ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEES
President: Mr. Mario Vásquez Raña
Secretary General: Ms. Ms Gunilla LINDBERG
54, avenue Hoche
75008 Paris France
Dear Mr. Vásquez Raña, and Ms. Lindberg, and Members of the International Olympic Committee,
We the undersigned, write to express our concern regarding your meeting scheduled in Guatemala City in July 2007.
We the undersigned, in solidarity with an organization called MIA (Mujeres Iniciando en las Americas, or Women Initiating in the Americas) in the US and Sobrevivientes (Survivors) in Guatemala.
Our goal is to raise awareness of the ongoing gender-motivated violence in Guatemala which has reached historic levels of late. In Guatemala today, thousands of women are sexually abused, tortured, raped, mutilated, and murdered simply because of their gender.
The Guatemalan government perpetuates the misogynistic violence by breeding a culture of impunity. It does nothing to investigate or stop these tragic acts and is often complicit in them. Thirty-six years of civil war left Guatemala with a legacy of hatred and violence toward women. Soldiers learned to think of rural women as the enemy. The military believed that the guerrilla forces were comprised entirely of peasants, and that by killing peasants, they would annihilate the insurgent forces. Women in particular were targeted, because soldiers believed they were the enemy who brought new generations of insurgent forces into the world. After the 1996 Peace Accords, soldiers who had learned for years to regard women as the enemy became civilians, taking their hatred of women back home with them into civilian life.
Today, women of all socioeconomic backgrounds are targeted simply because they are women. Every year, more than 600 women are brutally murdered, more often than not after being sexually abused and tortured. The Guatemalan government brings no one to justice has done nothing to investigate or stop these tragic killings.
Since 2001, over 3,000 women have lost their lives, and only 1% of the crimes have been prosecuted. In fact, the government is complicit in the oppression of Guatemalan women, because such oppression serves to maintain the patriarchal nature of Guatemalan society.
In fact, Guatemalan President, Oscar Berger, has explicitly stated that women wishing to feel safe and secure should simply remain in their homes, implying that women who dare to step out of traditional female gender roles deserve whatever happens to them.
We the undersigned, feel that it is inappropriate
for the International Olympic Committee, an organization which seeks to create a more peaceful world through sport, to endorse a government that treats half of its own population as second class citizens. The government of Guatemala receives economic aid from countries such as the United States, yet has dedicated no resources to creating a safe space for its female citizens, or to seeking justice for the victims and their families.
We the undersigned believe that, until the government of Guatemala dedicates itself to creating a peaceful society in which all of its citizens are safe and protected, the international community should withhold its support from the country.
We the undersigned, recognize and herald the IOC%u2019s desire to bring much-needed economic stimulus to impoverished nations by holding its major conclaves in locations such as Guatemala City. However, the IOC must not sacrifice its high ideals in pursing this strategy. Many other nations which do not turn a blind eye to the type of gruesome discrimination practiced by Guatemala%u2019s patriarchy and government are deserving of the IOC%u2019s resources.
We the undersigned implore you to reconsider your choice of Guatemala City as the location for your July meeting. Otherwise, the IOC is issuing a de-facto endorsement of the Guatemalan government%u2019s misogynistic domestic policies. These policies are not in accordance with the Olympic spirit of peace and equality for all the world%u2019s citizens.
Thank you in advance your careful and urgent consideration in this important matter.
For more information, please visit http://www.miamericas.info/ or contact Lucia Muñoz at (714) 915-3805. For Sobrevivientes, contact Norma Cruz in Guatemala at 22850139 (Spanish only)
Cc: Lucia Muñoz
Congresswoman Hilda Solis
Senator Jeff Bingaman
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi