Magazine article New Internationalist

Interview with Mujeres Creando

Magazine article New Internationalist

Interview with Mujeres Creando

Article excerpt

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OVERNIGHT, in beautiful handwriting, words appear on the walls of La Paz, the high-altitude capital of Bolivia. They speak truths Bolivian women won't say out loud. Deconstructing machismo, anti-gay prejudice and neoliberalism, Bolivian anarchofeminist group Mujeres Creando takes art back to the streets. Theirs is a politics of creativity, of interventions in everyday life. Tired of the traditional Left where, they say, 'everything was organized from top down, the women only served the tea or their role was a purely sexual one, or they were nothing more than secretaries,' three friends - Maria Galindo, Julieta Paredes and Monica Mendoza - started Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) in 1992. Two are the only openly lesbian activists in Bolivia. At the time, they explain, there was little talk of feminism - a militant, radical feminism, a feminism of the streets, of everyday life.

'We decided on autonomy from political parties, NGOs, the state, hegemonic groups who wish to represent us. We don't want bosses, figureheads or exalted leaders. Nobody represents anybody else - each woman represents herself.'

'We believe that how we relate to people in the street is the most important thing. We have a newspaper which we edit and sell ourselves, and creative street actions. We paint graffiti - las pintadas - this is one of the communicative forms that really gets through to people. It began as a criticism of what the Left is - and the Right. It was our response to their painting in the streets saying "vote for so-and-so". They were affirmative or negative phrases, "no to the vote", "yes to this", "no to that". What we do instead is we appeal to poetry and creativity, to suggest ideas which aren't just "yes" or "no", "Left" or "Right".'

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They have targeted all kinds of oppression from a feminist perspective - racism, the dictatorship and debt.

'Our aims aren't always centred on women's themes like abortion, reproductive rights, motherhood. The Government says: "You can dedicate yourselves to those issues, full stop." And we may say "no". Or we may say "yes, that interests us". We have positions on abortion, birth control, but don't categorize us! We are involved in everything: we are part of society. And for this reason we paint graffiti about different things. …

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