No solo los golpes provocan heridas permanentes

Juan Carlos López   |  Diario de Centro América

La violencia puede ser física, sexual, psicológica y económica.

¡No te vistas así! ¡No salgas! ¡No trabajes! ¡Estás gorda! Estas pueden ser palabras que inician un círculo que, aunque no incluye golpes, es considerado como violencia de la que mujeres y niños son víctimas frecuentes.

Según Mayté Fernández, psicóloga de la Fundación Sobrevivientes, la violencia de los hombres hacia las mujeres tiene sus orígenes en las relaciones de desigualdad de poder, es decir, los hombres han sido educados para ser los proveedores y las mujeres para el trabajo en el hogar, situación que ha alejado de aquellos de su lado sensible.

“La violencia tiene que ver con el dominio de una persona que quiere que se hagan las cosas a su manera. Lo que han hecho todos los convenios es poner en evidencia que es una situación cultural y de mala educación”, explica la experta, quien agrega que es algo que se debe cambiar.

En Guatemala, según Fernández, los crímenes contra mujeres evidencian odio hacia la persona por el simple hecho de ser mujer, a lo cual se le llama misoginia. En la actualidad el país ostenta el segundo lugar en el ámbito latinoamericano en feminicidios, que en 2008 y 2009 sumaron 877 casos, de los cuales el 97% quedó en la impunidad.

Del total de muertes de mujeres el 32% se dio en el hogar, 43% fuera de este y el 25% en otras circunstancias.

Mecanismo de denuncia

Cuando hay situaciones de violencia hay que poner la denuncia en el Ministerio Público lo antes posible para que haya pruebas físicas de las agresiones. También ayudan los testimonios de vecinos. Las secuelas devastan psicológicamente. Es por ello que se tiene que procurar tratamiento profesional. La denuncia es importante. Los desacuerdos son necesarios, pero lo que hace la diferencia es cómo se van a resolver. Se debe tener respeto hacia la pareja.

Las penas

La ley contra el feminicidio y otras formas de violencia contra la mujer contempla condenas relacionadas a la magnitud del tipo de daño de que es víctima una fémina.

• Feminicidio, 25 a 50 años de prisión sin derecho a redención de pena.

• Violencia física o sexual, de 5 a 12 años de prisión.

• Violencia psicológica, de 5 a 8 años de prisión.

• Violencia económica, de 5 a 8 años de prisión.

Searching for gold at the end of the Guatemalan rainbow: Paradise Lost, the documentary

VIDEOS: Paradise Lost, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Paula Todd, W5, CTV.

W5 Executive Producer Anton Koschany issued a caution as he sent his four-person crew into Central America to investigate questions about Canadian mining companies operating overseas. ‘It’s dangerous there, stay safe.’ The first confirmation comes from the American I meet on the plane en route to the little country squeezed between El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. “What are you? Suicidal?” A former police officer, crew-cut and hard-muscled, he is returning to his job there as a private and “very well-paid” armed security guard — a popular career in skittish Guatemala City.

Uniformed security squads dominate the scenery in the airport, on the streets, ringing the wealthy and the powerful. In the smaller towns, local men in t-shirts and khakis lean against storefronts or pace bank entrances with automatic weapons slung across their chests. Everybody’s alert in a country roiling with murder, drug trafficking, theft, kidnapping and a long-running dispute between those who want to develop Guatemala and ancient Indigenous cultures with mystic ties to the past.

Enter Canadian mining companies, who are spending billions to churn up the mountains in eastern and western Guatemala to uncover valuable gold, silver and nickel. At the Marlin Mine alone, Canadian mining companies, including the current Vancouver-based GoldCorp, have blasted through almost seven million tons of rock since 2005, producing nearly a million ounces of gold.

But it costs more than money to send profits back to shareholders. Local residents, including Mayans clinging proudly to their traditional way of life, alternate between anger and despair. Some claim the massive mining projects leave little value behind while sucking up their water supply, polluting what’s left of it and leaving them ill. They point to skin rashes on their children and huge cracks in the plaster walls of their homes as proof. GoldCorp officials argue the mine is not the source of these problems.

W5 spent almost two weeks bumping along mountain roads, climbing up into the jungle, and touring mine sites and interviewing residents, corporate officials and rights workers. Producer Anne Hainsworth, cameraman Paul Freer and soundman Michael Kennedy and I are accustomed to seeing a difference of opinion; in fact, that’s what we look for as we try to tell a balanced story. But the contrast in Guatemala is particularly marked: both sides insisting they are telling the truth, everyone certain they know how to best protect a country that is as conflicted as it is beautiful.

Pro- and anti-mine sentiments divide communities and families, too, as locals who welcome the mine and its money, align against those who want the land left alone. Tension runs as high as the stakes.

Inside the Marlin Mine compound

In dusty towns outside of Guatemala City, poverty is everywhere: tiny children, often covered in more filth than clothing, play with stones on the sidewalks. Packs of wild dogs scavenge. Homes are cobbled together from old wood and boxes; worn curtains flap on outdoor bathrooms, sometimes nothing more than a hole in the ground. In this country, you carry your own toilet paper, if you are lucky enough to afford it. Sun-crinkled farmers cling to the side of a mountain to harvest a meager onion crop.

Life inside the GoldCorp Marlin Mine compound in San Marcos is so different, it’s almost surreal. If you get past the armed guards at the gate, you’ll see shiny trucks and sparkling buildings, including tidy homes where some employees live while running the mine. Massive mills rumble as the mountain tumbles through them, breaking down the ore before it is soaked in cyanide to leach out the silver and gold. Everywhere there is order and yellow construction helmets.

GoldCorp’s Vice-President for Latin America, Eduardo Villacorta Haddad, says he’s proud of what his company is doing — employing some 1,200 people from surrounding villages, paying good wages, building roads and schools. He shows us an on-site green house where they’re growing trees to refurbish the mountain when they leave. In the modern cafeteria, he cheerfully serves strawberries grown on the mine property and points to the generous meals his employees are fed. He says Canadians can be proud of the way GoldCorp is operating.

Yet, we meet three young Canadian human rights workers here who are anything but proud. Karen Spring and Jackie McVicar from Ontario, and Francois Guindon from Quebec have all stayed in Guatemala longer than they ever planned and have become vocal activists because they are worried about the “damage” they believe mining companies are doing to the people, the land, the Guatemalan culture. It has become an embarrassment, they claim, to admit you are a Canadian in Central America.

Spring came as a University of Toronto student to study health problems, estimating she’d stay a few months, but a couple years later, she is still here, fluent in Spanish, and determined to continue her work for a social justice organization called ‘Rights Action.’ Like Guindon, who’s known as “Pancho” and works with the ‘Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala,’ Spring is determined to help local people get their message out. Together, they lend their language skills, their connections and their conviction that Canadian mining companies are not being properly held to account.

The young activists introduce W5 to Guatemalans, some of whom confide they are afraid for their lives now that they’ve dared to protest against the Canadian mines. They report ominous phone calls and death threats. We meet a tiny woman with seven children, who says she didn’t agree to huge poles which support the power lines supplying the mine being built on her property. No longer able to plant or enjoy her home, she says she threw a rope over one of the power lines and knocked out a key source of electricity to the mine. There is a warrant out for her arrest and she has since gone into hiding, emerging only to speak with us.

Guatemalans divided over the mining issue

Activist Jackie McVicar, who works for Nova Scotia-based human rights organization ‘Breaking the Silence,’ has interviewed many local people who insist their lives have been ruined by either the mining companies’ takeover of their land, or the violence that has accompanied development as Guatemalans split into pro- and anti-mining camps.

In El Estor, another Canadian mining company named HudBay Minerals is refurbishing the Fenix Project — a moth-balled nickel smelter and mine. But anger is still raw over forced evictions that took place in 2007 when the mine was owned by Canadian company Skye Resources (since acquired by HudBay). A Canadian filmmaker, Steven Schnoor, documented homes being burned and knocked down by police and the military, while McVicar reports widespread allegations that women were sexually abused and raped during the melee — accusations that are strongly denied by HudBay officials.

One evening, the W5 team witnesses a widow in a ramshackle graveyard weep for her dead husband, a popular teacher, who she claims was killed last year by security guarding the same HudBay mine — all, she believes, because he fought the “progress” they don’t want. HudBay officials deny the allegations and any involvement in his death.

In many countries, local and national governments might mediate more. But Guatemala is barely back on its feet after 36 years of violent conflict and civil war. Assassination, frequent rape and murder of women, powerful drug gangs, and government corruption keep the country teetering. There are neighborhoods in Guatemala City so violent and gang-controlled, we could find no one willing to enter.

Meanwhile, key police officials have been arrested for allegedly passing tips to criminals about pending drug raids, while Guatemala’s national police chief is facing charges for drug theft and co-operating with a violent drug gang. Other police and anti-drug officials have also been arrested for allegedly stealing drug money or taking bribes.

Protesters, particularly poor Mayans who are unable to speak English or enlist legal help, say they are vulnerable in the face of powerful North American corporations, especially because the Guatemalan government welcomes the foreign investment and revenues mining produces.

In the end, Indigenous people with a profound connection to the earth are pitted against Canadian mining companies who, with government backing, are digging up the country for profit, with a promise to leave it better than they found it. Along the way they are also affecting how some of our Latin American neighbours see Canadians.

Male Studies vs. Men’s Studies

First came women’s studies, then came men’s studies, and now, a new field in reaction to both: male studies.

Scholars of boys and men converged Wednesday at Wagner College, in Staten Island, N.Y., to announce the creation of the Foundation for Male Studies, which will support a conference and a journal targeted at exploring the triumphs and struggles of the XY-chromosomed of the human race — without needing to contextualize their ideas as being one half of a male-female binary or an offshoot of feminist theory. Organizers positioned themselves in contrast to men’s studies, which is seen as based on the same theories as women’s studies and is grouped together with it as gender studies.

More than anything else, the event was a chance for supporters to frame men and boys as an underrepresented minority, and to justify the need for a male studies discipline in a society that many perceive to be male-dominated.

Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, said the field takes its cues “from the notion that male and female organisms really are different” and the “enormous relation between … a person’s biology and their behavior” that’s not being addressed in most contemporary scholarship on men and boys.

“I am concerned that it’s widespread in the United States that masculinity is politically incorrect,” said Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.

The culprit, said Tiger, is feminism: “a well-meaning, highly successful, very colorful denigration of maleness as a force, as a phenomenon.”

Paul Nathanson, a researcher in religious studies at McGill University and co-author of a series of books on misandry — the hatred of men and boys — conceded that “there is some critique of feminism that’s going to be involved” in male studies. “There are some fundamental features of ideological feminism over the last 30 or 40 years that we need to question.”

He also decried “the institutionalization of misandry” which, he said, is “being generated by feminists, [though] not all feminists.”

Male studies’ combative tone toward feminism and women’s studies programs is one reason why Robert Heasley, president of the American Men’s Studies Association, turned down an invitation to speak at the event. “Men’s studies came out of feminist analysis of gender, which includes biological differences” — the very thing male studies says is different about its approach.

Heasley, an associate professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, also sees the “new” discipline as an affront to his field, which has been around for three decades. “Their argument is that they’re inventing something that I think already exists.”

Male studies will hold its first conference at the New York Academy of Medicine on Oct. 1 and 2, but AMSA already has an annual convention, which met in Atlanta late last month. The foundation will launch Male Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal next year, but thousands of journal articles on men’s studies have already been published.

Rocco Capraro, an associate dean and assistant professor of history at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, said that “men are both powerful and powerless.” Though men and boys as a group may be powerful, “today’s discourse on individual men is not a discourse of power — men do not feel powerful in today’s society.”

Instead, they feel ashamed of their masculinity. While women may perceive pornography as degrading to their gender, men consider it to be a manifestation of “sexual scarcity, rejection and shame,” he said. “Porn falls into a larger structure of masculinity as a shame-based existence.”

Primary and secondary schools, as well as higher education, have been so heavily influenced by feminism, Tiger said, “that the academic lives of males are systematically discriminated against.” If the female-favoring gender gaps in postsecondary enrollment and graduation rates damaged a group other than males, “there would be an outcry.” But because men and boys are perceived to be a powerful group, few academics and policy makers see much of a problem.

Heasley, of the men’s studies group, said that much of what male studies’ supporters are propagating is untrue, or at least not the whole story. “These are really unfounded claims that are being made,” he said. “It’s kind of a Glenn Beck approach.”

Edward Stevens, chair of the On Step Institute for Mental Health Research, said he wants to see male studies search for ways to improve male academic performance. “What are the ethical concerns of devoting 90 percent of resources to one gender?” he asked (though without explaining exactly what he meant). “What are the unintended consequences of the failure of our academic institutions to consider the 21st century needs of males?”

— Jennifer Epstein

Inside Higher Ed

La ola de ‘feminicidios’ de Ciudad Juárez se extiende por Centroamérica


Walda Barrios-Klee, ayer en Madrid- CRISTÓBAL MANUEL

Walda Barrios-Klee, ayer en Madrid- CRISTÓBAL MANUEL

WALDA BARRIOS-KLEE Activista a favor de la mujer en Guatemala

Sólo durante 2009, en Guatemala fueron asesinadas 847 mujeres. En los últimos 10 años, han muerto de manera violenta 5.027 guatemaltecas. Y en lo que va de año, ya suman 160. No se trata de violencia doméstica a puerta cerrada, sino de mujeres que son torturadas y asesinadas en lugares públicos, casi siempre por desconocidos. Walda Barrios-Klee (1951, Ciudad de Guatemala), consejera asesora de la Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas, constata una realidad preocupante en una entrevista concedida a EL PAÍS en el marco de un seminario internacional sobre feminicidios en Guatemala y México, celebrado ayer en la Casa de América de Madrid. “¿Por qué fue famoso el caso de Ciudad Juárez? Porque allí empezaron. Pero de allí comienza a pasar en toda Centroamérica y en toda la región. Ya es una patología social”, asegura.

Desde 2008, la legislación del país centroamericano reconoce el delito del feminicidio: el asesinato de mujeres por el simple hecho de serlo, motivado por el odio y la misoginia. “Los feminicidios están considerados como crímenes impersonales. El que mata a la mujer no tiene ninguna relación con ella. Es un crimen anónimo. El que asesina no conoce a la víctima y la mata por el hecho de ser mujer. Es lo nuevo del fenómeno”, resalta Barrios.

Otro factor distintivo es la brutalidad empleada antes y después de la muerte de la víctima. “No se mata únicamente, sino que se persigue todo un ritual en el asesinato: tortura, mutilación y violación. Hay violación siempre, acompañada por un sadismo excesivo”, precisa. Los cadáveres aparecen a menudo descuartizados, con las uñas arrancadas y la cara desfigurada.

La consejera, que fue candidata a la vicepresidencia de Guatemala en 2007, subraya que la ley contra los feminicidios “ha servido para que aumenten las denuncias ?porque las mujeres pierden un poco el miedo?, pero no la penalización”. Y tampoco ha conseguido frenar las agresiones. “La ley fue aprobada en marzo de 2008. Y en marzo de 2009, en lugar de bajar, aumentaron los crímenes”.

Para Barrios, se trata de un fallo institucional. “La ley es una contribución al cambio cultural. No obstante, si el sistema de justicia no funciona bien, aunque haya ley, las cosas no van a cambiar mucho”.

El llamado triángulo de la violencia [Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras, según la descripción acuñada por Naciones Unidas, ya que tienen las tasas de feminicidios más altas de la región] ilustra un problema que va más allá de los conflictos armados, que acecharon en el pasado a El Salvador y Guatemala, y en los que la violación se usó como arma de guerra.

El primer puesto respecto al asesinato de mujeres, en los últimos años, lo solía ocupar Guatemala. “Ahora, Honduras tiene el primero, El Salvador el segundo, y Guatemala el tercero”, afirma la defensora de los derechos de las mujeres. Y explica que esta situación se da no porque haya bajado la cifra en Guatemala, sino porque ha subido en Honduras.

“¿Qué tienen en común Guatemala y El Salvador? Las guerras internas. Honduras, no. Pero Honduras salta después del golpe de Estado. Es lo que cambia la situación allí. El problema tiene que ver con el papel del Estado y el debilitamiento de las estructuras estatales, algo que afecta a toda América Latina”, añade la activista.

Es cierto que en el caso particular de Guatemala pesa también la herencia de una guerra fratricida de casi cuatro décadas, ?el acuerdo de paz se firmó en 1996?, que dejó más de 200.000 muertos o desaparecidos, sin que se haya juzgado jamás a los verdugos. “Hemos tenido 36 años de conflicto armado durante los cuales el aparato de Estado se usó para la represión. Toda la estructura estatal quedó en manos de gente que tenía esa mentalidad del enemigo interno, que así se llamaba a la gente que quería una Guatemala distinta. Eso no se desmontó con la firma de la paz. La estructura del Estado quedó como era, con las mismas personas de la guerra. Por eso, no piensan en la justicia”, explica Barrios.

A ese clima de impunidad generalizada se une un cambio de perspectiva. Ahora, las mujeres encarnan al enemigo interno, sostiene la activista, “porque empezamos a salir a la calle, a trabajar, a ser autónomas, a tener ingresos propios, a reivindicar espacios públicos y cuotas de poder. A medida que hay más participación política y más mujeres buscando cargos públicos, hay más asesinatos. El mensaje social parece ser que la mujer que sale de casa corre más peligro que la que se queda encerrada, aunque esto sea un mito. Porque incluso los maridos que te golpean y pegan en las casas no te matan como te matan en la calle. Es una forma de terrorismo”.