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It’s time to go back to school, and back to InterCambio!

Hola a los amigos y a las amigas,

Already a month since we returned from Guatemala and we’re still full of thoughts and emotions … How to describe this month spent on the other side of the world? Some thoughts are still inexplicable, as it is difficult to find the words to write them precisely.

We certainly expected that our preconceptions would be challenged, our cultural codes would be jostled, that we could learn drastically different things … But we did not expect such a cultural slap, human and intellectual … and, no doubt, emotional.

We hope to have succeeded in transcribing our impressions as the project, through this blog. Thousands of thanks to those who read it with (or without) diligence and who appreciated it. Thank you also for the many extremely positive feedback we have had; they encouraged and motivated us throughout this journey and even today.

Now, it’s time to think about the coming months …

This is the start time for the InterCambio team as well, and we are entering a new phase of the project, namely the return of everything we have seen in recent months. This restitution will take different forms.

First, we will make a documentary highlighting the difficulties of access to health faced by Mayan women in Guatemala. This documentary will be screened during parties we will organize and we will give you the dates!

We will also organize exhibitions in Paris and Lyon. We will display photographic snapshots, broadcast local music, and set up interactive activities (olfactory, visual and sound) to encourage viewers to reflect on marginalization, respect for human rights and parallels we can do between the different countries of the world. Many topics will be covered: culture (s), education, national citizenship, international solidarity, difference (s), equality, justice, sexism, marginalization, etc.

Finally, we started during the month of August the drafting of a small book, which we hope to publish by the end of the year. The latter proposes a historical, political and social vision of the question of the Maya people in Guatemala!

Obviously, we will continue to send you the updates of all our events and update the site so that you continue to follow us.

In terms of precise organization, here is how we plan to cut out the coming months:

From September to December 2017:

  • Documentary editing
  • Organization of exhibitions

From January to June 2018 :

  • Broadcast of the documentary. We are currently negotiating partnerships with different Parisian and Lyonnais cinemas. Broadcasts will also be made at the universities of Lyon 2, Sciences Po Lyon, Paris X, Paris II-Assas and Berkeley (California). We are also planning a broadcast at the Maison des Femmes in Paris. If you know of places that might be interested in showing this documentary, do not hesitate to contact us (intercambio.projet@gmail.com)
  • Exhibitions in Paris and Lyon (places to be defined)
  • Organization of Café-debates: Small-group meeting of twenty people to share-around a café and a madeleine … or other- with various stakeholders in connection with the law of minorities.

The new use of this blog:

By entering this new phase, this blog itself will change its face! We encourage you to continue to consult it because it is here that we will publish the dates and places of our upcoming events and a short film, as a preview of the documentary to be broadcast in January!

See you soon!

>> STAY TUNNED <<

 

Day 25 – ¡ Tantos Regalos !

Once again, we begin our Sunday program at dawn! We want to take a last impression of the market atmosphere and shoot some scenes for our documentary of this symptomatic moment of life in Tecpán. However, today is not a Sunday like the others in the small town of Chimaltenango department: a great bike race has transformed the central square of the city, on which usually part of the market. Stands of products and sports brands are superimposed around a large stage, on which huge speakers are arranged. Coming from all over the country, cyclists cross the finish line one by one, while some of the inhabitants of Tecpán look from afar at what is happening in their city. The atmosphere is very different from other days.

We quickly escape from the center and take the direction of more distant lanes, in which was relocated the market. We walk in the heart of the various stands, listen for the last time the fruit and vegetable vendors shouting at the top of the day’s offers … After presenting ourselves and asking for their agreement, we manage to film some women who came to sell the family productions of fruits and vegetables on the market. However, unlike the days we work with Wuqu’Kawoq, it is not always easy to be legitimate in such an approach. We must face the refusal of several people who prefer not to be filmed. We can easily understand such mistrust: on several occasions, we have seen posters in public buildings showing the prevention of human trafficking in Guatemala. On these posters, we usually see a man (apparently Western) who wants to take a woman and her children in photo and an explanatory text that recalls the reality of human trafficking in Central America – prostitution, organ trafficking, enslavement . Once the camera is tidy, we continue our shopping for our last days in Tecpán. Avocados, pineapple and cilantro bought, we can turn back and cook our food for lunch.

Barely having time to finish eating, and we plunged back into the list of things we must do, within 48 hours of departure. While Eléa and Chorkin synchronize all of their videos and verify that all the documents are saved, Penelope and Laura are working on the program for the next six months (we reserve the details of all this for the next article …). A certain feeling of nostalgia seizes us, in turn …

We then escape a few moments from the house to find the mother of Esperanza sewing, in the shade, in the flowery courtyard of the house. Sitting against the laundry, she plays with her fingers to unravel a reel of black thread. Patient and soothed, she shows us what she does and looks at us smiling for long moments. She speaks to us in Kaqchikel, but we have trouble understanding. To overcome the frustration of not being able to fully grasp this woman’s ills, we embark on an intuitive dialogue, made of gestures and some key words in Spanish. At the moment of taking a picture of her, she reconciles herself, braids her long hair around her head and sketches a humble smile.

As the sun begins to hide behind the surrounding hills, Esperanza returns from work. Mother and daughter go to the kitchen to start preparing dinner. “Mamicita,” as Esperanza calls her, is 82 years old. She has alzheimer: “ahora, soy la madre y ella es mi niña” (now I’m the mother and she’s the girl!), Says Esperanza laughing.

“My old years are sad,” says Esperanza’s mother, as her eyes fill with tears. Esperanza explains that the last few years have been difficult for her mother, as well as the whole family: the first son, a soldier, was assassinated by the political authorities 6 years ago; two years later, the second was killed by a group of thieves for money; and 6 months ago, the father of the family died. Silence fills the kitchen, Esperanza and her mother look at each other for a long time. The tears flowing down their cheeks express the strength and courage of these women, who carry the weight of their stories.

Esperanza’s sister, who lives in the house next door, joins us in the kitchen.

Life then continues at its normal flow. Esperanza reignites the fire in the stove, while her sister launches into the preparation of tamales. She dynamically mixes the prepared corn dough, rolls it and cuts it into pieces and puts it in dried leaves. She then arranges them in a large pan heated by the flames of the stove, before watering them with water. It’s a traditional dish, she explains. While the tamales are cooking, she speaks to us of her daily life in Tecpán. She works two days a week and the rest of the time she weaves to pay for school and school for her children. One of her daughters has nerve disorders and has epileptic seizures regularly. She had to stop school 5 years ago because she could not stay focused long enough. She is now 20 years old and helps her mother at home.

After this afternoon spent with the family of Esperanza, we come back home and we activate the preparation of our suitcases … It is only 5 minutes that the door is closed, when we hear ringing. This is our friend Esperanza – not our host, but the one with whom we went to marriage and Antigua! She came to bring us biscuits still hot, to wish us a good return to France. Such attention has really touched us!

Barely time to start cooking it is our host, Esperanza, who comes to ring: “Chicas! Chicas! “. We open the door and she gives us a plate with a “tortilla española” and the famous tamales! We will sit down to table faster than expected …

About twenty minutes later, we hear knocking again. It is Esperanza’s sister who comes to join us to offer us four tortillas covers, which she sewed by hand. “It’s to thank you for coming and sharing your time with us. I would have liked to spend more time with you, but I had to work. Thank you and come back well. Take care of yourself! “She says to us with a soft voice. She takes the arm of each of us and kisses us: that’s how greetings are made in Guatemala. It is difficult to describe the innumerable emotions that have crossed us at this precise moment … The extreme recognition for the welcome and kindness of all the people we met; the sadness of leaving the small town of Tecpán and its inhabitants; and, admiration for the humility, the strength and the courage of all the women we have worked with and from whom we have learned so much so far … We will go tomorrow to buy flowers and cards to thank our host , his sister and his mother for so much sharing and kindness.

Jour 24 – A return to Lake Atitlán…

T-3 days before taking the plane towards France … So, on the occasion of our last Saturday in Guatemala, we decide to return to the lake Atitlán … (You probably already included in the article last week, but we loved this place!) Same car, same driver, here we go again for a ride!

After two hours of driving, we arrive at our destination, under a bright sun. (We learn later in the day that the small town of Tecpán is famous for its capricious weather, while on the rest of the Guatemalan lands, the thermometers display several degrees more …)

Just arrived, we head to the pontoons where take the local public transport. We are witnessing an incessant broom of boats arriving, unloading, recharging and leaving! No salsa, no marimba on the port, only these salesmen chorus, sung by men who run from one street to another to attract tourists: “25 Quetzales for all destinations! 25 Quetzales! 25 Quetzales! “. This time we take the boat to Santa Catarina, which is exactly the opposite of San Pedro, the village we visited last week. This opposition is far from being only geographic: while San Pedro is very touristy and “trendy”, Santa Catarina is much more peaceful and less frequented by tourists. We are very lucky today because the weather is mild (it must be noted: the trip is without jolts, unlike last week).

In Santa Catarina, a feeling of serenity comforts us. We wander in the sunny lanes, to the rhythm of the religious songs that spread from the place of the Church. We start a small walk on the heights of the city … Always camera in hand and ready to find the best shots for the documentary, we climb until the road comes off the side of the hill, so to enjoy a breathtaking panorama. Santa Catarina spreads over the opposite reliefs. From the heights, the colorful houses seem built on top of each other, forming a colorful carpet and moved by the daily activity of its inhabitants. The village looks at the lake and its three volcanoes. We stay a long time to enjoy this view, through our camera lenses first and our own eyes afterwards …

We return to the shores of the lake, for a ride – this time horizontal – towards the hot springs Don Cesar told us about. We find a small shady corner where we decide to sit down a little. Beside us, a family bathes and enjoys the heat of the sources. A little further, a mother and her six children came to wash the whole family in the lake. While clean clothes pile up on a rock, children play with t-shirts they use as dip nets. Their bright laughter spreads to us, while the smile of their mother seems to freeze the moment.

At mealtime, we resume the management of Panajachel. On the way, we come across a small restaurant whose façade attracts our eyes: drawings and flowers share the canvas. We discover a shaded backyard, furnished with blue and green tables. A light wind crosses the place and floats garlands of colored fabric. On the menu this afternoon, burritos and crunchy vegetables perfectly cooked … A treat!

Quickly, the time of shopping for some (especially one of us, you will surely recognize!), While the others bask in the sun ice in hand (you will recognize them too!). It only remains an hour before heading back to Tecpán … We go to a small place isolated from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. Lying in the sun, we take the time to freeze in non memory the images of this landscape that we will not see again soon …

It’s already time to return to Tecpán … And to plunge into our endless “to-do lists” (unlike the ice cream and shopping, you will surely recognize us all on this last point!) …

Day 23 – Portrait of a Mayan activist, Rigoberta Menchú

On this rainy day, we stay in the offices of Wuqu’Kawoq to translate the interviews we had in Kaqchikel and manage the last imperatives of the project on the spot (hey, the return is approaching …). So, a few days before leaving Guatemala, we wanted to talk about Rigoberta Menchú, an exemplary woman who inspired our documentary approach.

In 1992, just 33 years old, Rigoberta Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as the civil war and genocide perpetrated against the Mayan people began to end. This prize is dedicated to her in recognition of her 1983 work, Moi, Rigoberta Menchú, which highlights the importance of ethno-cultural reconciliation in Guatemala for the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Rigoberta Menchú is a Mayan woman who grew up in rural communities in the country. From the age of 5, she started working in the fields to help her family provide for her needs. She did not have the opportunity to go to school and once an adult she began to politicize, taking part in political discussions between the men in her family. She wanted to denounce the crimes committed by the Guatemalan military and the human rights violations they perpetrated. During the civil war, whole villages were razed, houses were burned, crops were totally destroyed. The army drew up long lists of names of young Mayan widows who were to join the military camps. These women became true slaves, having to cook for the soldiers, washing their clothes while also undergoing rape.

Not knowing how to read or write, she dictates her work to Elizabeth Burgos, a Venezuelan author who will take the time to write what Rigoberta Menchú has on her heart.

Despite the lack of opportunity and the difficulties to be personally recognized, Rigoberta Menchú devoted his life to making the Maya people of Guatemala heard. In February 2007, she founded the WINAQ political party, which brings together all the Maya movements in her country. WINAQ comes from the K’iche language and means “the people”. She is running in the presidential election of September of the same year. However, she finds herself eliminated in the first round, garnering only 3% of the vote …

Rigoberta Menchú is today an exemplary figure for many Mayan women in Guatemala. Various photos with his most famous quotes are also posted on the walls of Wuqu’Kawoq. The life of this woman offers a poignant perspective of the practical difficulties that indigenous communities face daily. At the intersection between feminist struggles and struggles for the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, Rigoberta Menchú has become the epitome of militancy in Central America, and beyond the borders …

 

* La paix n’est pas seulement l’absence de guerre, tant qu’il y aura la pauvreté, le racisme, la discrimination et l’exclusion, nous pourrons difficilement atteindre un monde de paix.

Jour 22 – Visite de l’hôpital de Tecpán

After visiting the communities, seeing how the NGO Wuqu’Kawoq worked and interviewed a dozen people, we still have to visit the Tecpán hospital to complete the content of our future documentary. Of course, we could stay here again for months, as there are things to learn and people to meet … (This is relatively frustrating.)

So here we are en route to the hospital of the city of Tecpán. We take a tuc-tuc – local taxi, fast and cheap – to get there, because buses do not circulate today because of the market. We need a dozen minutes, punctuated by the horns horny tuc-tucs, to get to the hospital Tecpán.

We have an appointment with the person in charge of the establishment, who seems very busy. She calls one of the medical auxiliaries, who takes us to visit the premises. The hospital is large and divided into several buildings, each of which corresponds to a particular service. We begin the visit through the emergency department. Beds are arranged in the back of the room and separated by pale and thick curtains, installed to ensure the privacy of each patient. Between the beds, steel tables are arranged and are covered with products, drugs and medical instruments of all kinds. The emergency service is planned to accommodate 40 people. Today, only one man is in the emergency department, accompanied by his wife. The hospital is almost deserted, which reinforces a certain feeling of unease. The paramedic explains that it is because of the market and that people will come later in the day. Life is Tecpán is punctuated by collective events, and even the hospital lives or not according to such dynamics! In the emergency room, the walls are covered with posters made by the national government and the Chimaltenango Department: prevention of cervical cancer, fight against sexually transmitted diseases, denunciation of cases of sexual harassment and sexist violence, …

We continue the visit with a huge operating room, but also deserted. The equipment is cleaned, disconnected and stored. The operating table has not been used for months. In fact, our guide for the day explains that this room is no longer used and that surgeons are no longer working in this hospital because of lack of funding. From now on, if there are operations to be done, patients must go to the nearest hospital, two hours away, in the city of Chimaltenango. We continue with rooms adjoining the operating department. They too are empty. The beds are aligned one after the other, without it being possible to detect an ounce of life. Suddenly, the silence of the hospital breaks, the crying and screaming of a woman cross the corridor. ” She will give birth ! “Says the medical assistant. The hospital has a maternity ward that accommodates an average of two to three women a day.

We continue the visit by the gynecology and general medicine department, where many women and their children wait in a huge waiting room. Most of these women are in traditional Mayan attire. A television in the back of the room is lit, the sizzling images of a cartoon animate the children. The paramedic tells us that all health services provided by the public services are free in Guatemala. However, the language that is spoken in the majority is Spanish …

We then go to a unit a little further away. The walls of the outside are covered with a fresco with characters from Walt-Disney. The images of a fantasized world, that of cartoons, cover a very different reality. We are now entering the center for malnourished children. Guatemala is one of the countries with the highest rate of child malnutrition. The nurses take care of 4 children who have been here for more than a month: after 10 days in the emergency department due to severe malnutrition, they will remain several weeks in the rest room. Two children are accompanied by their mother. One of them takes advantage of the nap of her one-year-old daughter to embroider a fabric of multicolored flowers. The second plays with his young boy, who overflows with energy and goes back and forth in the corridor running and hiding. As for the other two children, the moms are not in the hospital with them. Marco, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy, suffers from microcephaly and sits alone in a bed. The nurses tell us that her mother is no longer allowed to see him, and that the judges will decide in a few months what will happen to the boy. As for the second baby, who is severely malnourished, her mother comes to see him from time to time, but she lives in a very remote community and has to take care of her other children. This last visit is particularly difficult. Malnutrition is a direct consequence of poverty that endangers the lives of thousands of children in Guatemala, and elsewhere …

It’s time to head back to the Wuqu’Kawoq office. We stay there in the afternoon, busy with editing videos and writing our articles …

Day 21 – Our meeting with Anne…

This morning, we go back to the Wuqu’Kawoq office to write the voice-over narration of our documentary.

Around four o’clock, as our bellies begin to growl, we head for the covered market in Tecpán, to find the restaurant “El buen gusto” * of our dear Esperanza. On the menu this afternoon, “chiles rellenos”, stuffed peppers with pork, accompanied by rice and tortillas, for only 40 quetzales, the equivalent of 5 euros in all! We take advantage of being in the heart of the covered market to film Esperanza and his colleagues in the kitchen and the animation of the vendors of the various stands of fruits and vegetables, meat and fish.

At the end of the afternoon, we have the chance to meet in real life Anne Kraemer Diaz, the co-founder of the association Wuqu’Kawoq with whom we had met via Skype throughout this year to implement place our partnership. Anne is a brilliant woman and our exchange was most rewarding. An anthropologist by training, she has studied the work of NGOs with a very critical eye on the consequences of their work. Then, she confides to us that she realized that the action of the non-governmental organizations was necessary to change the present situation of the indigenous populations in Guatemala, considering the lack of responsibility of the Guatemalan State. She has therefore worked to create an NGO that tends to move away from traditional models, by promoting a conscious approach and a local anchoring in order not to reproduce the relations of domination, sources of oppression of the indigenous peoples.

According to Anne, the major challenge facing the Wuqu’Kawoq association is to avoid the pitfalls of a universalizing action that could violate the cultural codes of Maya populations and reproduce the domination relationships as they exist in the programs. current access to health. It is about empowering indigenous peoples to assert their own rights for the purposes of development and empowerment. The NGO wants to avoid the miserabilistic approaches that tend to weaken the symbolic power and the collective action of the indigenous populations.

We learn a lot by listening to his very conscientious speech to always act in a fair way. Once again we are impressed by so much will and energy from this woman.

Day 20 – The last two interviews for our InterCambio project…

 

A week before departure, we take advantage of this day to carry out the last two interviews we need for our future documentary.

We eat a breakfast prepared with love (Chorkin, the queen of cooking, we made pancakes this morning!) And we go to the premises of Wuqu’Kawoq for our first interview of the day. We meet Dr. Waleska Lopez Canu, who has been with the NGO since 2012. She also defines herself as “una mujer indígena, Maya Kaqchikel” (a native woman, Maya Kaqchikel).

From the beginning of the interview, she returns to the creation of Wuqu’Kawoq in 2007, following the following observation: many Maya communities can not access health services provided by the government because of the language barrier. The problem identified by the NGO Wuqu’Kawoq is intersectional: in Guatemala, power relations between ethnic, social and gender categories are eminently crystallized in all aspects of the social life of the inhabitants, and in particular access problems. to health. It is necessary to underline the racism inherent in many medico-social policies and programs, provided only in Spanish and based on cultural assumptions and stereotypes. Medical structures, as well as some NGOs, tend to view indigenous women as having difficulty in understanding biological processes, because of the illiteracy of some or their supposed indigenous cultural representations of the body and health. The NGO Wuqu’Kawoq inscribes its action at the intersection of these issues.

The doctor explains that to overcome the discrimination that the Maya minorities suffer, the NGO Wuqu’Kawoq works locally with the most marginalized minorities, to meet the needs of the people and give them access to health, a human right yet protected by international conventions. For the members of the NGO, choosing between culture or health is not acceptable: “Usted no debe hold that elegir between su cultura y su salud”. The NGO is partnering with communities around Tecpán to identify their health needs and provide them with home-based and community-based care. It’s interesting to understand the work of the comadronas – of which we spoke to you on day 13 – from this angle: they are the relay between the medical authorities of the NGO and local traditions, and allow women to benefit from the medicine while providing emergency follow-up throughout their pregnancy. Thus, several programs are set up by the NGO: the nutrition program for children from 0 to 5 years old; the program of Salud de la Mujer and Salud Móvil (we talked about it in previous articles); or the research program to produce a study on the situation of access to health in Guatemala with a militant objective.

Since the beginning of the organization’s creation, more than 2,000 patients and their families have been helped by the NGO. The organization does not receive any grants from the national government, but it manages to function mainly through private donations and Canadian and US solidarity programs (USAID in particular).

This interview was very rich. The doctor is a brilliant woman, driven by her convictions. She does not declare itself openly militant, but fervently supports the rights of indigenous communities.

Inspired by such an interview and admiring the work done daily by all these women and men in the organization Wuqu’Kawoq, we take the direction of our home .. Finally, we should rather say that of our host, Esperanza, that we find without too much delay for our second interview of the day.

 

While we cross her five minutes before wearing an apron, a t-shirt and jogging pants, Esperanza joins us for the interview dressed in a traditional dress of the most colorful (see photo!). Sitting on a chair in the middle of the courtyard of her house, she answers each of our questions with sensitivity, humility, and humor. Our host is a woman with character, who plunges into her past to explain to us what being “una mujer indígina” (a native woman) means to her. She works at the Tecpán market four days a week and only raises her 17-year-old son. She returned a few months ago from Spain to look after her mother, after the death of her father. Esperanza explains how difficult it is for a Guatemalan woman to have opportunities and become independent. Whether it is family pressure or sexist discrimination, the obstacles she cites throughout her life are numerous. With incredible humility, she explains to us that we must fight each day when we are a woman … And that she has been doing it for years, for her sons, for herself and for her community.

The weather is capricious and the first drops of rain force us to shorten this interview. We go to Esperanza’s kitchen, where she is proud to show us what she has been doing since this morning for tomorrow’s meal. “You have to use the wooden spoon and not the metal spoon, that’s what my mother always told me and that’s what we do in the Maya culture,” she says, stirring the corn in a large pot, heated by the flames of a traditional stove.

We finish the evening with a meal with our host. It’s up to us to cook this time! On the menu, a Guatemalan risotto …

Day 19 – A Monday in Tecpán

On this Monday morning, we plan our work for our last week.

We are holding a meeting to discuss more specifically the plot of our documentary, which is not an easy task. Looking back over the past three weeks, we are very happy with all the testimonials we have been able to gather, and impressed by the energy given by all the women we met.

This week, we must also work on the narrative of the documentary, the famous “voiceover” that will have to be in Spanish. We are so busy …

At the end of the afternoon, we invite Esperanza to have a coffee to thank her for all the help she has given us. She is very curious about our feelings about her country and what we think about the situation of women in Guatemala. Not easy to answer such a question without hurting the traditions that have punctuated the life of Esperanza! We are still embarking on the exercise … We also address the crime of the country, Esperanza explains that after the civil war, many men had only knew how to use a weapon. As a result, finding themselves unemployed, some of them preferred to continue to make a living criminally. According to her, this is one of the explanations of the high crime rate in the country, not to mention the geographical situation of Guatemala, which makes it a necessary passage for drug trafficking between South America and the United States. Esperanza also describes the role of many NGOs that help girls in rural communities to have access to education so that they can have the opportunity to choose their own way of life.

This last moment in his company was very rewarding and when we say goodbye, we realize that the end of the stay is approaching … All the more reason to enjoy nachos and Guacamole at the cocktail hour!

Days 17 and 18- A weekend in Panachavel

Waking up early: we jump in our pants, put on our sneakers and grab our backpacks, towards Lake Atitlán. Don Cesar drives the green, noisy and shaky minibus on the winding roads to the west of the country. After more than two hours, we take a last bend before the landscape opens onto a huge expanse of water, the most beautiful in Central America. The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes – San Pedro, Tolimán, Atitlán – whose peaks rise to more than 3500 meters and combine to block the clouds. A small shop borders the road; hats of all colors, hanging on a thread and agitated by the wind, stop us. The landscape is breathtaking – itself already very limited by altitude. The lake fills a large caldera excavated more than 84,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption.

We take the path towards Panachavel, a small tourist town that borders the lake. While we are in “full winter”, the sun is generous today. We walk in the small city, looking constantly in search of details and elements of the landscape not to be missed. A feeling of serenity is invading us for the first time since we arrived here. The last days have been intense emotionally, intellectually and humanely.

We return to a small pontoon that lies on the lake. This time, our taxi will be a small boat that crosses the lake from one end to the other, with fragility and fleetingness. We arrive at San Pedro, a small tourist town, built on the edge of the lake, on the slopes of a surrounding mountain. Dressed in shorts and flip flops, it is mainly Western tourists who bask in the sun. We move away from the most popular lanes, and fall on a small restaurant whose backyard is none other than the lake itself. In front of the restaurant, a man cooks chicken legs, sausages and fish on the embers. We cross the curtain of smoke, to enter the premises, and decide to settle on a thin table located just at the edge of the terrace. The sight is striking … And even more appreciated when flavored with a braised chicken, avocado and some tortillas …

And presto, it’s already time to retrace our steps … The volcanoes have let some gray clouds pass, an omen of stormy weather ahead. We take the small tub, which tries to avoid the waves of the lake now agitated, sometimes stopping, sometimes accelerating. After 45 minutes of eventful crossing, we arrive (finally) at Panachavel. Barely time to do some shopping and it is already time to find Don Cesar, our driver of the day, to return to Tecpán.

Rested from our trip the day before, we decide to start the last day of the week with a “meeting” in the small veranda of our house to plan the program of the days to come. We only have one week left to film the last shots of the city, to carry out the missing interviews and to write the main frame of the documentary. In short, we have something for the week ahead! For the rest of the day, we go to the “Cafe de Aqui”, which has become, over the past three weeks, our favorite place to work while sipping a local coffee. The afternoon is well occupied, between the writing of articles of the blog, the frame of the documentary and the screenings of the interviews of the past week. We end the day with a small appetizer with well-earned guacamole …

Day 15- Interview with the “Directora Municipal de la Oficina de la Mujer”

We finished the week with an interview with the “Directora Municipal de la Oficina de la Mujer” * of Tecpán. Her office is located in the heart of the city, in the large building of the town hall which borders the central square where the market takes place every week. We were greeted by three women – “latinas” and “indigenas” they later told us – and made us wait a few moments.

Without waiting too long, the director, in her forties, greeted us warmly in a cramped office, with walls are lined with administrative documents, drawings and photos. We struggled to find a place in this confined space: the technical preparation of the interview is like a game of Tetris …

We were finally ready to begin this interview, turned towards a more political and institutional vision of the issues of Maya women’s rights in Guatemala.

Without saying much about our future documentary, we still want to share with you some key elements of this meeting (because yes, we also want to make you live a suspense worthy of that of the most awaited series). Oficina de la Mujer aims to provide better opportunities for women “indigenas” or “latinas”. The director explains that, according to her, men and women are equally equal in law, but that everyone must respect specific obligations. If women are to take care of their children and their husbands, they are in charge of providing sufficient economic resources for the well-being of their families. That’s why workshops are organized to make women make soap, laundry or other objects…

It is true that we are far enough away from the vision and work done by Wuqu’Kawoq, in terms of “empoderamiento” of Guatemalan women. However, both institutions work in both Spanish and Kaqchikel, in order to respect what is now recognized by international law as a collective right of indigenous peoples – “respect for indigenous languages ​​and cultures” (Declaration of Nations United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007). More broadly, while Guatemala’s social and economic hierarchy is largely determined by ethnic and cultural characteristics, language is a real hobby in this country. Such an observation is not without echoing similar situations in other regions of the world …

We look forward to revealing more about what we learn every day through our meetings and interviews.

* director of the municipal office dedicated to women

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