Linked with TRANSGÉNICOS, .
She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “As long as I have the support of my people, I shall never surrender”.
She says also: “They do not respect our point of view. They ignore the Mayan people. One person was killed and 17 wounded. The government blamed us and tried to stop our protests. They wanted to scare us, but we continued. The ones who signed this treaty do not think about the people. Human beings are not a commodity. The life of a human being cannot be paid for”.
And she says: “We lived through a war that lasted 36 years. Now, with the Treaty for Free Trade (TLC) which they want to impose on us, things are turning worse. Peasants are becoming even poorer. Only a few are doing well out of this. Cultures are lost. The environment is spoiled”.
Sorry, I can not find any photo of Candelaria Hernández Gabriel, Guatemala (see also my comment ‘Brave women without photos‘).
She works for the Asociación para la Promoción y el Desarrollo de la Comunidad (Ceiba), and for the Asociación de Mujeres Mam para el Desarrollo (Asomamd).
And she asks: “Please, do me this favour and say to the people and the countries that support our people, that we need them to work together in a joint struggle. They have to put pressure on our governments so they hear what we are saying, so that they stop killing innocent people”.
A Guatemalan woman, of Maya-Mam origins, Candelaria is a displaced person (internal and external refugees, mostly indigenous, who had to flee their homes and communities due to the indiscriminate bombardments carried out by the Armed Forces), a community leader and mother of five children.
Self-taught, she learned to read and write, driven by the desire to improve herself. Candelaria Hernández Gabriel, known as ‘La Cande’, weaves, cooks, cleans and talks about justice, human rights and freedom. She is a woman of the people, a humble woman. She speaks freely and smiles openly.
It was February 11, 1968 in Ixconlaj, a village in the Guatemalan mountain range. A Maya-mam family celebrated the birth of a little girl: The girl was Candelaria Hernández Gabriel.
As a small girl she followed the footsteps of her parents, going, like most of the families there, from ranch to ranch throughout the district of Huehuetenango, earning their salaries as itinerant workers, gathering the harvest of others.
Woman of Peace ( Xüj Té Zálabil), she grew up in ‘Democracy’, the ironical name given to this municipality from which later she would have to flee. School made her very happy but it lasted only two months: “The army burnt down the school and I had to abandon my studies”.
All those years of a wandering life left their mark on her and helped to build up her awareness about the injustice and misery suffered by the indigenous families working on the land. It began to form her particular vision of the world.
Like every woman in the village she learned to work in the home and to work on the land. In 1980, along with her family she was forced to flee because of the incursions of the army and the massacres that they had been carrying out in the nearby villages. “At the beginning they conscripted men by force. Later the threats, rapes and murders of the women began”.
In 1984, Candelaria abandoned the village and went to the mountains with her bundle of dreams and hopes.
She returned in 1989 and joined the Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC), The Committee for Peasant’s Unity, in their fight for human rights. Along with other mothers and widows she opposed the compulsory conscription imposed by the Guatemalan army. “I began to fight to defend life, especially women’s lives. I had to walk through the villages, sometimes for three or four hours, with my oldest daughter beside me and a little one on my back”.
In 1996, the war ended after an agreement was reached between the government and the guerrillas (URNG1). It allowed Candelaria to dream, but her dream did not last long. “It is lamentable, but we still need to take action to bring about improvements to the situation of women, and to fight so that the Agreement becomes a reality. It is so sad to see that the agreed terms have not been fulfilled”.
And she continues to fight for a better reality. Fulfilling some of her own dreams, she is the representative of the association of Mam Women for Development (ASOMAMD), founded in 2000. This regional organization seeks to raise the profile of women and increase their participation. It fights for respect for human rights, freedom of organization and the fulfilment of the terms of the Peace Agreements. She is also the delegate representing the Mam linguistic communities in the Council for District Development and works in the Woman’s Programme of the Association for Promotion and Development of the Community (CEIBA).
She feels happy with her five children and knowing that although there is still so much to do, there is also hope. “I fight so that my children will not suffer as much as our ancestors, or my brothers and myself. I want them to have the right to education, health and freedom”.
Her strength lies in her people. They guide her in her fight for change. “As long as the people fight, no one shall be left behind. My people teach me the right direction. While I have the support of my people, I shall never surrender”.
On March 15, 2005, in Naranjales, 30 kilometres from Huehuetenango, she joined a peaceful demonstration against TLC. (1000PeaceWomen).
Hernández Gabriel, Candelaria, Guatemalteca: maya-mam, lidereza comunitaria. Madre de cinco hijos e hijas. Desplazada. Autodidacta, aprendió a leer y escribir por el deseo de superarse; Candelaria Hernández Gabriel, La Cande, teje, cocina, limpia, habla de justicia, de derechos humanos, de libertad. Mujer del pueblo, no escatima palabras ni sonrisas. (see more).