SANTA MARIA QUIEGOLANI, Mexico – Women in this Indian village high in the pine-clad mountains of Oaxaca rise each morning at 4 a.m. to gather firewood, grind corn, prepare the day’s food, care for the children and clean the house.
But they aren’t allowed to vote in local elections, because — the men say — they don’t do enough work.
It was here, in a village that has struggled for centuries to preserve its Zapotec traditions, that Eufrosina Cruz, 27, decided to become the first woman to run for mayor — despite the fact that women aren’t allowed to attend town assemblies, much less run for office.
The all-male town board tore up ballots cast in her favor in the Nov. 4 election, arguing that as a woman, she wasn’t a “citizen” of the town. “That is the custom here, that only the citizens vote, not the women,” said Valeriano Lopez, the town’s deputy mayor.
Rather than give up, Cruz has launched the first serious, national-level challenge to traditional Indian forms of government, known as “use and customs,” which were given full legal status in Mexico six years ago in response to Indian rights movements sweeping across Latin America. . .
Normally I’m a strong proponent of indigenous rights, but I think the men in Ms. Cruz’s village are using their “customs” as a cover to keep not only Ms. Cruz in her place, but all of the women in their community.
If I find out any info on how folks can support the cause of women’s rights in this community, I’ll let you know.