From Guatemaltecas to Guerrilleras: Women’s Participation in the Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres
Sharp, Lynsey Nicole
On January 19, 1972, the first cadre of the Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP) – a political-military organization that used guerrilla warfare to combat violent state repression during Guatemala’s civil war – entered the Ixcán jungle in the mountains of El Quiché province. At the group’s outset, it counted few women among its ranks; but by the end of its first ten years in operation, female membership had increased vastly. My thesis explores these guerrilleras’ lives and experiences from a gendered perspective. I argue that because their society was deeply patriarchal, facing sexist prejudices was a part of their daily existence; however, most did not join the EGP for specifically gendered reasons. Furthermore, during their armed activism, they continued to face sexism at times from their comrades and the communities with which they worked. However, they also attempted to change certain misogynistic attitudes and practices, as well as defied traditional gender roles through the revolutionary tasks they fulfilled. Overall, my thesis not only contributes to the existing scholarship on female insurgents’ experiences, but it also serves as a building block for future comparative studies on the ways Latin American uprisings have been affected by, and have affected, women’s oppression and rights.