Letter to Michelle Bachelet
I did not vote for you. Since the destruction of the ancient Electoral Registry in Santiago, I have not been able to register again. Instead I voted in another way.
On the day of the election I climbed up to the mountains and made a large Menstrual Quipu at an altitude of 2000 meters, in front of El Plomo. A quipu dedicated to you, your triumph, so that you and us, women will remember the connection between water and blood.
I dreamed that you would be the conscience of this relationship.
I climbed down the mountain and saw the first truck full of flags and people yelling “Michelle!!!!” I knew you had won, and the quipu on the mountain also knew it.
I turned on the television, and there you were, in front of everyone, saying that your government would be the government of “listening.” My blood heard you, and the blood of everyone heard you. The land and the glaciers also heard you. I thank you for that wondrous moment when all of us were one with the heart of the earth because you spoke directly from a place of love.
Now I am reading the history of Pascua-Lama and the agreements that Chile signed before you were elected, authorizing the destruction of the glaciers and my blood knows that by placing my vote at the mountain, and not in the urn I was to dream a reversal of the world. Dreaming of your new government anda new commission of the environment that would defend the purity of the water and the well-being of the people and not capitulate to the mining companies. For, who can believe that a foreign mining company can be trusted to take care of our water?
An ancient myth of the highlands says that as long as the camelids are grazing by the springs at the edge of the glaciers, there will be wealth and fecundity, well-being for all. They are the guardians of the cycle of water on its journey from the cloud to the sea.
The water is the gold of the 21st-century.
Water is life and water is memory. Our ancestors lived and died for water and water will give life to those to come. If cyanide permeates the valleys, water and air, the memory of cyanide will be longer than any other memory.
For centuries every woman that has dared to hear and to speak from a place of love has been persecuted. For centuries we have been silent in the face of abuse in order to survive, and despite this you are here! Who, will hear, if not the pain of those that will lose the land and the water? Michelle, listen to your own heart, you were elected for this, so that your voice will hear the people of the earth, the prisoners and the victims, those who suffered like you did.
The life of each one of these farmers and shepherds, the well-being of these valleys, our cultural heritage is far more precious than the billions that Barrick Gold promises to pay Chile to extract the gold and destroy the glaciers.
That night of January 15th you knew this, and we knew it with you: another possibility, another matrix was being born. The voice of listening. The land and all of us, we are hearing you. We are with you in hearing. Michelle, extend your voice out to the glaciers! You have the chance to reconnect water and blood. A unique chance in the history of Chile to, once and for all, mark the end of the period of colonial shame.
New York, May 20, 2006
Addendum: Michelle Bachelet did not hear the plea of the Menstrual Quipu, she approved the sale of the glaciers to the Pascua Lama mining project. The dispute over the environmental rights of the people goes on.
® QUIPUMENSTUAL // All Rights Reserved
© Copyright // Cecilia Vicuña