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Lots of people and associations came and participated in Siempre Vivas’ annual Marcha Violeta; this year’s motto was “Solidarity shouldn’t be discourse, it should be practiced.” While t-shirts were sold, banners were given the last touches, people kept arriving almost making the street purple. Among the growing crowd, some had things to say:

Susette and Nisette

Susette (pictured on the right) is the coordinator of Siempre Vivas’ support group in San Germán.

“A really big purpose of marching here today is to make the Siempre Vivas project visible, promote our services and claim a point of equality, justice and solidarity. We want the same for ourselves as women.” Susette came to march for her sister, her mother, friend and “for everyone because gender violence attacks all of us in different ways and places.” She quoted professor (and SV founder) Luisa Seijo as what fuels her compromise: “the people that are here have to be willing to give their lives for women.” However, making change is not possible without joined forces and looking out for each other. Susette expressed how “we are taught to compete between ourselves as women,” which “affects all of us as an oppressed group. We have to break apart from that to come together and generate change.”

Nisette, her 14-year old sister, already very conscious and opinionated of the social happenings in regard to women and gender roles, also came to march:“I’m marching for equality and my sister has taught me a lot about this. Gender perspective-based education and sexual violence awareness are causes worth fighting for. Even though my parents don’t agree, I still come and support.”

Coral Marie

“The whole city needs to be stopped; it needs to take attention of what’s happening. It needs to be aware that women are really asking society understanding. We have fought over centuries for things that we have today and so we have to keep fighting so we can earn the things we still don’t have like choosing over our own bodies, to work and earn the same salaries as any other man–any other human being. I’m marching for myself, for my future daughter or future son. I’m marching for future generations. I’m marching because my mother and grandmother taught me how to stand up for myself and for ourselves and for women everywhere.”

UPRM Chancellor John Fernández Van Cleve

Photograph courtesy of CGE UPRM

On his way to purchase his official Siempre Vivas t-shirt, I asked him if he was going to march alongside us, to which he quickly responded with an enthusiastic “¡claro!” He continued: “I obviously support everything that stands against gender violence. Gender violence has no position in this society and even so in the 21st century where it should not exist and nevertheless it does. If we all join together, march and support this movement, I think gender violence could be reduced. I am marching for all the women in this country, every woman deserves all the respect in the world.”

Laura Cristina

With purple locks fit perfectly for the occasion, Laura spoke about how this cause “ shouldn’t just be [her] fight but everybody’s. It’s a fight that never ends, that just begins because not everything that we want has yet been achieved. Every day there’s more to fight for and more things for which to join together more and more. We’re a point in society that’s been criticized, pointed at and marginalized and in the 21st century we’ve been able to stand up and say ‘We exist, women in society exist and we are not a cero a la izquierda; we are worth much, much more.’

Laura marched for her mom, herself and “all that I am, all the women that compose me and those that will continue to make me, those I never met and the ones I know and I’ll know in the future. Like they say: ‘we are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn.’”

Kiara (left)

“I’m marching because I’m against the abuse done to women. I’m also marching for my aunt, who is a domestic violence victim. Women should never stay quiet in any moment. She should speak out and denounce so that her voice will reach high for herself and all those women that are victims to domestic violence by their husbands or any other man.” Along with a friend they held a banner that said “The only thing that can harm a woman are her heels.”

Keyla Ivelisse

“I march for myself, for women’s rights and to speak out. Also, to eliminate sexism because that’s what prevents us from doing many things. Actions and organizations like this march and Siempre Vivas are very important. They’re the base of all this.”

Samantha (left) and Gina (right): sisters

G: “I wasn’t going to come. I would say like oh I support you, but from afar. Yesterday I was walking to my apartment and I saw a pattern that all these guys would honk at girls. I thought it was only to myself. There were like four girls in front of me whom he also honked at. I got so mad and I quickly called her and said I am going with you tomorrow.”

S: I’m marching for my aunt, because she has always inspired me to be an independent woman and she won an award for first woman tronquista in Latin America in going 25 years without accidents and she won an international recognition. We’re marching for our younger sister so that she can live in an environment free of prejudice. For my mom, that also inspired me to work hard. I’m also here because I used to work in Siempre Vivas, with the children of the women that participated in a program called Cultura de Paz. I keep supporting in any way I can. Luisa Seijo, the professor who created Siempre Vivas, also inspires me very much.”

G: “I’m marching for all the women that I know that are in abusive relationships and don’t acknowledge it or don’t want to see it. We’re trying to bring awareness to these situations in hopes that they can finally understand that they deserve so much more.”

Carolina and Linoshka

Carolina (right) also marched in representation of her sorority, Eta Gamma Delta.

“It’s really important to promote and protect women’s rights and that women aren’t mistreated–or any other person. Today we’re doing this for women but tomorrow it could be another person or group. I’m marching for everyone: for you, for me, for him, for her; for everybody.”  

Linoshka (left):

“I’m marching for justice, solidarity, equality and so that women’s rights are fulfilled. I’m marching for all the women in the world.”

The ladies of Mu Alpha Phi

We spoke to Cristina, pictured here second from the right.

“Coming here to march is important for the woman and day-to-day oppression. We have accomplished many things but there is still a lot left to do. I’m marching for everyone. Organizations like Siempre Vivas are something very important in society because they grant a place for women that perhaps doesn’t exist on the daily and it’s also very positive to empower  women.”

Image via Twitter user @adrianafont21.

Quickly afterwards, the march started and along the music, chants like “queremos equidad, no somos propiedad” and “revolucionando en la calle y en la cama” filled the air as people marched from the Nursing building at UPRM to Mayagüez’s city hall. Other banners and strong strong media were used as well.

  The march was not the only place where the fight was held and the voices held high were carried by the wind. Some stuck by on campus, like these pictures hanging on a tree in front of Chardón. They were hung there as a memoir for all the fallen victims. Silence is the biggest killer when it comes to injustice so practice your solidarity and expose any violence you see. Speak out for her.

Author of "Partida en Dos," a self-published poetry book, and also published writer featured in magazines such as Sábanas, El Vicio del Tintero, Emily, and the Anthology of the Revolutionary Alliance. Bachelor student of English Literature and minors in Comparative Literature and Teacher Preparation. Born and raised in the West of Puerto Rico, artist, dancer, tree-hugger and animal rights activist. 
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