The Guerrero Electoral Tribunal (TEEG) has annulled a municipal election held last month because women were not permitted to cast a ballot.
A fresh vote to elect a a new comisario — a municipal commissioner with a range of legal and other responsibilities — will be held Sunday in Ocotequila, a community in the municipality of Copanatoyac.
Nine women were told they couldn’t participate in the election when they turned up to vote on January 2.
Municipal officials said they couldn’t vote because the indigenous governing code known as usos y costumbres precluded the participation of women. Copanatoyac is part of Guerrero’s Montaña region, where most residents are indigenous.
The disenfranchised women filed a legal challenge against their exclusion and won their case. The TEEG ordered Copanatoyac authorities to stage the election again and allow women to vote.
It is the first time that an election has been annulled in Guerrero because women were not permitted to vote. The ruling sets a precedent that could enfranchise other indigenous women in Guerrero as well as those in states such as Morelos, Michoacán, Puebla and Chiapas, where women have also been prevented from participating in local elections.
“From now on in Guerrero, no indigenous woman will be denied the right to vote or to be a candidate in any election,” the TEEG stated.
“It feels very nice,” said Antonia Ramírez Marcelino, referring to the decision allowing her to vote on Sunday.
Ramírez, one of the Ocotequila women denied the right to vote last month and a councilor with a local committee of the National Electoral Institute, told the newspaper Milenio that she was also happy because her mother would have the opportunity to vote before she dies.
“My mom says, ‘I’m going to vote before I die,’ and I say to her, ‘yes, you’re going to vote before you die,’ and that’s … satisfaction,” she said.
“We’re scared about how the community will react, we’re afraid we’ll be kicked out of the community,” Ramírez said before acknowledging that expulsion would be an “extreme” response.
She said she hoped Ocotequila residents would understand that the objective in filing a legal challenge was not to “go against” the men who make decisions related to usos y costumbres, but because denying women the right to vote “denigrates us.”
“Usos y costumbres can’t be above women’s dignity, and those customs, we don’t want them,” Ramírez said.
With reports from Milenio