Image credits: ©Markus Goessi
I was born near the ocean. Wild and salty, with tall waves. I was born in the South of Mexico, in the State of Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border. I was born in one of poorest states in the whole country, economically speaking, but ironically the richest one in natural resources.
I grew up in a place where, during my childhood, the turtles came to the seaside to spawn, this was before humans endangered their species and killed them all. I have never seen them again. It now feels as if it was all a dream.
I remember my childhood as a happy one, without problems and without worries. Certainly someday along the way I grew up and I was aware of the many problems -social and political problems- in my country, in my State and elsewhere. Poverty. Violence. Corruption. Oppression. Homicides.
I grew up in the city, that was supposed to be “the door to Mexico“– from the south to the north . This was the slogan of the International Folk Festival to attract visitors from Central America. This door is still the entrance to Mexico, however it is rather used as the path for migrants to the „individual liberty“, the path to the land of their dreams: the USA. The entrance may have no exit…to anywhere except to their death. The only thing they reach right there, after crossing the border is death and sadness. They climb the “hope train- La Bestia (The Beast)“without knowing what will happen with their lives. Just with high hopes and dreams.
I enjoyed to play around with my siblings and cousins but I also loved to stop and listen to the adult conversations. I recall them talking laud and cheerfuly about the political, social and economic situation in the region. About an abandoned region, that was in urgent need of a harbour.
Not long ago I was reading letters that my mother and I wrote to each other. We used to write letters when there was no internet, no e-mails, no digital communication like we have now. We loved to hand write notes to each other. In one of her letters, she wrote about her trip to India with Pushpa.
Pushpa was an economist and a specialist in Asian and African countries. Over the years, she taught courses on Indian culture at the University of Virginia. She was lucky, a very lucky woman. As I am. She didn’t have the problems like the Dalit women. She died at the age of 66 years. She had leukaemia. She was married to Bob, a jewish lawyer. For three months, Pushpa and my mother traveled through the north of the country, Punjab, where Pushpa was originally from.
She moved to Chiapas when she was 19 years old and after living a year near to Belize. She was nearly a child and she was already pregnant with her first of four children. But she didn’t complain or had any problems managing her life in an unknown tropical , wild, humid and full of mosquitos region. She loved the colors of the jungle, the colors of the ocean, the sounds of the monkeys and other unknown animals. No doubt she feelt good. The only problem she had, was that her husband was insanely jealous and he maltreated her, until they got divorced.
My mother worked many years with the women from the highlands in Chiapas. She was engaged with different topics related to these women: sexuality, care, prevention, prophylaxis. She visited them once a month and talked to them about their rights. She was really engaged with this topic, it was of high importance to her because this women lived in very violent family conditions and they didn’t have a voice.
I grew up with three siblings: two sisters and one brother.
It was 1997 when I read on the newspaper about the crime commited to 45 women, specially pregnant women and children in the highlands of Chiapas. All of them, of Mayan descent. These violent acts have not been clarified even after 20 years. The government has not made declarations about this. The families are still waiting for an answer.
During that time, nobody spoke about “femicides”. Just after 2000. But now, we know the name of this atrocity. Women who were murdered by their husbands, boyfriends and by unidentified men with high levels of violence, is called “femicide”. It seems like nobody is interested in the life of these women, and young girls . They were not really mexicans, they were and they are still (just) Indigenas. Not now, not yesterday. Never. It seems like they didn’t exist, except for the turists, as a touristic attraction.
During 2007 and 2016 22’482 women were murdered in Mexico. This is official data from INEGI, Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography.. Every 4 hours- a girl, a young woman or a woman will be a victim of murder, sexual harassment or indecent assault.
I come from where life doesn’t have any value, no value is given to life…says a popular mexican song: no vale nada la vida… la vida no vale nada….comienza siempre llorando y así llorando se acaba..por eso es que en este mundo la vida no vale nada. The life begins crying and ends also crying… that’s why the life in this world doesn’t have any value….
I was born near the Pacific Ocean. I was born in the south.
*I have performed and read out this text at the Open Stage. Srinagar Biennale Basel 2018. Basel. The original text was written in English.