Congratulations on being the South and Central American winner of the Goldman Prize. I have heard you have wonder why an illiterate campesina woman with a humble background was chosen for this award, but know that you are an incredible, strong woman who has fearlessly challenged a powerful gold and copper company to protect the rights of your family, as well as the communities in Cajamarca. Your actions go beyond having the ability to read and write, and your contribution to the lucha is an inspiration not only to many in Cajamarca but also those outside Peru. In fact, you have created solidarity for the lucha that has spread throughout the world with many declaring “Somos Máxima!” I am even a little embarrassed to admit that I have a notebook that has a picture of you as the cover.
Even though many are familiar with your courage, not many know you on a personal level and how you are a hospitable, generous woman with a laugh that can light up a room. You always made sure I had enough to eat which of course led to us joking that you are my Peruvian mommy. (I am curious to see how you feel about eating a meal that does not have potatoes when you are traveling in San Francisco and Washington D.C.) And you have so much love to give to your children and grandson and are committed to making a world better for them.
I know there are times when you feel stress and pressure at levels I will probably never be able to understand. Your struggles with Minera Yanacocha are a part of your life that have led to so many hardships that I wish you never had to experience. Even worse, you have told me that you feel alone.
But I hope, Máxima, that during your trip to the U.S. you realize that you are not alone in all of this. It’s quite the opposite, my friend.