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Mexico: International recognition for radio series on indigenous women in prison

December 6 2016
"Cantos desde el Guamúchil", one of the co-productions of IWGIA’s radio platform, has won an award from the 11th International Radio Biennial in Mexico. The radio series presents the stories of indigenous women who have been unfairly incarcerated in Mexico. Over nine programs, indigenous women share, in their own words, their experiences of access to justice and how literature empowered their resilience from inside jail.

The winning program selected by the International Radio Biennial tells the story of Máxima Pacheco, a Nahuatl woman from the state of Puebla. She describes how encouraging it was to share and write about her life before and after imprisonment with other indigenous women in the same situation. According to the panel, the program was selected in the gender category because of the sensitivity with which it portrays the interviewees, avoiding victimization or an underestimation  of their experiences.
"Máxima always used to arrive punctually at the literature workshop with a broad smile on her face. And yet she would break down in tears every time fragments of her life story were read,” describes one fellow workshop attendee. For Máxima, it was empowering to realize that the experiences of other indigenous women were very similar to those she was facing.

(Audio only available in Spanish)

Freedom shared through writing

After seven years of imprisonment, Máxima regained her freedom. Her testimony is an echo of the voices of many other indigenous women who have suffered desolate experiences in prison. This relates especially to the marginalization caused by a judicial system that does not offer indigenous women fair conditions for their legal defense.

The life histories portrayed in the series are based on the results of the literature workshop coordinated by Aída Hernández Castillo in the women’s detention center, the Centro de Reinserción Social (Cereso) in Atlacholoaya. In this space, indigenous women document and write down the stories of their fellow inmates as a way of reflecting on the inequalities they suffer within the judicial system in Mexico.

The radio series "Cantos desde el Guamúchil: Indigenous women and peasants in prison" is a production of the Instituto Morelense de Radio y Televisión and IWGIA (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs), under the coordination of Raúl Silva de la Mora (producer), Elena de Hoyos (writer in the Colectiva Editorial Hermanas en la Sombra) and Aida Hernández Castillo (researcher at CIESAS - Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social).

You can listen to and download the full series (Spanish) here:

Get to know the protagonists of the series in this short video (English subtitles):