6th Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean

The 6th Feminist Encuentro (Gathering) for Latin American and Caribbean women took place in Costa del Sol, El Salvador, from October 30 to November 5, last year. Approximately 1,100 women attended the conference.

"Through workshops, working groups, forums and videos," wrote one Peruvian participant, "the exchange of information and experiences took place, as well as discussions and an evaluation of the Latin American feminist movements. The topics were diverse: democracy, women's human rights, electronic mail, racism, feminist theology, lesbianism, Beijing, etc. There was also space for learning to renew our energy and relax with massages, meditation, dances and rituals."

The participant, a lesbian, noted that, "Lesbians met every afternoon, with women from each country providing information about the legal, economic and social situation of lesbians. Like the feminist movement, the lesbian movement has different levels of development in each country. Problems were mentioned: isolation in relation to other movements (especially the human rights movement); financial problems; the increase in violence, repression and murders. The next lesbian encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean will take place in Brazil, in September 1994, several days before the regional preparatory committee for Beijing."

Organizers of the 6th encuentro had debated cancelling the conference after receiving death threats from El Salvador's extreme right wing ARENA party. ARENA had placed advertisements on television and radio warning Salvadoran women to stay away from the encuentro. ARENA used the fear of lesbians to try to intimidate potential participants, claiming that lesbian groups would be recruiting women, promoting abortion and the breakup of the family. Police detained some 100 women at the airport the day before the encuentro, singling out and questioning women who were travelling alone. Organizers placed advertisements of their own and noted that Salvadoran women attended the event in large numbers.