The following piece was excerpted from a report Natalia Caruso (MADRE Program Coordinator) and I wrote for 2009 edition of the publication Youth Media Reporter. Natalia recently returned from visiting the human rights radio project led by our sister organization in Peru, CHIRAPAQ.
“Our dream is to have our own radio for our organization in Huayllahuara,” explained Luz Moya, a youth leader and representative of the Association of Peasant Women of Huancavelica-ASMUC. She had traveled eight hours in order to participate in a training on communications and radio for Indigenous women.
Her dream emerges from a long history of silencing Indigenous Peoples’ voices in Peru. In a nation only beginning to recover from decades of political repression and violence, Indigenous Peoples in Peru have fought to survive. Between 1980 and 2000, in the years of civil conflict, over 69,000 people were killed. Over 600,000 people were displaced and 4,000 “disappeared.” Of these staggering numbers, some three-quarters of the victims were Indigenous. Indigenous youth have particularly suffered the impacts of disenfranchisement and lack of opportunity.
These numbers may illustrate the scale of the suffering created by warfare, but they are inadequate to reflect the individual lives and stories behind the statistics.
The Peruvian Indigenous rights organization CHIRAPAQ was thus founded to ensure that the voices and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples would not be ignored. Towards that end, CHIRAPAQ launched the “Sapinchikmanta” or “Voices for Justice” radio series in 1993. It broadcasts daily programs in municipalities across the country to demand recognition and respect for Indigenous communities.
Based in Vilcashuamán, Ayacucho, the radio program is produced and conducted by 10 young women and men from the surrounding communities. The programs are transmitted in both Spanish and Quechua, an Indigenous language.
Crucially, youth radio producers affiliated with CHIRAPAQ conduct trainings to embed and further develop the skills necessary to produce this media. In workshops held in public spaces, Indigenous youth gather to learn to produce short-programs, which are then broadcast on Sapinchikmanta radio.
In geographically isolated areas where transportation is seldom available, the Sapinchikmanta program reaches hundreds of people who might otherwise be left without access to necessary services. It provides vital information on sexual and reproductive rights, family planning, prevention of sexual abuse and domestic violence, prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other critical health information. Beyond issues of health, Sapinchikmanta fosters discussion on intercultural and bilingual education, climate change, racism, discrimination, youth rights, women’s rights, Indigenous Peoples collective rights and political participation.
Such radio programs are often accompanied by workshops—on sexual and reproductive health, human rights, and radio production techniques—conducted by the youth leadership of the Sapinchikmanta program in rural areas. This connection is invaluable: a person who hears a program is able to create a link with CHIRAPAQ as an organization, build a community with other Indigenous youth and reinforce the identity of Indigenous Peoples.
Based on the idea that “information is power,” young Indigenous people like Luz Moya in Peru are using this radio program to empower their communities and to undermine discrimination and invisibility. The Sapinchikmanta radio programs are a reflection of young Indigenous people assuming a powerful role in their communities. By using microphones and recorders to collect music and stories, and producing a program on a specific topic, they amplify their demands and contribute to build a movement of Indigenous Peoples in the country.
Natalia recorded this video while visiting the radio project: