Brigada Callejera, a Revolutionary Sex Worker Organization in Mexico City
August 7, 2008
When members of Brigada Callejera, a sex workers' and transgender rights organization in Mexico City, came to the first of the AIDS2008 activist meetings last Saturday morning, they explained the human rights issues that sex workers here face. Not only are sex workers forced to take STD and HIV tests - and carry a card saying they are HIV negative - a new policy requires them to pay for these tests themselves. This repression is in addition to the fact that sex work is still illegal here, and the police are more likely to arrest workers if they carry condoms.
The group, whose members include Elvira Madrid, Krisna, and Elma Delea, also held a lively protest for access to HIV meds in Mexico yesterday. I believe that Krisna said in the activist meeting on Saturday that antiretrovirals cost 7,500 pesos per month (about $750) here in Mexico, but I need to fact-check that. She did say that indigenous people have almost no access to prevention or treatment services.
Elvira explained to me (in my limited Spanish) that the word "Callejera" in their name comes from "calle" which means "street," because they work the streets. More info about Brigada Callejera can be found on their website, http://www.brigadacallejera.tk/, which has both Spanish and English pages. They even have their own line of condoms, called "Encanto." Elma also has a group called Angeles en Busqueda de la Libertad, or Angels In Search of Freedom.
Brigada Callejera is a member of the national sex workers network, Red Mexicana de Trabajo Sexual, as well as La Otra Campaña (The "Other" Campaign), a national grassroots mobilization launched by the Zapatistas in 2005, which you can read about at the "Other Journalism" site http://www.narconews.com/otroperiodismo/en.html The Other Campaign is an attempt to form a united opposition to neoliberalism, the current phase of global capitalism, which involves free trade policies such as NAFTA that have had a devastating effect on indigenous people in Mexico, and the nation as a whole.
These photos of Brigada Callejera are from the women's march on Tuesday and the Universal Access to Treatment march on Sunday.
From the group's website, http://www.brigadacallejera.tk:
WHY FOR SUPPORT?
WHY TO WOMEN?
WHY ELISA MARTÍNEZ?
WHAT IS HER DREAM?
TO WHAT DOES HER EXAMPLE GIVE TESTIMONY?
WHAT DO YOU AIM TO DENOUNCE?
WHAT VALUES MOTIVATE YOU?
This article was provided by Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project.