International Women's Day in Guatemala
By Robyn Marshall
and Robynne Murphy
GUATEMALA CITY, March 8 — More than 5000 women converged on central Guatemala City today, stopping traffic everywhere. Many different indigenous women's groups travelled for up to three days to get to the demonstration.
Some 70-80% of the population is indigenous, and this was reflected by the overwhelming majority of indigenous participants.
The militant march was extremely well organised, with coordinated chants. The main demands were for the dignity and rights of women; an end to violence against women; for a real wage to live on; for the military to withdraw from villages; for the right to live in peace.
Since the 1960s, with the backing of the USA, the government and its death squads have inflicted massive violence on indigenous women, children and men. In response, there has been a revival of women's organisations, along with other popular movements like Achim Izin — "Men Of Corn".
The government's continuing repression did not stop the women's groups uniting for a number of actions prior to their march.
Mayan women performed a special ceremony for women, dedicating it to those who wash clothes, prepare food, look after children, feed animals, carry water, pick coffee, serve in private homes, work with sewing machines and work in clothing factories. Women forced to flee into Mexico travelled back for this historic occasion. They are called "Mama King", from the name of a woman killed by the military in 1978.
Greetings were given from a CISLAC (Committees in Solidarity with Latin America and the Caribbean) delegation of Australian women. Chantal Wynter from Resistance spoke at the Mayan ceremony about the fight of young people and the solidarity movement in Australia saying, "All women of all ages, colour and origins, are subject to second class treatment. We need to unite globally so we can make International Women's Day every day."