling a Mayan altar, the temporary plaza was decorated with flower petals, flower arrangements, candles, and burning scents. Small lilac figures of butterflies leaned on eight flower vases that marked the square’s angles and sides. Four big archival pictures of women participating in past demonstrations leaned on the flag pole. The improvised plaza was framed by four lines of inward facing activists, their backs facing the neoclassical buildings. Many activists wore a variety of traje, a regional Indigenous dress, their particular colors and patterns mapping the range of rural localities 98 In addition to its political and civil centrality, it is also considered the city's geographic center, as across the street, right at the entrance to the National Place, there’s a marker indicating “Kilometer 0″, from which all roads into Guatemala lead out of (see figure 11). The second Plaza in Plaza Mayor is called Parque Centenario, and commemorates the proclamation of Central American independence that took place in the Plaza in 1821. For further discussion on the role of the Main Plaza Central American cities as a legacy of the Spanish Empire in the Americas see Setha Low (1996) and Miles Richardson (1982). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 93 they come from.99 A giant effigy of an Indigenous woman added a twist to this sight, as the non-traditional color of the effigy’s traje, lilac, the color of the Suffragette movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the feminist movement, marked the transnational feminist discourse as her locality of origin.100 This notion was further emphasized as that same color was echoed in many of the signs and flags held around her.101 While some participants wore traje, the majority wore a variety of custom-made slogan T-shirts and other personalized accessories, such as bags, hats, bandanas, masks, balloons, aprons, bracelets, umbrellas, banners, flags, and even elaborate butterfly costumes. The slogans read: “Violence against women is a crime, as well as femicide.” “That’s it! No more violence against women.” “I’m a feminist and I say no more sexual violence against children, youth, girls, and women!” “Our voices will never be silenced again.” “I defend human rights because I work to eradicate violence against women and girls.” “No more violence at home, in the street, at work.” “I say, we say, everybody says: I’m a citizen. I fight for women’s citizenship, from my territory: body and land.” “Never again! JUSTICE for women in Guatemala.” “I’m a woman! I’m a citizen! I’m important! I’m happy!” “Women. Different looks Different feelings Different desires Different pleasures Equal rights.” “Women fighting and participating to be free. We demand that our rights will be respected, and a country without violence.” “For me, for us, and for the others: CONAPREVI” “15 years of creating history.” Several women held large titled portraits of well-known local protagonists who lost their lives in different stages of the prolonged struggle for social justice: Alaída Foppa * Irma 99 Traje is worn mostly by Maya women, but in some areas also by men. It is a marker of gender, ethnicity and a specific community of origin. In contemporary Guatemala, the hand-made, colorful traje reflects many of the ongoing social tensions. It is folklorized by the state to promote tourism, yet provokes racism and discrimination. Activists wearing traje in the city often do so as a political act that asserts their cultural right for self-determination. For further discussion see Nelson 1999 and Velásquez Nimatuj 2011. 100 Processional giants, figures of several meters carried by a person, are a popular tradition in many local celebrations in Latin America, originating in midlevel Europe. The most common is that the figures represent archetypes or popular locally relevant historical figures. 101 The color purple was adopted in the struggle for suffrage rights in the US and later used following the Montreal Massacre. A suggested explanation is that purple is the color that the cervix turns when a woman is about to give birth. As giving birth is an ultimate marker of being a woman, as well as equates with pain and suffering, the color purple stands for women’s suffering. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 94 Figure 5: Isabella Cruz sets a square within the square while other activists are entering Plaza Mayor, marching along the Metropolitan Cathedral on their way to the National Palace. Figure 6: A square within the square: in the center, archival pictures of past demonstrations, in the background the fountain and Portal del Comercio. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 95 Figure 7: Archival pictures of past demonstrations (left), a giant effigy of Indigenous woman (right), and Archival pictures of local protagonists, the National Palace in the background (below). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 96 Flaquer * Mama Maquin * Maria Chinchilla * Mayra Gutierrez * Rogelia Cruz * Yolanda Urizar. The portraits, while asserting a strong connection with past local social struggles and protagonists, also invite in one of the most influential (women’s) human rights’ campaign in the 20th century: the Argentinian Mothers of Plaza del Mayo.102 Unlike the Madres, who (silently) marched weekly carrying the portraits of their missing loved ones on their bodies, these portraits were pinned to long wood poles, and raised high above the heads of the women who held them, high above the heads of the women and men looking at them. Some of the portraits were grouped together, others a bit further, mixed with other banners and flags stating: “We appropriate and recover Our Territory: Body and Land.” “We are looking for justice for women. We did not forget and will not be silenced.” “Impunity and discrimination are also violence: There are many ways to kill a woman.” “Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health is also violence against women.” “No violence against women.” “Women have the right to live without violence, without torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” “We demand budget and political will in order to comply with the Law Against Femicide and other Forms of Violence Against Women.” “We recovered our voice and break the silence.” “For the life of Indigenous women: no more mining.” “Women are done waiting. We Stop Violence Against Women and HIV Now.” “For the life of women, no more impunity, we demand justice!” “Exclusion is also violence, no more inequality. We demand inclusive rural development that involves women.” “50 years of breaking the silence. Mirabal sisters: symbols of fighting violence against women.” This gathering marked the end of the long, eventful morning of November 25, 2010, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The date was chosen by Latin American feminist activists in 1981 as a tribute to the Mirabal sisters, three political activists who were killed on that day in 1960 for their opposition to the Dominican dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.103 The day thus emphasizes the connection between violence against women perpetrated by the state and by private actors (Friedman 2009:360). The 102 For further information see Agustin 1987, Taylor 1997. 103 The 2010 march was, in fact the 50th anniversary for their assassination. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 97 sisters’ code name, Las mariposas (the butterflies), became a central symbol for Latin American feminists, and is often marked on activist’s regalia and publications. In 1999 November 25 was officially designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The day’s activity started at 6:00 am, when the coordinadora 25 de noviembre, a coordinating committee composed of representatives from different local women’s organizations,104gathered by the entrance to Tierra Viva’s office to decorate the coordinadora’s truck that would later lead the march.105 Activists affiliated with women’s organizations in the capital got together in their particular venues to decorate the vehicles they would use in the march (trucks, pickups, vans, cars) and gathered the materials they would distribute while activists from the rural areas began traveling to the city.106 The annual march planned by the coordinadora 25 de noviembre, began several hours later, with a grand gathering at the Human Rights Plaza in front of the Supreme Court of Justice. Following a short political performance denouncing the role of the Judicial Branch in the situation of violence against women, the voceras (the coordinadora’s spokeswomen) announced the order in which the organizations would march and the march began.107 Each organization marched as a group, with their own banners, T-shirts, whistles, balloons, and other accessories, stating their visions and demands. Many were accompanied by vehicles 104 While the march as a whole was organized by the coordinadora, several acts were organized by specific organizations, reflecting their particular realm of activism. For instance, the closing gathering and the improvised plaza discussed above is organized annually by Sector Mujer, and attended by all participants. 105 Like the previous year, I took part in putting together the truck. This time, I participated as a member of the coordinadora. During the rally I mostly took pictures for the organizing committee and helped coordinating one of the street performances I discuss later. Hence, as I mentioned earlier, the following description draws on both my insider perspective, gained in months of involvement in the logistic and thematic organization of the rally as well as on a perspective of an outside observer, a photographer, hence my use of “they (we)” that emphasizes this dual position. 106 See more about the decorated trucks in chapter 4. 107 See more about the political performances in chapter 6. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 98 decorated with the same messages. The trucks also carried sound systems through which vocal messages, such as the coordinadora's comunicado de la prensa (a press release), were transmitted. The comunicado, a well-articulated statement, included the organizations’ joint vision of the situation of violence against women in the country and its implications.108 It strongly rejects different forms of violence against women and the social ideologies they derive from—machismo, discrimination, lesbophobia, racism—and demands a change in the state’s structure and the social collective memory. The second half of the comunicado includes a long, detailed list of the coordinadora's demands of the different state institutions, agencies, and branches, as well as the media and the general public. Each time the comunicado was read, it was concluded with a few rounds of participatory yells: the announcers called out (not always in coordination with other announcers): por la vida de las mujeres (for the life of women), and the marching crowd answered: ni una muerte más! (not even one more death!)109 Sometimes instead of reading the joint comunicado, the announcers read their own manifestos, or simply played music. Some groups danced and sang while marching, along groups of professional street performers playing drums, wearing makeup and carnival-like costumes that kept the rally lively and cheerful. Over the next few hours, this huge, colorful, vigorous stream flooded the streets of Guatemala City, stopping and replacing the usual currents of traffic on these streets, with a human mass. Marching on the road, they (we) left the sidewalks to street vendors, 108 See appendix 4. 109 There are a few versions of the call and response and this one is the most common. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 99 shopkeepers and other curious passers-by. The messages, carried through a pulsing stream of symbols, were directed both inwards, to the cells that composed this plasmid flow, as well as outwards, to the media and the occasional spectators, to whom educational materials were constantly distributed. Following a short stop for a second political performance by the Guatemalan Congress, denouncing the role of the legislative branch in the situation of violence against women, they (we) continued to their (our) final destination: the National Palace. After a final political act at the entrance to the National Palace, denouncing the role of the executive branch in the situation of violence against women, they (we) crossed the street and re-gathered. Their (our) backs facing the monumental buildings, representing the government, the church, the army, and the people, they (we) formed the improvised plaza I discussed above, at the center of the national political and civic center: the Constitutional Plaza. 110 For the first time that day they faced themselves: activists and employees of a variety of women’s organizations in Guatemala accompanied by their allies and family members. Situated on an improvised Mayan Alter, accompanied by a giant effigy of Indigenous woman and portraits of local protagonists, the moment powerfully portrayed a sense of locality. 111 While portraying a strong sense of continuum of local legacies of social struggle, the improvised plaza also drew on regional legacies of women’s human rights struggles: the Argentinian 110 While the government, the church and the people had a strong presence in the Plaza, the army (and the police) were absent from the scene. Randomly passing by the Palace on other occasions in which rallies took place I learned that on the opposite side of the building, hidden from the participants, a police force was set, fully geared to forcefully suppress any potential unrest. I can only assume that a similar force was placed there each time I was part of a rally at the front of the palace. 111 The usage of Mayan symbols to represent the Guatemalan nation is frequently contested and rejected by Maya activists, claiming that this appropriation is a cynical (folklorized, touristic, economic) use of the cultures the state have been trying to erase for centuries. To my understanding, in this campaign, the inclusion of Mayan symbols was meant to facilitate the participation of Maya women in the campaign; however, it can be still seen as part of the same practice. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 100 mothers’ (and grandmothers) of Plaza de Mayo and the Dominican Mirabal (butterfly) sisters. Incorporating these protagonists and their practices into the local struggle to end violence against women, highlights the centrality of (Latin American) women in human rights related struggles as well as validate and strengthen the local struggle. While the setting manifested locality (mostly through Mayan images), the signs carried by activists, and the “activist regalia” I described earlier, embodied transnational women’s human rights ideology and terminology. For instance, violence against woman was denounced as discrimination and violation of their right to live life without violence. Further, they denounce these violations, but also assert a citizen’s position and make demands of the state. This embodied commitment of human rights in general and to (diverse) local struggles in particular, was further illustrated through the giant Maya woman who was shrouded in lilac, marking a strong connection with the transnational women’s movement. Facing themselves, the messages they carried throughout the city, sharing experiences with colleagues and friends, it was a festive, joyful, and noisy moment that was suddenly silenced by a cry: “Compañeras.” “Com-pan-yeras.” All eyes, including some representatives of the media, turned to the woman standing in the center of the improvised plaza. Having gained the crowd’s attention, artist and activist Sandra Morán, one of the founding members of Sector Mujer, wearing a T-shirt featuring a butterfly captioned: “I’m free!” continued: “Let us (make) present our compañera Yolanda Uritzar!” and the crowd answered: “Presente! Presente en la lucha!” (Present! Present in the Struggle!) She continued to summon, one by one, the other local protagonists whose portrait were carried by the activists, and then moved to (make) present “all the compañeras who were FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 101 kidnapped, assassinated, and tortured during the time of the war, and the so called time of peace,” and the crowd responded: “Presente! Presente en la lucha!” 112 “The struggle against violence,” she continued, “the struggle against impunity, is permanent. But we are luchadoras (women-fighters). We are (the) women of (the) movement. We are women present. (“Presente en la lucha!” the crowd responded.) Impunity, racism, discrimination, secure the continuation of violence in the present. But we are here. Present and ready to fight it. … This is why we would like to close our march today with photos of our compañeras who marched for years, with historical photos, of historic marches, of students, peasants, Indigenous women, and syndicalists. Today we are part of this history. Today it is us. Yesterday it was our grandmothers and our mothers. Today it is us, and tomorrow it’ll be our daughters and our sons. The struggle continues, compañeras, the struggle continues. And we are present. (“Presente en la lucha!” responded the crowd) Thank you compañeras, thank you. We continue forward, because we are part of a movement, because we come together. Each one is doing something in her community, home, organization. And all of us together, are doing our share.” To conclude, she called: por la vida de las mujeres (for the life of women), and crowd answered: ni una muerte más! (not even one more death!) Presenting local protagonists in the improvised plaza, particularly in such a militant fashion, Morán emphasized the women’s (movement’s) legacy of social struggle spanning back to the Internal Armed Conflict. Namely, she highlighted the day’s premise: connecting violence against women perpetrated by non/state actors, and by doing that, politicizing all forms of violence against women. Bringing together aspects of racism and discrimination, she reflected an intersectional view of violence; a sense that is further emphasized as she mentioned the ways in which individual/organizational contributions to the struggle come together to a joint agenda. Contrary to impunity and state weakness, she portrayed the women’s movement as an on-going, potent entity, deeply rooted in the past, contemporary present, with a future trajectory. It is a movement in a continuous struggle. 112 Morán is using “present” (Originally hacemos presente) in relation to display, but also in a temporal sense- bringing something from the past into the present. The practice of presente is common in other Latin American struggles, and is used mostly to summon individuals who are no longer among the living. It does only call for their corporal presence, but to the legacies they left behind: intellectual, organizational, and so on. Interestingly, in Guatemala this practice is also used in relation to individuals and organizations that attend the event, which goes beyond bringing back the dead – I feel that it communicates that being alive and in the street is an act of challenge that also speaks to the legacy of the guerilla. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 102 Figure 8: Sandra Moran’s closing speech. The National Palace (left) and the Metropolitan Cathedral (right) in the background. Moran’s T-shirt (below) reads: “I’m free!” FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 103 Figure 9: March Route and Schedule FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 104 This closing gathering of the march offers a panoramic view of the ways in which women’s organizations involved in the campaign to stop violence against women portray their struggle. Joining together legacies of local and regional social struggles, Indigenous imagery and transnational human rights terminology, women activists publically gather and assume a citizen status to make political demands of the Guatemalan state and society. Following this portrayal of the movement, in this chapter I explore the ways in which this movement came to be, i.e. the process I earlier termed: From left to rights. I begin by exploring the legacies of violence Guatemalan women were subjected to; their destructive and reproductive nature. I then claim that these forms of violence had a productive nature, and highlight the ways in which they generate the feminist and women’s movement in Guatemala. Finally, I explore how state agents and women’s organizations negotiate the adoption and implementation of these, now international norms. I claim that as women assume a rights-worthy subjectivity, they are better positioned to generate the implementation of legislation, policies, and institutions in favor of women’s rights, i.e. an alteration of the public sphere. Guatemalans' State(s) of Violence: An Introduction to Violence and Struggles “Feminism is a pacifist ideology,” said Dr. Ana Silvia Monzón, a leading Guatemalan feminist scholar and activist. For me, it was an unexpected statement. On the one hand, I could not but agree, on the other, while not invoking violence, feminism, especially in Guatemala, is closely related to (women’s experiences of) violence. Essentially, the women’s movement in Guatemala was created in response to particular socio-cultural structures of power and local meaning of gender that legitimate, justify, and even motivate violence against women. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 105 In a culture of patriarchy and deep inequalities, Guatemalan women, especially poor and Indigenous, occupy an inferior position in society and suffer gender-related discrimination and exclusion. In a society where the majority of the population is Indigenous and poor, the majority of women are subjected to a triple oppression (Nelson 1999:67). This political devaluation, on both individual and societal levels, is structurally reproduced through social norms and legislation, and further maintained through violence exercised against women (Svendsen 2007:9-13). This violence targets women’s personhood, dignity, and sense of worth and value. Lacking the socio-political means to resist, women become more susceptible to different forms of violence, and violence against individual women and women as a social group, becomes further naturalized and invisible. This form of naturalization of violence against women was constructed over more than five centuries; its origins trace back to colonization, when a new (mixed-)race was created through the rape of Indigenous women, who were later oppressed socially and economically by the colonial order.113 The Guatemalan independent state (1821) granted political rights to literate, propertied, men of European descent. The 1945 constitution extended citizenship to all men but only to literate women.114 The 1965 constitution extended suffrage rights to illiterate women, yet their vote was still optional and public until the 1985 constitution established universal citizenship (UNDP 2006:11).115 Article 4 of the 1985 113 The structure of power we witness today relies on political and legal mechanisms developed since the Spanish conquest. Some pillars of this structure were probably in place in pre-conquests society, and facilitated its dominancy through colonial and independence periods. However, its current justifications rely directly on colonial policies and division of power. 114 Historically Guatemala had the lowest rates of literacy in Latin America, when women, especially Indigenous, were specifically deprived of education. Hence, the 1945 constitution failed to grant political status to most Guatemalan women. 115 For a short time, following the promulgation of a (second) Federation of Central America (between June 1921 and January 1922) women (literate married/widowed women above 21 years and unmarried propertied women older than 25 years with a primary education) were allowed to vote. These conditions limited women FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 106 constitution established equality between wo/men, yet different laws, policies and practices maintained women’s inferior legal, political and socioeconomic status.116 For instance, until 1998, the Guatemalan Civil Code reinforced stereotypical gender roles and legally codified inequality in the marital relationship.117 Such legislation maintained women’s economic inferiority and limited access to education, which further prevented them from challenging their socio-political inferior position within the Guatemalan society.118 Many Guatemalans are unaware that these changes were made, and some discriminatory provisions in relation to marriage and divorce, as well as inheritance, property, and labor, especially in the rural areas, are still in force.119 Women’s devalued voters to a minority, and defined women suffrages as ‘voluntarily’ (for men it was obligatory). As the republic dispersed soon thereafter, the right stayed “on paper” (Monzón 2011). 116 Guatemala’s legal system is Civil-Law based; with the constitution at the apex of the legal system. Political changes in the course of the 20th century led to the promulgated of several constitutions. The constitution in effect today was promulgated in 1985, with the transition to civil government. 117 The Code provided: (1) the husband had the duty to protect and support his wife, while she had the right and duty to care for and raise minor children and oversee domestic tasks; (2) the husband could legally object to his wife working outside the home; (3) the husband alone was the legal representative of the married couple, as well as the sole administrator of the household financial resources and the family's assets; and (4) the father was the sole legal representative of his children and the administrator of their assets even when parents had joint custody (Musalo et al. 2010:192). 118 Women’s poverty (general and extreme) is higher than men’s within all categories: urban women are poorer than urban men, rural women are poorer than rural, and a similar pattern is kept with Non/Indigenous wo/men (INE 2008:17-20). An important indicator in relation to women’s poverty is their high percentage in informal occupation sector, usually indicating unskilled labor. In 2004 78% of Indigenous women (vs. 76% men) and 71% Non-Indigenous women (vs. 60% men) were occupied in the informal sector. Interestingly, while in the Indigenous sector this trend was decreased (in 1998 91% of Indigenous women and 83% of Indigenous men were employed in the informal sector), it was increased in the non-Indigenous sector (in 1998 61% of women and 55% of men were employed in the informal sector) (UNDP 2006:30). Additionally, in a society in which much of the economy still revolves around agriculture, in 2005 women have access to 16% of the land while men enjoy access to the remaining 84% (INE 2011). In regards to women’s education, the latest census (INE 2002 cited in INE 2011) indicates that women make 63.12% of the county’s illiterates (while men make 36.88), out of which 32.02% are Maya women (Maya men 17.85%), 30.69 are Ladina women (18.76% Ladino men), with similar pattern among Garifuna, Xinca and others (INE 2011:24). 119 According to Carmen Lopez de Caseres (Convergencia) and Alitza Naves (Tierra Viva), especially in the rural areas, man are still considered the legal owners of the family’s land, husbands are paid their wives’ wages, families do not invest in girls’ education or extend them inheritance as the benefiter will be the husband. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 107 status impact greatly their access to health services, which together with lack of sexual education and lack of access to family planning methods, results in high mortality levels.120 The Guatemalan Criminal Code further reproduced women’s devaluation and vulnerability. Until 2005 it allowed a man to escape prosecution for rape if he married the survivor, even in cases of girls as young as twelve. Until 2009, acts of sexual violence were considered “private crimes” permitting the perpetrator to be pardoned upon the women's agreement; marital rape was not criminalized. Although officially changed, many of these provisions remain in practice.121 Furthermore, the Criminal Code (Article 176) still criminalizes sexual intercourse with a minor only if the girl is proven to be “honest.”122 Moreover, women, as a group, experience an additional level of socio-political violence when state legislation enforces religious and cultural norms through which women’s bodies are servile, disciplined, and controlled.123 Article 3 of the 1985 constitution, “Right of Life,” establishes that the state guarantees and protects all human lives since its conception, as well as integrity and security of the person. Namely, before the state guarantees equality between wo/men in Article 4, it legally denies (all) women control over their own bodies. While women’s location within Guatemalan society shapes different life experiences, such legislation emphasizes the inferior and oppressed position of women as social category. This naturalized gender inequality reflects and reproduces a lack of respect for women in general, as well as for the value of a woman's life. 120 For instance, according to UNFPA (2013), maternal mortality in Guatemala rates fourth in Latin America, 99% of it, preventable. According to INE (2011) the majority (71%) are ingenious women, with minimal education (48% with no education, 40% with primary school education). 121 Interview with Hilda Morale-Trujillo, May 2010. 122 Until the reform in the 2009 Criminal Code, women had to prove their “honesty” to denounce rape. 123 The colonial legacy of Hispanic and Roman Catholic institutions, together with the neoliberal economic powers and the Pentecostal Church continue to exert their power. Both churches continuously meddle with issues pertaining to women; opposing the Platform for Equal Rights for Women presented at the Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995 and they have has continued to try to dismantle the gains made in the fields of reproductive rights, civil liberties, and education (Taylor and Costantino 2003:6, 22). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 108 Deep-rooted lack of respect and value for women’s life is blatantly manifested in times of generalized violence. In Guatemala such a display presented itself during the Internal Armed Conflict that Guatemala endured between 1960 and 1996. At the peak of the conflict (1978-1982), the conservative military regime targeted rural, traditional, mostly Indigenous communities, in which women's place was typically limited to the private sphere.124 While the majority of casualties were men, the military also exercised widespread sexual violence as a war strategy, mostly directed towards rural Maya women. Violence against women, including sexual violence, was a strategy of the war. Namely, the Guatemalan Army trained its members in the use of sexual violence against women, including acts of mass public rapes, gang rapes in detention centers, mutilation of female sexual organs, and publicly exposing mutilated female bodies or those with signs of rape (CEH 2000, ECAP–UNAMG 2009, Nolin & Shankar 2000, REMHI 1999). Urban ladina women were also subjected to sexual violence, mostly as part of “interrogations” (Chinchilla 1998). Although there were various evaluations of the dimensions of killing that took place, the extent of sexual violence is still buried under layers of shame, self-blame, and fear.125 In addition to the traumatic experience of sexual violence, women survivors were often widowed, and had to learn new skills to support their families. Furthermore, many women had to step into the political sphere to fill the void of missing men in representing 124 Women worked in the family’s milpa, but were less involved with community-level politics. As the conflict intensified more women got involved, in various capacities, with political life, from Catholic based organizations and peasant unions to the Guerilla (Carrillo and Chinchilla 2010:140-141). 125 In Fear as a way of life, Linda Green, who closely worked with women who survived this time of war, mentions rape as part of strategy of violence a few times, but not as part of her ethnography. In a personal conversation she explained that people chose not to talk about rape with her, and while “there were signs,” she respected their decision. According to Green, some of the women chose to keep the events unspoken in order to protect themselves from being stigmatized by the community and ostracize by their families. Further, she indicated that in a society that does not criminalize marital rape, with high incest rate, there is a high probability that some of these women were not even aware to the fact that rape is a crime (Personal communication, June 2013). It is also important to recognize that while sexual abuse is devastating, many of these women had additional, more urgent concerns, such as loss of loved ones and source of income. The immediate need to physically maintain oneself and her dependents led many women to suppress these experiences of violence. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 109 their community and in their search for missing relatives, mostly husbands and children. As part of their efforts they formed several civil organizations such as CONAVIGUA, the National Coordinator of Guatemalan Widows, and GAM, Group for Mutual Support, a mixed gender group made up of relatives of the disappeared, with significant women leadership and membership. Like in other Latin American right-wing dictatorships, these women, previously unfamiliar with the political sphere, were able to organize in order to claim missing family members.126 While some communities were able to stay in their villages, other communities were forced out of their villages. Some sought refuge in the mountains, creating the Comunidades de Población en Resistencia (CPR, communities of population in resistance), others were forced into exile, mostly to Mexico. The majority ended up in refugee camps, where they received assistance from UN agencies. Many of these agencies offered women's economic empowerment and leadership programs. Consequently, women developed varied economic initiatives, helped to support their families, and gained a more influential position in their households and communities. They also started their own organizations, such as Mamá Maquín,127 Madre Tierra (Mother Earth), and Ixmucané (the Mayan grandmother goddess) that informed their demands for women’s empowerment and greater equality, including the radical demand for peasant women’s right to land ownership (Blue 2005, Hernández in Carrillo and Chinchilla 2010:145, Manz 1987).128 126 Women who stepped forward and became vocal in searching for their missing relatives were themselves targeted by the state. For example: Maria del Rosario Godoy, the founder of GAM was assassinated in 1985. 127 The organization name commemorates Mama Maquin (Adelina Caal), a Maya-Q’eqchi women murdered in 1978 for her organizing work in relation to land rights (see Grandin 2004:133, Sanford 2001:20-22). 128 While Indigenous women had strong support in refugee camps, upon returning to Guatemala in 1993 and in the years to follow they encountered more conservative and hostile environment, often rejected by local male leaders with a much less progressive mind-set compared to what they got used to (Blue 2005, Carrillo and Chinchilla 2010:150-151). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 110 In the urban area women’s participation in political life started earlier, yet they mostly participated as individuals rather than as a collective (Monzón 2001), and lacked an explicit gender consciousness (Carillo and Chinchilla 2010:140).129 During the months preceding the 1944 revolution, women delivered messages, distributed flyers, organized and participated in rallies. In one such demonstration, Maria Chinchilla, a well-known teacher, was assassinated (Monzón 2011:151).130 Some of Chinchilla’s compañeras were involved in the nationalist struggles during 1944-54, and had to exile following the 1954 CIA-backed coup. Their legacy, claims Monzón (2011:159), continued to inspire new generations of women who years later took up their ancestors’ legacy. Inspiration, though, was not enough to undermine the local socially constructed gender roles. Yet, times of political and economic crises, like the Guatemalan Internal Armed Conflict, facilitated (mostly urban, educated) women’s participation in left-oriented social justice movements. By the mid-1980s, many Guatemalan women were active in a wide variety of mixed gender organizations, responding to political and economic conditions, all of which subordinated gender concerns to class or ethnicity (Berger 2006:20, 22, 27).131 Students like Rogelia Cruz, writers like Alaída Foppa, journalists like Irma Flaquer, lawyers like Yolanda Urizar, who became involved in students’ and labor unions or publically 129 According to Monzón women’s participation in the anticolonial struggle of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and in the Liberal-Conservative conflict in the early part of the 20th century (2001:5-8). Both Monzón (2001:16-19) and Chinchilla (1998) recover some of the neglected history of women’s participation in the 1944 overthrow of Ubico and in building a new democratic society during the ten years of spring (1944-54). 130 Chinchilla is commemorated through Guatemala’s teacher’s day, June 25, the date she was killed (see Ramírez Rodríguez 2009), as well as the Instituto de la Mujer María Chinchilla (María Chinchilla Women’s Institute). Tragically, its director, and union leader, Dinora Pérez, was assassinated in 1991. Her death led to founding Red NoVi (the network for no violence against women). 131 Feminists ideas and struggles were seen by many in the left movement as a “secondary conflict,” one that will be resolved when the revolution was achieved, and a common critique was that dedicating time to “women’s issues” is detracting from the “real conflict”(Chinchilla 1998:7-8). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 111 express their critique, were soon disappeared and silenced.132 Women activists suffered similar political abuses to those inflicted on men, yet most of them experienced a particular form of abuse based on their gender (Bunch 1995:12), and others were targeted as women related to specific men.133 As some of these—mostly, but not exclusively—urban middle class women political activists were directly targeted by the state, some of their compañeras fled the country. While in exile in neighboring countries, like Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as throughout Latin America, Europe, and North America, they became involved with left wing circles where they were introduced to feminist thought and activism.134 One such influence was the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros, especially the one in Taxco, Mexico (1987) that played a fundamental role in their feminist awakening.135 The feminist agenda, they 132 Rogelia Cruz, Guatemalan left wing activist and former beauty pageant, was kidnapped in 1967 and found dead in 1968. Alaída Foppa, a well-known writer was kidnapped and disappeared in 1980 (see Salinas 2002). Irma Flaquer a psychologist and reporter known for her vicious critiques against the Guatemalan government; was kidnapped and disappeared in 1980 (see Proyecto impunidad). Yolanda Urizar, a well-known layer who worked for the National Workers’ Union, was kidnapped and disappeared in 1983, while crossing the border back to Guatemala after years of exile. Her husband and son were killed in a mysterious car accident a few years earlier and her daughter was arrested, tortured and exiled (see Anderson 1988:44). The pattern was maintained in what Morán termed “so-called-times-of peace:” Mayra Gutierrez, University lecturer and women’s rights activist disappeared in 2000 (see Amnesty international). 133 For instance, student activist Rogelia Cruz, was mostly targeted as the girlfriend of Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT) leader “Nayito” (Wilkinson 2004:227-228). Her tortured, mutilated, gang-raped body was found naked under a bridge. Cruz is commemorated as the emblem of la Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG), and by name through the women’s students’ movement “Rogelia Cruz,” Colectivo Rogelia Cruz, Plaza Rogelia Cruz in the national university, and so on. 134 In interviews I conducted, Guatemalan activists explain that Mexico and Costa Rica which did not struggle with an internal conflict like other Central American states, were able to develop feminist aspect as part of their social critique. In a paper delivered in May 2012, Montserrat Sagot, a leading Costa Rican scholar claimed that Costarican feminism relies on Guatemalan feminists. In a follow up personal conversation she explained that it was Guatemalan women’s participation in the generalized struggle that inspired feminist activism and scholarship in Costa Rica (personal communication, May 2012). 135 The first Latin America and Caribbean Feminist Encuentro took place (Bogota, 1981) while many Guatemalan women were literally struggling for their lives and those of their families and communities. Carillo & Chinchilla (2010:144) claim that only six years later, at the fourth Encuentro in Taxco, Mexico, Guatemalan delegation was able to participate in a hemispheric feminist gathering in a significant way. In a personal communication (May 2013), Norma Chinchilla, a North American scholar, who participated in the fourth encuentro, explained that this was a founding moment for the Guatemalan Feminist movement, as it fundamentally impacted individual women’s consciousness, and motivate the foundation of veteran feminist organizations such as Tierra Viva and GGM. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 112 explain, helped them critique the mixed gender left-wing organized struggle they were part of. Consequently, whilst the conflict-related violence reshaped the course of these women‘s lives, the different experiences opened paths for women’s greater political participation that continued and thrived through the peace negotiation period. The Peace negotiation process took place between 1985, marked by the return of civil government and the promulgation of a new constitution, and 1996, marked by the signing of the Peace Accords and general elections. The negotiations enabled the return of many exiled activists, who upon returning brought feminist ideology, a wealth of organizing experience, access to international funding and support and many other lessons gained from working in unions, political parties, and revolutionary groups. The returning women were essential in the creation of the first Guatemalan feminist groups such as Grupo Gualtemateco de Mujeres (GGM) (1988), which pioneered programs of psychological support and initiating anti violence activities; Tierra Viva (1988), which focused of demands for sexual and reproductive rights, ending violence, and political advocacy; and La Red de No Violencia Contra La Mujer (Red NoVi, Network for No Violence Against Women) (1991), which focused on political advocacy, urging the state generate laws, public policies, and social services needed to reduce violence.136 Many of them took an active part in the peace and reconciliation process, adding new angles to the negotiations. For instance, the first (out of 136 Established in 1991, after the assassination of union leader, political activist, and director of the Instituto de la Mujer María Chinchilla (María Chinchilla Women’s Institute), Dinora Pérez. It incorporates 13 local women’s organizations and also serves to link Guatemalan activists to other regional and international networks that work to develop public consciousness about and organize resistance to violence against women. (Also see Cabrera 2009:135-139). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 113 two) Guatemalan truth and reconciliation report (REHMI, 1999) was the first report of this kind to include a specific chapter about women's situations during the war.137 The peace negotiation period presented a shift in the political map. Four decades of state oppression had worn the traditional social movement, while the Peace Process enabled and even called for greater political participation. This openness was embraced by two new political actors: Indigenous and women’s right movements.138 Individuals of both groups, who previously participated in a generalized social struggle, used the Peace Accords to frame questions of identity politics and demanded (full) political inclusion using human rights discourse. One such process was the creation of Sector Mujer (women’s sector) in 1994 to represent women in the peace negotiation between the government and the URNG. The newly adopted ideology of inclusive political participation generated the need to create a forum through which different sectors of civil society could support the Peace Accords. This new forum, the Assembly of Civil Society (ASC), was composed of almost all sectors of civil society including workers, peasants, students, businesspeople, indigenous people, and was originally based on the assumption that women’s needs and demands would be included as part of the other social groups’. However, as women began to emerge as political actors, a coalition of women’s organization struggled for women to be included as one of the founding sectors of the ASC.139 137 De la violencia a la afirmación de las mujeres (Vol 1, chap 5). Was written by the returning exile Yolanda Aguilar (together with Pilar Yoldi and Claudia Estrada), the daughter of Yolanda Uritzar mentioned above, and a leading figure in the movement (see Stoltz Chinchilla 1998:351-386). 138 See more about the Indigenous rights movement: Nelson, 1999; Thomas, O’Neill and Offit 2011, Warren 1998, Warren and Jackson 2002. 139 A collaboration between Convergencia Cívica Política de Mujeres (Women’s Civic Political Convergence), GGM, Tierra Viva, Coordinadora por el desarrollo integral de la mujer, familiares de detenidos y desaparecidos de Guatemala, and Coincidencia de Mujeres. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 114 The coalition formed Sector de Mujer, which included twenty two women’s organizations, some working exclusively with women and others interested in promoting women’s issues within mixed-gender organizations, and five independent women. Sector initially represented well the diversity of Guatemalan society: Indigenous women, ladinas, middle class, working class, religious, academic, feminists and non-feminists. The collaboration among these diverse groups of women who lacked mutual trust, a common agenda, or experience in working together was not easy. However, they were able to articulate and make joint demands and add some of them into the final agreement. Simultaneously, Sector insisted that the negotiators recognize women not only as wives and mothers, or wartime widows, displaced and victims of sexual violence, but also as workers, peasants, heads of families, Indigenous persons and citizens. The negotiators’ attempts to address and recognize ethnic diversity were not always successful and at times resulted in further disempowering of Indigenous women (Berger 2006: 44-5). However, Sector’s work put gender identity politics on the map for many in Guatemala for the first time and secured a place for gender in the final peace accords signed in December 1996 (Berger 2006:34-35). Overall, including women as a sector with specific interests and direct representation was a milestone in the history of women and democracy in Guatemala and in Peace Accords in the world (Carrillo and Chinchilla 2010:147).140 Further, as returning exile and feminist activist Yolanda Aguilar explains, the peace process suggested the end of the conflict and the improving economic situation allow 140 Initially including a separate women’s voice in the peace negotiation was question within and outside the ASC. From left to right it was deemed foreign; the right questioned the relevancy of the movement to “Guatemalan culture,” and the left argued that gender issues might divide the left at a critical historical moment (Berger 2006:35). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 115 struggling for more than basic survival.141 These conditions encouraged local and returning activists to start advancing not only ideas of human rights, but also women’s rights. The new discourse invited questions about the social struggle they formally participated in, their limited access to high ranks, and sexual abuses by the revolutionary movement’s leaders. Such disillusionment, together with a new growing sense of political subjectivity, motivated activists to shift their efforts to addressing women-specific issues. A prominent example of such transition has been presented by Norma Cruz, a former activist of the Guatemalan Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) and probably the most recognized Guatemalan women’s rights activist. In our conversation (June 2010), as well as in many media interviews Norma Cruz explained that she joined the guerilla “to demand a better life for the society of the time.” She spent several years as a political exile in Nicaragua, and upon returning worked with internally displaced refugees. In 1999 she discovered that her second husband, Arnoldo Noriega, the former commander of The Guatemalan Revolutionary Union, sexually abused her daughter.142 In that moment, Norma explained, considering Guatemala’s patriarchal culture, she understood it was time to address a new struggle. From her own living room, with a group of friends, Cruz started the organization Fundación Sobrevivientes (Survivors’ Foundation) to fight impunity and help survivors of sexual and domestic violence as well as family members of murdered women. In the new neoliberal era and its requirement for minimization of social services, as well as rising levels of violence, a growing need for such civil society organizations soon became apparent. 141 Personal communication, May 2010. 142 Arnoldo Noriega was convicted for sexual abuse, spent four years in jail, and later became a political assistant for the President. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 116 While the Peace Accords represented the need for national reconciliation and the hope for a better, peaceful future for Guatemalan society,143 this period of “peace” has been heavily marked by rising levels of general violence. Once again, the lack of respect and value for women’s life has been blatantly manifested in times of growing generalized violence. Although violence against both men and women in Guatemala has increased since the beginning of the millennium, the murders of women are distinct for their rapid increase as well as for their misogynistic nature.144 Graphically abused, often mutilated women's bodies are frequently found in public spaces; some also display derogatory and sexual messages inscribed – sometimes even scarred – on these women’s intimate parts. As the crimes are rarely investigated, it is hard to determine the individual circumstances in which these acts of violence were committed. However, most scholars and activists working on the topic emphasize the Internal Armed Conflict as a historical key component, together with gangs and organized crime activity, and social cleansing.145 These public displays of violence send a clear message that the streets or any other public place are not a safe space for women, and keep Guatemalan women, their family members, and the general public in a state of alert and terror (Trujillo Morales 2010:132). These demonstrations of terror encourage women to minimize their public participation, insinuating that the so-called “traditional” gender roles of submissive femininity will protect 143 The peace accords made sweeping social, economic and political promises. At the same time neoconservative technocrats and international financial institutions were also actively involved in shaping the peace process, and their interests generally won over demands for truly substantial democratic and social justice reforms (Robinson 2000, 2003:113). 144 2001:303, 2002:317, 2003:383, 2004:497, 2005:518, 2006:603, 2007:590, 2008:722, 2009:773, 2010:675, 2011:651 (PDH). 2012:671, 11% of total violent killing. 2013:748, 13% of total violent killing (INACIF). In the first 6 months of 2014:356, 14% of total violent killing. Further, in 2010 the Ministerio Publico reported 65,000 complaints for interfamilial violence. In 2011 the MP reported more than 44,000 complaints for violence against women and 22,000 for interfamilial violence. 145 See CalDH (2005), Morales-Trujillo (2010), Musalo et al. (2010), Sanford (2008). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 117 them in both the public and private spheres. In the interviews I conducted, a common theme was the notion that simply walking in the streets puts one in great, immediate danger.146 This is not to say that Guatemalan women do not walk in the street—nor that the private sphere is a safe space—but they don't do so confidently, or leisurely, as fear always accompanies them. Consequently, Guatemalan women of various social statuses and ethnic identities find ways to minimize their presence in what they consider a non-safe space. The state’s response to this destructive situation of violence has been limited, and in general does not establish a notion that the state rejects this violence or values women's participation in public and political life, nor that it views women as valuable, full, rights-worthy citizens (Musalo et al. 2010). Although new legislation in favor of women's rights was passed and new mechanisms meant to facilitate these rights were established, most murder cases are not brought to justice, and murdered women themselves are frequently depicted, both by general society and the justice system, as responsible for their own deaths.147 As I demonstrated in this section, views regarding women’s inferior place and value in Guatemalan society have shaped policies that reproduced and maintained women’s discrimination and exclusion, particularly affecting poor and Indigenous women. The devaluation of women’s lives has been further demonstrated in different waves of violence the country endured, as women became susceptible not only to political and structural 146 See more about the street as a site of danger and contestation in chapter 4. 147 In 2010, out of the registered 15,373 official complaints concerning violence against women, only 218 ended with a sentence, i.e. 1.42% were resolved (Tierra Viva 2011). In relation to murder cases (nation-wide, in relation to killings of both wo/men), less than two percent of these cases have been brought to justice (Musalo et al. 2010:2). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 118 violence, but also to additional particular experiences of physical, sexual, domestic and political violence. At the same time, various layers of violence experienced by women, while a reflection of Guatemalan women’s devalued political status, opened ways for women’s greater political participation and the creation of women as a political identity. Violence, for instance, forced many rural and Indigenous women, suddenly refugees and/or heads of households, to expand their economic and political participation, taking a greater role in economic support and political representation of their families and communities. Exiled activists were introduced to and adopted feminist ideology and practices to critique both the social movement they were part of, and the social situation they lived in. The high levels of conflict-time violence led to international pressures that resulted in policy shifts in regards to political participation which led to the creation of Sector de Mujer and the passing of new legislation in favor of women’s rights. In the post conflict era, the reality of widespread violence, and its gendered dimension, rearticulate women’s struggle for social justice, in relation to women's rights. The supportive relationships with transnational networks Guatemalan women derived from and relied on during the conflict and the peace process, were further developed in the post conflict period and helped to articulate the struggles to end contemporary violence against women in relation to the transnational and regional women's rights movement. In the next section, following Friedman (2009) I look at the ways in which newly established feminist ideas, now part of international human rights discourse—as discussed in the introduction—are adopted into the national legislation in Guatemala, and the ways in FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 119 which this newly formed political entity—women’s organizations—negotiate the implementation of these policies. Women in Action, State (in)Actions Women’s ascribed position within Guatemalan society has been the central cause for the violence they endure and an apparatus for the raise of the feminist movement. These views and norms (socio-cultural and legal), challenged during the Internal Armed Conflict, were further undermined during the Guatemalan national restructuring project (starting the mid-1980s). The process heavily depended on international support and required the Guatemalan administration to establish a sense of legitimacy amongst possible donors and supporters worldwide. That time period correlated with the main impetus of the age of women’s rights discourse; hence the international and regional community began to embrace gender concerns, and public and private donors directly pressured to include women’s issues and initiatives of governmental agendas. Pressured by the international community, the necessities of the neoliberal economy and women’s groups, the Guatemalan administration assumed a public agenda of gender equity and began to rethink public policy and institutionally address women’s rights (Berger 2006:42-43). In an attempt to demonstrate its commitment to women’s rights, Guatemala signed and ratified several Women’s Human Rights related conventions, such as CEDAW and the Convention of Belém do Pará. Signing and ratifying these conventions meant Guatemala was now officially committed to incorporate these norms into the national legislation and to create institutions, mechanisms and legislation to promote, develop, and protect women's rights in the country. The Peace Accords of 1996 included a few sections in which the state undertakes to promote and guarantee women's rights and political participation in accordance FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 120 with international legislation in favor of women's rights.148 International pressures helped to pass further legislation in favor of women’s rights in the Guatemalan legal system. These shifts in attitudes towards women and their primary conversion into state-policies began a new era of relationships between Guatemalan women and the state. Paradoxically, access to foreign aid was not dependent only on establishing legitimacy in relation to human rights, but also in adhering to neoliberal policies that encouraged states to minimize social services. Hence the state was expected to demonstrate its commitment to human (and women’s) rights, while minimizing social services. Internationally funded (and often trained) NGOs were able to step in and provide needed services for women—running a domestic violence shelter, providing legal services, forming women’s cooperatives, providing health care, doing literacy education and capacity training. The movement soon expanded, and became more professionalized. By the mid-1990s, the state came to depend on their services (Berger 2006: 32-33). The contradictory demands of the neoliberal order were temporarily resolved, as the state was able to extend more services by “contracting” internationally funded and trained women organizations. Many women activists believe, however, that the NGOization increased fragmentation, duplication, and competition for scarce recourses, resulting in a lack of long term, coherent goals.149 According to Carrillo and Chinchilla, many of the critics believe that increasing NGOization weakened the most political aspects of the feminist movement in favor of institutionalization of the movement (2010:148-149). Another important critique 148 See The Accord on Socio-Economic Aspects and the Agrarian Situation (May 1996), and The Accord on Strengthening of Civilian Power and the Role of The Armed Forces (September 1996). 149 For instance, Hilda Morales Trujillo compared the situation to a group of individuals traveling to the same location in separated cars, instead of ranting a microbus, both spending excessive funds and missing the opportunity to exchange ideas (Personal communication, May 2010). Giovana Lemos (GGM), on the other hand, claimed that the abundance of organizations is needed in order to meet women’s growing needs. It is not the movement that duplicates efforts, she claimed, but the government, that created competing state institutions (personal communication, June 2010). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 121 voiced by many activists was that such institutionalization relieved the state from its commitment to its citizens.150 At the same time, their actions were multilayered and were not limited to serving the state but to advancing their own agendas through the state. Like many other movements described by Sonia Alvarez (2009:177-178) even at the height of the boom, they maintained their feminist roots, continued to produce and disseminate feminist knowledge, and overall sustained their “movement work.” Internal debate aside, the growing dependency on women’s organizations together with the political opening I discussed earlier, motivated the movement’s growth, encouraged women to participate in the political process, and opened a path for the expansion of the gender debate. An important development, claim Carrillo and Chinchilla, was that for the first time, the Guatemalan women’s movement, particularly its feminist current, no longer had a majority of members from the ladina mestiza or urban population or the upper and middle classes, as Indigenous women began to participate and create their own feminist organizations (2010:148-149). Headed by Red NoVi and supported by international pressures, women’s groups lobbied the state to comply with its commitment to the Convention of Belém do Pará; mainly for a law that would criminalize all-forms-of-violence-against-women.151 The limited support they gathered within the Congress, was not sufficient to pass such a law, and instead, the Ley Para Prevenir, Sancionar y Erradicar La Violencia Intrafamiliar (the Law to Prevent, Sanction, and Eradicate Interfamilial Violence—The VIF Law) was passed in 1996. 150 A common critique voiced by activists affiliated with GGM, MPA, MuJER, RedNoVi, Sector Mujer, Tierra Viva. 151 As the premise of Belém do Pará is to end “all-forms-of-violence-against-women” I use this format through the text to emphasize the idea’s origin. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 122 In the introduction to the new law, the legislators indicated that the law’s objective is to comply with 1) the state’s commitment to gender equality, 2) the ratification of CEDAW and the Convention of Belém do Pará, 3) the state’s recognition of domestic violence as a social problem derived from unequal gender relations, and 4) the state’s commitment to protect the family. Considering all the above, explained the legislators, there was a need to set legislative means that will diminish, and eventually eliminate, the socially harmful interfamilial violence, and contribute to the creation of families based on equality and respect. Hence, while stating a commitment to women’s human rights, the congress emphasized the need to protect the basic unit of the Guatemalan society: the (patriarchal heteronormative) family. The law, then, goes to define interfamilial violence as a human rights violation, allows victims to denounce domestic abuse, and request security measures, such as ordering the accused aggressor to leave the common residence immediately, and have his/her weapons decommissioned. However, the law is confined to monitoring an abusive situation after it has already happened and does not extend to preventing the abuse or punishing the perpetrator. It is a gender-neutral law,152 and in the rare occasion that women are mentioned, they are listed with minors, elderly, and disabled people (Articles 2 and 13). The non-gendered language of the law underplays the gender aspect of violence in the family unit and does not take into account violence outside the family. Also, judges often condition sanctions with “reconciliation” or “mediation.” Namely, instead of ordering the accused aggressor to leave the common residence immediately, judges pressure women to “reconcile” with a 152 The law does not address women specifically, and as such, it is used by abusive men to (falsely) denounce their (abused) partners (Giovana Lemus, Personal communication, June 2010) FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 123 violent, often armed, spouse, “for the good of the family.” By doing that, the justice system, privileges the patriarchal family unit over women’s right to life free from violence. Moreover, the VIF law is a “special law;” one that stands on its own rather than amending the existing Civil or Criminal Codes. This status creates confusion in relation to how the law should be applied in situations where its provisions conflict with other laws.153 Overall, then, the VIF law, like similar legislation in Latin America passed at that time period, does not address “all-forms-of-violence-against-women,” nor criminalize violence against women. Hence, it does not challenge gender hierarchies—in some ways it re-inscribes them—that the state itself recognizes as the root of such violence and does not fulfill the state’s commitment to the Convention of Belém do Pará (Friedman 2009: 363-4, 368).154 Not satisfied with this law, Red NoVi continued to struggle to advance a more substantial reform in women's rights. The network organized conferences, marches, and protests around the International Day for the elimination of Violence Against Women, such as the one I open this chapter with. They insisted on the term “Violence Against Women,” and explained that violence is embedded in unequal power relations. While critiquing the law, Red NoVi and its members attempted to maximize its potential as a socio-legal instrument. They publicized the law, giving it a popular feminist interpretation (Berger 2006:48-49), and instructed, assisted, and encouraged women to use it to protect themselves from Interfamilial violence. Supported by international pressures, and growing numbers of 153 For instance, the security measures are often dismissed by Judges as non-constitutional, as they conflict with the right to carry weapons and property rights (Interview with Hilda Morales-Trujillo). For further discussion about the implications of the “special law” status see Musalo et al. (2010:194-5). 154 According to Elizabeth Friedman, this was a common practice in the first stages of applications all over Latin America. For national legislation to reflect the norms set by the convention, she explains, two requirements need to be met: a serious commitment to eradicating all forms of violence against women and that violence against women constitute a crime (2009:363). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 124 Guatemalan citizens, they pressured the government to create an administrative body to oversee the implementation of the VIF law, and pass new legislation that would criminalize all-forms-of-violence-against-women. 155 On the institutionalization front, the government first responded with the formation of Secretaría Presidencial de la Mujer or SEPREM (the Presidential Women’s Secretariat) in 2000, designed to coordinate policies for women's advancement and promote compliance with Guatemala's domestic and international obligations regarding women's rights. This initiative, claims Berger (2006:55-57), was initially not supported by the women’s movement, which did not take part of its creation and questioned its dependency on the president. While its first director, Dr. Lili Caravantes, brought many feminist activists on board, others claimed that her position as a state bureaucrat was inevitably in conflict with her role as a women’s advocate.156 Overall, SEPREM was a new public space meant to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between the women’s movement and the government as well as (international) funding for women’s public programs. Its creation as a state initiative was, in itself, an important statement in support of women’s rights. At the same time, like other Guatemala governmental agencies, it was weakened by the volatility of Guatemalan politics and its dependency on international funding.157 A year later, Red NoVi’s public advocacy generated an amendment to the VIF law, creating the Coordinadora Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia Intrafamiliar y en contra la Mujer (National Coordinator for the Prevention and Eradication of Interfamilial 155 For instance, the 2004 UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Yakin Ertürk, visited Guatemala to investigate the situation of women in the country and produced a report outlining her finding and specific recommendation Guatemalan state and the international community (Ertürk 2005). 156 Dr. Caravantes worked for many years with the Pan-American Health Organization and was nominated by Sector de Mujer, the only organization that did not boycott the process. 157 The director of such state institutions is appointed every four years by the newly elected president. Institutional policies and agendas promoted under one president will not necessarily be supported by the new president /director. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 125 Violence and Violence against Women, CONAPREVI). Composed of representatives from the government and women’s organizations, CONAPREVI’s mandate was closer to the spirit of the Convention of Belém do Pará. RedNoVi saw it as a mechanism to recover the original feminist spirit of the law, by emphasizing violence in relation to gender power relations. Overall, CONAPREVI coordinates the work of all governmental agencies involved with interfamilial violence and violence against women; it creates public policies to reduce violence, trains government officials, provides legal assistance to survivors, and establishes a national information system on violence against women.158 While CONAPREVI, a new state-sponsored public space, plays an important role in (en)gendering and socializing the law, like SEPREM—and other state organizations, such as the Protectorate of Indigenous Women (Defensoria de la Mujer Indigena, DEMI, created 2001)—it is politically dependent, not sufficiently funded, and often relies on foreign support.159 At the turn of the century, the women’s movement had additional partial success advancing three more laws. A loose coalition of members of Red NoVi and other organizations advocated for three years in order to pass the Ley de Dignificación y Promoción Integral de la Mujer (Law for Integral Women's Promotion and Dignity) (1999). The law addresses women directly and corresponds with the Guatemalan constitution and international legislation (CEDAW, the Convention of Belém do Pará, Beijing Platform for 158 CONAPREVI also developed the Plan Nacional de Prevención y Erradicación de la Violencia Intrafamiliar y contra las Mujeres PLANOVI 2004-2014 (National Plan for the Prevention of Violence within the Family). This ten-year plan establishes lines of actions for addressing violence within the family and against women, including research and statistical analyses of violence against women; prevention activities such as educational campaigns; providing, legal, psychological, and medical services to victims of violence; and strengthening of institutions that work in the area of gender-based violence prevention. Also see http://ggm.org.gt/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/PLANOVI-2004-2014..pdf 159 While the institute’s official budget is limited, the state never extend the full amount, which make it even more difficult to manage ongoing projects, or initiate new ones (Interview with former head of CONAPREVI, Hilda Morales-Trujillo). FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 126 Action). It denounces economic, political, and social discrimination against women as well as condemns private and public expressions of violence against women. It requires the state to act in favor of women’s participation in economic and political life and make sure that families, communities, and larger society provide women the opportunity to study and work.160 According to Berger, while the law calls for reordering of gender relations, it also continues to position the nuclear family as the nation’s core unit and starting point for gender construction, hence narrows the discussion about gender construction and the prospect of equality (2006:51). Another important aspect of the law is positioning women’s interests in relation to the nation’s development project. Namely, the state facilitates women’s equal access to education, employment, and credit in order for them to become (neo)citizens. This notion was further addressed through the 2001 Ley de Desarrollo Social (Social Development Law). The law relies on basic rights mentioned in the Constitution (life, equality, protection of the family, education, health, work, social assistance), commitment to social development, and in relation to ratified international human rights legislation. Its main intention is to bring women into the state’s national economic development project. The law revisits some of the key points addressed in the VIF and Promotion laws with a developmental emphasis. The family is still presented as society’s basic unit, but the definition of family is extended to include 160 For instance, the law amended articles 113,114 of the 1963 Civil Code according to which 1) husbands decided if their wives will have the right to work outside the household, 2) granted this work did not harm the interest and care of their children. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 127 nonmarried (partners) and single parent households, which better represents the Guatemalan family and allows a wider conceptualization of gender relations.161 In fact, the law was passed over heavy protest of the Catholic Church and other conservative forces who objected to the recognition of non-married couples and single-headed households as families, the supported use of family planning methods, and the mandated sex education in schools. As the law highlighted many of the issues the women’s movement advocated for, they naturally supported the law. For the state, claims Berger (2006:53), the law was an apparatus meant to generate development through population control and integrating women into the labor force in new ways. The law was used by women’s organizations to highlight the empowering notion of reproductive health and family planning, and opened the way for the 2005 Ley de Acceso Universal y Equitativo de Servicios de Planificación Familiar (Law for Universal and Equal Access to Family Planning Methods). It was also used to promote women’s political participation in state development policies, yet some critics wondered if women’s needs would influence development policies or be instead reinterpreted through development.162 These new legal and public spaces extended both new mechanisms to advance Guatemalan women’s status and a sense of accomplishment and reassurance that social change is feasible. However, the legislation did not address all-forms-of-violence-against-women or condemn it as crime, and the supporting organizations were not sufficiently funded or politically independent, hence the state still did not meet the requirement set by Belém do 161 For instance, the law now allows single mothers, whose children were not recognized by their biological fathers, to pass their children both of their last names, thus avoiding the social stigma attached to non-recognized children. 162 Women’s participation in state development policies took place mostly through involvement in the Consejos de Desarrollo Urbano y Rural (councils on Urban and Rural Development) commissioned by the law. FROM LEFT TO RIGHTS 128 Pará. A group of legal specialists believed that a broader transformation was needed, and developed a proposal for a general reform of the Criminal Code
UBC Theses and Dissertations
From left to rights : Guatemalan women's struggle for justice Nitsán, Tal 2014
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