Puerto Rico

Alianza de Mujeres Viequenses, Vieques, Puerto Ricoilé: Organizing for Consciousness-in-ActionOrganizational Biographies
The Vieques Women’s Alliance/ Alianza de Mujeres Viequenses,
On May 14, 1999, a group of
Viequense women joined the struggle for the demilitarization of
Vieques, Puerto Rico. At that moment, they did not anticipate the
impact they would have in their community. The Vieques Women’s
Alliance grew out of a need to heighten women’s visibility, offering a
nurturing space to women in the Vieques community. Women who often were
excluded of institutional and political arenas, now reclaimed their
Island as they did their homes; they demanded a home that was peaceful
and clean, free from the military presence and its devastating
cumulative social and environmental repercussions.
Driven by a sense of justice and using a women-centered
approach to engage other women, they led and participated in numerous
strategies to remove the Navy from their Island: they sang for peace;
they cooked for people who came in solidarity; some of them prayed;
others even went to jail as they joined in civil disobedience. They
went to the US Congress to lobby for their rights. They went abroad to
seek solidarity. They covered the dividing fence with white ribbons.
Following their leadership, visitors and activists in solidarity with
Vieques left their own ribbons as a symbol of peace. The women provided
activities for children to deal with the trauma of a war environment.
They developed programs for teens to deal with issues of
sexuality–including participation in a film conceived and developed by
the teens themselves. They also supported cancer patients and their
families, as they created support groups for women with breast cancer
and, for the past several years, have organized Relay for Life, a
fundraising and educational event that raised about $60,000 in March
Today, they continue inspiring and supporting the
leadership of women in Vieques. They work with the children and
families of Vieques, and they also hold a position in the Puerto Rican
Office for Women’s Affairs. Now that the Navy is out of Vieques, they
work to promote the development of Vieques from an integral and
holistic perspective, one that considers the social, cultural, political
and economic welfare of their beloved community of Vieques. In 2004
this women’s group was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of
the 1000 Women’s for Peace initiative and won the City of Guernica
Award for Peace and Reconciliation in 2006.
Proyecto Caribeño de Justicia y Paz/The Caribbean Project for Justice and Peace – Is
a non-governmental and a non profit organization, founded in 1973,
sponsored by the Quaker organization American Friends Service
Committee; became independent in 1985. The project focuses on
education, documentation and dissemination of information in the areas
of a peace education, militarism and environmental justice.
A major component of the Project is The Peace Education Program which
develops Educational activities to sensitize communities about the
effects of violence on children and youth. Offers workshops at schools,
universities, churches and communities to promote individual and
collective responsibility to transform the rigid structures that
maintain the injustices alive. Staff and volunteers of the project
seek to develop alternative means for pacific life coexistence, and the
values of solidarity and cooperation. Since 1986, the Peace Education
Program develops the Campaign and Festival of the Educational Toy and Non-War Toys Campaign.
Through this annual event we sensitize community about the values that
toys transmit and the importance of play in the process of
socialization of children and youth.The Caribbean Project for Justice and Peace participates
in and promotes exchanges, conferences, meetings, seminars, lectures
and activities in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Central and South
America, Pacific, United States and Europe, related to peace education,
militarism and environmental justice with the commitment to encourage
sustainable development, environmental justice and the respect of the
cultural and ethnic identities of people. The Project also
collaborates and offers solidarity to diverse communities, religious
and grassroots organizations to affirm human rights and environmental
Centro Mujer y Nueva Familia, In Puerto
Rico, we face many issues that are rooted in institutional oppression.
There is also a considerable amount of efforts aimed at alleviating
the symptoms of oppression and marginalization of communities. However,
little actual community organizing takes place. The political activism
that does occur tends to be fragmented, as there is often not a share,
comprehensive, or integral analysis of oppression and its different
manifestation. This distance from community initiatives also describes
the tendencies of our women’s movement in Puerto Rico. Most approaches
to address the increasingly critical and chronic problem of violence
against women tend to centered on service delivery to women. These
approaches often originate from USA women’s movement models.Centro Mujer y Nueva Familia, Inc (CMNF) is an
organization located in the rural Puerto Rico. Created by members of
the community under the leadership of women of color. Founded in 1998,
CMNF has bee dealing with the impact of domestic and family violence in
our community an in individual women’s lives for over 10 years. We
have learned a lot during all this time, and we employ an innovative
and careful strategy in addressing issues of family violence. Most
public interventions with regards to women’s safety rely mostly on
criminal legal strategies of law enforcement and punishment and the
provision of services to victims of family violence. Meanwhile, efforts
to support community –based antiviolence initiatives focused towards
political organizing and social change are generally underestimated,
excluded from public funding, or just ignored.Our work offers a contrast to the prevailing
service-delivery model. CMNF brings our voices as women of color,
survivors and warriors against all forms of violence against women
(sexism) together with members of our communities who also work to
dismantle (through political grassroots organizing) other forms of
oppression; racism, clasism and colonialism. Our organization works
with indigenous, anti-racist, women-and family-centric model of
intervention with a comprehensive, holistic approach in alleviating and
healing domestic and family violenceilé: Organizing for Consciousness-in-Action (Previously:
ilé: Institute for Latino Empowerment) is an organization dedicated to
anti-oppression community organizing. We work to create systemic and
institutional changes that may lead to people’s liberation from racism,
classism, sexism, colonialism, militarism, and other forms of
oppression. Our goals are: (1) to develop, support, and strengthen the
leadership of Latin@s and antiracist organizers who struggle against
oppression in their communities; (2) to promote integral community
organizing as a key process for collective development and
self-determination, and; (3) to facilitate effective collaborations,
both among Latin@s, and between Latin@s and African Americans, Native
Americans, Asian Americans, whites, and others also committed to
anti-racist social transformation.
Through all of our efforts, we seek to organize, and help people move toward empowerment: consciousness-in-action.

We do this work at home in Puerto Rico, with people in Latino
communities across the United States, and with groups internationally.
Our work has benefited thousands of people since ilé’s founding in 1992.
Since 1997 ilé has naturally evolved
into a community organization dealing primarily with women. Efforts
such as Hilvanando Visiones de Paz: Colcha Conmemorativa por la Paz
2004 (Stitching our Visions of Peace: Conmmemorative Peace Quilt 2004),
Programa de Sanación y liderato femenino (healing and leadership for
women survivors of domestic and family violence), and Africa en mi ser,
Africa en mi piel/ Africa on my skin, Africa in my soul (reinforcing
our Caribbean identity and dealing with eurocentrism and racism) are
emblematic of our work with women and seek to strengthen our voices and
our leadership.