By Margaret Thompson
Indigenous and Afro-Honduran women are determined to form a more visible part of efforts by the popular resistance to revise the national constitution to be more inclusive and multicultural and also halt the ongoing onslaught on their lands, culture and sovereignty under the repressive regime in Honduras since the military coup in June, 2009.
“We have the right to be heard,” say indigenous and Afro women of Honduras who will meet July 10-14, 2011 in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The Constituent Assembly of Indigenous and Afro- Women of Honduras offers a forum for women to explore and develop gender-specific strategies to “design a constitutional proposal that incorporates the visions, wisdom and concepts of indigenous and Afro women that contributes to dismantling the patriarchal, racist and capitalist logic” underlying the current constitution and government regime.
Women, including indigenous and Afro women, have played a key role in the massive popular resistance movement and their massive effort to call for a just revision of the national constitution to be more inclusive, multicultural and also incorporate protections of their ancestral rights.
As a key part of the popular resistance movement since the coup, indigenous groups including those of the Pech, Tawahka, Lencas, Miskitu, and Garifuna groups have struggled against ongoing repression, against the privatization of water, education and health, against transnational mining which has poisoned the water and the land, and against privatization of the forests and other lands. Following approval in September, 2010 of 41 massive hydroelectric dam projects, many of which are on indigenous lands, seven indigenous organizations of Honduras signed a declaration to mobilize and reject these river concessions, raising serious question about the lack of respect for human rights and indigenous sovereignty over their lands. One of the biggest campaigns accompanied by Cultural Survival is focused on stopping the hydroelectric dam project slated for the Patuca River in northeast Honduras.
Women want to create their own space to explore and strategize about ways that women are affected and can organize on these issues.
The meeting is a follow-up to the Constituent Assembly of Indigenous and Black Peoples of Honduras February 20-24, 2011 held in San Juan Durugubuti, Tela, Atlántida, which ended with the Declaration of the Pueblos of the Land and the Sea, Martyrs of San Juan.