Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — I don’t know how many women who have lost three of their children remain not only sane, but also committed to their struggle for life, for her rights as an indigenous woman, a woman who works the land and a mother in search of justice.

Carmen Fernandez, chief of a Yukpa-Wayuu community in Venezuela, inspires that love, that mix of tenderness and admiration, that only women like her can make us feel.

The Perija mountains.

 

We first met her some years ago, when they hadn’t yet murdered Sabino. She had come to Caracas to support him in his demands for land. At the time, they had already murdered two of her children and, after the group of Yukpas returned to Zulia, she stayed behind to demand that the Attorney General’s Office dispense the justice the Sierra de Perija had not seen.

Three years later, not one of the individuals who murdered Alexander and Jose Luis Fernandez have been tried. However, yet another son of hers, Cristobal, has been killed, at the hands of the Venezuelan National Guard. Today, she needs everyone’s support. A few days ago, cattle breeders, in connivance with Zulia authorities, arrested yet another one of her sons, Gabi Fernandez, on false charges. We fear for his life. How long will we stand for this?

 

Alexander, Jose Luis and Cristobal Fernandez were murdered by land owners in Machiques, with the help of the Bolivarian National Guard. Anita has also been shot at. But the pain of losing one, two, three children and the fear of losing a fourth is probably much worse than any gunshot.

Carmen Fernandez and her children are often accused of being thieves and aggressive people, in much the same way the media accused chief Sabino Romero of being a “cattle rustler” and robber. To struggle for the rights of indigenous people can be easily condemned, even under a government that boasts of supporting the cause of these populations.

Visit photographer Caridad’s website.

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Caridad

Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

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