Saturday, January 23, 2010

46 Self-Empowered Woman In Santiago

Dear Followers,

Today I'd like to introduce you to an amazing 84 year old woman who has had a profound effect on the political landscape in Chile. In today's New York Times Alexei Barrionuevo introduced readers to Ana Gonzalez, a plump gray-haired grandmother who has batteld tirelessly on behalf of families touched by "the dissapeared."

Back in the 1970's, Chile's president, socialist Salvador Allende was overthrown in a bloody coup by General Augusto Pinochet. Under his dictatorship anyone who was (or had been) associated with the communist party was considered an enemy of the state.

In April 1976, Ana Gonzalez lost both her sons, pregnant daughter-in law, and her husband (12. Hard Times). Like thousands of other women in Chile who lost their loved ones, no bodies were ever recovered. For the next 34 years, Ana Gonzalez has worked tirelessly to find out what happened to the 3,000 people who are believed to have been killed during Pinochet's dictatorship (7. Magnificent Obsession).

As she told The New York Times "they never thought that a woman, a housewife who didn't know anything, not even where the courts were located, would take up the battle cry" (13. More Than Meets The Eye). The slogan for the quest to match DNA samples is "You live in us, we carry you in our blood."

At age 11 Gonzalez moved from the North of Chile to Santiago, where she lived with her aunt and uncle (1. No Paternal Safety Net). And by the age of 16 she attended her first Young Communists meeting (2. An Early Sense of Direction). That's where she met her husband, and they remained active in the communist party; since the disappearance of her loved ones she organized protests, led hunger strikes at the offices of embassies, the church, the Red Cross and the U.N..

According to Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, "she was on the front lines, showing tremendous courage." Ana Gonzalez represents "the voice of somebody with no hatred. She talks... in a calm, serene way."

Looking forward to your comments...

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