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Partner News and Updates from Latin America and the Caribbean

June 25, 2009

By pwrdf

Nellys Palomo, K’inal Antzetik, Mexico:
It was with shock and sadness that PWRDF received the news that on June 9, 2009, Nellys Palomo, the director of PWRDF partner K’inal Antzetik, died suddenly in Mexico City.  Those who worked with Nellys reported that she had been dealing with health issues related to overwork.  She was only 53-years-old.  She leaves behind her son, Jordi, the community of women she worked with at K’inal and the broader women’s movement in Mexico where she was greatly respected.  She was buried in her homeland of Colombia, beside her parents on Friday, June 12.
PWRDF has worked with K’inal for over a decade, supporting their program that addresses maternal mortality and maternal health issues in indigenous communities in southern Mexico.   In the wake of Hurricane Stan in late 2005, PWRDF also provided emergency funds to support K’inal’s efforts to address both food security and post-traumatic stress issues being faced by affected communities in the state of Chiapas.  And in 2006, the PWRDF Mexico delegation spent time with Nellys and K’inal staff in a number of the communities where they work in northern Chiapas.   As the driving force behind the vision and mission of K’inal Antzetik, Nelly’s death leaves a huge hole in the organization.  At the end of June the women of K’inal will gather from throughout southern Mexico in Mexico City to collectively discuss and reach consensus on a way forward. 
Please pray for Nellys, her family and the many women — indigenous and non-indigenous — whose lives Nellys touched. 
Miriam Iquique, Ecumenical Women’s Movement, Guatemala: 
On May 23rd PWRDF reported on the situation facing Miriam Iquique, the coordinator of PWRDF partner organization, the Women’s Ecumenical Network in Guatemala.  Miriam’s 19-year-old son, Axel, had been kidnapped and a ransom demanded and paid before he was released.  This event occurred two days after a female cousin of Miriam’s and the cousin’s daughter were brutally murdered.  
After consulting with Miriam, PWRDF contacted the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala and requested that embassy representatives visit Miriam and her family.  Miriam asked that the visit focus on the case of her murdered relatives and, in her ever politically astute way, ensured that a large group of women, representing the Chimaltenango women’s movement, were present for the visit, including the head of the Chimaltenango office of the Presidential Secretariat for Women (SEPREM).  
Until the Embassy visit, the families were getting little action from local and regional authorities, but since then, Miriam has noted a significant change in tone and an apparent willingness by the authorities to take the case seriously.  She credits the visit and the diplomatic follow-up that ensued with inquiries and a letter to Guatemalan government officials, requesting information in the case from the Canadian representatives.   Miriam says the families also now have the support of SEPREM, the PDH (Human Rights Ombudsperson) and DEMI (Indigenous Women’s Defense ). 
PWRDF is currently exploring with other organizations the possibility of providing some physical accompaniment to Miriam.  We have also sent a message of appreciation to the Embassy for its positive response to our request and support to our partner.  And we take this opportunity to thank you for your prayers of support and expressions of concern for Miriam.
Lynda Yanz, Maquila Solidarity Network, Canada/Mexico:
Over the past two years, partners in Mexico have been reporting increasing violence and a worsening  human rights situation in the country as President Felipe Calderon has “declared war” on the drug cartels.  Protest and dissent is being criminalized and Mexico’s social movements find themselves under attack.  That persecution reached into Canada recently when Lynda Yanz of PWRDF partner, the Maquila Solidarity Network, based in Toronto, received two telephoned threats that stated, “We know that you are coming to Mexico. You are not wanted here. You should reconsider. If you come, you will suffer the consequences.”
As Lynda prepared to travel to Mexico, those who work with her, including PWRDF, consulted on ways to try to improve her safety, but as Lynda herself noted in a message from Mexico, “I’m hearing that everyone is dealing with security issues of one kind or another. It’s a very difficult situation at the moment.”
Please pray for Lynda, for those she works with to defend and promote the rights of maquila (export processing factory) workers, and for PWRDF partners and others in Mexico who find themselves under threat for the justice work they do. 

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