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10 Mai 2021

Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, Marusia López Cruz, JASS & Fund for Global Human Rights

Commentary: In Mesoamerica, communities need collective protection mechanisms and women leadership to defend their lands from abusive business practices

'Collective protection to defend territory; defense of territory to protect life by JASS & Fund for Global Human Rights', 10 May 2021

In Mesoamerica, as in other parts of the world, we are living through a historical period characterized by the imposition and violence of extractivism, supported by repressive states and subjected to powerful private interests. Industries that have invaded indigenous and communal territories include mining, oil, large-scale monoculture, and energy and tourism mega-projects, generally export-oriented. These industries, with transnational capital, are transforming the landscape and land use in our communities and causing numerous social conflicts...

This large-scale invasion has generated resistance, often led by indigenous women. Entire communities are organizing to defend their territories from extractive capitalism and dispossession by national and transnational companies. They face attacks from companies and also from authoritarian governments and their security forces...

Collective protection consists of being rooted in the territory and feeling supported by the community, which is the most effective form of protection... The women of the affected communities have been at the forefront of experiences of resistance, which in turn increase the capacity for collective protection. In "La Puya" thousands of Mayan Kaq’chikel and mestizo women from the communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have stood up against the imposed project of the El Tambor mine, putting their bodies in the defense of their territory, and facing attacks by the army and the KCA-EXMINGUA company, which hired personnel to attack and violently dislodge the resistance...

Collective protection also implies a healing process... For healing, both individual and collective, three elements have been fundamental for defenders of land and territory: spirituality, culture and safe spaces for healing among women... Another fundamental aspect of collective protection is the recognition of the leadership, the narratives and the contributions of women--in families, communities and organizations...