Comandante Ramona, a life in the field

Vamos vamos vamos, vamos adelante
Para que salgamos en la lucha avante
Porque nuestra patria grita y necesita
De todo el esfuerzo de los zapatistas
Hombres, niños y mujeres

(Himno Zapatista)

Comandante Ramona was an officer of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation,

 the military and social movement born in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas to promote the rights of indigenous people. In particular the indigenous people were asking the government lands with a certain degree of autonomy and to participate in the profits driven by the exploitation on natural resources. Ramona, who in many pictures and videos appears at the side of Sub Comandante Marcos, leader of the Zapatistas took part in the guerrillas of January 1994 that brought the rebels to occupy many towns in Chiapas.

The guerrilla was put down after 12 days and culminated in peace talks with the Mexican government during which Ramona was chosen as the first leader of the Zapatista to begin the talks.  The guerrilla didn’t change much for the indigenous but Zapatistas continued their mission this time going for a non violent approach. Ramona was part of the political branch developed to spread a new conscience among women in the various communities of Chiapas. In particular their objective was to spread what is called the Women’s Revolutionary Law, one of the Revolutionary Laws drafted just before the uprising in 1994. At that time indigenous women were without any political rights lacked of basic education and the right to decide of their destiny.

  1. Women, regardless of their race, creed, color or political affiliation, have the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle in any way that their desire and capacity determine.
  2. Women have the right to work and receive a fair salary
  3. Women have the right to decide the number of children they have and care for.
  4. Women have the right to participate in the matters of the community and have charge if they are free and democratically elected
  5. Women and their children have the right to Primary Attention in their health and nutrition
  6. Women have the right to an education
  7. Women have the right to choose their partner and are not obliged to enter into marriage
  8. Women have the right to be free of violence from both relatives and strangers.

Only after 2 years from the guerrillas Ramona underwent a kidney transplant caused by cancer. This illness would not live her alone until death in 2006.  The same year of the operation defying the ban from the authority Comandante set off to the Indigenous Congress, an institution aimed to mediate between the indigenous and the government in Mexico City . Thousands of people put themselves between her and the police thwarting her arrest.  Despite a lifetime fight against cancer, the little woman with a soft voice kept on with her work ended up becoming an icon for Chiapas’ women who would compare her to the Virgin.

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