The “Elisa Martínez” Strett Brigade for Support to Women

BRIGADA CALLEJERA DE APOYO A LA MUJER “ELISA MARTINEZ”

THE “ELISA MARTINEZ” STREET BRIGADE FOR SUPPORT TO WOMEN

WHY BRIGADE?

Because we work in promotion, training or lobbying, in small operative groups.

WHY STREET?

Because we make contact with our target population in the street.

WHY FOR SUPPORT?

Because we are in solidarity with people and groups who live discriminatory situations.

WHY TO WOMEN?

Because the active accompaniment we carry out is directed to women, preferentially.

WHY ELISA MARTÍNEZ?

Because with her name, we give faithful testimony to her memory, and give recognition to sex workers who have died of AIDS, been assasinated or have suffered all kinds of discrimination because of being women, working in sex and having been infected with HIV.

WHAT IS HER DREAM?

A new society where women are no longer seen as commercial objects.

TO WHAT DOES HER EXAMPLE GIVE TESTIMONY?

Our commitment to combat all kinds of discrimination and violence towards women and those who are different.

WHAT DO YOU AIM TO DENOUNCE?

Social structures that give prefence to personal profit, selfishness and intolerance, that condemn millions of people to a life of misery, social exclusion and despair, and that reproduce the option of commercial sex as the only survival strategy, and homophobia as a mechanism to control human sexuality: thus institutionalizing two forms of violence against women and transvestites.

WHAT VALUES MOTIVATE YOU?

We are motivated by Faith in the greatness of women and transvestites linked to the commercial sex trade: in their faces are reflected the beauty of creation, their great hearts and their desire to triumph in the face of adversity.

We are accompanied by Hope, that certainty that we can change the current situation of sexual exploitation and homophonbia, and to open a horizon of possibilities such as free choice in sex, non-violence towards women and the different, and a free and voluntary maternity.

We are inspired by Charity, that habit of giving voice to those who have been denied it, to harbor pilgrims, to give refuge to the persecuted, to heal the sick, to satisfy those facing hunger and thirst, to understand those who are not like us, and not to judge those who work in the commercial sex trade.

We are motivated by Solidarity, by struggling together with the most unprotected, to obtain what is theirs and what they need to live a dignified life; what is theirs just because they are people.

We are illuminated by Love for those who live inhuman situations, like having to sell their own body in order not to die of hunger, and to survive in a society that condemns, denies and at the same time reproduces the offer of commercial sex.

We are mobilized by a search for Justice: full respect for people’s rights, regardless of their social condition.

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF YOUR PROGRAM OF ATTENTION?

In the promotion of community development activities, where women’s participation, in conditions equal to men, ensures a greater social impact in the struggle against poverty, HIV/AIDS and the causes that generate the supply of commercial sex.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY COMMUNITY PROMOTION?

By the promotion of community development, we mean a set of actions that permit the development of abilities and skills, so that each person, family, group and community accompanied can rely on themselves and can improve their living conditions.

DO YOU CONSIDER HIV/AIDS TO BE A HEALTH PROBLEM?

We consider HIV/AIDS to be a problem of development, not of health. Based on this, since 1995 we have implemented integrated measures to prevent it. We believe that this will result in a greater social impact of actions carried out.

WHAT PUBLICATIONS HAVE YOU PRODUCED?

1. “THE IRRESISTIBLE ENCHANTMENT OF THE CONDOM – A Practical Guide for Social Marketing among Sex Workers, their partners and clients.” Edited by COESIDA Jalisco.

2. "THE PREVENTION OF HIV/AIDS AS A PRACTICE OF FREEDOM AMONG SEX WORKERS. An educational model for health promoters.” Edited by Brigada Callejera.

3. "THE NEW ALTERNATIVE FOR WOMEN. A practical guide for the promotion of the female condom among sexual workers, housewives and young women.” Edited with the support COESIDA Jalisco, the Levi Strauss Foundation, Semillas and Social Co-investment funds from the 2001 Mexico City SEDESOL grants.

4. "THE AWAKENING OF DESIRE IN TIMES OF AIDS: Alternatives for the exercise of sexuality among youth, based on their values.” Printed with the support of the Levi Strauss Foundation and COESIDA Jalisco.

5. “INFORMATIONAL FOLDER FROM THE TASK FORCE ON THE PREVENTION OF HIV/AIDS IN CONTEXTS OF COMMERCIAL SEX”, edited with CENSIDA resources.

6. ”MANUAL OF SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH FOR INDIGENOUS MAYAN WOMEN FROM NORTHERN CHIAPAS”, edited with resources from the Center for Ecumenical Studies, El Encanto del Condon condom shops and Brigada Callejera.

WHERE CAN WE BE FOUND?

La Merced Center of Attention: Calle Corregidora 115, Apt. 204, Col. Centro, Del. Venustiano Carranza, C.P. 15100, D. F., México. Two blocks from the Metro Candelaria station, on Line 1. Tel-fax: 5542-7835. E-mail: brigadaac@laneta.apc.org, brigada.callejera@gmail.com

News stories about “Street Brigade Support Women Elisa Martínez” in English

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Alive in Mexico: Sex Worker Program in Mexico City

23/07/2008
Sex workers are exploited and abused around the world. The Brigada Callejera, in Mexico City, helps sex workers fight these problems. The Brigada also offers education and many other services to help sex workers find dignity in their work, and develop the skills to find other work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx0xy14fnVw

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Brigada Callejera, a Revolutionary Sex Worker Organization in Mexico City
By Suzy Subways
From Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project
August 7, 2008

When members of Brigada Callejera, a sex workers' and transgender rights organization in Mexico City, came to the first of the AIDS2008 activist meetings last Saturday morning, they explained the human rights issues that sex workers here face. Not only are sex workers forced to take STD and HIV tests - and carry a card saying they are HIV negative - a new policy requires them to pay for these tests themselves. This repression is in addition to the fact that sex work is still illegal here, and the police are more likely to arrest workers if they carry condoms.

The group, whose members include Elvira Madrid, Krisna, and Elma Delea, also held a lively protest for access to HIV meds in Mexico yesterday. I believe that Krisna said in the activist meeting on Saturday that antiretrovirals cost 7,500 pesos per month (about $750) here in Mexico, but I need to fact-check that. She did say that indigenous people have almost no access to prevention or treatment services.

Advertisement
Elvira explained to me (in my limited Spanish) that the word "Callejera" in their name comes from "calle" which means "street," because they work the streets. More info about Brigada Callejera can be found on their website, http://brigadacallejeraelisamartinez.blogspot.com/, which has both Spanish and English pages. They even have their own line of condoms, called "Encanto." Elma also has a group called Angeles en Busqueda de la Libertad, or Angels In Search of Freedom.
Brigada Callejera is a member of the national sex workers network, Red Mexicana de Trabajo Sexual, as well as La Otra Campaña (The "Other" Campaign), a national grassroots mobilization launched by the Zapatistas in 2005, which you can read about at the "Other Journalism" site http://www.narconews.com/otroperiodismo/en.html The Other Campaign is an attempt to form a united opposition to neoliberalism, the current phase of global capitalism, which involves free trade policies such as NAFTA that have had a devastating effect on indigenous people in Mexico, and the nation as a whole.
These photos of Brigada Callejera are from the women's march on Tuesday and the Universal Access to Treatment march on Sunday.

From the group's website, http://www.brigadacallejeraelisamartinez.blosgpot.com

WHY BRIGADE?
Because we work in promotion, training or lobbying, in small operative groups.
WHY STREET?
Because we make contact with our target population in the street.
WHY FOR SUPPORT?
Because we are in solidarity with people and groups who live discriminatory situations.
WHY TO WOMEN?
Because the active accompaniment we carry out is directed to women, preferentially.
WHY ELISA MARTÍNEZ?
Because with her name, we give faithful testimony to her memory, and give recognition to sex workers who have died of AIDS, been assasinated or have suffered all kinds of discrimination because of being women, working in sex and having been infected with HIV.
WHAT IS HER DREAM?
A new society where women are no longer seen as commercial objects.
TO WHAT DOES HER EXAMPLE GIVE TESTIMONY?
Our commitment to combat all kinds of discrimination and violence towards women and those who are different.
WHAT DO YOU AIM TO DENOUNCE?
Social structures that give prefence to personal profit, selfishness and intolerance, that condemn millions of people to a life of misery, social exclusion and despair, and that reproduce the option of commercial sex as the only survival strategy, and homophobia as a mechanism to control human sexuality: thus institutionalizing two forms of violence against women and transvestites.
WHAT VALUES MOTIVATE YOU?
We are motivated by Faith in the greatness of women and transvestites linked to the commercial sex trade: in their faces are reflected the beauty of creation, their great hearts and their desire to triumph in the face of adversity.

We are accompanied by Hope, that certainty that we can change the current situation of sexual exploitation and homophonbia, and to open a horizon of possibilities such as free choice in sex, non-violence towards women and the different, and a free and voluntary maternity.

We are inspired by Charity, that habit of giving voice to those who have been denied it, to harbor pilgrims, to give refuge to the persecuted, to heal the sick, to satisfy those facing hunger and thirst, to understand those who are not like us, and not to judge those who work in the commercial sex trade.

We are motivated by Solidarity, by struggling together with the most unprotected, to obtain what is theirs and what they need to live a dignified life; what is theirs just because they are people.

We are illuminated by Love for those who live inhuman situations, like having to sell their own body in order not to die of hunger, and to survive in a society that condemns, denies and at the same time reproduces the offer of commercial sex.
We are mobilized by a search for Justice: full respect for people's rights, regardless of their social condition.

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BRIGADA CALLEJERA CONTRACEPTIVE COMIX
The english version of the comix 'Information on contraceptive' published by a collective of sex workers called Brigada Callejera en Apoyo a la Mujer "Elisa Martìnez" (Street Brigade for Women Support): a group working independent from government and political parties that promotes political and social self-organization and autonomy medical care of female and male sex workers in Mexico. They helped the formation of the Mexican Network of Sex Workers, putting together many sex workers groups and organizations of the Republic. That coordination joins the EZLN Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona, becoming an active part of the Other Campaign movement. The main result of their work is the creation of two independent clinics with free services. They work with local people and sex workers, organizing many classes and workshops: dance, informatic, journalism, general education, coaching and so on... They also promote scholarships for sex workersâsons and daughters. To finance all the projects, to promote suistanable preventive health to sex workers, Brigada Callejera produces and distributes a condoms brend of with social price: the ENCANTO and TRIANGULO. In Europe we distribute it in our squats and autonomous spaces, sending the money to support Brigada Callejera projects.
http://archive.org/details/BrigadaCallejeraContraceptiveComix

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video brigada callejera - pirata, nomads, colectivo marisol, grassroots project, nodo solidale
this video is part of the PIRATA project video TEJENDO AUTONOMIA 1.0. in particular, this 12 minutes long video explain the Brigada Callejera (Street Brigade) work, a group of sex worker from Mexico City. (spanish with english subs)
Keywords: pirata; nomads; zapatista; marisol; grassroots; nodo; solidale tejer; autonomia; brigada; callejera; street; brigade; sex; worker; mexico; city

http://archive.org/details/VideoBrigadaCallejera

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Mexican Sex Workers Network Celebrates its Fourteenth National Encounter
“Don’t rescue us. Don’t kill us. We want respect and workers’ rights”.

With fifteen years of arduous, concrete, daily work, the Mexican Sex Workers Network has expanded from its base in Mexico City into a national network with sex worker collectives in all the states in the country. This year it held its Fourteenth National Encounter and Fifteenth Citizens Workshop on July 19-21 in a Mexico City hotel.

Dozens of sex workers from Mexico City, Orizaba, Guadalajara, Tlaxcala, San Martín Texmelucan, Jojutla and Toluca met to analyze the current critical situation and make a plan of action for demanding their rights as workers and combating government plans to be “the richest pimp on the block” and the “terminator” of sex workers who “don’t cooperate”.

Without organization and action, says the Network, the current social cleansing policies and practices, the raids, extortion and police abuse will be even more devastating than ever when the new national security and human trafficking laws are approved.

A call to make some noise for the murders of Rafaela and Fabiola
On June 29, the same day that the federal Congress approved the draconian changes in articles 19, 29 and 73 of the Constitution, which mean prison, forced disappearance and death for thousands of Mexican people, something happened in another part of the country that represents the total lack of security and scorn for the lives of sex workers in Mexico in particular.

That day, 55 year-old Rafaela Navarro, a member of the Feminist Cihuatlatolli Collective, had her throat cut in the Los Pascuales Hotel in Orizaba, Veracruz. As if that weren’t enough, twelve days later on July 10, 22-year old Fabiola Orozco, who was eight months pregnant, was strangled to death in Room 6 of Paredón Hotel of the same city. The two women were members of the Mexican Sex Workers Network.

Ominously, the vicious hate crime against Fabiola took place in one of the very rooms that had been denounced for unsanitary and insecure conditions in a feature article in El Mundo de Orizaba on the 4th of July.

In an interview, Arlette of the Feminist Cihuatlatolli Collective said that a march and other activities have been organized to demand justice for Rafaela and Fabiola and security for all sex workers, especially in the hotels.

She states that the two women had cried out for help, but that nobody responded. Rafaela yelled loudly as she went down the hotel stairs, but neither the hotel management nor a policeman (there were five patrols in the immediate area) went to her aid. In Fabiola’s case, her room was six yard away from the reception desk, and the hotel is not open to the public; it’s the kind where hotel personnel must unlock the door before anyone can enter or leave.

“We assume that there must have been a lot of noise involved in Fabiola’s murder,” says Arlette, “because her face was practically destroyed by the beating. She had a plastic bag over her head and the guy had strangled her with a cord. But the hotel manager didn’t go to her aid”.

A dialogue is now going on with the town authorities and the hotel owners to demand safety, but there have been no concrete advances. Arlette says that there has been a lot of support from the Sex Workers Network and from the Other Campaign in Orizaba, but that the civil society has not condemned the killings. In fact, just the opposite is true. “It’s common to here comments like ‘they asked for it because that’s the work they do.’ So for us it’s really outrageous that they don’t respect sex work. Some women say ‘Well, we can no longer work here.’ We need people from different places to show their support and make enough noise for them to pay us some attention.”

Workshops: Action-oriented reflection
At the Encounter, the participants formed groups of 8-10 people to deal with issues related to the defense of their rights and to draw up a plan of action. After interchanging opinions and experiences for two hours, each group presented its ideas to the plenary session, where there was more discussion.

In some cases, differences of opinions were expressed and the debate was spirited. One controversial issue, for example, was whether or not hotel owners and bar owners are the sex workers’ bosses. Another was whether or not soldiers are just as repressive as the police. But no matter what the topic, an open atmosphere encouraged each person to express her opinion without fear of scorn.

At the work tables, there was a strong consensus that sex workers are not sex slaves or victims of human trafficking, but rather people who freely offer their sexual services. People agreed that sexual exploitation occurs when a person is forced to do something against his or her will. This could be as a consequence of being abducted or an act of violence, threat, intimidation or abuse of authority. This is the case, for example, with the sales and/or sexual exploitation of children, both girls and boys.

In simultaneous workships, one important issue was the campaign against the commercial sexual exploitation of children and the presentation of two creative comic books presented by the Elisa Martinez Street Brigade in Support of Women (Brigada Callejera) that dealt with issues of human trafficking. The theme of “Ruiseñores del Ensueño” (Dream Nightingales) is the lack of access to family planning, while the theme of “El Tigre Floral” (The Flowery Tiger) is homophobia.

At another work table, discussion centered on the travelling sexual and reproductive health campaign, which will carry a number of services to several different cities. The services include: papanicolaou, colposcopia, pelvic and mammary ultrasound, HIV/AIDS detection, orthodontic and psychological care. It should be noted that in many cities, HIV/AIDS tests are obligatory and expensive.

Trust is built by providing important services
In an interview, Edgar and Karla, two representatives of Provicondones in San Martín Texmelucan, Puebla, explain their struggle to offer free testing. Edgar says that ever since they met the Brigada Callejera five years ago, Brigade members urged them to foster the use of condoms and to provide sex education and information about sexual and reproductive rights. Edgar and Karla were invited to the Encounter this year to share their experiences.

Karla was forced to suffer abuse in the sex trade at the age of 12, but now she sees herself as a sex worker struggling for her rights. “We work for the bar owners. There are around ten of them in San Martín Texmelucan. I’ve been working there for fifteen years and we are always in danger. When the police come to take us to jail, they beat us, strip us, humiliate us, take our money, take our telephones, and in many cases we’re arrested because we don’t have the money to pay for the required weekly visit to the doctor or for the AIDS test. The bar owners allow the police to take us away and don’t even have the decency to say, “Hey, I’ll pay for the doctor’s visit.” A few do, but most don’t. They make money off of the services that we offer and they don’t pay us a salary. They determine our working hours. We go to work and leave work at a certain time. They set the rules but they don’t pay us a thing. The least they could do is pay for the doctor’s visit. An owner has the obligation to support his workers. Unfortunately, a lot of the girls don’t know their rights, so they allow the owners to mistreat them.”

Edgar adds: “When we began to hand out condoms in bars and hotels and the entire zone, we began to realize what was happening to the girls. When we started testing them, they began to talk to us. They’d say “Hey, such and such a thing is going on. They’re charging us for something else.” But not until then. Before we started doing the testing, we had no way to be in touch with them. Of course the town government reacted and said they wouldn’t accept the tests we did, that they weren’t valid. There were talks with them, and they finally ended up accepting the tests. That was partly because a lot of the girls called them and asked them how they could justify charging them for the tests and then reject the tests that we gave them free. They got organized and began to call the radio and tell them what was happening. So now they accept our tests and nobody has to go to jail because she doesn’t have the money to pay for the test. But authorities continue to arrest anyone who doesn’t pay for her weekly visit to the doctor.”

Karla gives more details: “Yeah, that’s true. If we don’t pay $75 a week to go to the doctor, they arrest us. Then there’s the problem of abuse of authority. After they arrest us, we have to pay a $450 fine to get out of jail. How do they do it? Two people from the Health Department come to the bar ––a veterinarian and a doctor. They check us for health problems. A policeman comes with then, and if we don’t pay, he brutally grabs us, handcuffs us with our hands behind our backs, and takes us away as if we were criminals.”
“Now there’s a lot of discontent among the girls, and if people here at the Encounter support us, I’m going to go back and talk to the girls about getting organized and working outside that system. Our main problem is abuse of authority. The Municipal President is guilty, because his government sets the fines and sends people to take us to jail. Sometimes they don’t take us right away, but they forbid us to work. Then if they see us having a beer with a client, they grab us and take us to jail. We don’t have the freedom to walk around and do as we please.”

“There’s been a lot of physical and psychological abuse. The ex head of the Health Department, a guy named Calpulapan, has threatened a lot of the girls, using offensive language about what he’s going to do to us. He even threatened one of the bar owners after he was no longer in office and went by to harass the girls, and the new President didn’t say a thing. It’s a disaster. We want better working conditions and recognition of our work, and we want decent treatment because we’re human beings. The work we do is not bad. It’s the only way we have to help our children get ahead. We want respect.”

Some progress due to organization and solidarity actions

• Jojutla
In Jojutla, Morelos, the sex workers of the Rebellion Cooperative Nucleus have been part of the Network for several years.

One woman representing the Nucleus says that “now the other girls and I are working just fine in the Margarita Mazo de Juárez market, and if anyone attacks us, we have the support of the comrades in the Network and the Brigada Callejera and the Miserables Libertarios collective. We came to the Encounter with them. Before joining the Network, things were really bad for us. The police continually locked us up, searched us, and if we refused to allow them to search us, took us to jail. We had a lot of problems with the police. Being part of the Network has helped a lot. We’ve held marches and we’ve gone to protest at Human Rights. So now they leave us alone. We feel more comfortable while we’re working.”

One member of the Miserables Libertarios collective says that “the work we’ve done with the sex workers has mainly been to accompany them, because before they formed the Nucleus, there was a lot of harrassment from the town government, the district attorneys, and the police. Almost every week there were one or two operations where they picked up street vendors and sex workers alike, and charged them heavy fines. Besides that, the district attorneys passed by every week to collect a bribe before they could work. They also provoked fights and quarrels among the workers. But the workers gotten a lot stronger due to support they’ve received from the Network and the workshops, so recently there hasn’t been so much harassment. We’re working with them to build autonomy with regards to health issues.”

The Miserables Libertarios are a collective of young anarchists who also support regional struggles of farmers, teachers, and students. They’re now supporting the Tepepan community against the plunder of their lands. For a year now, they’ve held activities at the Julio Chávez López Community Center, including classes for children in math, Spanish, and writing; workshops in recycling, organic fertilizers and making alebrijes; video screenings, and the distribution of documentaries.

Another comrade says that after joining the Other Campaign, they met the sex workers when there was a case of repression. “Two compañeras were locked up by the police. They took their money and beat them. We found out about it and denounced it to the news media. Relating to them has changed the way we see things. We realized that traditionally, the left has had little to do with struggles that began to be waged in many places in the world during the last century. Unfortunately, we who are struggling to change things tend to keep on reproducing cultural patterns of behavior that are the legacy of the patriarchy and machismo. So we haven’t totally changed the way we act, but we’ve broken with a lot of our old patterns since we began to act in solidarity with this and other struggles.”
“We think that the struggles are varied and plural and that it’s important to build autonomy at the micro level and from there go on working on a street, in a neighborhood, in a city. We think the production of condoms by the Brigada Calljera is an important form of self-management. What we’ve learned from indigenous communities is to listen the people, and we’re all part of that people.”

• Guadalajara
A compañera from Guadalajara who has been part of the Network for six years reports that for the time being, everything is calm in her city. “We’re working just fine in the hotels right now. The police aren’t bothering us and we’re doing all right. Before joining the Network we worked in the street a lot, and when we went into the hotels, they dragged us out. We had to pay bribes in order to work. When we began to attend the meetings of the Mexican Network, they gave us classes to let us know what our rights are, and we’ve been able to defend ourselves much better. Now we know how to speak up for ourselves, but that wasn’t always true. Now we don’t allow them to intimidate us. Before, they threatened us and we didn’t know what to say, so we didn’t say anything, but that changed. Now if someone gets hit, she responds. She doesn’t let it go by. We began to go to the Attorney General’s Office, to the Human Rights Commission. We’ve organized marches and sit-ins, and have come close to going on strike to get respect for our rights. The Network has supported us a lot. Before, we were always afraid, but now we’re not. Now we feel more at ease in our work.”

“The problem is that the Panamerican Games are coming up, and the authorities are supposedly planning to clear us out of the spaces where we work during the Games in October because they don’t want anybody to see prostitution. They don’t want the tourists to see women working in this. They still haven’t talked to us about it, but it’s a big problem because these prohibitions often become permanent and we need our work spaces. We do this work because we don’t have higher education. We don’t have careers.”

“It’s always important for the girls who provide sex services to support each other, because we all do the same work. If we don’t support each other, some people may attack us, so it’s better to be organized. I hope more girls find out about these meetings because you learn things that help defend you from both the pimps and the police involved in human trafficking.”

Jaime Montejo of the Brigada Callejera says that the Brigade and the Mexican Sex Workers Network helped make a diagnosis for the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Mexico, and that a compañera from Guadalajara played a key role in this work. “We succeeded in convincing the Office to recommend that the Mexican government recognize the obligations of employers who hire sex workers. Not all the workers are hired. Some work independently. So the recommendation also says that laws with a gender perspective should be passed to benefit the sector. The workers should have social security and pensions for old age or disability. There are many good recommendations that the government of Mexico should implement.”

The situation in DF mirrors the national situation
Despite these important advances, the consensus of the Encounter is that the national situation is critical. Jaime Montejo says that “When you hear that a sex worker has been killed, people say, ‘That’s normal.’ Well, we’ve seen what’s ‘normal’ here in the area around the Central Market and in nearby Izazaga and San Pablo, in Buena Vista, a little further away, and around the Colegio Militar subway station. In this area, there’s an average of six murders a month, and that’s the same in every state in the country. Six sex workers killed each month in each state. Of course, all theses deaths aren’t reported in the news media because they’re not considered important.”

Krisna, of the Sex Workers Network in Mexico City remembers the death of Gulmara Vilchis Sánchez, President of the Better Health Conditions Cooperative, known to many as “Garibay”. She died in jail after being arrested in a raid that was supposedly “against the trafficking of people for purposes of sexual exploitation,” in the Palacio Hotel. But as in most cases, the majority of people arrested had nothing to do with “trafficking,” least of all Garibay, who had done everything in her power for years to defend and support other sex workers. According to the Medical Report, she died of “cardiac arrest brought on by thrombosis and cerebral paralysis,” but several different witnesses have said that she died due to negligence and abuse of authority. The Brigada Callejera holds the prison system responsible for her death.

People in the workshops also remembered the murder of Susy, a sex worker in the Tlalpan area who was killed in the San Antonio Hotel in February of 2010, at a time when there was a series of police operations to find the “killer of little old ladies.” According to the Brigada Callejera, such operations are a pretext of Marcelo Ebrard’s govetnment to legitimize social cleansing programs in Mexico City.

A sex worker in the bars of Izazaga reported that many of the bars in the area have closed down. “Why did they begin to close when others opened? Which ones closed down? The ones that didn’t want to sell drugs. The bars where we were forbidden to drink, use drugs, sell drugs, bring people into the dressing rooms to get high with us. And the places that have begun to make a lot of money are those where drugs are sold, where the sex workers use drugs, where they themselves sell drugs, and where they’re paid in drugs.
There were big differences in the places poisoned by organized crime. And in the places that didn’t want to go along with it, they called out their dogs on the families of the bar owners, kidnapped some of the businessmen, and even decapitated them. So their businesses failed. And to tell the truth, that’s one of the main reasons I’m here. Because the places I used to work are closed and others are now open. And those are the places where I don’t want to work.”

It’s important to remember that a year ago, the Mexico City Attorney General issued a subpoena for the Director of the Brigada Callejera, Elvira Madrid Romero, requiring her to give information regarding denunciations made by the Brigade about activities of the Tlaxcala mafia in the Tapo bus station regarding the delivery of women and children to the commercial sex zone around the Central Market. The Brigada Callejera denounced the subpoena as “a means of pressure due to the constant denunciations that the Brigade has made public in many different news media about the complicity of PRD authorities in the capital city with organized crime groups devoted to human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation.”

Against government strategies
For several years the Brigada Callejera and the Mexican Sex Workers Network have denounced the plans of Marcelo Ebrard’s government to socially cleanse the city and create a tolerance zone. The organizations emphasize that these plans violate the workers’ rights of the sex workers, promote police violence against them, and do away with their work spaces. Furthermore, they turn the government itself into the sex workers’ pimp.

In an interview, Jaime Montejo says that tolerance zones have not worked in other cities in Mexico because they’ve practically been destroyed by the activities of the big drug cartels and the wars between the cartels for control of the zones. Even so, the “cleansing” strategy continues to be applied in Mexico City and other places. At every step of the way, the Network had resisted police violence and the loss of work spaces.

Jaime also talks about federal programs that increasingly stigmatize sex work. “In Calderón’s Human Rights program, there’s a line of action that says ‘eradicate prostitution’, not just child prostitution, as was the case during the Fox regime. Ah, how nice. Eradicate prostitution. But he never talks about eradicating the causes of prostitution… And there’s another line of action that says something like ‘promote a culture through the news media to give prostitution a bad image.” And what this really does is turn public opinion against the sex workers themselves.”

Jaime explains that the changes in Articles 19, 20 and 73 of the Constitution put all citizens in danger, and particularly sex workers. “Article 19 classifies both human trafficking and kidnapping as felonies for which bail cannot be granted. This is really dangerous for groups of sex workers and support groups because if we’re demanding freedom for someone arrested against her will for supposedly being involved in trafficking, they can accuse us of being accomplices in trafficking and kidnapping even though we’re always struggling against the traffic in children and forced prostitution.”

“But that’s not all. The controversial National Security Law says that people can be arrested who commit serious crimes against national security and against health. According to this, anybody can be arrested on a whim of the authorities in the street, in our homes, without an arrest warrant, without a search warrant.”

“Article 20 says that the identity of the victims will not be disclosed, so they’ll be able to press charges against anybody for anything and the accused person won’t even know who’s pressing the charges. It’ll be a faceless person who’s accusing you, like in Kafka’s novel The Trial.”

“The changes in Article 73 require the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass laws within six months against kidnapping and against human trafficking. Current law doesn’t require the state legislatures to pass state laws. There are states that have had no interest in a law against human trafficking, but now every state will have to pass a law that mirrors federal legislation.”

“Federal, state, and local laws against human trafficking will require the adoption of regulations. This will result in the closure of many hotels and bars that serve as work places. And it’s highly probable that the new law will also penalize the client, who will be fined or classified as a sexual predator. This will affect the entire sex business, not just sexual slavery or human trafficking. So there’s a lot at stake.”

“What’s been said is that the Constitutional Reform has been inspired by the rescue of victims and that the human trafficking law is inspired by the feelings of the victims. But the thing is that in sex work, all the workers aren’t victims. So things get even more complex because if 20 or 30 women at a time are now taken to court in operations against human trafficking and procuring under current law, things will be much worse under the new law. Anyone who doesn’t want to testify against someone else, against a bar or hotel owner or a supposed pimp, or anyone found in a hotel with another person could be accused of being a pimp, and anyone who doesn’t claim to be a victim is a suspect ––and that’s the least of it. Upon being brought to court as a supposed witness, a person could be placed in preventive detention and sent directly to prison, merely on charges of not being willing to cooperate. Because you’re either a victim or a perpetrator. There’s no other option. For the authorities all sex workers are enslaved. Every sex worker that enters a work space with a client is raped.”

“So there’s an increasing stigmatization of organized groups of sex workers and of groups that support sex workers. Those of us who struggle against forced prostitution and child prostitution begin to be seen as suspicious. Any one of us could be accused of human trafficking.”

All of this represents an effort to undermine the resistance of sex workers. At the same time, the Mexican Sex Workers Network redoubles its efforts to their capacity for resistance through organization and the defense of their rights. One woman summed up the spirit of the Encounter: “Don’t rescue us. Don’t kill us. We want respect and workers’ rights.”

http://www.autistici.org/nodosolidale/news_det.php?l=en&id=2131

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Mexico’s Street Brigade: Sex, Revolution, and Social Change
Posted on: 14/12/2007 by Raúl Zibechi
This post is also available in: Spanish

The alliance between Zapatistas, sex workers, and transvestites shows the power of social change
in a key cultural way—when it’s anchored to daily life. In Mexico, one of the strongest and most overbearing
enclaves of patriarchy and machismo, Subcomandante Marcos has opened the doors to debate about discrimination
in a controversial area.

What purpose is there, in classic revolutionary logic, in covering thousands of kilometers to meet with a handful of whores and crossdressers? What can such alliances offer to strengthen the "accumulation of power," any professional politicians’ central task? It seems obvious, from a cost-benefit analysis, that this type of effort should be useless. However, Subcomandante Marcos has been committed to this kind of meeting since January of last year under the auspices of The Other Campaign (La Otra Campaña), with the understanding that it means looking for new ways of doing politics.

It passes through places that are far from the madding crowd and takes place with actors who, like indigenous people, understand social change as an affirmation of difference.
Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer (Women’s Supportive Street Brigade) is a Mexican collective that has managed, in the last 15 years, to weave a wide net of social work with prostitutes and transvestites, called the Mexican Sex Work Network. This has meant transcending the "victim" role and becoming
people who want to be recognized as workers by their peers, not seen as beings who have "fallen" into the world’s oldest profession through ignorance, poverty, or submission. A quick look at what they have tackled so far reveals a deep work of emancipation.

Education, Clinics, and Condoms
A differentiating characteristic of the Network is that its members don’t want to depend on the State, although they are constantly criticizing it. Street Brigade began its work 15 years ago, its base a group of sociology graduates from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The small initial nucleus—Elvira Madrid, Jaime Montejo, and Rosa Icela—began to weave a net that now reaches 28 of Mexico’s 32 states.
Over time they chose to work in a horizontal form, but not for ideological reasons. "The government co-opted many state coordinations, a habitual practice in the political culture of this country, so we saw that the best way to work is horizontally, in an assembly style, and trying not to have representatives," Elvira points out.

The Network encouraged women to form cooperatives to avoid dependence and to make themselves the bosses of their sources of employment. They rented hotels and shared the profits among the members. The first were the transvestites who formed the cooperative Angeles en Busca de Libertad (Angels Searching for Freedom).

"The cooperative hotels exist in various states but some of them failed because the members would end up replicating the same behavioral patterns as the ones they were organizing against," Rosa comments.

But the star project, the one most valued by the workers, are the clinics. Two clinics already exist in Mexico City and are self-managed and free of charge. They were born from the corruption and discrimination of the state organisms that only provided them with services through bribery. Moreover, Elvira indicates, "Getting tested scared them because it could mean loss of income, given that when a girl has AIDS there are state governments that will put her photo up in hotels so that they don’t give her a room." On the contrary, in the Network clinics tests are voluntary and confidential, emphasizing education. "The majority of sex workers are illiterate and many are indigenous. For this reason we dedicate most of our efforts to education, to the point that most of the participants in the Network are health promoters and educate their peers, which is much more effective."

The clinics, one of them situated in the center of the city right in the "red light district" offer colposcopies and pap smears and also electrosurgery because, as Rosa says, "in Mexico papiloma viruses (HPV) cause more deaths than HIV." While inefficient public hospitals have two-month waiting lists for being seen and one year waiting lists for surgery, the Network clinics’ results are ready in just a week.

The prostitutes and the transvestites seem enthusiastic about "their" clinic, where they
often bring their partners, and where some even drag their clients. "The main part of our work is respect. We don’t ask why they got infected, rather we concentrate on educating them so it doesn’t happen to them again, so they aren’t just patients any more, so they begin to be active participants in their health care," Elvira says. The project is rounded off with a food program for people with limited resources or who for some reason can’t work, a school assistance program for the kids, and another to help mothers finish school.

The Network’s projects are financed by "social condom marketing." Condoms are sold at different prices depending on the ability and responsibility of the buyer, and represent 85% of the Network’s income. No one is salaried and the only people who are paid for their work are the doctors. "We don’t agree with sex work, but it exists and will continue to exist, and in the meantime we have to do something.

We were an abolitionist group but later we saw that it wasn’t about saving anybody, but really about working together," Jaime intervenes. For those who are looking for alternatives to sex work, there are productive projects, the most outstanding of which are handicrafts, production and sale of clothing, and condom stores. Although some projects have turned out to be unviable, as families collaborated they managed to keep two-thirds of the attempts open.

Survival in the Jungle
In 2004, the members of the Street Brigade came into contact with the Health Collective for Everyone (Colectivo de Salud para Todos y Todas), university students who coordinate health projects in the autonomous Zapatista communities in Chiapas. For two years they worked with a group of health promoters in the communities, indigenous people chosen by their neighbors to specialize in sanitary assistance. "One of the first challenges was breaking the fear of supposed cultural resistances about the subject of contraception, sexual and reproductive rights, and sexually transmitted diseases," they relate.

During these consultations and workshops they chose the themes that would later resurface in the elaboration of a long and densely-named manual: The Other Campaign of Sexual and Reproductive Health for the Indigenous and Peasant Resistance in Mexico. Over 270 pages, this text, full of detailed illustrations designed for work with indigenous women, covers the usual issues like anatomy and physiology of the reproductive organs, use of contraceptives, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other illnesses. They also speak of abortion, although the catechists condemn it. "Samuel Ruiz, a man who is very close to the indigenous people, toured the communities when the Zapatistas decriminalized abortion, saying that it’s a crime," Jaime remembers.

But there are sections imbibed with diverse currents of alternative health. One of these concentrates on "women’s bodily autonomy," which covers education on how to avoid illnesses, choosing how many children to have, and how to enjoy one’s sexuality (almost a taboo among indigenous people). Bodily autonomy supposes, according to this manual, the exploration of the senses, connection with language to do with the body, and the different reactions of the body in extreme situations. Collective and self-massages link this to a holistic conception of health and curing.

National Sex Work Day: Battling Sexist Violence
Crime and aggression against sex workers are everyday occurrences. On July 11, 2006 a group of soldiers
raped 14 dancers in Castaños, Coahuila—the perpetrators remain unpunished. In the La Merced area
of Mexico City, in just 15 days last July four sex workers were murdered. At the commemoration of the
first anniversary of the Castaños rape incident, the Mexican Sex Work Network began to celebrate
the National Day of Sex Work as a way of drawing attention to the violence and discrimination that prostitutes
and transvestites suffer. A Network report manifests its rejection of the "tolerance zones" imposed
in various cities, as they are "a system of control that legitimates sexual, economic, and psychological
exploitation of minors and adults who are linked to commercial sex." However, the Network maintains
that after seven years of monitoring, it found that among the main crimes against sex workers are forced
disappearances and the kidnappings and sexual exploitation of their children.
The development of this manual meant overcoming more than a few obstacles. In regards to family planning, three strikingly different community experiences emerged: repressive and authoritarian government schemes, the religious ban on contraception, and "the guerilla wish to populate the earth with little guerilla sons." From three different angles, these three policies overlooked women’s wishes. The manual is used by hundreds of educators working in tens of Zapatista-constructed clinics, in over a decade, in the thousand supporting communities.
As opposed to what the sociologists thought at the beginning of their work, say Elvira and Rosa, the
women of the Lacandon jungle communities were eager about contraceptives. And little by little they open
up about other things. "We work in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health as a practice
of liberty and not as an imposition or a prohibition. For this reason we also live out the principle of
respect for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. It’s not easy, but we’re starting
to see male couples walk hand-in-hand through their communities. Or women making the decision to divorce
when before Zapatismo it had been the parents who found them marriage partners. This is social change,
and what a change."
Can Transvestites Change the World?
Can indigenous people? Half a century ago, one of the founders of so-called "scientific socialism," wrote that the proletariats could change the world because they had nothing to lose "but their chains." Today, the heirs of those proletariats are rebellious at the hour of losing privileges like steady work and
retirement, they refuse to pay taxes, and they strike to avoid being charged the tax on their income.
Marcos himself hints at this in his epilogue to the manual, laying bare how the alliance between health and sex is one of the strongest nuclei of social control. "Capitalism converts health into a market good, and health administrators, doctors, nurses, and all the apparatus of hospitalization or health distribution are also turned in to a type of foreman of this business, turning the patient into a de facto client, from whom the object is to get as much money as possible from without necessarily giving more health back in return." It seems to be no coincidence that, along their dependency-breaking road, the Zapatistas have run up against the area of prostitute health and organized transvestites, groups that have been forced to take control of healthcare into their own hands. Seen in this light, some people belong in the "disposable" category, barely even having chains, material or symbolic, to lose.
A Question of Charm
The sale of condoms is the main source of financing for the diverse projects of the Mexican Sex Work Network. Choosing the type of condom alongside design and name becomes a form of claiming ownership of the instrument of work and protection, and was left up to the ideas of prostitutes and transvestites.
"When we began the AIDS-protection program," remembers Elvira, "we realized that price was one of the main problems. For older ladies, to spend 25 pesos on a condom was to invest almost everything they had charged the client." Firstly they looked for donations from the State, which through CENSIDA, the organization dedicated to the fight against AIDS, donated them 60,000 condoms a month. "But when we began to report cases of corruption they reduced that to 3,600 condoms."
They began to visit various distributors and factories and found that, in exact opposite to what market laws should indicate, buying in bulk raised the prices. They got in contact with a manufacturer who agreed to sell to them at the same price as to pharmacies and other distributors. "We nearly fell over in shock. He sold us condoms at 75 cents (about US$.07) each but in the pharmacies they’re 12 pesos ($1), hat is 15 times the price of the cost," Elvira says.
The Network began to distribute condoms at the price of one peso each, and with that profit they managed to subsidize almost all the projects, but particularly the clinics that consumed the bulk of their resources. "Before putting them on sale we spoke to the compañeras, we did workshops to see what they wanted, because some condoms smelled very bad or irritated because they contained harmful substances. They themselves suggested the name "El Encanto" (The Charm) to the three-month long debate process in which hundreds of sex workers chose between 20 brands." The brand had to be attractive for both the client and for themselves. Currently, they sell three million a year.
But the transvestites decided not to use the chosen condom because it wasn’t suited to their needs. "They said it’s very thin and they were right, because it was designed for vaginal use and it would break when they used it." They found a stronger and more lubricated condom and started the same debate as the women had had. In the end they decided to print the rainbow of sexual diversity on it, and a pink triangle. "They chose the name Triángulo (Triangle) because that’s the symbol with which the Nazis stigmatized homosexuals, so in that way they adopted it as a tribute," says Elvira.
They failed with the female condom. A few years ago they began to import it from England until a multinational company realized that the Mexican market was growing and withdrew the Network’s permission to distribute.
In effect, the market is very monopolized. "While in the world there are 67 condom factories, there’s just one for female condoms. We have to wait for there to be more competition," says Elvira, with irony.
Subcomandante Marcos is El Encanto’s most famous supporter. In Mexico there is a long history of "condom fairs." In November 2005 the 50th National Condom Festival was celebrated in Mexico City’s central plaza and in various states local annual fairs are held to raise money for organizations linked to sex work. Recently the first "virtual condom store" made its debut on: http://brigadacallejeraelisamartinez.blogspot.com

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Brigada Callejera: Sex workers and their safety. Mexico City-based organization, founder-members of a national network of sex workers organizations. They provide preventive and curative sexual health care, active in public policy formulation, fighting against harassment by public officials, social marketing: they have their own brand of condom, which earns them income and relative independence.
http://www.travelmexicocity.com.mx/mexicocitylinks.php

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7/24/08 MEXICO: Prostitution Rings Flourish at all Levels
Thursday, July 24 2008 @ 04:52 PM (View web-friendly version here)
insidecostarica.com
By Diego Cevallos

MEXICO CITY (IPS) - "Diamond VIP" class prostitutes, who are mainly from Eastern Europe, Argentina, Brazil or Cuba, can charge as much as 2,000 dollars in Mexico, while sex workers from southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras earn a mere 15 dollars. The price indicates which mafia is handling the women.

The high-class prostitutes are "administered" by Russians, Ukrainians or Cuban-Americans linked to global human trafficking rings, while the lower-priced are controlled by local pimps. Both organisations operate in a network of corruption in which authorities are involved.

A large proportion of the women in the VIP (very important person) class, which is subdivided into platinum, gold and diamond, come to Mexico after being drawn in by prostitution rings that promise them work as models or aides. The others form part of the waves of migration from Central America and the south of Mexico to the country’s main cities.

In both cases, the women are kept in small groups whose leaders answer to the mafias. Their documents are seized, they are not allowed to make phone calls, and they live in houses where they are watched constantly and are sometimes locked up.

"The mafias are very tough organisations, and they only work because of the collusion between the authorities and groups that have no compunction about killing," Jaime Montejo, founder of Brigada Callejera, a non-governmental organisation that has been working with sex workers in Mexico since 1995, told IPS.

"This is slavery, which sometimes ends up with the sex worker being murdered if she rebels or tries to make a public complaint," Montejo said.

In La Merced, a neighbourhood in the historic centre of the Mexican capital, where dozens of prostitutes from southern Mexico and Central American countries work, 14 women were murdered in 2007, and six have been killed so far this year.

Nearly all the murders go unpunished, but Montejo suspects that they were carried out by persons who do not want prostitution in La Merced, and by pimps who do not tolerate rebelliousness.

In this part of Mexico City, women in revealing clothing show off their wares all day long among street vendors, shops and hundreds of passers-by. They charge the equivalent of 15 dollars for sex, which takes place in hotels, rooms and houses in the district.

Each prostitute must hand over between 200 and 400 dollars a day to her pimp. To make this sum she has to service at least 13 clients a day. In exchange, the mafias give her a room, food and some spending money.

Brigada Callejera, which began working in La Merced but has now expanded to other neighbourhoods and cities, estimates that one-third of the sex workers in La Merced are under 18.

No one really knows how many sex trade rings are operating in La Merced, or in Mexico as a whole, but investigations by the Attorney General’s Office indicate that trafficking in persons is a flourishing activity that is linked to drug and arms smuggling.

Reports by the Attorney General’s Office, Interpol and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) show that prostitution is a multi-billion dollar business in Mexico.

Russian and Ukrainian mafias operate in this country, smuggling in women from Eastern European countries, as well as the Cuban-American mafia that brings in women from the Caribbean and the rest of Latin America.

Local prostitution rings pay traffickers around 30,000 dollars for women from Europe in the "diamond VIP" category, which means they are beautiful, young and well-educated.

These women are mainly taken to Mexico City and Cancún, a resort city on the Caribbean coast, which are hotspots of the sex trade in Mexico. There they work at agencies offering "high class escorts," and in exclusive night clubs.

The deputy attorney general for international affairs, José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, said in 2003 that the mafias bringing in European women were made up of "well-trained and highly dangerous people," several of whom had belonged to the KGB, the intelligence agency of the former Soviet Union.

There have only been a handful of arrests and legal actions against these groups in recent years.

"The geographical position of our country, bordering the United States which is the largest consumer in the sex trade, makes us a good place for prostitution at all levels," said Montejo.

Brigada Callejera helps sex workers form cooperatives and gain access to medical care, while distributing condoms and working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Montejo says that police and immigration authorities and local and national government officials are involved with large and small prostitution rings alike, allowing the sex business to function and profiting from it as much as possible. "Everyone knows that," he said.

He cited the city of Tijuana, on the U.S. border, as one example. The city government there collects over 150,000 dollars a year from payments made by sex workers.

Another example is La Merced in the capital, which has more than 30 hotels, rooms and other places where prostitution is practised. According to Montejo, in order to operate, these places pay some 450,000 dollars a year to the police and municipal authorities.
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center • 305 N. California Avenue • Palo Alto, CA
peaceandjustice.org/article.php?story=20080728165215586
http://peaceandjustice.org/article.php/20080728165215586/print
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First they killed Susy now Fernanda is dead.

Another sexual worker killed in Tlalpan
No authority to protect the lives of sex workers
The human rights system shows its opacity
Apr 10, 20100

Jaime Montejo’s Independent News Agency note-Calle, Mexico City, April 8, 2010
Some sex workers who have omitted their names for fear of reprisals, relate to the disappearance and subsequent murder of Fernanda, who worked at the intersection Tlalpan and Soria, in the midst of a campaign of social cleansing of the streets, undertaken by the Prosecutor of the Federal District (PGJDF), the Ministry of Public Security of the DF (SSPDF), and the Delegation Benito Juarez, who left two women killed with impunity.

The approach of the Prosecutor of the capital did not include any form of protection of sex workers who provided testimony as witnesses or victims during the “operation against trafficking in persons” held at the PalaceHotel January 14, told Laura ‘the sole purpose of this operation was to convince my colleagues to stop work in these streets’. For that reason, there are two sex workers murdered linked to this police operation, declared to this news agency Magdalena, who has decided to stop working in that area of the city since January after this operation . The action by the Commission on Human Rights of the Federal District (CDHDF) in this case as in most criminal offenses related to sex work is remarkable for its opacity, said Elvira Madrid Romero, president of Brigada Callejera, an organization defending the human rights of sex workers.

The campaign of social cleansing against those who exercise sex work has included the operation “of neighborhood complaints” the 3rd of May 2008, where 18 workers were arrested by a hundred elements of the special corps SSPDF, as part of a program of unilateral reorganization of sex work in the Calzada de Tlalpan, proposed by the then delegate of the PAN Benito Juárez and the Secretary of street programs and the Federal District, Hector Serrano Cortes and the Public Safety Secretary Manuel Mondragon as shown in the “Observatory report on sex work in Mexico” the same year.

The repression of sex workers in this part of town also includes the operation of the Prosecutor of the capital in the ‘Hotel Palace and in at least three other meeting points of sex workers in Calzada de Tlalpan, Laura said, adding that many of her colleagues think that the murders were committed and concealed by the police of the Federal District, to protect the old and new bosses of prostitution in the streets.

Women working in Tlalpan since at least five years declared with confidence that Fernanda has been seen last time on Tuesday, April 6 at nine o’clock, with a man who drove a gray van, and has not returned to collect her personal effects left at the point meeting of Tlalpan and Soria. They also declared that the same night a relative of Fernanda also came to look for her because she was not answering her mobile and she had not been seen entering any hotel after nine o’clock.

Wednesday, April 7, at about nine o’clock, sex workers in Soria Tlalpan have been informed of the discovery of the corpse of their colleague in Colonia Atlantida, where the inhabitants have reported the presence of the dead body of Fernanda, inside a X-Trail SUV, with license plate 199-TPB.

The question that Laura and her colleagues ask themselves is “How many more deaths needs the Government of the Federal District to clean Tlalpan from sex workers?”

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20060128: Police:
Mexican serial killer suspect acted out of anger at mother, childhood sexual abuse
Mexico City

A suspected female serial killer who terrorized Mexico City for two years apparently acted out of anger because her mother abandoned her and handed her over to a man who sexually abused her, police said Friday.

The two city policemen who arrested Juana Barraza, 48, told reporters they thought she was a male transvestite even at the moment of her arrest, comments that angered the gay community.

The two officers caught Barraza fleeing a house Wednesday where an 82-year-old woman had been strangled with a stethoscope. Prosecutors said they have evidence implicating Barraza as the notorious “Mataviejitas,” or “Little Old Lady Killer,” suspected in the slayings of at least 10 elderly women.

“We thought she was a homosexual, because of the strength she had,” said arresting officer Ismael Alvarado Ruiz.

His partner, Marco Antonio Cacique, said “she ran like a man,” adding: “I thought ... she was a transvestite.”

The short-haired, robust Barraza – who once worked as a professional wrestler and wrestling promoter – told investigators that anger was the motive for the crimes. She has admitted to four killings, and is linked by fingerprints to a total of 10 cases.
“She said it was out of anger,” Bernardo Batiz, the city's attorney general, said Thursday “She had a very difficult life, her mother gave her away when she was little, and the man who took her in had sex with her and she had a daughter.”
Barraza later had several other children.

Batiz said psychological studies were still pending, but that Barraza was responsible for, and fully conscious of, the consequences of her acts. Formal homicide charges were expected to be lodged against her Friday.

Police had suspected the killer was a man dressed as a woman and spent months detaining, questioning and fingerprinting transvestites.

Jaime Montejo, spokesman for Brigada Callejera, an advocacy group for women, transvestites and prostitutes, demanded Friday that the city's attorney general publicly apologize for an Oct. 14 round up of dozens of transvestites as part of their search for the “Little Old Lady Killer.”

“The attorney general should apologize, since he was the one who suggested that transvestites were responsible for the killings,” Montejo said.
He accused the city's police department of having “a homophobic attitude.”

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Mexican AIDS Activists March to Demand National State of Emergency Over Drug Prices and Access In Mexico

AIDS Healthcare Foundation Joins Over 60 Groups in Mexican AIDS Drug Advocacy Coalition; Marchers Call on Mexico's Secretary of Health to Step Up Action on AIDS Treatment and Drug Pricing
By AIDS Healthcare Foundation
06/19/2008

Mexico City
Press Releases

A group of over 150 AIDS Mexican advocates and activists held a passionate protest and advocacy march yesterday in Mexico City to demand that Mexico’s Secretary of Health declare a national state of emergency for HIV/AIDS due to the steep cost and limited availability of lifesaving antiretroviral drugs throughout Mexico. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest US-based AIDS group and operator of free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean, including four free clinics in Mexico (Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Tuxtla Gutiérrez in and Pachuca), joined the broad-based coalition of over 60 groups and non-government organizations in the “Coalition of Activists for Universal Access” that spearheaded the march and protest.

On Tuesday, June 17, the coalition also published a full-page open letter with the call to action in La Jornada, one of the largest circulation papers in Mexico. The letter, signed by over 60 individuals and group, was addressed to Dr. Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos, Secretary of Health for the Government of Mexico, called upon the Secretary to declare a national state of emergency for HIV/AIDS. The letter noted that Mexico, which will host the XVII International AIDS Conference later this summer (August 3-8), has as unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world and international community advances that Mexico has taken in the reduction of the prices of AIDS drugs should the Health Minister act in response to the coalition’s demands. The letter’s signatories include the Mexican Sex Workers Network, the National Human Rights Commission, the health secretariat in the state of Jalisco, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and writer Carlos Monsivais.

“We call on our Secretary of Health to declare a national state of emergency for HIV/AIDS in Mexico in order that AIDS drug treatments—including generic drugs which are usually much less expensive—can become far more available throughout Mexico and that more people in need can access lifesaving AIDS care and antiretroviral treatment,” Dr. Patricia Campos, Chief of AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Latin American Bureau and one of the primary organizers of the march. “At present, only about 38,000 people of the 180,000 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS in Mexico are on treatment. We simply must do more to ensure our people in need have access to affordable lifesaving AIDS drugs, and as the world AIDS community and international media prepare to come to Mexico for the International AIDS Conference in August, we believe it is a perfect time for the Mexican Government to step up its efforts to care for people in need.”

“The Street Brigade for the Support of Women “Elisa Martinez” A.C. is participating in the Activist Coalition for Universal Access, because its members are convinced that an individual’s health should not be treated like a commodity and the country governments should not play the role of managers of transnational pharmaceuticals by maximizing their profits based on patent protection, thereby issuing a sure death sentence for persons living with HIV and AIDS who are not ‘entitled’ to antiretroviral treatment because of insufficient economic resources,” said Jaime Montejo, Coordinator of the independent News Agency Noti-Calle.

The humanitarian solution of this situation lies in the hands of the Mexican political class, declaring a public health emergency for HIV/AIDS in order to guarantee the universal access to antiretroviral drugs, viral load testing, CD4 counts, HIV genotype studies, HIV/AIDS tests (respecting their voluntary and confidential nature and subject to informed consent), treatment of opportunistic diseases, condoms, water based lubricants, information, correct and non-discriminatory treatment. In the short term, a declaration of a national state of emergency would facilitate the conditions so that people living with HIV or AIDS could obtain testing and treatment services, thereby transforming universal access to ARVs into a sustainable HIV prevention strategy as well.

Yesterday’s march began in the Garden of Composers park in Mexico City. The group marched a short distance to the national headquarters for Ministry of the Economy where a brief protest and rally were held. Several members of the group then presented a manifesto with the coalition’s call to action to Ministry officials. The activists then proceed to march—with a full and courteous police escort—to the Mexican Secretary of Health’s national headquarters about one kilometer away. There the group also held a lively demonstration in front of the building while waiting to see if an official member of the Health Ministry would meet with them to listen to their demands. After about one-half hour, three members of the coalition were invited in to meet with Dr. Gabriel R. Maneull Lee, Secretario Particular del C. Secretario de Salud, to discuss the prices of AIDS drugs in Mexico and government regulations that discourage the importation of, or production of generic AIDS medications in Mexico.

Certain world bodies classify Mexico as a middle-income country using Gross National Income (GNI) as its measure. The country has a per capita income of roughly USD $7,310; however, AIDS drug treatments that can cost as little as USD $150 in what are designated least-developed or low-income countries in Africa and elsewhere (e.g. Uganda, Malawi) can cost as much as USD $8,000 in Mexico—or about 9.5% more than and average person’s income, making these lifesaving AIDS regimens all but unaffordable to the majority in need there.

This is in part because middle-income countries are usually not proffered the same drug price reductions as low-income countries. However, when it comes to country classification, higher overall average income—middle-income versus low-income—does not necessarily indicate less poverty, and GNI, which divides a country’s total income by its total population to arrive at an estimate of average individual incomes, often obscures the fact that the majority of a country’s citizens may live in poverty.

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Mexico: Rape systematic human rights to sex workers in Mexico City
"This March 8 we have nothing to celebrate sex workers in Mexico"

* The City, "champion" of the violation of human rights of sex workers in Mexico.
* No recommendation issued by the CDHDF.
Jaime Montejo of the Independent News Agency Noti-Calle, Mexico City, March 6,

March 2012. - "This March 8 we have nothing to celebrate sex workers in Mexico," said Lucia, who practices prostitution from 17 years ago in Merced. "Authorities consider us victims of trafficking and pimps, but in their operations, the police treat us worse than criminals," said Ruby, transgender sex worker working in the streets of Insurgentes 3 years. Nelly, recalled that on January 7 this year, the Attorney General of the State of Jalisco (PGJEJ), used condoms and agreements with the City Hall of Guadalajara, for crimes fincar pimping and human trafficking, to staff Paris hotel.

Ministerial PGJEJ, whose identity is reserved for security reasons, this reporter argued that condoms are used to test pimping and human trafficking, as some "pimps" are responsible for handing these items to sex workers before to deal. Another explanation is that prosecutors believe are criminal activities "porting, distribution and sale" of condoms among sex workers-res, as if trying prohibited drugs like marijuana, cocaine and other synthetics. They also insisted that such actions do not harm women because they are victims of crimes identified. However, reflection passing through the high, where is safeguarded the right to health, the criminalization of condom promotion in the context of commercial sex.

A response to the request with folio number 3200000006112, presented by Info-City, said that between 2007 and 2011, there were 38 complaints, 25 of them during the years 2009 and 2010, when it was performed most operating police against trafficking in Mexico City. The authorities responsible distinguished as alleged human rights more complaints were received by the Secretariat of Public Security of the Federal District (SSPDF) with 21, the Attorney General with 17. Other authorities were referred to the Legal Counsel and Legal Services in September, the Ministry of Social Development with 2 and the High Court of Justice.

In this regard, human rights violated in 73 cases, were for legal certainty with a record 22 times, liberty and security of person 12 times, to humane treatment in 11 situations, due process and fair trial in six acts authority, honor and dignity in 4 times, likewise the following rights were violated at one point: the protection of older persons, the protection of persons with disabilities, to be free from forced disappearance, adequate standard of living, to adequate judicial protection, transit and residence, equality before the law and non-discrimination and women.

Despite the situation mentioned in the DF, the CDHDF, issued no recommendation or conciliation, disinterest in the subject, lack of sensitivity to this social or institutional policy that seeks to "justify" as side effects, violence violated this group of women living in vulnerable conditions. Furthermore, the Ombudsman capital, Luis Gonzalez Placencia, halted the publication of "Human Rights Primer sex worker", under pressure from organizations seeking decree abolishing prostitution and only get this specific group of population can not enjoy the privileges that labor law provides for other trades and professions.

Finally, Madrid Elvira Romero, president of Street Brigade Support Women 'Elisa Martinez ", an organization dedicated to combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, declared:" With this information in Guadalajara and Mexico City, barely is a small sampling of the situation faced by sex workers across the country, we can celebrate, other than a decline of over 25 years in the fight against AIDS and social mobilization for legal recognition of our rights labor and employer obligations of those who are enriched with sex work and do not even pay IMSS, INFONAVIT and other social benefits. "

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Jamie Alberto Montejo

Jaime Alberto Montejo, a sociologist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), has worked against HIV/AIDS for the last 15 years. He was born in 1964 in Bogota, Colombia. He went to school in Bogota and in Cali, where he started Communication Studies at the Universidad del Valle. In 1986 he departed to Mexico, where he entered the UNAM.

He has participated in several communication projects in Colombia and Mexico. From 1984 to 1986, Montejo worked in the populous neighborhood of Aguablanca in Cali in communication for development activities. Mr. Montejo then joined as Assistant Director of the Programa de Teatro Callejero, a street theater group in Mexico City, where he worked from 1987 to 1990. In 1993 he joined a group fighting against the spread of HIV/AIDS among sex workers. This group was later developed as the “Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer ‘Elisa Martínez’ A.C.”

Mr. Montejo has since participated in 10 National meetings of the Mexican Network of Sexual Work, founded the Press Agency Noti Calle (News from the Street), where he writes about 50 press releases a year. Mr. Montejo has participated in several international conferences, such as the Second Horizontal Technical Cooperation Summit in Rio do Janeiro (2001), and World HIV AIDS summit in Toronto (2006). He has been co-writer and or editor of numerous publications of Brigada Callejera, including:

El encanto irresistible del condón (1999) (The Irresistible Charm of Condoms), a manual of social marketing of condoms among sexual workers.

El condón femenino, la nueva alternativa para las mujeres (The Feminine Condom. A new Alternative for Women), a social marketing manual for sexual workers, students and housewives. (Mexico City Assembly, (2000)

Carpeta Informativa de la Fuerza de Tarea para la prevención del VIH/SIDA entre trabajadoras sexuales (Informative Booklet for HIV/AIDS Prevention among Sexual Workers (CENSIDA, 2001)

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Sex workers declare that policemen extort them due to the provisions of the newly reformed anti-trafficking law

Officers demand ongoing bribes ranging from 200 to 400 Mexican pesos per day.
The non governmental organization the Elisa Martínez Street Brigade for Women’s Assistance has reported that in the period following [a recent] reform of the Law to Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons, sex workers have been extorted by customers, police and even organized crime, who demand regular bribes in exchange for not denouncing their activities.

Jaime Montejo, a member of the NGO and a spokesman for the Mexican Sex Work Network, said that the amendment, which prohibits any advertisement, by any means of communication, including [newspaper] ads that "fall within any of the acts of the crime of trafficking" has forced sex workers to pay extorted fees of between 200 and 400 pesos [per day to criminal groups] because their use of business cards may fall within the practices controlled by the reformed law.

According to Montejo, "many sex workers tended to give business cards to their customers, or use other forms of advertising to keep in touch.” But with the trafficking law reform, some have chosen to collude with corrupt police to extort these workers.
"We believe that this law has a humanitarian purpose, but in practice even sharing a cell phone number is a crime. The law is causing more corrupt acts on the part of police officers and government officials. Organized crime groups are manipulating this situation to force independent sex workers to work for pimps, said Montejo.

In addition, sex workers feel unprotected because just one false accusation without evidence is needed to cause a judge to issue an arrest warrant and later have the sex worker [convicted and] sentenced.

Montejo recalled when the Mexico City prosecutor’s office (PGJDF) carried out a "supposed rescue operation" to aid 28 prostitutes in early 2010. Seven of these victims said that they were the victim of sex trafficking networks or pimps. During the same raid, human rights activist Bulmara Vilchis was arrested. Vilchis died in unexplained circumstances this past weekend in the Santa Marta Acatitla penitentiary.

The Mexican Sex Work Network, which consists of 15,000 prostituted persons from seven states, believes that it is "hypocritical" that the federal and Mexico City governments engage in an "alleged fight against trafficking in persons" and then focus on persecuting men and women who engage in sex work voluntarily, rather than breaking-up the networks of criminals who kidnap and prostitute children in hotels and clubs that are known to everyone.

The strategy launched by [President] Felipe Calderon and Marcelo Ebrard "criminalizes an ancient craft, rather than promoting programs and creating jobs. In Mexico City’s Cuauhtémoc borough, for example, has allocated 200,000 Mexican Pesos so that 30 [trafficking victims] can learn hairdressing and the making of confections, so that they can work in something different. The reality is that they do not provide opportunities for high paying employment."

In addition, the federal government also has set out to eradicate prostitution "when they have not even established how they will eliminate the conditions that cause many women to engage in sex work, such as the lack of access to education, and unemployment."
In 2008 it was estimated that there were little more than a thousand likely minors sexually exploited along Mexico City’s streets. Now they are marketed behind walls...

This should be fought. The authorities should not pretend that each and every one of us who engage in sex work are victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. When prostitution is found prisons now trying to "rescue" the sex workers, even though there are no programs to help them. Nor are there programs to help any of the involved adults.

Blanca Valadez
Milenio
May 05, 2011
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AIDS AND IMPERIALISM: THE WORLD AIDS AGENDA
by Jaime Montejo, Elvira Madrid y Rosa Icela Mad
Friday Jan 5th, 2007 4:02 PM

We are currently witnessing the criminal negligence of the pharmaceutical industry, of the Bush administration and of other governments and institutions, in the limitation of access to antiretrovirals (ARV) for people who live with HIV or AIDS, particularly in Africa, a continent besieged by HIV/AIDS. Neither the pharmaceutical companies who have ARVs, nor the governments who have the money, nor the governments who could amend their laws to make inexpensive generic ARVs available, none are prepared to prolong or rescue lives, primarily African lives. These are some of the initial reflections made by Jesse McLaren, a Canadian doctor and activist, in his speech “AIDS and Imperialism; money for AIDS, not for war”, presented at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, celebrated August 14-18, 2006.

AIDS AND IMPERIALISM:
THE WORLD AIDS AGENDA

Reflections on the XVI International AIDS Conference
in Toronto,Canada

Compiled by: Jaime Montejo, Elvira Madrid and Rosa Icela Madrid
of Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer “Elisa Martínez”

“A third of the world’s population does not have access to medication, according to World Health Organization official statistics. Currently, 9 out of every 10 people who die due to an infectious disease live in a poor country. These deaths could have been avoided, in many cases, if they would have had access to the necessary medication or vaccine to prevent these illnesses.”
Emilia Herranz, President of Doctors without Borders, Spain, 18 July 2005

We are currently witnessing the criminal negligence of the pharmaceutical industry, of the Bush administration and of other governments and institutions, in the limitation of access to antiretrovirals (ARV) for people who live with HIV or AIDS, particularly in Africa, a continent besieged by HIV/AIDS. Neither the pharmaceutical companies who have ARVs, nor the governments who have the money, nor the governments who could amend their laws to make inexpensive generic ARVs available, none are prepared to prolong or rescue lives, primarily African lives. These are some of the initial reflections made by Jesse McLaren, a Canadian doctor and activist, in his speech “AIDS and Imperialism; money for AIDS, not for war”, presented at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, celebrated August 14-18, 2006.

Jesse McLaren criticizes the Bush administration, as well as the governments of Great Britain and Canada, for spending hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars in the war against Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of investing resources to fight the greatest threats to human security: tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria and poverty. He tells us that the AIDS crisis will continue without any control, for a long time. Jeffrey Sachs, a well-known Harvard economist, adds that there are generic ARVs that could be imported from India to treat the majority of HIV-positive Africans for USD$350 per year, instead of the USD$10,000 per patient needed for patented medicine.

Medicines produced by large transnational companies cost USD$10,000 per patient per year, while generic ARVs produced in Brazil cost less than USD$300 per year. In Geneva in August 2002, and again in the summit meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancun in September 2003, an agreement was reached that allows the sale to poor countries of generic medicines that save lives. Despite these agreements, the USA demands that poor countries buy medication from the large transnational companies. This demand is based on the claim that the low-cost generic medicines produced in other countries violate their “intellectual property rights”, or what is the same, the interests of their transnational pharmaceutical companies.

With free trade agreements like the one signed by the Mexican government, the United States pressures heavily for increased control on intellectual property rights, and prohibits the exportation of generic medicines to treat HIV/AIDS. With these commercial treaties, the United States obliges its commercial partners to disregard the World Trade Organization’s “Declaration Regarding the Agreement on Aspects of Intellectual Property Related to Trade” of Doha (2001), which allows certain flexibility in the interpretation of intellectual property rights for medicines, and allows WTO members to “protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicine for all”.

What is more, the US government requires that the majority of funds for AIDS-related project be distributed by American institutions such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which in turn obey the economic and political interests of the Yankee dominant capitalist class. In this way, their iron-fisted control of AIDS-related financing represents the political and economic blackmail of poor countries, and only deepens the dependence and poverty of the majority of people.

Jesse McLaren questions AIDS prevention programs that are based on the individualist ideology promoted by capitalism, which points to individuals’ sexual practices and calls them high-risk practices, without taking into account the causes that generate these unprotected sexual activities.

In this regard, he identifies three weaknesses of this individualist perspective, which has resulted in the failure of various preventive strategies implemented by the World Health Organization and later by UNAIDS.

The first weakness is in reference to the question: “what are high-risk behaviors”? Is it that women not have control over their bodies and their sexuality, and cannot demand the use of condoms? Is it the lack of access to medical care, due to the indifference of the health system when it comes to the poor? Or the lack of sensitivity of AIDS prevention programs to the different expressions of indigenous culture, which is expressed in an imposition of contraceptive methods? Without ARVs, there is more virus to transmit. Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) open the door to HIV/AIDS. Discrimination against homosexuals in health care services, the black-market sale of condoms meant to be distributed freely, and the forced application of AIDS testing to sexual workers, all these are social factors which propitiate the reproduction of so-called “high-risk practices”.

As we can see, none of these proposals are “risky behaviours”; they are, however, social conditions imposed by poverty, racism, sexism and homophobia. In the same way, “promiscuity” has been related to “high-risk behaviour”: gay sex, sexual work, premarital and extramarital relations are all considered a priori to be a risk to public health.

The second weakness of the individualist perspective of AIDS prevention programs is the focus on people’s individual behaviour. Safe sex and protected sex are basic to breaking the vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS transmission; however, these goals cannot be achieved as long as they are considered “life styles”.

This is part of the neoliberal ideology of “personal responsibility”, which exalts the role of the individual in preventing AIDS, but does not take into account the material factors in one’s life, which determine the capacity of a person to choose between unsafe sex and other healthy sexual practices. This neoliberal vision often leads to blaming and stigmatizing specific population groups who are already discriminated against traditionally, such as gay men, transgender women, injection drug users, sexual workers and migrants.

The economic and/or emotional dependency of many women limits their possibility to negotiate – let alone demand – condom use with their partners who are the economic providers. Discrimination against women sexual workers facilitates the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Commercial sex does not transmit AIDS, but not using a condom in a sexual relationship does. Discrimination against injection drug users facilitates HIV/AIDS transmission. The used of injection drugs does not transmit the AIDS virus; but the social conditions that make people re-use syringes, do cause transmission. In both of these last cases, to criminalize and blame the “behaviours” only makes them more risky, while the socioeconomic context that reproduces these behaviours remains intact.

A third weakness of the individualistic perspective of AIDS prevention programs is in the narrowness of the “safe behaviour” theory. 90% of people with HIV/AIDS live in countries in “the south”, 70% are in sub-Saharan Africa. The highest rate in the west can be found in Haiti (with a primarily black population). Within the industrialized countries, people of colour and other ethnic groups are more affected that the white population.

Another weakness of AIDS prevention program, and this is one that we are adding to McLaren’s analysis, consists of stimulating government and non-governmental organizations’ dependence on “international cooperation funds” that provide condoms, patented anti-retroviral medicines and other inputs for health such as HIV/AIDS detection tests. It’s good business for the producers; governments use these funds as control mechanisms and the non-governmental organizations stay “in line”, in order to remain on the budget. One South African activist mentioned, in a panel discussion, that one reaction to US conditioning of providing AIDS-related funds could be the alternative of doing this work without these funds. There were no comments.

McLaren points to two structural characteristics of neoliberalist capitalism, which help spread AIDS. He calls these “risk contexts”.

The first characteristic is the health care budget (in AIDS attention and prevention) of the countries subject to structural adjustment programs; these budgets have been reduced drastically. One result of this is the lack of economic resources to ensure safe blood transfers. When abortion is neither safe nor legal, it is difficult to ensure the “safety” of the blood transfusions needed by many pregnant women.

The second structural characteristic of neoliberal capitalism that helps spread AIDS is the excessive level of payment of foreign debt, which lead to a reduction in public health budgets and the introduction of new arrangements for health care where the person who receives care has to pay for it. This leads to a reduction in the use of health care services.

McLaren’s reflections regarding the struggle for access to ARVs forces us to ask ourselves: “people or economic benefit?” In 1999, 39 of the biggest pharmaceutical companies sued the South African government for importing generic ARVs for AIDS treatment. However, Africa as a whole represents only 1% of their market. Why, then, are they so worried about the loss of 1% of their market, especially since the greatest part of their sales are not even related to ARVs? The pharmaceutical companies argued that this would cause a “domino effect”, and would affect their western markets.

It was even hinted that if the production and purchase of generic AIDS medication continued, the pharmaceutical companies would stop producing new medicines, thus undermining the possibility of progress in medications. At that time, widespread mobilizations against globalization defeated the pharmaceutical companies. This situation also alerted the owners of money, who began to “invest” resources in media manipulation of governments, public officials and non-governmental organizations of people living with HIV/AIDS, so that their pro-generic ARV activism would be reduced to a minimum. In the Toronto Conference, mention was often made that social activists were tired out. In Brigada Callejera, we believe that the nation-states and the pharmaceutical companies transformed their initiatives into tools of control, as the service of the transnational companies involved.

In this regard, the newspaper “Revolutionary Worker” tells us that it is no coincidence that Africa is the continent suffering most from AIDS. For centuries, colonialism and imperialism robbed the land, labor power, minerals and other riches of this continent, with which they stimulated the economic development of Europe and the USA. The slave runners kidnapped millions of men, women and children; they took them as slaves to the New World, where their work formed the economic base of the USA. The European powers divided Africa among themselves in the Berlin Summit, in 1884-5. Not a single African was present. The colonizers stripped them of their land, and obliged the Africans to work in plantations and mines, at starvation wages.

According to the imperialists, they developed Africa. However, history shows that Africans’ health failed and the population of many African countries declined from 1890 to the end of World War II. The African political classes indebted their countries to the imperialist powers, but the huge loans did not benefit the people; they only served to build the colonial infrastructure needed to take out the raw materials and to enrich the members of political parties.

Civil society organizations such as “Doctors without Borders” and “Oxfam”, among others, insist that patients are more important that patents, and point to companies like Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Meyer-Squibb and Roche as the ones responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings who died because ARV patents would not be liberated. The battle to stop the holocaust against the poor of AIDS must continue. The Global AIDS Fund of 10 billion dollars has not been raised yet, while Bush spent 300 billion dollars in the first year of the war against Iraq – an amount enough to eliminate the foreign debt of all of Africa.

Jesse McLaren continues his analysis, mentioning that in the end, “progressive” reforms of public policy will not free us from a system that promotes the permanent search for new markets and benefits for imperialist nations and corporations. These latter forces will oblige the international political class to step back, in order not to affect the interests of financial capital. Each reform to the capitalist system is like a beach landing in wartime, always under red alert, always under constant attack.

During the XVI International AIDS Conference held in Toronto, Canada, people questioned the “colonialist intellectualism” of the confessional right wing, headed today by George Bush, which aims to impose their values on the rest of the world. These values include promoting the ABC of “Abstinence, Be faithful or use Condoms”. Nevertheless, other people were exalted, such as former US president Bill Clinton, and Bill and Melisa Gates (the owners of Microsoft). These people publicly supported condom use, women’s empowerment (without transforming the material conditions of their lives or changing the patriarchal order which subordinates them), as well as supporting prevention efforts aimed at gay men and sexual workers.

Melisa Gates, wife of the owner of Microsoft, “justified” prevention work with sex workers in order to avoid transmission of HIV/AIDS to the wives of their clients; this won her great applause. Melisa and Bill Gates are working to develop microbicides that can widen the scope of prevention offered by condoms, and called on human rights activists to help disentangle research that can lead to obtaining such substances, even at if it means violating individual rights.

All this sounds very nice, “cutting edge”, “committed” and even “with a gender perspective”; nevertheless, they made no mention of “softening” the patents on ARVs or on poliurethane female condoms, which result in an increase in their cost. Nor did they mention decreasing the dependence of countries on funds of international cooperation, nor for people to take civil resistance into their own hands, as a response to the lack of supply of these medicines.

All these people: George Bush, representing the “confessional right-wing imperialists” as well as Bill Clinton and the Gates, representing the “progressive right-wing capitalists”, see the nation states and particularly their governments as agents of social change. According to this vision, the role of civil society is not to make change happen; their role is to elect others, through the electoral system, so that these third parties (candidates in popular elections) may carry out the change for them. Thus, discriminated groups such as homosexuals are to elect candidates who will promote their “legislative agendas” in the appropriate legislative bodies. The role of civil society is to organize itself to “fight” for a candidate, call out the vote for their candidate, and finally to vote. And if there is electoral fraud, they should mobilize and demobilize when the political class decides so. It is to this that civil society participation is reduced, by the four international strategists who currently dictate the world agenda in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

Jesse McLaren finalizes his analysis on the relationship between AIDS and imperialism, mentioning that the tasks that AIDS imposes upon all people on earth, requires socially responsible work to prevent AIDS and to find the means to guarantee universal access to ARVs. Nevertheless, for this to happen, it is necessary to first eradicate the context imposed by capitalism.

Achieving this objective requires addressing three strategic matters, through a prolonged popular struggle:

1. To overthrow the current political regime, through peaceful means, regardless of which candidate is voted into office (¿traduje bien lo de mande quien mande?). We must remove this “representative democracy” that sells the illusion that nation states and particularly governments, are the agents of social change who will guarantee universal access to ARVs and freely distributed condoms. It must be replaced by structures of popular power, emerging from the class struggle of our Mexican people against capital and its armies. The other option is to generate a popular power structure, parallel to the “representative” structure, that can take its place in solving people’s problems without aiming to take over the formal power structures, as presented by John Holloway in his book “Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today”.

2. To transform the capitalist economic system that gives preference to the profits generated by ARV medication patents, over the lives of people who live with HIV or AIDS. This system must be transformed into one based on free and direct interactions between organized units of production and consumption, with the goal of satisfying the needs of workers in the city and the rural areas, guaranteeing the community ownership of the means of production, which includes ARV generic drugs needed by our people. This is possible by creating a direct market based on exchange, not profit, between organized production and consumption units, through autonomous processes of economic integration of popular sectors.

3. To change the social system that is based on social class divisions, which gives preference to the oppression of workers in the rural areas and the cities by a privileged social class (the bourgeoisie and their allies). This privileged class is able to pay for ARV medication and condoms, in order to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections like that caused by the human papiloma virus, related to cervico-uterine cancer. This is possible if we promote a communal form of relationship between activists in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and other social sectors who have suffered at the hands of local power bosses and oligarchies.

Now, it seems to us that in order to clear the path toward the goal we have proposed – to eradicate capitalism – it is necessary to propose three tactical approaches that should be taken up by activists affiliated to the Zapatista Other Campaign who are struggling against HIV/AIDS.

1. To organize ourselves to agree on a collective national direction that includes representation by each and every one of the organizational units of struggle, and where the leadership of “other struggles, different than ours” are recognized in everyday life, where imposition is not an option.

2. To integrate the struggles of other movements, different from ours, in our national plan of peaceful civic struggle in the Other Campaign.

3. To mobilize ourselves and generate autonomy, which will allow us to establish different expressions of popular power, such as the Good Government Councils of the Autonomous Municipalities in northern Chiapas, or like the community police in the state of Guerrero. These are community bodies, parallel to the constitutional government and that, in practice, consolidate processes of autonomy in health, since “those who have power over health and sickness, have absolute control over people’s life and death, in this case over those who live with HIV/AIDS or are at risk of acquiring the virus, and who can do little or nothing in the face of this vertical power structure”. (Jaime: quien dijo esto? Estaría bien poner la referencia ) Because of this, non-governmental community health programs must remain autonomous of health businesses and of governmental health services. This does not mean that we must not collaborate with them, only that there must not be any dependence on private enterprise or on the Ministry of Health. A community that controls the health and sickness of its members has created a popular power and holds its life in its own hands.

As a corollary, we would like to point something out, with the goal of promoting an open and frank dialogue with indigenous sectors that are “resisting the bad government”, who are working to construct autonomous health projects. We refer particularly our friends in Osimech, Chiapas, and the members of the Indigenous National Congress, where we will promote “The Other Campaign of Sexual and Reproductive Health for Indigenous and FarmerResistence in Mexico”. We would like to share the ideas of the Indian Manuel Quintín Lame , which continue to ring true in the struggles against capitalist globalization and the empoverishment of the original peoples and working sectors. Subcomandante Insurgentes Marcos put it well, in a meeting with sex workers in the La Merced offices of Brigada Callejera: it’s one thing to have AIDS in Polanco , and quite another to have it in the misery that surrounds street workers. Unity, land, culture and autonomy; these are four principles of the political ideas of this rebel indigenous man.

The first element is UNITY, to confront those who threaten people’s lives, and in our case, who deny access to generic ARVs and free condoms that could prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STIs.

The second element is LAND and the fruits of the work carried out on it, for those who work the land (a Zapatista ideal); by extension, this includes the means of production for workers, and the generic ARVs that can save the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS. We should not “pay” for costly patents on intellectual rights, held by pharmaceutical companies.

The third element is CULTURE and the rescue of traditional cultural values such as respect, equality, justice and the dignity of people and nature (values practiced by the original peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean). This is needed to confront the intellectual colonialism that imposes criteria upon us for HIV/AIDS prevention; criteria based in their individualistic ideology, which puts the responsibility on individuals for carrying out “risky practices”, without taking into account the context and social conditions that lead to a reproduction of behaviours which facilitate the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STIs. In this respect, Manuel Quintín Lame tells us “people cannot impose their vision of the world, and in our case, of health and sickness, on other people”; such an imposition would reflect an imperialist point of view.

The fourth element is AUTONOMY, which allows people, communities and organizations to cease depending on the acts or omissions of the three levels of government in Mexico (municipal, state and federal). In the case being analyzed here, autonomy in health matters would mean strengthening traditional and alternative practices in community health spaces controlled by the community itself, such as the Zapatista micro-clinics in Chiapas, or the program for the social marketing of Encanto and Triangulo condoms by Brigada Callejera. Autonomy from the interests of the particular public servants in office in each administration, from the Mexican government, as well as from the pharmaceutical transnationals, in order not to have to be silent regarding what has been called the “AIDS Holocaust”, which is costing millions of lives throughout the world.

We close with the words of the Russian Alexander Rumiantzev, who was joined by other activists when they took the floor in the closing ceremony of the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada:

There will be no universal access to antiretrovirals under capitalism!

Let us overthrow the imperialism of pharmaceutical transnationals!

Activists of the world, Unite!

The XVII International AIDS Conference will take place in Mexico City, in the year 2008.

Will it be then that corporativism will impose itself on the popular resistance movement against the lack of access to ARVs and freely distributed condoms?

A coin has been tossed, and is still in the air ... which side will win? This is the first call to all the men and women who are active in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, to show our presence and not let this conference go by without showing our anger over what happens in our country and in the rest of the world.

Against AIDS, silence and discrimination:
Organization, mobilization and citizen resistance

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SANCTION BY THE INTERNATIONAL AIDS SOCIETY TO BRIGADA CALLEJERA
FOR PROTEST DURING THE CLOSURE OF THE XVII INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE

Noti-calle/Jaime Montejo, August 19, 2008.- Recently we have heard commentaries regarding possible sanctions to be received by our organization from the International AIDS Society (IAS), for having contested against Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, Mexico City’s Mayor, during the Closing Session of the XVII International AIDS Conference, held in this city from Aug. 3 to 8 of this year. Surely Luis Soto, IAS co-president, Mats Ahnlund Director of Operations and Conferences of IAS-Geneva, Carlos García de León of Ave de México, Juan Jacobo Hernández of Colectivo Sol, among other corrupt business people, deceitful philanthropists, beggars, mercenaries selling themselves to the highest bidder, and bureaucrats who live off of AIDS, have already decided the depth of a lifetime punishment for Brigada Callejera. As if life were enough to punish us.

We know that all direct action against the society of power, brings with it consequences. We consider that we could have been subjected to police violence, as we were Nov. 1 2003, when the Tigre Group, of the Special Groups under the Secretary of Public Security of the Federal District, at that time headed by Secretary Marcelo Ebrard (today mayor of Mexico City), brutally beat up Elvira Madrid and Jaime Montejo, and deprived the latter of his liberty, together with a photographer. The reason for this was that Elvira and Jaime wanted to deliver proof of the illegal actions of the so-called “Death Squadron at the service of drug traffickers and pimps”, where hooded policemen operated with unlicensed patrol cars, with no identification numbers in order to avoid being tracked down by citizens.
Based on this case and 76 more, the Mexico City Human Rights Commission emitted Recommendation 6/2004 to the Mexico City Secretary of Public Secretary. Despite the moral weight of this institution, no one was taken to court for illegally depriving people of their liberty, menaces and police violence. This was not the only occasion that Secretary Ebrard directed police operatives called “illegal” by the Mexico City Human Rights Commission.

We also contemplated the possibility of sanctions by the IAS and the Mexican government: we are not afraid of them and we will know how to confront repression with our head held high. We are proud to have raised our voice against people who erase with their right hand what they have accomplished with the left. In this momen we expect a big police operative in the streets of the city, where probably the penal accusation will be pimping, trafficking of people and commercial child sexual exploitation, accusations made against our street defenders of human rights, and health promoters. And the proof shown to base this accusations will be condoms, water-soluble lubricants and educational material.

ALLIANCES

To punish us for our acts is one things, to punish our circumstantial allies in the struggle for universal access in AIDS, is similar to applying a scorched earth policy like the one the US government is applying in Iraq, and the Mexican federal, state and municipal governments are applying to the Zapatista support bases and Zapatista Autonomous Rebel Municipalities, to eradicate the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). This policy can be summed up by the former pedagogic principle “the letter enters with blood”, so that in the future, those who consider an alliance with our organizations, or think about solidarizing themselves with us in the face of external aggressions, think twice before doing so, or bargain for their support or action.

Although it is true that up until August 8, inauguration day of the Conference, we were members of the Coalition of Activists for Universal Access in AIDS, and we had a formal relationship with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), this does not mean that these initiatives could determine the cessation of our civil and peaceful protest. On that dark day for circus artists and jugglers in the struggle against AIDS in Mexico, we did not even wear Coalition T-shirts, nor did anyone participate in the initiative other than Brigada Callejera or members of the Mexican Network of Sexual Work.

To link our protest to other people, and to try and punish them, is a nonsensical act that just aims to cause conflict between those who seek, like us, to guarantee universal access in AIDS in Mexico, reducing the cost of antiretrovirals that the Mexican government buys from pharmaceutical transnationals. The Coalition and AHF do not rule over our people, they never have and I doubt very much that they could do so in the future. Our relation with these institutions was circumstantial and only covered the theme of universal access, not any other theme. What is more, in the last assembly of the Coalition prior to the Conference, we explicitly stated to our partners that, as signatories to the Other Campaign, Brigada and the Network would have an independent agenda from that of the Coalition or AHF.

CAUSES OF THE CONTESTATION

When our struggle began to get 35 entry scholarships for sex workers from 22 grassroots organizations, so that they and a small number of activists could attend the conference, we distanced ourselves from the people and organizations that make up the Scholarship Committee of the National Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS (CENSIDA), one Director Carlos Magis and two of his subordinates, Rodríguez Nolasco and Jesús Duarte.

These people, in addition to not acting with the truth, have insisted in disqualifying the procedure for requesting and accepting such scholarships, in addition to disqualifying the members of social organizations participating in the Commission. If this is not discrimination, we would like someone to tell us what it is. And if we add to this the exclusion of our organizations from the pre-conference on sexual work “coordinated” by Alejandra Gil of APROASE, we have a few reasons to take our disagreements to the public.

Mats Ahnlund Director of Operations and Conferences from IAS Geneva and Ronald Rosenes, an “activist” hired by IAS to make links between civil society organizations and other activists, only left a bad taste in our mouths: with them, we confirmed the racism and classism with which these people operate, and their condition of professional politicians, promising things that they were not willing to fulfill, like guaranteeing access to some sexual workers who were excluded from the conference.

More reasons for the contestation: Marcelo Ebrard and his policy of zero tolerance towards sex work, the closure of over 150 establishments where the Mexico City government supposed that sexual work was being carried out, the detention of over 760 people accused of pimping, slave trade and child commercial sexual exploitation during his administration (one year and 7 months), of which at least one-third were sexual workers.

The systematic intention of his government to legalize the sanitary control of sexual workers and to destroy the solidary community links that have prevented the expulsion of this sector of the working class from the street, where they earn their living. Zero tolerance to cleaning and maintenance workers and taxi drivers, and all the benefits of the law (or ignoring it) for the big mafia: Pancho Soto, Tzuzumo, Iglesias, Del Vals, General Nájera, among others.

Other factors to consider: The first AIDS clinic in Mexico, the Condesa Clinic, has a waiting list for people living with HIV/AIDS, especially if they are sex workers. Medicine is denied to this sector of the working class, due to the assumption that they are addicts and therefore cannot guarantee adherence to the therapy, they are also subjected to a long wait for the CD4 count and viral charge studies. Antiretrovirals (ARV) are assigned without taking in account the indicators established by the ARV Guide in Mexico, and many people going to this Clinic are treated in a high-handed and arrogant way. The recent, circumstantial and media-fueled coordination in the framework of the XVII International AIDS Conference has not yet guaranteed a change in the quality of attention.

If this policy of zero tolerance helps in some way to prevent HIV/AIDS in Mexico City, let someone argue in its favor, to see if there is any consistency in their position. The work of the scabs of Mexico City authorities, has been to guarantee the re-location of sexual workers from the streets Circunvalación, San Pablo, Izazaga, Tlalpan and Sullivan, among others, without any legal framework, and to provide financial support to the non-profit organizations who agree to this initiative, like for example the Catholic organization “Hermanas Oblatas del Santísimo Redentor de la Merced”. In return for this financial support, the organizations turn their back to the sexual workers, and not satisfied with this, have tried to buy the conscience of some leaders of the zone, to legitimize this policy of dispossessing workers of their source of sexual work in the areas mentioned.

A GHOST RAN THROUGH THE CONFERENCE

Now, what are the members of IAS scared of? Is this perhaps the first time that a politician in office has been questioned in an international conference, for his lack of coherence and political will, to stop persecuting sexual workers in the city or country, where they aim to make sexual work disappear? Are these AIDS bureaucrats upset that we didn’t ask permission to protest? Or better yet, are they upset because a small number of activists were able to get past the Presidential Special Security forces, and the Security forces of Marcelo Ebrard in the Banamex Business Center? Or are they fed up with the fact that we also contested Felipe Calderón (the national presidential figure) in the National Auditorium, in the inaugural session of the International Conference?

Some people find it bothersome that we use some Zapatista symbols and slogans. Why should we stop using them? Don’t they have anything to do with AIDS? So what, then, about the Manual of Other Sexual Health for Indigenous and Rural Resistance in Mexico, that we developed for the Zapatista reproductive health promoters? Doesn’t it count? Doesn’t the condom promotion campaign, where Subcomandante Insurgentes Marcos promotes condom use, count? Why do a group of AIDS bureaucrats get stressed because the world sees confirmation that the EZLN lives, and that we share a social, non-political party-based agenda with this military political organization? Did some of the written slogans bother them? Did they get fed up with the sign that said “The government lies, there is not medicine available for all men and women”, or is the whole thing a farce, the conference and all the statements made there? Perhaps what generated discontent was the poster that read “Government, pharmaceuticals and financing organizations: the AIDS Mafia”? Or maybe it was the one that mentioned that Elena Reynaga’s REDTRASEX “represents the Mexican government “, or “Zero tolerance of the zero tolerance policy of Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico City”? Or “Chiapas, Chiapas is not a military station, army get out of there”? We take this opportunity to mention that in the past, we have never asked permission to be free, and we have no reason now to ask for permission to enjoy our liberty, exercise our autonomy and self-determination. This situation unites us with the Zapatista men and women, and with those who take part of the EZLN policy initiative known as the Other Campaign.

THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Some of the goals of the project “AIDS Security Plan 2008”, in its version dated July 11 2008, to which some activists attending the XVII International AIDS conference had access, were to “reduce to a minimum the incidents related to the security of the conference organizers, sponsors and other service providers”, as well as “to provide an environment where all the elements of the HIV/AIDS community can express themselves legally and participate completely in the conference”. It should be noted that neither of these two goals were fulfilled in our direct action, which consisted of challenging the Mexico City Mayor, because the people in charge of security; Presidential Security and the Mexico City security forces, far from reducing incidents and promoting an environment favorable to peaceful protest, tried to stifle those of us who were protesting, and tried to take us out by force, from the place where we had stationed ourselves in front of the presidium and under the platform where the official speakers of the Conference Closure were seated.

This kind of “mass control” practice was what caused the massacre in “Disco New Divine”, a place where the police and Mexico City judicial system authorities assassinated 12 young people who were celebrating the end of their school year. This is based on the fascist idea that youth, and activists in our case, are lawbreakers and should be watched over, neutralized and punished with the full weight of force. We are all offenders. The security statutes of the conference mention that to harass speakers, personnel, delegates or any other person “is considered a crime in Mexico and … activists and their organizations can be subject to the resulting application of criminal and civil law”. In addition, it mentions that “historically, Mexican law and security agents have anticipated and planned to prevent protests, crimes and the exhibitions of social disobedience in all events where people congregate”. If this is not equal to living six days of a state of siege, we don’t know what is. This is a situation where we activists are suspects, where we were watched over from the Centro Banamex headquarters, a place where photos of some of us were kept, where we were watched over in hallways and meeting rooms, where we had “mirrors” behind us all the time (people who watched over us personally, all the time).

The aforementioned security statute mentions, in the section on philosophy and attitude towards activism, an entire counter-insurgent policy that aims to reduce to a minimum the contact with individuals who can create disorder and interruption, to provide a secure place for protest and the arrest and dispersal of people who disturb the peace, public order and the legal use of an establishment. Surely the project “AIDS Security Plan 2008” version 11 July 2008, is inspired in the Bush anti-terrorist doctrine and cannot be any different: AIDS has been considered a matter of national security in Mexico and the world, because of the killing of people who live with HIV/AIDS, sponsored by corrupt governments and voracious pharmaceuticals that give greater privilege to their corporate profits than to the life of millions of people living with HIV/AIDS.

As someone mentioned a couple of times, the North American Free Trade Agreement kills people with AIDS and other ailments, by conditioning the Mexican government to use patents that affect efforts to save, in a sustainable way , the life of over 180,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, many of whom still don’t know their condition. To let people die, without guaranteeing universal access to antiretrovirals, of course generates rage, direct action and violence, albeit only symbolically in the majority of cases. Those of us who are signatories to the Other Campaign seek to overthrow the government in order to guarantee, once and for all, this universal access and to expropriate the means of production of pharmaceutical transnationals, as well as breaking their patents and putting them at the service of the Mexican people.

STATE OF SIEGE

The security statutes of the IAS describes a scenario of a protest in a meeting room, where the security personnel will “attend all the planned or non-planned protests”. This action will consist of monitoring activity, sending an alarm to all the participants when a protest is presented, to close the internal doors and maintain open the main door to the meeting room, to notify the Mexican police, and in case of violence, including verbal violence, to transfer the control of security to the police.

The security statute of the IAS mentions that no member of the security personnel will confront the protesters. Why did Marcelo Ebrard’s security force not fulfill these rules? Why push together the protesters until Marcelo Ebrard made his speech? If we had not pushed the protest to an earlier moment, we would have been expelled from the Closure session without having fulfilled our goal. The Closure security forces pushed us together, compacting us and pushing towards our exhaustion due to a lack of air and due to a physical pressuring to which we were submitted, just like the Mexico City security forces did to the young men and women in the New Divine Disco.

We are not sorry for our acts, but we do apologize to those who may have felt real or imaginary bothers due t5o our form of expression in the closure and during the entire conference. We apologize to all the people, except the Presidential Security Force, the Security team and the people to whom we directed our rapid actions: for these men and women, the history of AIDS will show them as what they are and not as what they pretend to be nor what they want us to see them as.
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Brigada Callejera en inglés 2ª parte

Mexico Ranks Third in Latin America for Human Trafficking
La Jornada: Ariane Díaz
Translated by Stuart Taylor

In light of the commemoration of the International Day Against Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking, the organization Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer (“Women’s Supportive Street Brigade”) distributed some 600 pamphlets about human rights of sex workers in la Merced and Tlalpan [districts of Mexico City].

Similarly, it handed out a guide to reporters for the journalistic coverage of human trafficking, urging them not to ignore sex workers or to reduce them to victims that are incapable of making decisions and creating a decent future for themselves, commented Elvira Madrid, the president of the organization.

A group of activists and sex workers trained as human rights defenders, HIV/Aids health promoters and community journalists, handed out the pamphlet published by the Federal District’s [Mexico City's] Commission of Human Rights in December of last year.

Jaime Montejo, spokesman for the Brigada Calljera, pointed out that one worry amongst sex workers and organizations that work with them is that the local and federal authorities do not invite them to meetings and gatherings to discuss the topic of human trafficking.

The Regional Coalition against the Trafficking of Women and Children in Latin America and the Caribbean warned that Mexico ranks third in Latin America for human trafficking and that the climate of general violence in the country places women and children in an even more vulnerable situation.

The organization warned that new targets have emerged for the trafficking of women and children that still are not considered in international treaties.
“For example, organized crime groups abduct them to use them as “falcons” [lookouts], assassins, drug mules or sex slaves of the men in command and when they get tired of them, they simply kill them, disfiguring their faces to make identifying them more difficult,” it explained in a press release.

It also referred to the fact that many are captured because of their state of poverty or extreme poverty, their degree of social exclusion, previous incidents of violence suffered, or by deceiving or seducing them. Others are taken by force: abducted when they come out from school or on the street. Social networks are also a known method of apprehension. By the same token, the irregular state of migration is a condition of vulnerability. Spanish original

Posted 24th September 2012 by Reed Brundage
Labels: Mexico human rights Mexican women Drug War Human Rights human rights - abuses violence against women Mexico poverty Mexico drug war human rights - gender violence human trafficking

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Merced Street and a long history of fight
During the celebration of 8th of March in Mexico City, the workers women demanded that the authorities do not take them into account. Particularly the claim is directed to the deputy Rosy Orozco, president of the Special Commission for Combating Trafficking in people.

“The authorities consider us victims of trafficking and pimps, but in their operations, police treat us worse than criminals,” said Rubí, a sex worker women, to the Independent News Agency Noti-Calle.

On La Merced street is common to find police making money from sex workers women, who report them to chase, rob money and extort their customers rather than stop the thieves in the area: “It is no use having them if all they do is take away the bread from our mouths,” said the workers women to the Agency.

The workers women say there is much despair because money is not enough and that closing the hotels where they worked has created more competition between them.
The sex workers women who participated in the defense of La Merced street say that to maintain that “who works owns the corner” has cost them deaths, arrests, beatings and threats of the political class which has ruled the city and now have no problem in trying “to delete” them, say the founders of Brigada Callejera (Street Brigade), an organization that has been distinguished by mobilize sex workers women against forced prostitution, extortion and child prostitution for over 20 years.

“Against repression and exclusion from the political class”, in the Brigada Callejera clinic held the women’s fight for their autonomy, with a health campaign with the participation of sex workers women, women from other unions and neighbors of the historic center in dental care services, psychological counseling, implementation of quick tests for HIV/AIDS, Pap and acupuncture.

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Apr 10, 2010 0
First they killed Susy, now Fernanda is dead.
Another sexual worker killed in Tlalpan
No authority to protect the lives of sex workers
The human rights system shows its opacity

Jaime Montejo’s Independent News Agency note-Calle, Mexico City, April 8, 2010
Some sex workers who have omitted their names for fear of reprisals, relate to the disappearance and subsequent murder of Fernanda, who worked at the intersection Tlalpan and Soria, in the midst of a campaign of social cleansing of the streets, undertaken by the Prosecutor of the Federal District (PGJDF), the Ministry of Public Security of the DF (SSPDF), and the Delegation Benito Juarez, who left two women killed with impunity.

The approach of the Prosecutor of the capital did not include any form of protection of sex workers who provided testimony as witnesses or victims during the “operation against trafficking in persons” held at the PalaceHotel January 14, told Laura ‘the sole purpose of this operation was to convince my colleagues to stop work in these streets’.

For that reason, there are two sex workers murdered linked to this police operation, declared to this news agency Magdalena, who has decided to stop working in that area of the city since January after this operation . The action by the Commission on Human Rights of the Federal District (CDHDF) in this case as in most criminal offenses related to sex work is remarkable for its opacity, said Elvira Madrid Romero, president of Brigada Callejera, an organization defending the human rights of sex workers.

The campaign of social cleansing against those who exercise sex work has included the operation “of neighborhood complaints” the 3rd of May 2008, where 18 workers were arrested by a hundred elements of the special corps SSPDF, as part of a program of unilateral reorganization of sex work in the Calzada de Tlalpan, proposed by the then delegate of the PAN Benito Juárez and the Secretary of street programs and the Federal District, Hector Serrano Cortes and the Public Safety Secretary Manuel Mondragon as shown in the “Observatory report on sex work in Mexico” the same year.

The repression of sex workers in this part of town also includes the operation of the Prosecutor of the capital in the ‘Hotel Palace and in at least three other meeting points of sex workers in Calzada de Tlalpan, Laura said, adding that many of her colleagues think that the murders were committed and concealed by the police of the Federal District, to protect the old and new bosses of prostitution in the streets.

Women working in Tlalpan since at least five years declared with confidence that Fernanda has been seen last time on Tuesday, April 6 at nine o’clock, with a man who drove a gray van, and has not returned to collect her personal effects left at the point meeting of Tlalpan and Soria. They also declared that the same night a relative of Fernanda also came to look for her because she was not answering her mobile and she had not been seen entering any hotel after nine o’clock.

Wednesday, April 7, at about nine o’clock, sex workers in Soria Tlalpan have been informed of the discovery of the corpse of their colleague in Colonia Atlantida, where the inhabitants have reported the presence of the dead body of Fernanda, inside a X-Trail SUV, with license plate 199-TPB.

The question that Laura and her colleagues ask themselves is “How many more deaths needs the Government of the Federal District to clean Tlalpan from sex workers?”

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MEXICO CITY, Jul 23 2008 (IPS) – “Diamond VIP” class prostitutes, who are mainly from Eastern Europe, Argentina, Brazil or Cuba, can charge as much as 2,000 dollars in Mexico, while sex workers from southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras earn a mere 15 dollars. The price indicates which mafia is handling the women.

The high-class prostitutes are “administered” by Russians, Ukrainians or Cuban-Americans linked to global human trafficking rings, while the lower-priced are controlled by local pimps. Both organisations operate in a network of corruption in which authorities are involved.

A large proportion of the women in the VIP (very important person) class, which is subdivided into platinum, gold and diamond, come to Mexico after being drawn in by prostitution rings that promise them work as models or aides. The others form part of the waves of migration from Central America and the south of Mexico to the country’s main cities.

In both cases, the women are kept in small groups whose leaders answer to the mafias. Their documents are seized, they are not allowed to make phone calls, and they live in houses where they are watched constantly and are sometimes locked up.

“The mafias are very tough organisations, and they only work because of the collusion between the authorities and groups that have no compunction about killing,” Jaime Montejo, founder of Brigada Callejera, a non-governmental organisation that has been working with sex workers in Mexico since 1995, told IPS.

“This is slavery, which sometimes ends up with the sex worker being murdered if she rebels or tries to make a public complaint,” Montejo said.

In La Merced, a neighbourhood in the historic centre of the Mexican capital, where dozens of prostitutes from southern Mexico and Central American countries work, 14 women were murdered in 2007, and six have been killed so far this year.

Nearly all the murders go unpunished, but Montejo suspects that they were carried out by persons who do not want prostitution in La Merced, and by pimps who do not tolerate rebelliousness.

In this part of Mexico City, women in revealing clothing show off their wares all day long among street vendors, shops and hundreds of passers-by. They charge the equivalent of 15 dollars for sex, which takes place in hotels, rooms and houses in the district.

Each prostitute must hand over between 200 and 400 dollars a day to her pimp. To make this sum she has to service at least 13 clients a day. In exchange, the mafias give her a room, food and some spending money.

Brigada Callejera, which began working in La Merced but has now expanded to other neighbourhoods and cities, estimates that one-third of the sex workers in La Merced are under 18.

No one really knows how many sex trade rings are operating in La Merced, or in Mexico as a whole, but investigations by the Attorney General’s Office indicate that trafficking in persons is a flourishing activity that is linked to drug and arms smuggling.

Reports by the Attorney General’s Office, Interpol and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) show that prostitution is a multi-billion dollar business in Mexico.

Russian and Ukrainian mafias operate in this country, smuggling in women from Eastern European countries, as well as the Cuban-American mafia that brings in women from the Caribbean and the rest of Latin America.

Local prostitution rings pay traffickers around 30,000 dollars for women from Europe in the “diamond VIP” category, which means they are beautiful, young and well-educated.
These women are mainly taken to Mexico City and Cancún, a resort city on the Caribbean coast, which are hotspots of the sex trade in Mexico. There they work at agencies offering “high class escorts,” and in exclusive night clubs.

The deputy attorney general for international affairs, José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, said in 2003 that the mafias bringing in European women were made up of “well-trained and highly dangerous people,” several of whom had belonged to the KGB, the intelligence agency of the former Soviet Union.
There have only been a handful of arrests and legal actions against these groups in recent years.

“The geographical position of our country, bordering the United States which is the largest consumer in the sex trade, makes us a good place for prostitution at all levels,” said Montejo.

Brigada Callejera helps sex workers form cooperatives and gain access to medical care, while distributing condoms and working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Montejo says that police and immigration authorities and local and national government officials are involved with large and small prostitution rings alike, allowing the sex business to function and profiting from it as much as possible. “Everyone knows that,” he said.

He cited the city of Tijuana, on the U.S. border, as one example. The city government there collects over 150,000 dollars a year from payments made by sex workers.

Another example is La Merced in the capital, which has more than 30 hotels, rooms and other places where prostitution is practised. According to Montejo, in order to operate, these places pay some 450,000 dollars a year to the police and municipal authorities.

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Abstract

Prevention of VHS/AIDS among sexual workers, their partners and clients through the social marketing of condoms, July 1995 to July 2001 (6 years)

J A M Montejo
Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer , Mexico

Backroungth: The purpose of the interventions is to guarantee the access to condoms at a low cost and certificate quality made possible by Procuraduria Feceral del Consumidor. The hypothesis would be that sexual workers would use the condom if they learn to negotiate its use with clients and partners; if promotion is done directly at rally spots; if distribution is done where commercial sex is offered and demanded. The current issue is the high price of commercial condoms (0.5-1.5 dollar each), the low quality of pass products or brands without sanitary registration that are sold where sexual workers are usually found and their difficulty to negotiate the use of condom with partners and clients.

-Methods: Training of sexual workers in the negotiation of use of condoms with partners and clients; community based condom distribution; and promotion of advantages of condom through the display of posters, exhibitors and booklets directed exclusivity to this specific group.

-Results: 300 sexual workers trained as health promoters in a laps of 6 years systematization and publication of experiences; elaboration of 12 thematic booklets (AIDS, STD, self-esteem, etc.); conformation of Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadoras Sexuales "Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz", that gathers 8 base organizations integrated by sexual workers, formed to prevent VHS/AIDS and STD; accumulated distribution of 20 million pieces in the period from oct-1996 to oct-2001, at a price of U.S. 0.10 cents each.

-Conclusions: The strategic alliance of the Brigada Callejera with its provider, with COESIDA, Jalisco and Farmacias G.I. made conditions easier to guarantee the availability and acceptance of feminine condom in different contexts of commercial seX where CNTS "Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz" has community presence.

The XIV International AIDS Conference
Abstract no. D11151
________________________________________
Suggested Citation
" J A M Montejo , Prevention of VHS/AIDS among sexual workers, their partners and clients through the social marketing of condoms, July 1995 to July 2001 (6 years) . Print Only: The XIV International AIDS Conference: Abstract no. D11151”
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Abstract

VHS/AIDS and STD prevention among specific groups of women through a social marketing of the feminine condom

E M R Madrid Romero
Brigada Callejera de Apoyo a la Mujer , Mexico

Brackground:
The purpose of the campaign is to promote a method under the control of women than offers protection from both VHS/AIDS/STD and non desired pregnancy. The hypothesis sustains that the acceptability of the feminine condom would be high if the price is reasonable, if the product is available at drugstores and health centers, if the women acquire the kills to use it and get advisory. The issue would be that most women depend on the decision of man to get protection against sexual transmitted diseases and non desired pregnancies; therefore women are in the position of having to negotiate the use of condom with their partners. The feminine condom is a new alternative for women. Methods to be implemented on a national campaign of over presence of feminine condom to be sold on a wide variety of acquiring places, such as drugstores and specific places in which condoms would be sold to different groups: discotheques, in the case of young people and brothels horn in the case of sexual workers.

Results:
Qualifying 180 promoters of the femenine condom in the necessary skills to use it and the convincing of the sexual partners to its use in 6 states; the distribution of 24000 pieces through 500 selling spots, at a price of 1.5-2.5U.S. at drugstores; using the informative posters directed to sexual workers, homemakers and young people, distributed in instruction booklets, exhibitors,and assorted promotional material.

Conclusions:
Both the protection provided by the condom against diseases an non desired pregnancies an a view of brand promotion, make its acceptance easier and prevent new infections and pregnancies. The strategic alliance among the private sector, guberment, legislators and ONG’s, has made possible the supporting of the project at an operation cost minor to 3% of income. Its necessary to mention that a quality control research was made by Procuraduria Federal del Consumidor and the advisory of manufactures and commercial distributors of condoms

The XIV International AIDS Conference
Abstract no. F11829
________________________________________
Suggested Citation
" E M R Madrid Romero , VHS/AIDS and STD prevention among specific groups of women through a social marketing of the feminine condom . Print Only: The XIV International AIDS Conference: Abstract no. F11829”
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_La_Soledad,_Mexico_City

The Church of La Soledad, officially known as the Church of Santa Cruz y La Soledad, is a Roman Catholic parish church of México City.

The parish of Santa Cruz y La Soledad was the seventh parish established in Mexico City. The original church was an Augustinians doctrina de indios that was secularized by the Archbishop in the 1750.[1] In the latter 18th century, the church was rebuilt in Neoclassic style, which remains to this day. The church deteriorated over time, but despite this was declared a national monument in 1931. In 1982, the building was restored to much of its colonial look. The church is located in the La Merced neighborhood with the Plaza de la Soledad located in front.[2][3] This neighborhood is known for prostitution, and sex workers have staged commemorations for a National Day of Sexual Workers in front of this church.[4][5]

History

Main nave

The current building is the second on the site, originally called Santa Cruz (Contzinco).[1] According to documents from the time, the architecture of the original church was Renaissance style, built with masonry and topped with a vault in sandstone. The church was under the tenure of the Augustinians from 1633 to 1750, with the most important feature being the Virgen de la Soledad.[2] After the Augustinians left this site, the church was rebuilt by Father Gregorio Pérez Cancio [6] with the help of architects Cayetano de Sigüenza, Ildefonso Iniesta Bejarano, Francisco Antonio de Guerrero y Torres and Ignacio Castera.[2] It was finished in 1787 and consecrated in 1792.[3]
Over time, the church lost most of its luster. Its annex became a home for indians in the 1930s, and a school, leaving the church with about half of its original space. Various thefts from the 1940s to the 1970s caused the loss of candelabras, silver chalices and a reliquary. In 1970, a bus crash considerably damaged the outer fence and cracked an exterior wall. The building was declared a national monument in 1931 and was restored in 1982, allowing it to recover some of its original colonial look.[3]
The Merced area of the city now is a well-known area for prostitution. An annual “National Day of Sexual Workers” (Spanish: Día Nacional de las y los Trabajadores Sexuales) is observed here to remember the violence that is often perpetrated against sex workers.[4][5]

Description

Area with the image of the Virgin of Solitude
The facade of the 18th-century building is Neoclassic, covered in slabs of gray sandstone, with the pilasters of the same material. It divides into five sections with a main portal that has two levels and a crest. The ornamentation of the portal includes symbols of the Passion and figures of John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene and others. At the center of the second level is an image of the Virgen de la Soledad framed by pairs of Ionic pilasters. The other sections of the facade are divided by pilasters and have sculptures of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. The entirety is topped by an entablature, which contains two crests and a curved pediment with a relief of a cross. To the sides of the facade are two large circular bell towers, each containing four arches.[2][3]
The interior is rectangular with three naves. Six sculpted Neoclassical columns support the main nave, with arches supporting other parts of the building.[2][3] The roof is formed by barrel vaults with lunettes in the three main areas of the central nave. The cupola is in the shape of an octagon. Above the presbytery, there is another vault and a roof formed by eight small barrel vaults. The floor is done in mosaic, red and white in the main nave with green and white in the presbytery and a marble staircase. Eight windows line the side walls and eight are in the cupola, allowing in a large quantity of natural light.[3]
The choir area is large, extending over the back of the three naves and supported by three arches. The area is enclosed by a wrought iron railing with small bells which are originals. The tabernacle area is made of wood and contains an image of the Virgen de la Soledad, in a black robe with silver embroidery.[2][3]
The current marble altar was placed here in 1903 and is purely neoclassic as are the pulpit and the balustrade of the choir.[2][3] Most of the furnishings date from the 19th century. There are paintings in the sacristy, and notable one by Miguel Cabrera called “La Santísima Trinidad.”[2]

References
1. ^ a b O'hara, Matthew (2006), "Stone, Mortar, And Memory: Church Construction And Communities In Late Colonial Mexico City", Hispanic American Historical Review 86 (4): 647–680, doi:10.1215/00182168-2006-046, http://www.drclas.harvard.edu/uploads/images/102/history_workshop_ohara.pdf
2. ^ a b c d e f g h Bueno de Ariztegui (ed), Patricia (1984). Guia Turistica de Mexico – Distrito Federal Centro 3. Mexico City: Promexa. pp. 98–99. ISBN 968-34-0319-0.
3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Parroquia de Santa Cruz y Soledad [Parish of Santa Cruz y Soledad]" (in Spanish). Mexico: IDAABIN. March 2003. http://www.indaabin.gob.mx/dgpif/historicos/soledad.htm. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
4. ^ a b Icela Lagunas (July 9, 2007). "Celebrarán día de las sexoservidoras en La Merced [Will celebrate Sex Worker Day in La Merced]" (in Spanish). El Universal (Mexico City). http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/435972.html. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
5. ^ a b Jaime Montejo (July 9, 2009). "Celebración del 11 de julio día nacional de la trabajadora sexual en México [Celebration on 11 July of the National Day of the Sexual Worker in Mexico]" (in Spanish). Periodistas en linéa (Mexico). http://www.periodistasenlinea.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=.... Retrieved August 16, 2010.
6. ^ Gregorio Pérez Cancio, Libro de fábrica del templo parroquial de la Santa Cruz y Soledad de Nuestra Señora (años de 1773 a 1784), edited by Gonzalo Obregón (Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Señora (años de 1773 a 1784), edited by Gonzalo Obregón (Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1970

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