Dominikanische Republik: Juana Ferrer

As individuals and populations, we have to unify our hopes, ideas, strengths and solidarity to confront, as a group, the ones who have oppressed us, so we will be able to achieve peace.

— Juana Ferrer

Juana Ferrer (born in 1965) is a woman, and that, in itself, is a weight to carry and a reason to have to fight. That was enough reason for this Dominican woman to have to work from the age of 14 for land, for equality between men and women, for equality of resources and rights. She is an ‘active’ activist: she is an ecologist, a feminist and a fighter against violence, oppression and despoilment.

There is a woman who walks. She walks between the zinc roofs and the coffee of the poor earth. She is ebony: It is as if she was carved from an ebony tree to fight for her race, to fight for the land, to fight for women. There is a woman who fights. There is a Juana Ferrer. As the Afro-descendent woman that she is–and “la Negrita,” as she is called–she wears her color with pride. Juana Ferrer sings and works. She has a husband, three children and the height of one and a half meters. She fights for the poor, for the peasants, for women, for the victims of violence, and for her race and color. Since she was 14 years old, she has walked through the Dominican Republic informing peasants and women about their rights. She was born 40 years ago, in Niza, 39 kilometres from Santo Domingo, the capital of the country. In her village, houses are made of zinc and wood and people work in agriculture. When people have neither rights nor opportunities to work the land, they have to organize themselves. Juana has organized herself. Since 1980, she has been a member of the National Peasant Confederation of Women of the Dominican Republic. Since 1992, she has been the general coordinator, in her country, of Vía Campesina (an international movement that, since 1992, has coordinated peasant organizations). Once she went on a motorcycle, along with another companion, to a rural region. When they arrived, the police were waiting for them. “We had to turn back, to run, run and run in the midst of a hail of bullets.” They escaped, jumping from a ravine. The shots did not stop her. Her conviction has been, and still is today, strong. “Being a woman from a poor peasant family gives me the political and moral commitment to fight for the rights of our people, to fight for freedom and equality.” Juana, “la Negrita,” is still walking. The sun tests her, but it is hers.

Vía Campesina Rural Women's National Confederation