A Call and A Mandate from the Women of the Americas

(Translated by Janelle Nodhturft, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN Volunteer Editor)

Gathered at the military base in Palenquero, 2,500 women said no to U.S. military bases in Colombia <http://prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article4499>

Video of the March of Light, August 21st in Barrancabermeja

The resistance pursued by the people of Latin America, led by the women, will allow Mother Earth and human life to be preserved forever.
Colombia has been decorated with the faces of women, the faces of children, the faces of men; the faces of us, the people. The people who, filled with hope, dreams, experiences, struggles and resistance, came from all over to participate. We came from Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, the United States, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, and Germany, as well as from all corners of Colombia, including Nariño, Cauca, Valle, Huila, Chocó, Antioquia, Tolima, Cundinamarca, Bogotá, Magdalena Medio, Bolívar, Santander, Norte de Santander, Arauca, and Atlántico. We came intently, happily to participate in the International Meeting of the Women and the Peoples of the Americas Against Militarization from the 16th to the 23rd of August.

At this point more than ever we see how the threat of world war resounds and dominates across our different geographies and how humanity is at the crossroad of its survival. This meeting takes place at a moment when North American imperialism is designing and executing aggressive re-colonization strategies in order to reposition itself and try to recuperate from the massive crisis its capitalist system just experienced. Their strategy has unfolded to include stripping towns of their natural resources and using the militaries to violate human rights.

Colombia is a vast territory with mineral riches, oil, energy sources, water, biodiversity, flora, fauna, and traditional, ancestral knowledge from the afro and indigenous peoples and rural countrymen. These resources are very coveted and regularly exploited by transnational corporations only interested in their profit, as shameful and inhumane as it is. To secure this profit, corporations are feeding into and strengthening the processes of militarization, war, displacement of groups of people, dispossession, and deaths that damage communities, towns, and whole territories. This logic of the corporations is extensive and dominant; it’s being applied across our land in the Americas.
Colombia is shaped by a large diversity of indigenous peoples, afro descendants, mestizos, rural communities, and urban populations. They are all tired of the war and violence that has been affecting the country for the past 50 years and has left 4.5 million people displaced and thousands of people assassinated, disappeared, and imprisoned. Many of these communities valiantly and creatively resist the violence through a process of declaring their own sovereignty over their bodies, their land and territories, and their means of survival and subsistence. They affirm themselves in their own diverse identities – organizationally, culturally, spiritually and through ancestral world views and knowledge of the cosmos. They propose unity as a central axis for their lives and in their search for and implementation of a dignified life, including autonomy and self-determination.
Women, the protagonists of these processes, have been and continue to be the force and strength of their communities despite the fact that they are on the receiving end of violence, poverty, exclusion, and discrimination. For the women who resist violent dominance in the midst of social, political, and economic conflicts, their resistance often means misery, sexual abuse, lack of sexual freedom, and violations of their basic human rights, all orchestrated to bring about a loss of belonging, persecution and death.
This meeting allowed for the organizing of solidarity and humanitarian missions to different regions of the country. During these missions, participants were able to exchange knowledge, experiences, and reflections with the women, rural communities, and urban Colombians in attendance. The visits made possible not only an understanding of the reality in those regions, but also put faces to the names of all those who have been living under militarization and resisting in their territories and in their daily lives. This opportunity allows the international community to continue denouncing the horrific human rights violations occurring in Colombia. These violations have reached new levels of perversion in practice, including false positives (falsely linking innocent people to activities that lead to assassination), imprisonment, forced disappearances, and displacement. These abuses make it evident that Colombia is not in a post-conflict phase, as the government assures it is.
Over two days, we shared experiences of resistance in Colombia and throughout the entire South America continent, denounced the impacts of militarization, and reaffirmed the conviction that we are tired of oppression, exploitation, and a culture of patriarchic, racist, death-inducing capitalism.

As a result of this meeting and in a collective spirit of justice, respect, and continental solidarity we speak out to the world to reiterate our promises as women and as peoples against militarization, and we position ourselves to:
Fight for justice for women and for an end to violence, intimidation, control over women and the use of women as war plunder.

Energetically reject the imperialistic strategy of the United States to militarize the lives, territories and the demand for country’s riches. We say OUT Yankee military bases, out of Latin American and the Caribbean.

Reject the presence of North American bases in our countries and territories, demanding their immediate retreat.

Fight against the interference of occupying military forces, such as MINUSTAH in Haiti.

Fight for the closure of military bases in Abya Yala. Fight against energy megaprojects, oil exploitation, mining, the privatization of water, and the dispossessing peoples from their land in favor of large multinational corporations.
Reject the imminent threat of military intervention in Costa Rica.
Reject the attempts to destabilize the legitimate government of Venezuela and provoke the people of this country.

Reiterate our solidarity with the national resistance movement in Honduras, concentrated in the FNRP, the political group who bases their action on a platform of a national re-founding. Standing with them, we also call for national government sand states to refuse to recognize the regime of Porfirio Lobo. He is a continuation of the coup d’etat and of policies that support human rights violations against Hondurans who continue to oppose his regime.
Repudiate the criminalization of the fight of the people for their rights. This criminalization means death and repression against men, women, and their ability to organize.
Denounce the anti-immigration policies that dominate in the United States.

Reject the appointment of Álvaro Uribe Vélez to the investigatory commission on crimes committed by the Israeli government against Palestinian solidarity brigades.

Continue the fight for the liberation of the five Cubans currently imprisoned unjustly in the United States.

Support the action of the Republic of Congo in the World March for Women, on October 17th.
Welcome December 10th as the Day of the Continental Struggle Against Foreign Military Bases.

Welcome the mandate of the Assembly of Social Movements of the 4th Social Forum of the America that took place in Paraguay. We equally welcome the mandates from the 1st and 2nd hemispheric meetings against the militarization that took place in Mexico and in Honduras.

Dedicate ourselves to energizing and promoting the 4th Continental Meeting Against Militarization.

Link ourselves with the campaign against the militarization happening across the continent.

In regards to Colombia we call out across the continent and propose that the world:
Hold firmly to the demand for a negotiated, political resolution to the social, internal armed conflict in Colombia.
Strengthen and reconstruct social movements such as those around fundamental public policies for peace.
Promote, energize, and support the courts, and women representing the people at the local, regional, national and international level in recuperating the truth, justice, reparations and assurance that there will be no repetition of the crimes to which they were subjected.
 Creative incentives for unity, the strengthening of sensitivity and awareness campaigns, improved organization, alternative communication, and the mobilization of important elements of independence and the struggle for resistance.
Support women victims in court at the local, regional, national and international levels as they try to recuperate their rights to history memory and truth, justice, reparations and the right of non-repetition of the crimes committed against them.
Today we reaffirm our commitment to a dignified life, the defense of our territories, sovereignty, autonomy, self-determination, our culture, and our heritage. We defend these elements through our social movements, understanding that the fight against militarization and military bases is a fundamental pillar for peace.
My body is my house.
My house is my territory                                                                                                                                                       My territory is my country                                                                                                                      My country is my continent.

Barrancabermeja, Colombia, August 23, 2010.

This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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