About the Author

Andrea Arzaba
Student / Blogger (Mexico City)

Andrea Arzaba defines herself as a “journalist, peace activist, indigenous cultures lover and an eager world traveller”. Currently, blogger for Global Voices Online and for Adopt A Negotiator Project. Andrea is studying her BA in Communications at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She studied last year at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.

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Women’s Army in Defense of Water

Published 12th February 2011 - 19 comments - 9337 views -

The "Zapatista Army of Mazahua Women In Defense of Water" is an indigenous women's movement, formed by Mazahua people in the struggle for their human right to water.

The Facts

In 2003  Cutzamala System damaged  agricultural crops, causing the loss of 300 acres on the banks of the Salitre river and leaving more than 250 families with economic difficulties. This is why "one group of citizens organized themselves to defend the natural resources that have suffered over-exploitation without a fair and rational management" (Mazahua Movement)

In September 2004, after a year of struggling, Mazahua women symbolically armed themselves with farming tools and wooden rifles. They formed the  "Zapatista Army of Mazahua Women in Defense of Water". As the Earth Island Journal describes this "army:

"Of course, water is not strictly an urban issue. In the countryside surrounding Mexico City, the Mazahua Indians have formed an army – the Zapatista Army of Mazahua Women In Defense of Water – to demand rights to the water that runs through their lands. The Cutzamala (system) supplies nearly 3,000 gallons of water a second to Mexico City, yet several Mazahua villages have no water lines. In response to the injustice, the army of Mazahua women marched over the mountains and into the capital to present their demands to the World Water Forum (WWF) as it convened there this past March."


This Cutzamala water system has tunnels and pumping plants, and it transfers water from the territories of Mazahua indigenous people, 480 million cubic meters in the metropolitan area of Mexico, while these communities have no water.

Several marches to Mexico City, hunger strikes and demonstrations with Mazahua indian women in front, dressed in their own traditional beautiful costumes, their babies on their backs and wooden rifles, gave them popularity. Eventually Mexican government agreed to negotiate their demand:water and a plan for sustainable development in their communities.


The movement in defense of water and the demand of an implementation of a comprehensive sustainable development plan, the restitution of land, water for their communities and the payment of damages, to this date has not been fulfilled. Four women from the "water army" Marisol, Catalina, Olivia and Victoria, reported that 40 percent of the Mazahua communities in this area are in the same conditions as when they started the movement: they do not have water.

In order to see a whole gallery of images on this movement do not forget to visit "aguasriosypueblos.org"


(Andrea Arzaba, February 2011)




Pictures taken from:aguariosypueblos.org/mujeres-mazahuas-mexico

Category: Women | Tags:


  • Andrea Arzaba on 12th February 2011:

    Sadly, it was not mentioned as a big topic on the national agenda

  • Kevin Rennie on 13th February 2011:

    Great post.

    It was good news last year when the UN recognised the right to drinking water and sanitation as a human right. Unfortunately, like many human rights, it is a continuing struggle for communities around the world.

  • Radka Lankasova on 13th February 2011:

    Excellent post, Andrea. I can´t imagine myself in Mazahua Indians shoes. We are so blessed!

    Hope your article helps!!!!!

  • Andrea Arzaba on 13th February 2011:

    @ Kevin: Thank you! As you say, at least they are already recognised. We must keep on writing about these issues to generate conciousness!

    @Pabitra: Women from Mehdiganj, from the Mazahua indigenous population and from all over the world become one in this issue!

  • Avgi Lilli on 14th February 2011:

    Really, really interesting. It´s a completely different world on the other side of the Atlantic.

  • Larisa Rankovic on 17th February 2011:

    Fantastic story!

  • Andrea Arzaba on 19th February 2011:

    Thank you all!

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