After Words
On Speaking and Being Heard
Address of Comandante Esther,
in Juchitán, Oaxaca, February 25, 2001:
Brothers and Sisters:
Good afternoon to all of you in the name of my fellow insurgents, our mili-
tia; our bases of support, men and women, boys and girls.The ezln speaks
through my voice. We have suffered exploitation and invisibility for more
than 500 years, they pay no attention to us because we speak in our native
tongue and use our traditional clothing. The great powers wanted to make
us disappear; but they couldn’t succeed. Here we are.
Primarily it is we women who are triply exploited. First, for being in-
digenous women. And because we are indigenous, we don’t know how to
speak Spanish and are scorned. Second, because we are women who they
say don’t know how to speak, they say we’re fools, that we don’t know
how to think. We don’t have the same opportunities as men. Third, for
being poor women. We’re all poor because we don’t have adequate nutri-
tion, decent housing, education, and we’re not in good health. Many of
our children die in our arms of curable diseases.
Because of this triple exploitation, all indigenous women must raise our
voices, join hands so that we’ll be heard and listened to and our rights will
be guaranteed. I am calling out to all of you, let us fight without stop-
ping until we have achieved a place of honor as women and as indigenous
peoples. (
When I spoke with Aurora Bazán López in August 2003, she told
me about the time women in cooperatives spoke on the radio for
the first time to invite people to visit Teotitlán:
. . . They were really afraid. They said, ‘‘What am I going to say, what am I
going to do if they ask me something and I won’t know how to answer?’’ I
told them, ‘‘Let’s just go.’’ I tried to give them confidence. They were able
to go on the air and invite people to come visit. It was the first time that
Señora Marta went on the radio. The same for Señora Gloria and Señora
Rosario, too.These are women who never imagined that one day they would
be speaking into a microphone for a radio program.When we left they were
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