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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Oaxaca, Women & Rights

Here is an outstanding article, published today in the Los Angeles Times, on one of the main issues facing women in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Through the practice of "usos y costumbres", [manners, traditions and habits] women are systematically denied what many westerners have come to understand as basic rights. Rights to vote, get an education, have a job, and even choose your own husband, are typically denied women in the more rural, indigenous areas of Mexico.

OAXACA, MEXICO -- Many years ago, when she was still a tiny girl in braids, and not the professional she is today, Eufrosina Cruz heard the story of how her father married off her sister to a stranger at age 12: She wondered if a man might come to claim her too.

Being a girl isn't easy in Santa Maria Quiegolani, a poor rural village where Zapotec is the native language and most girls are lucky to complete grade school.

Cruz left to eventually become a college-educated accountant. But now, at age 27, she has returned to her old village in the mountains of Oaxaca, and stirred up a gender war.

Her struggle, at first personal and local, has sparked the governor of her state and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to back her call for legislation that would grant thousands of women in Oaxaca state the right to vote and run for office in about 100 rural towns. Male-only assemblies run those communities, which follow indigenous customs that predate the Spanish conquest.

"We have to help those women who are still in that place where you don't have any rights because you're a woman," she says. "The women who live in the mountains are shouting that someone listen to them. . . . I don't want any women to ever feel alone as I did."

Read the entire article by Héctor Tobar and María Antonieta Uribe of the Los Angeles Times.

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