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Interview with feminist activists Yurbin Aguilar and Daniela Inojosa

Women are the main victims of the blockade experiencing overburden, exploitation and emotional cost

Venezuela | 6 de noviembre de 2020

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In patriarchal societies, in times of necessity, deprivation and challenges, women are the most affected, the most holdover and the most enforced to sacrifice themselves. They are compelled to find solutions and take on the challenges of subsistence resulting from the inequality of a male-dominant society.

Since 2017, the imperial and colonial policies of the United States have imposed more than 150 sanctions against Venezuela. Disruption and complete occupation of national resources have always been an agenda of the long-standing looters of the world. Have Venezuelan women been the most affected during these three years of sanctions?

In 2015, the then President of the U.S. Barack Obama, called Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat for the national security of the United States”. Coming back to 2017, let us remember that the imperial administration led by Donald Trump, applied economic sanctions against our country after the elections of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) took place.

There has been three years of sanctions, blockades and obstacles to prevent Venezuela from getting the most basic resources of subsistence. The most recent sanction, in August 2019, saw Trump blocking the assets that Venezuelan official institutions have in the U.S. Soon after, in February 2020, Trump’s administration sanctioned CONVIASA (Venezuelan national airline).

In light of the situation Venezuelans endure every day, shown by the difficulties to access food, medicines and goods of primary need, ALBA TV talked with Daniela Inojosa and Yurbina Aguilar, feminists, activists and advisers. They have analysed the effects the blockade is having on Venezuelan women. Are women the group that suffers the most from the blockade? If so, why? Here are their thoughts.

“Yes, we suffer the most because of patriarchal appropriation. Firstly, we are trained to emotionally commit to ‘others’, so our being belongs to ‘others’. Secondly, we are assigned the role of life caring guarantors, which we seem to undertake with resignation. From this subjectivity, we suffer the pain, hunger and shortages imposed by the blockade, and endure the suffering of our families and communities. We stretch ourselves to fill this gap, which affect us psychologically and emotionally on the same scale” states psychologist and researcher Yurbin Aguilar.

Yurbin continues, “from their egocentric identity, men are also disrupted, as the effects of the blockade is something that affects them directly. When the burden is too heavy, their social identity allows them to withdraw, to leave the burden, ‘eyes that do not see, a heart that does not feel’. But Chanel corrected the saying with wisdom; “because they cannot feel, they cannot see”. Their patriarchal socialisation is centred in themselves, which place them away from the necessities of the community. In this sense, their burden is not the same as the one carried by women”.

Feminist militant and creator Daniela Inojosa:

“Given the inequality on the household burden between men and women, the majority of families in Venezuela are upheld by women, which has a significant impact in the society, because ultimately life caring is a responsibility that women have. There are specific cases that show us the reality, for example, what some men have to give for the support of their children, which should be 25% of their salary according to the Law, which is between two dollars and fifty cents. Such amount of money cannot support anyone. However, women are the ones to look after the children, are the ones navigating the crisis to support their family, which is a very concerning issue because it means that women are killing themselves of exhaustion”.

Yurbin clarifies that the “triple burden, triple impact and emotional cost” of the sanctions are violent actions against women’s life.

Daniela Inojosa expands more and states that “the violence increases due to the lack of resources. In light of the psychological distress resulting from going out every day to look for something to eat, for not having dollars or the anxiety of having starving children in your house. I have friends that have had to feed their children with rice for two days. These situations increase the violence against women and malnutrition of children. The generation that is growing today will have cognitive difficulties bigger than any other generation since the Venezuelan Federal War of 1859. In other words, a generation of children that has no access to meat or proteins”.

Daniela reminds us that some women are practising prostitution to support their families.

Violence and hopelessness have increased with the blockade. Many women are being driven to prostitution due to current circumstances. They leave their children with their grandparents, who are not fit to nurture anymore. The elderly community is raising their grandchildren because their children left the country in order to send over $50 per week to feed their children. There is a terrible crisis here, a situation where women are/ the ‘body’. We are sacrificing our bodies, our courage and our dreams because, in reality, women do whatever they need for their children and for their family, which has been noted a lot in this crisis”.

Both Daniela and Yurbin see the blockade as an attack against our country. “An imperial attack against our self-determination, to punish our rebellion, to set an example and cause terror in the rest of the world, to show what would await if there is no submission and of course, to steal our natural resources”, adds Yurbin.

Whilst Daniela warns: “it is certainly a terrible coercive action that put us in a difficult economic situation. It is a killer blockade like any other blockade, that aims to intervene in the national politics. That said, the above does not mean that all the responsibility of what is happening in the country is due to the blockade. There is also a lot of bad administration of resources.

Daniela also points at the shortages, which “increases corruption because, in light of poor salaries, people try to take what they can to afford a basic way of life. There is also significant inequality, which is something that had been overcome in times of Chavez. The inequality among social classes has grown much bigger today. The middle class disappeared but the rich are richer. There is also a new currency, which wipes out our monetary sovereignty, as the ongoing currency is the dollar even if no one openly acknowledges it and banks do not accept it”.

We asked them about the alternatives from popular organisation to get around and overcome the crisis, but also the errors of resource management.

Yurbin encourages us to explore “our inner oppressions and exploitations”. Daniela says that one of the alternatives is “community organisation, the organisation of social movements, looking after each other. We do not let ourselves down within the collective, we are 17, and if one of us gets sick, we all come forward, we look after the children collectively. Many of us are growing “conuco”, the answer is to go from the small to the global, build local solutions that eventually become global solutions”.


Translate: Simón Ragusent
Maria Mercedes Cobo / Alta TV

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