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Here we are in Panama — 33 women from Mexico, Central America and the US sharing and deepening our understanding of power and patriarchy with all the passion and creativity that our collective energy and experience generate! Our location — right beside the Panama Canal – adds an historic and political element to our workshop. For almost an entire century, the canal represented the imperial power of the US in Latin America. The long struggle of the Panamanians to gain control of the Canal was finally achieved in 1999. Staying at a hotel inside what was just ten years ago the US Canal Zone offers multiple lessons in perseverance and power. Unfortunately Panamanian and other elites have taken over the new resource for their own narrow interests, enriching the few at the expense of the many.

As we discuss and debate inside our conference rooms, outside our windows we can see the traffic that passes through this historic waterway — cargo ships, sailboats, fishing trawlers, ocean liners – all shapes and sizes. Inside, we too come in all shapes and sizes! Our reflections and learning have been grounded in a variety of artistic expressions – from the play, Labyrinth of the Butterfly, that highlights the lives and struggles of women around the world to personal histories of each participant that illuminate the role that patriarchy has played in our own development; from the creation of a quilt of women who have inspired us in our own struggles – including mothers, mentors, poets, professors — to sociodramas that portray the dynamics of power in different realms of women’s lives. Throughout this week, we have strengthened our minds, renewed our spirits, tapped our feelings and re-energized our bodies. It was ‘maravillosa’ and ‘magnifica’ – an ‘inspiracion’ for all of us.

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