by Gloria Santos Pejic
“Blanca” is the name of a song included in the last album of Honduran Karla Lara entitled “Recordarles” (Remember them). The tune sings to the women workers who, like Blanca, the protagonist in the song, work in the maquila. Blanca shares her feelings about the abuses that women suffer in the factory: endless working hours, unpaid overtime work, lack of rights. It’s not just the story of a worker is also the story of a mother who is trying to bring up her family, juggling all responsibilities by herself.
Forty-four years old Karla Lara explains that with this song she wants to pay tribute to women maquila workers. They are fighting to survive in an environment that discriminates against them. Maquilas are textile factories that produce in free trade zones at very low costs. Violence, unhealthy and unsafe conditions and precarious work are common. The music of Karla Lara has always had a political resonance.
Her music has spread throughout Central America, USA, Spain and some African countries like Senegal. Her first production, ¿Dónde andar? (Where to walk?), was launched in 2004, and in 2008 she produced “Antes del Puente” (Before the Bridge). “Recordales” is a compilation of her most popular songs. Karla has worked on this project with the band “Híbridos Jazz”.
Today Karla works in “Central de Cooperativas Cafetaleras de Honduras” (Honduran Coffee Cooperatives Main Office), a local radio station where she produces a programme: “There will be no future without coffee”. She also works as a consultant. She is a member of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders of Honduras and also she is part of “Artistas en Resistencia” (Artists in Resistance) as well as of “Feministas en Resistencia” (Feminists in Resistance). Both collectives consider the removal of president Zelaya in 2009 a coup d’etat and denounce the widespread impunity around human rights violations in Honduras. Her commitment to justice took her as far as joining a hunger strike in 2008 to denounce the lack of will from the part of the Public Prosecutor to investigate cases of corruption. Karla Lara, along with other feminists and a group of attorneys, started the hunger strike hunger until a new law was passed that removed the Prosecutor’s privileges not to be investigated, suspended or dismissed.
“It’s important to talk about the terrible things happening” Karla says, “but the media always covers depressing stories. It’s more important to talk about what is rarely discussed—that the people are organizing themselves. Not much has been said about how the country is different now, or at least that there are new ideas now about what policies should be like and how we can change things. I wanted to bring that sense of hope and possibility here. The belief that a new America is possible, a different order is possible”
Karla Lara is indeed the voice of a generation of women in Central America fighting for their rights and to become a visible part of society.