women, equality, freedom, justice and repression

It’s International Women’s Day (IWD) and the main ‘theme’ for today usually is ‘equality’, but I can’t help think more about freedom, justice and repression. Sadly women, men and all people seem to have equal opportunity for repression.

To mark IWD I’ve translated another diary entry from Eduardo Galeano’s book ‘Children of the days’.


I refuse exile

why this diary entry?

I’ve chosen the essay from the 5th of March, ‘Divorce as good hygiene’ and dedicate the post to Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader who was murdered at home last week, the day before her 45th birthday, 3 March 2016. RIP – Rest in Power, Berta

I will not give up this fight

‘Divorce as good hygiene’ tells the story about Mercedes Pinto, an artist and feminist forced from Spain by the military junta in 1923. Mercedes was threatened and chose to go.

Berta too knew her life was in danger but Berta would not go. In 2013 she told Al Jazeera:

I cannot freely walk in my territory or swim in the sacred river and I am separated from my children because of the threats. I cannot live peace, I am always thinking about being killed or kidnapped. But I do not want to leave my country; I refuse to go into exile. I am a human rights fighter and I will not give up this fight.’

Berta’s murder was outrageous and one more horrendous injustice women activists and others around the globe face every day. As I write this, I am growing ever more concerned about a Mexican friend Gustavo Castro Soto, who was with Berta when she was murdered. They shot Gustavo too, leaving him for dead, but in actuality only hit his ear and hand.

my connection to all this

smWFP logo square

human rights observation and accompaniment, and grassroots education and connection

In 2000 I began working for Witness for Peace (WfP), a solidarity in action US-based NGO. It was founded in 1983 in Nicaragua doing accompaniment and advocacy work during the US-led conflict. In 2000 WfP set up an office in Chiapas, Mexico, building on work in neighbouring Guatemala, to accompany the Las Abejas, Zapatistas, and others caught up in another US-led conflict. Gustavo’s help, guidance and friendship was essential to WfP’s success and continues to be.



fast forward to now

Now Gustavo is being prevented from leaving the county in a textbook bureaucratic twist of how dictatorhips function and tens of Berta’s colleagues from the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the  organisation Berta helped found, are being unjustly held.

Gustavo gave a statement to the police after the murder, and then with the accompaniment

rising sun into darkness

another world rising

of the Mexican ambassador he was en route the airport to return to Mexico, he was detained for further questioning. The latest news is they want to take him from Tegucigalpa to La Esperanza, the town 200 kilomtres away where Berta lived to talk to the police there. In a letter smuggled out, Gustavo said the authorities have showed him pictures of ‘suspects’ all of whom have been members of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Tragically but not surprisingly the authorities don’t seem to have a clue, or even the energy or interest in getting a wee bit creative with covering up the crime.

Before finishing this post with the translation of the essay, I want to invite readers, if you are so inclined to on-line petitions, to sign this one in support of Gustavo and his safety and well-being. Thank you.

Sign and share this petition

Protect Gustavo Castro Soto, Mexican activist injured during Berta Cáceres’s murder


UP-DATE:  And now, 11 March, we still wait for news, and Witness for Peace has launched this initiative — please if it suits you, do this for Gustavo, for our Honduran friends, for Mother Earth.

Witness for Peace support for Gustavo Castro Soto









5 march:  divorce as good hygiene

In 1953, a Luis Buñuel film called ‘He’ opened in Mexico.

Buñuel, a Spanish exile, made this film about the misery of married life, based on the novel of another Spanish exile, Mercedes Pinto.

It ran for three weeks. Audiences laughed as if it were a Cantiflas film.

The author of the novel had been expelled from Spain in 1923. She had committed the sacrilege of giving a talk at the University of Madrid with the unacceptable title:  Divorce as good hygiene.

The dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera had her brought in. Speaking in the name of the Holy Mother Catholic Church and with a few words he told her:

— You shut up, or leave.

And Mercedes Pinto left.

And with that, her journey would awaken others wherever she stepped, leaving her creative footprints in Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico …





2 marzo:  el divorcio como medida higiénica

En 1953, se estrenó en México una pelicula de Luis Buñuel llamada, Él.

Buñuel, desterrado español, había filmado la novela de una desterrada española, Mercedes Pinto, que contaba los suplicos de la vida conyugal.

Tres semanas duró en cartel. El público se reía como si fuera una de Cantiflas.

La autora de la novela habia sido expulsada de España en 1923. Ella había cometido el scrilegio de dictar una conferencia en la Universidad de Madrid cuyo titulo ya la hacía insoprotable: El divorcio como medida higiénica. El dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera la mandó llamar. Habló en nombre de la Iglesia católica, la Santa Madre, y en pocas palabras le dijo todo:

– Usted se calla, o se va.

Y Mercedes Pinto se fue.

A partir de entonces, su paso creativo, que despertaba el piso que pisaba, dejó huella en Uruguay, en Bolivia, en Argentina, en Cuba, en México …



Machismo is men’s fear of women who are fearless



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