International Working Women’s Day
For those of us who fight for a new world, in which social justice, solidarity, the sovereignty of the peoples, and the dignity of the great majority of the common, reigns; a world in which people do not have to fear the looting of their territories and the destruction of nature, which is, in the end, life itself; for those of us who dream and fight for this possible utopia, International Working Women’s Day is always an opportunity for reflection and commemoration of a momentous milestone.
For us, March 8 is a symbol of all the struggles of women throughout history, and is a testament to the iron and essential character of these battles, which have been fought precisely for the construction of a new world, since a world of justice and solidarity, free from exploitation and plunder, is not possible without the liberation of women, historically subjected to patriarchal oppression, to the relentless exploitation of capitalism, to colonial and imperial wars, and today to the voracious pillaging of neoliberalism. Without the release of the heavy and specific chains that oppress women, there will be no liberation for society.
Today we especially want to pay the most tribute to the women who made up the historic Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) project. Without our fighters and their resistance, without the courage and stealth of our militia members and members of the Clandestine Communist Party of Colombia (PCCC), without the tireless activity of women in tasks such as radio communication, nursing, political and military training, troop direction, the work of the camps and food, the construction of the camps and all its infrastructure, and a long etcetera that includes all the activities involved in keeping a military political organization, a communist party raised in rebellious guerrilla, standing and aloft … without all of them and their commitment and work, it would not have been possible to build the immense legacy that the FARC-EP signifies today, a legacy full of experience, history and heroism. We greet and embrace them with affection and gratitude, on their day.
It is not possible this March 8 to pay tribute to the women of the FARC-EP without extending it to all the working and combative women of the Colombian people, who have always resisted and who today, on the front lines of social protest, rise again against oppression. That is why we want to greet all Colombian mothers and women who not only sell their labor power and support their families with it, but also undertake the work of the household; formally and informally, under the worst conditions, their lives consumed in it, women have in actuality assumed the helm of society. And it is the right time to include in this greeting the women of the world on their day. Honor to the caregivers of humanity!
Today we want to greet the peasant women who have historically been victims of the cruel dispossession of the land with blood and fire at the hands of state terrorism. We send our embrace to the women of the original peoples, to the resistance of the Indigenous women and the rebellion of the women of the Black communities, all of them victims of the looting of their ancestral territories, of discrimination and abandonment, since the state is only present through militarization to protect the capital of the few and the transnational corporations.
We extend our greetings to the young women and students who demand that education be democratic, free and relevant, and not just one more business of neoliberalism. We express our solidarity with all women who are fighting against gender-based violence, and denounce and reject the phenomenon of femicide that threatens the lives of women and girls in our country and throughout the world. We are also one when it comes to demanding the right to accessible and quality public health, protection of sexual and reproductive health, and we join in the slogan, “Sex education to decide, contraceptives to avoid abortion, legal abortion to not die.”
We fight for a cultural change in society, which eliminates the macho ideas and stereotypes disseminated in the educational system and in the media, oppressing women and imposing roles and aesthetics on them. By the same logic, we reject the systematic murder of social leaders and ex-combatants, as well as their families, and especially today, we condemn the incessant killing of social and community leaders and fellow ex-combatants by paramilitary violence, an expression of state political persecution, in its refusal to finally abandon the criminal doctrine of the domestic enemy that bleeds Colombia. Enough! Not another leader, former combatant, or woman! We need each other alive to transform the ruins of this collapsing world into life!
The Peace Dialogues of Havana, which raised the hope of a political solution to the conflict involving the right to critical political activity, the guarantee of not being killed and assassinated because of it, as well as other important transformations for the Colombian people, such as Integral Rural Reform, the dismantling of paramilitarism, a system of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition, and others, also awoke in the women of the FARC-EP, and in all the various organizations and women’s movements, the will to enforce the rights of Colombian women. A result of this process was the Gender Subcommittee, which achieved as a first and fundamental step that the gender approach be included in the various aspects of the Peace Agreement; among other things, it established facilitating the right to access to land for peasant women and also agreed to conduct research on the impact of war on women and the implementation of special protection mechanisms for women human rights defenders.
Unfortunately, state perfidy against the agreement was responsible for destroying our dreams and efforts to build an egalitarian and just society. That perfidy is maintained and deepened, affecting not only specific agreements based on the gender approach, but the totality of what was agreed. The ETCRs (Territorial Training and Reincorporation Spaces) were abandoned to their fate and what has been achieved in terms of reinstatement and productive projects is due to the efforts of the ex-combatants, who are being killed on a daily basis, reaching today the scandalous and tragic figure of more than 180 comrades since the signing of the agreement in 2016. Members of the former FARC-EP leadership are threatened with arrests and extradition, especially the most critical among them. And on top of that, they are murdered to lay blame against former combatants who have not lent themselves to the dirty game of defending an agreement already betrayed by the Colombian government and its accomplices.
Fortunately, winds of struggle are blowing: All of the above forced many ex-combatants to rise again in armed rebellion against oppression, giving birth to the Second Marquetalia, a historical decision that signifies an important turning point against state perfidy, while at the same time establishing the continuity of the struggle, where women, with their courage and commitment, have played an inspiring role. The dignity of combative women is once again historically embodied through the support they have provided to Marquetalian rebirth.
For our part, as men, we commit ourselves to deepening our position of permanent self-critical reflection, and to doing our utmost to support the battles of working and rebellious women, battles that are also ours. As women, we will continue to fight with our heads held high and strengthen solidarity among ourselves. The Second Marquetalia does not propose a “female paradise,” but a society where the values and strengths of women lead. Because it is the only possibility.
FARC-EP, Second Marquetalia
March 8, 2020
Translated by Greg Butterfield