From Green Anarchy #9, Summer
with Julieta Paredes
of Mujeres Creando,
group in La Paz, Bolivia
In Green Anarchy #6 (Summer 2001), we ran an article
on the Bolivian anarcha-feminist group Mujeres Creando,
who in July of that year helped spearhead the violent takeover
of a government banking agency located in the capital city
of Bolivia: Due to negotiations between the Bolivian government
and church groups, none of the members of Mujeres Creando
were prosecuted for their involvement in this action.
Mujeres Creando draw from their Andean heritage, from feminism,
and from anarchism to fight patriarchy, power, the State
and militarism. They publish the journal Mujer Publica
(Public Woman) and have their own cafe named Carcajada
(Laughter) where they host many activities: They also
engage in an ongoing graffiti campaign all over the cities
of Bolivia, making unauthorized use of public space to broadcast
their revolutionary anti-patriarchy message. As a follow-up
to the article that appeared in issue #6 of GA, we've
decided to reprint this interview with a member of Mujeres
Creando, which was originally posted on infoshop.org.
How did Mujeres Creando (Women
Creating) come about? What is its goal?
JP: Mujeres Creando is a "craziness"
started by three women (Julieta Paredes, Maria Galindo and
Monica Mendoza) from the arrogant, homophobic and totalitarian
Left of Bolivia during the '80s, where heterosexuality was
still the model and feminism was understood to be divisive.
It's not really a new design in a society such as ours.
So we had already been developing this kind of criticism.
The other part of our criticism
of the Left is toward what has been a constructed social
practice; that is, it was unethical, dishonest and it had
a double morality.
Revolutionary in the streets, revolutionary
in their words, revolutionary in their talking, yet, at
home, they were the dictators of their own families, with
their own loved ones.
We have started to realize the original
proposal of Mujeres Creando, and so we have been picking
over all our experiences with the Left, as well as learning
through our first time taking part in the San Bernard Conference
in Argentina, which was an experience of all Latin American
From the viewpoint of Mujeres Creando,
one way to move toward our goal is the concept of diversity
(the other is creativity). Diversity is fundamental for
us, because if you look at how other groups are made up,
they're usually of the same kind of people (barrio [neighborhood],
young people, workers, lesbians, etc.). Diversity is a way
to criticize these "enclosed cubicles" in society.
Mujeres Creando is made up of lesbians and heterosexuals,
whites and indigenous women, young and old women, divorced
and married women, women from the country and from the city,
etc. The system tries to keep us in the "enclosed cubicles"
and to divide us so that it can control us more effectively.
What's important is that we, through
our connection with other women, are starting to observe
the diversity in which Latin American feminism developed;
that is, there were farmers, students, soldiers, lesbians,
etc. It was beautiful and it captivated us.
Afterwards we realized that it wasn't
enough just to be a woman... there were deep political differences.
We keep on with the feminist movement and become feminists,
and immediately we see something that seems to us like empty
space: it's all good and diverse, but what was our position
as to (government) power?
The difference between us and those
who talk about the overthrow of capitalism is that all their
proposals for a new society come from the patriarchy of
the left. As feminists in Mujeres Creando we want revolution,
a real change of the system; we do not want just to change
capitalism, nor just to change attitudes toward women, but
also a change in attitude toward young people and the environment.
We want to change patriarchy, in a historical and long-lasting
transformation that is being created by the feminism we
In the process of constructing organization
- no bosses, no hierarchy - I speak for myself and don't
represent anybody... I've said it and I'll say it again
that we're not anarchists by Bakunin or the CNT, but rather
by our grandmothers, and that's a beautiful school of anarchism.
What is it to be a feminist
in Latin America?
JP: To be a feminist in our
society means to fight against neoliberalism and its ideology;
for us, being a feminist means denouncing racism, machismo/sexism
(in the Left and within anarchism, as well as feminine sexism),
homophobia, domestic violence, etc. It means denouncing
the sexist, bureaucratized, technocratic women of this generation
(for us, those women that have fallen into neoliberalism
and are administrators of the murderous politics of the
World Bank, IMF, etc.) Here's the difference between us
and them: they use power and are within the system, and
therefore they always control the forces (military, economic,
social, political) against those who oppose what they say.
So, we're not interested in power,
women's offices, or ministries. We are interested in the
daily construction of practice and theory in the streets
and in nurturing our creativity.
Our generation denounces the unjust
relationship between men and women, just as the class concept
has denounced the unjust relationship between the bourgeois
and the proletariat.
Therefore, it should have led to a revolution, but it's
changed into a concept grabbed up by the system, because
the only thing that works is the description of being a
man or woman today, not the denunciation of the relationship's
injustice... so, the generation becomes a descriptive concept.
Feminism looks for ways to recover this category, which
has a descriptive aspect, but more importantly its denouncing
character. We bring this character forward in our fight
for the construction of our anti-patriarchal theory.
What do you think of the "lack
of women" in social movements? Is it a myth or an historical
JP: It seems to me like a
blindfold when people ask, "where are the women?"
We have been around since the beginning of revolutionary
moments, always. On the other hand, in today's era, social
movements (Sem-Terra, de los Deudores, Madres y Abuelas
de Plaza de Mayo) are all women-led fights resisting and
confronting dictatorships. What we see is a division between
public and private affairs, a blindfold, an invisibility
in the struggles.
How do men and women, indoctrinated
into a patriarchal society, react to the goals of Mujeres
JP: Women have sympathy as
well as fear. The sexist women are much more stubborn and
violent than macho men. These men are careful about having
sex with us; they're afraid, it's some kind of complex...
but in the end they have a certain kind of respect toward
us because we have been fighting for ten or eleven years.
At first, most women have sympathy,
and later they're afraid because it's a demanding and radical
proposal, but that's the only way to build in a place where
everything is superficial and diluted. And the men that
sympathize with us follow us if they're interested in everything,
but they keep wanting us to be like mothers, feeding them;
they're a little lazy because they don't want to accept
the challenge of making their own group.
What is your vision of social
change as relates to the books you [Mujeres Creando] write
and the videos and graffiti you make?
JP: You can want a microphone
or camera like you'd want a rifle, neither with bullets
nor with audio or pictures. No, I'll say what I want to
say to others.
We have given communication a high
place, on the same level as creativity - that is, creativity
in communication. So we have preferred to take from our
roots and, by leaving them, we begin a creative communication
process. In '92 we started to do graffiti. We did it in
Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and other places.
And so, out of all our work that
we do, the graffiti's (signed Mujeres Creando) are not anonymous
- we put what we want, and everybody knows that MC is in
this area, and if someone wants to put us in jail, he or
she comes here and does it. Whenever we've gone out to do
graffiti, we have been afraid, and we're always afraid.
But we've thought about our right to do it... Coca-Cola
pays and paints, Repsol pays and paints, so why can't we
paint without paying? The problem isn't that the walls are
painted, the problem is that it's not paid for. If we must
pay for public space, then it's a big contradiction in democracy.
What's public and what's private? Streets are public space,
the whole city's a courtyard, not a jail hallway, where
you go from the jail of your house to the jail of your office
job... if it's public, then everybody can use it. But if
you pay for public space it becomes private. Public space
doesn't exist. Let's start this discussion. What's dirty?
What's clean? "You're making my walls dirty!"
Oh, so when Coca-Cola contracts a painter, it doesn't make
the wall dirty? That's an aesthetic concept. It seems to
me that it has made the wall dirty in a disgusting way.
And what we have done, our graffiti, that's beautiful.
What are some of the next
projects for Mujeres Creando? Is it possible that you will
participate in IMC Bolivia?
JP: If we want Mujeres Creando
to go on, it needs to question itself, and not embody a
myth like "a cute group of feminists" because
you have to have roots in society. For this, I propose to
build a space (Creando Feminism Autonomo [Creating Autonomous
Feminism]) for other women and other social groups where
we'd build feminism in terms of Mujeres Creando... and I
think it's important to let people know about these experiences
My privileged space is for women;
I want to start with them. I want to start from there, to
feed others and myself through the Indymedia space. I don't
consider this women's space to be apart from others - I
think that we can get into deeper discussion if we start
with women. But I don't want it to start in Indymedia and
finish with the women. It's a social proposal by women and
for both women AND men.
can reach Mujeres Creando at:
La Paz, Bolivia