Women, Latinas and mothers: the triple resistance

Patricia Chase, translated by Zoe Willmott
There are more and more women in California prisons, specifically at CCWF and VSPW, Chowchilla. The majority of them are mothers and many of them are Latin American immigrants. Women who are trying to escape poverty, violence, the occupation, the multiple wars that the capitalist and patriarchal system wage against them. They come to this country believing in a fantasy that turns into a never-ending nightmare, just like millions of immigrants who believe all the lies that are exported to our countries.
These women embrace their dreams thinking of their families, of their children they left in their homeland, of their children who were born here, but this history repeats itself. Here in this country of Alice (Alice in Wonderland) there is more oppression, discrimination, poverty, exploitation, racism and many other forms of abuse that are committed against these women. One of the most unjust and brutal consequences of all described above is prison. These women wind up in a double prison, by being inside this system and by being behind bars literally. In one blink of their eyes, they lose what they cared about the most, their children.
The system of punishment begins to operate when they are taken from their children in the most cruel of ways. These women who come from such rich cultures, with histories of struggle and resistance, with supportive communities, have to face a system that doesn?t respect anything. Their children are put in foster care, in the best cases with families of the same ethnic and/or cultural identity. But this only lasts a little while, then they are given up for adoption while the women have to continue their struggle and resistance. They are trying to do everything the system tells them to, so they can supposedly be able to get their children back. If they don?t comply with all these requirements, they lose their rights as mothers, which can all happen in less than one year.
These courageous women have to do everything we can?t even imagine. Many of them don?t receive letters about/from their children, because the social worker won?t send them any information. This is the case with Blanca, who has never even received an answer to her cards and letters she has written to her children through the social worker. She doesn?t have their address or phone number because the social worker hasn?t given them to her.
The right to receive information has been reduced to the point where it hardly exists anymore. The little information they receive is in English. The truth is they have the right to an interpreter, but only the few women who know about this right request it, and if not they are left in a vacuum, once again exposed to injustice.
The battle continues, it is permanent, it never ends. Many of these women are deported once they are released, but without their children. When they get the strength to come back, it is for their children. There are no limits or obstacles which can detain them, so this vicious cycle continues and these women return to the mouth of the wolf, the prison with bars.
These are some of the bravest women I have ever known, they are admirable and all of their stories should be brought to light. Those of us who are outside should listen, get to know, and look for a way to be in solidarity with this struggle. Open our eyes, our consciousness, and our hearts to say we can do it! Find justice, dignity, and full liberty.