Latin American women's collective


This statement is by Colectivo Mujeres, Vida y Derechos Humanos (Collective of Women for Life and Human Rights), based in Melbourne.

We are a collective of women that began working at the end of 1992 in Melbourne with the objective of denouncing the human rights violations that Latin American women face, as well as drawing attention to the public solidarity for the campaign to gain their rights.

We would like to assemble Latin American women interested in human rights violations, women's rights and discussing their experiences as migrant women. Latin American women generally face grave barriers in relation to attaining recognition for their participation in society. Their plight is typically one of lack of access to economic rewards, and systematic failure to find appropriate health care and education.

In response to this we formed our collective to denounce the lack of support for the struggle of these women in Latin America, focusing particularly on the situation of women political prisoners. We have also supported the efforts of grassroots women's organisations toiling to improve their lot.

We have pledged special attention to the plight of 23 women political prisoners, and three of their children, serving sentences in Santiago, Chile, in spite of a return of "democracy".

We participated in the Conference of Migrant Women.

We supported the visit of the Spanish feminist writer, Lidia Falcon O'Neill, also a lawyer, a journalist and a drama expert. She is a founding member and current president of the Spanish Feminist Party.

We attended the national conference "Stopping Violence Against Filipina Women in Australia" in October 1994.

As a group we became aware of the need to tap into community radio. Today we produce and air the feminist program Mafalda, every Friday, 6.30-7.30pm on 3CR. This space is taken up by topics related to human rights, news, literature, Latin American music, interviews and commentaries.

In November Mafalda interviewed Guadalupe Marengo, a Mexican expatriate who has worked as an Amnesty International activist for the past two years in London. Her role involves working for the cause of Peruvian women political prisoners. Currently there are more than 60 women with this status. She also works with Latin American and Spanish women refugees living in London.

We strive to reach out to Latin American women living in Australia to join our cause. We must work together to confront the obstacles that are common to us all. We want to incorporate Latin American women who are at the edge of society.

Our collective is brimming with different ideas and objectives. Our energy has remained high since our inception. We are a core of five women who volunteer their work without government funding. Financial resources collected from our efforts are directly utilised to support the campaign of women political prisoners. We also believe in maintaining international efforts to pressure present day Latin American "democratic" governments to stop their continued violation of human rights.

To contact the collective, phone: (03) 802 5446, (03) 874 6323 or write to PO Box 249, Flemington 3031. n