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Daily Violence

Daily violence is a form of violence that is very difficult to endure and even harder to eradicate. When violent behaviour and violent actions become a part of the everyday life, when people are unable to live without fear of being threathened, beaten up, expelled from their homes or even killed, we can then diagonse daily violence.

Daily violence can be perpetuated either by the forces of the state - when the police or the military are the ones who apply the violence against their own citizens. We can also talk about the violence perpetuated by the para-military groups, on the “other side” of the law, but usually deeply connected with at least some structures of the state. Daily violence is also the one applied by the criminal groups that control vast territories in many countries, leading some of them to be considered “failed states”. For many millions of women worldwide, it is violence on the streets or in their homes, at the hands of intimate partners or strangers. The other forms of daily violence mentioned are also deeply 'gendered', in that their impacts is imbalanced, affecting women and men differently, including sexual violence against women by militaries, paramilitaries and guerillas.

Its victims are usually the ones that are not in position to defend themselves, so here we are not talking about an armed conflict such as war. This kind of violence is unidirectional towards the minority groups (ethnic, sexual, political...) or towards vulnerable groups such as migrants, people with low incomes, etc. Also, as its victims we need to include the activists: human rights activists, peace activists, ecologists, and all other who act or just try to raise awareness against the violence and its instigators, where we also need to include journalists. However, daily violence suffered by certain groups is well hidden, or is simply of no interest for the majority of the population. For example, the LGBTI community in many African countries is under a constant threat, and its members not only suffer everyday discrimination but are also murdered because of their sexual preferences, while the majority decides to turn their blind eye on it. Members of the indigenous communities in Latin America and elsewhere in the world also face very harsh and violent treatment by the authorities, while the majoritarian “mestiso” and “criollo” population pretends like it's not aware of it.

In Central America, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, are some of the countries that have an enormous problem with gangs (Las Maras and others) who not only control the drug business but also take part of the earnings of all small businesses, even from those who make not more than 50 $US a month. Those who refuse to pay them usually end up dead. People who press charges against them usually end up leaving their hometown in fear of revenge, and many end up as refugees in Mexico and elsewhere. Those who are forced to flee also risk their lives during the entire trajectory that's usually northward as the migration routes are also controlled by the criminals. Mexico's borders, both the southern as well as the northern are among the world's most dangerous places. In Ciudad Juarez on the very border with the US, due to the huge amount of murdered and disappeared girls and woman, a new common crime called “feminicide” had to be added to the criminal law.

In Mexico, the war between the state and the drug cartels causes more than 10,000 victims every year. More then 2 million people are considered to be internally displaced in Mexico due to the activities of the criminal groups. The crime has also infiltrated in the structures of the state, including the police, and the distrusts of the people led to creation of the “self-defence” forces, consisting of ordinary people who decided to arm themselves in order to obtain the protection that the state failed to provide them. Constant clashes between these groups and the criminals made violence an everyday experience in many (most?) parts of the country.

When the state decides to allow big corporations to excavate on large territories populated by the rural or indigenous communities which oppose these projects, we know we're facing a situation that will cause a rise in daily violence. We've witnessed many situations where states actually use the tactics of implementing, or allowing the increase of daily violence in certain areas in order to break popular resistance and pave the way for the corporations. Then, we have workers rights which are being violated in many places and in many ways, while the states use their forces on daily bases in order to maintain the unjust economic relations.

Unfortunately, our experience tell us that the daily violence usually encyst in the social tissue, and any attempt to remove it requires much more effort than it would have taken for its prevention. However there are examples of effective struggles against the daily violence and it's our aim to make them known, learn from them, and see how can the experiences from one context be adapted and applied in another.

Igor Seke