Patricia Harms, Brandon University, “Breaking the Silence: Communism, transnationalism and women in the Alianza Femenina Guatemalteca, 1947-1954”

Transnationalism represented the lifeblood for Guatemalan women who identified with the communist party, the Guatemalan Worker’s Party (PGT). Guatemala’s historically repressive political system did not foster diverse political ideologies and those who aligned with communist ideals found themselves in a precarious situation. Consequently, women did not usually identify directly with Guatemala’s communist party and joined other political parties or associations whose ideals paralleled or intersected with Guatemalan communist socio-political policies. The largest women’s association, the Alianza femenina guatemalteca became one of the primary spaces in which communist women could operate. Formed in the aftermath of the 1947 First Inter-American Congress of Women held in Guatemala City (initiated by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF) and the transnational connections they subsequently established with like-minded activists gave them the language for the existing social and political conditions in Guatemala. While only a small portion of the women in the Alianza identified with the communist party, they were able to make transnational connections with like-minded women more easily and earlier than their male counterparts in the official PGT. Connecting the largely hidden story of these women with the feminist and transnational women’s associations such as the WILPF and the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) opens up new pathways to disclose the presence of women who identified as communist. Transnationalism has been a well-established avenue for Latin American women’s movements and here again it became an effective space for Guatemalan communist women. Working with the WILPF and the WIDF, they received intellectual and moral support for their political ideals. The women who identified as communist have received little if any analysis, trivializing and dismissing their significant socio-political intellectual contributions and delegitimating their influence.