Quechua and its media has come a long way in Peru but there is still much more to be done. There is still a stigma that follows Quechua as a language for the poor and uneducated but is wrong. I am currently studying Quechua. It is sad that I lived in Peru for 10 years but I learned Quechua in Miami. Quechua is a beautiful language that enables the speaker to express themselves fully and lyrically. Quechua will live as long as Peruvians try to keep it alive. The media are a huge part of keeping Quechua alive. It allows indigenous communities to have a voice, organized, teach their culture and their language and it brings pride to the community.

Quechua media have a huge impact on the Quechua speaking population as wel as the non-Quechua speaking population. It encourages people from Lima like myself to learn the beautiful language of our ancestor and shows us to respect the direct descendants of such glorious empire.  Going to Peru this past month allowed me to see how Peru has changed in its views towards Quechua. For example, Miski Takiy, a show for Peruvian folklore, has a new section in Quechua. This new section teaches Quechua.  It was very exciting for me to see this because this will be the first show that all Peru gets to see in Quechua. Miki Takiy is broadcast by TV Perú.

Quechua is starting to resurface as the world falls in love with its costumes. Quechua is being thought not only in Peru but around the world. UM has its own Quechua program and club. However, it does not matter how much foreigners love Quechua, if Peruvians do not care for the language. Peruvian society needs to leave prejudice aside an embrace their multicultural heritage. Quechua and Spanish can both coexist on the same level. Quechua media is helping bring Quechua to its rightful place as the primary language of Peru alongside Spanish.

¡Kausachun Peru! (Long Live Peru)


Quechua in the Social Media

There is not much presence of Quechua in Twitter and Facebook. @hablemosquechua is twitter handle with the most hits when it comes to Quechua. it is mostly in Spanish but it teaches Quechua. It has a word or phrase of the day style so everyday  there are posts that help the person following the twitter to learn quechua in a day by day basis. Looking through the #Quechua, there is not much conversation on Twitter about Quechua just people trying to teach each other how to speak Quechua. Facebook has about 110, ooo of its users who speak Quechua or have declared that they speak Quechua on Facebook. Most of them come from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador but there is a big number from the US as well. Facebook has a new program where it allows users to translate the website to different languages that are not already in the variety of languages given by Facebook.  Even though Quechua is not very big in the social media, I was surprised to see that there are Microsoft software in Quechua. So people who only speak Quechua can have access to technology, as well.


Impact of Quechua media in Peru

Having their own TV, radio and blogs is helping keep Quechua alive. Not long ago, Quechua was a language at risk of extinction. Many articles gave Quechua a tragic ends as many Peruvian have  a long ingrained prejudice against speaking Quechua.  Even the government was against supporting Quechua. Most Peruvians had a romanticize view of Quechua as the language of their ancestors but not an actual language spoken currently when in fact there is a big number of people in Peru who speak Quechua. The government almost nothing to promote Quechua as this excerpt shows:

Some years ago I had the opportunity to converse, in the [Peruvian] education ministry, with the official responsible for … recommending changes to state education policy.  Among these changes, particular importance was supposedly attached to those envisaged for the rural areas of the country…  ‘The Indians’, said [the official from the education ministry], ‘need brainwashing so they forget Quechua’. excerpt from an article by the Quechua linguist Alberto Escobar.

Below a video in Spanish with English subtitles about language discrimination in Peru.

However, recently there has been a new wave of  wanting to revitalized Quechua, mostly because of the huge profit that tourism brings to Peru. International toursim usually focus in Cuzco and some even avoid Lima all together. Tourist are in love with Peruvian culture and the glory of the Incan empire. They do not come to see criollos but indigenous people like Chincheros who continue the same weaving techniques pass down from the Incas many years ago.

This covers both the physical remains of world-renowned archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Nazca (and hundreds more), as well as social traits, Andean art, textiles, traditional beliefs, and not least their traditional fiestas (many with ancient indigenous roots, grafted onto Spanish Catholic festivities).  It is this heritage that is undoubtedly the major attraction for international tourists, who head massively for the Cuzco region, much more so than Lima, which many tend to avoid.  Machu Picchu is arguably a better known name worldwide than is Lima. Particularly in the Cuzco area, this has had a considerable effect in raising the self-esteem of indigenous Andean communities – perhaps the election in 2001 of a Peruvian President of indigenous origins (Alejandro Toledo) will have a similar effect (unless things go so badly that the reverse happens…).” excerpt from How endangered is Quechua.

Below an interview in Spanish with linguist Laura Arroyo that talks about the reality of Quechua in Peru. She also talks about how Quechua has become part of Peruvian Spanish in words such as calato, cancha and other words. Furthermore, she talks about the reality of Quechua and how it does not work in Peru if  Peruvians do not see everyone as equals.

Quechua media does not only help promote Quechua as a language but also as a way of life. The media give an space where they can listen to issues that pertains to their communities such as the importance of bilingual education. It is a space where they are able to organize and set up marches and protests about different issues such as the environment, forced sterilization and other problems. The organization of Quechua community has led them to be more involved in politics. There are many more Quechua people who are elected to Congress than ever before. These people are able to bring the problems of indigenous people to the heart of Peruvian politics.

For example, Congresswoman Hilaria Supa, not only became the first member of congress to sworn in Quechua but has also express her desired to only speak in Quechua while she works in Congress. Under Peruvian law, Quechua is an official language where most Peruvian speak it and as a representative of Cuzco, she has all the right to speak Quechua whenever she wants. Supa, who was self thought and became literate when she was 22 years old, has become the chair of the congressional education committee in Peru. A huge step towards integration and bilingual schools in Peru.

“For people like me, education is prohibited. I have made it to Congress because of the votes of my (indigenous) brothers and sisters, and it is them I represent,” Supa said in article: Quechua Congresswoman Fights Discrimination in Education.

Peru has come a long way, not long ago indigenous women like congresswoman Supa were not even allow inside Congress but now she is at the head of one of the most important committees. “I didn’t become a rebel in a political party,” she said. “I have experienced marginalisation in the flesh, for the simple fact that I am a poor, Quechua-speaking campesina woman.” said Supa in article: Quechua Congresswoman Fights Discrimination in Education.

People like Supa and others show the huge impact that the Quechua media can have in the communities. The media are a way to keep Quechua alive, teach Quechua, promote cultural pride and organized themselves politically. Below a huge mile stone in Peru’s long history when Congresswoman María Sumire pledges in Quechua in 2006. Alongside Congresswoman, they became the first congress officers to pledge in Quechua.

Movies in Quechua

In the 70’s, there was a wave of movies with themes about agriculture and people who live on the countryside. The movies were based on national literature with huge indigenous tendencies. Some examples of this movies are: Kuntur Wachana (1977), Laulico (1980), Los Perros Hambrientos (1976) and Yawar Fiesta (1986).

Laulico was one of the first movies that was 100% in Quechua. It is about a community leader who wants to liberate his community of the curse but he is later sent to prison for trying. The second part of the movie is about Laulico as a child and how he realizes that he needs to save the town of Wamani. Below a clip of the second part of Laulico when he was a kid.

In the mid 80’s the focus moved from the countryside to the city. A group called Chaski composed by some of the greatest minds in Peru such as Fernando Espinoza, Alejandro Legaspi, Stefan Kaspar, René Weber, Oswaldo Carpio, María Barea and Susana Pastor.  This group started making movies about poor barrios and chanty towns in Lima. They talked about the hardships of people from the countryside that come to the capital in search of a better future. They created  Gregorio (1984) and Juliana (1986) both about kids that live in the streets. There is not much Quechua in this movies but it shows the hardships of the capital. Below a clip from Gregorio  that talks about the glorious past of the indigenous people in contrast to the harsh reality they live in.

Recent films have both Spanish and Quechua mixed according to the area they are film. For example, Madeinusa (2006) was produced by Peru and Spain and directed by Claudia LLosa. The setting was an imaginary town in the Andean south. The movie talks about the monotonous life of Madeinusa and the tramas left behind by sendero (a Moist movement that killed many indigenous people or forced them to join the movement).

produced as a joint venture between Peru and Spain and directed by Claudia Llosa, was set in an imaginary Andean village and describes the stagnating life of Madeinusa performed by Magaly Solier and the traumas of post-civil war Peru.

Another movie directed by Llosa and played by Solier was the The Milk of Sorrow (“La Teta Asustada”). Both movies are predominant in Spanish but they also have a lot of Quechua. The movie talks about the life of a young woman who has la teta asustada. La teta asustada is a disease transmitted from mother to child when the mother was rape. This happened during the civil conflict between the army and Sendero, both groups mistreated indigenous people and abused women.

La teta asustada won many awards including the Golden Bear award at the 2009 Berlinale where Solier accepted the award in Quechua and sang to the audience one of the Quechua lullabies in the film. It was also nominated for an Academy award for Best Foreign Language Picture. It became the first Peruvian film to be nominated for an Academy award. 

Quechua TV

Out of all the media outlets, Television in Quechua is in its most primitive stage. There are no Quechua channels in Peruvian television. Not even shows are broadcasted that are fully in Quechua. There is one show that teaches Quechua but it is once a week and it does not have high rankings. Quechua in Peruvian Television network is non existant however there is hope for Peruvian Quechua Television online.

All of the TV programs in Quechua are online and they are usually segments of a much bigger show. For example,  Barra de Mujeres is a very interesting show in mulaTV, an online TV station. In the show they talk about women’s problems and ways to solve them. They have a segment in Quechua called Rikunakuspa where they talk about issues that affect Andean women. This show has been very effective in helping women all over Peru but specially Andean women. Below an interview of Claudia Coari, a congresswoman from Peru of the nationalist party. In this excerpt, they talk about the situation of women in Puno especially when winter comes.

Other Quechua tv shows is SAQRAKUNA created by Tarpurisunchis. “Tarpurisunchis Apurimac, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improving the quality of education and development in Peru’s Apurimac region. This new television program in the mother tongue (Quechua) is a testament to that potential. Saqrakuna is a Quechua language television program in Peru, and is a unique and pioneering effort. Saqrakuna seeks to empower youth in their identification with their own culture and language.Through Saqrakuna, Tarpurisunchis Apurimac aims to train young journalists in Apurimac who speak the language. “Given the difficult geography of our region, we must recognize that there are many communication problems. Therefore, Tarpu is strengthening the capacities of the new journalists. It is promoting a training program aimed at strengthening three basic elements: an ethical-political approach to help young journalists define information and how to use sources; the communicative dimension that helps them think about how to inform, and develop creativity; and the technological dimensions that enable them to learn the latest technology, the latest tools and work with them. Actually there are about 25 young people from all provinces in the program for 2 years.” – Saqrakuna Website

This project is extremely well written and produce. I am currently watching it religiously. It teaches so much about Andean culture by people who live it everyday and the presenters speak Quechua slowly so people like me who do not speak it so fluently or much at all can understand. Even though they only have 3 shows so far, they are very well develop. My favorite part is when they travel to a different town and they talk about all the things you can do there. They have their own youtube channel saqrakuna.

Blogs in Quechua

Due to the high internet penetration in Peru compare to other countries with the same economic level, people from all over Peru can have some kind of internet access. It may not be fast speed broadband but it is usually dialup instead. Most peruvian even in urban areas use an internet caffe to access the internet. For about 50 cents of sol which is less than 20 cents of US dollars, people can enjoy the internet for 30 minutes.

The cheap and easy access to internet has allow many people to start their own blogs. One of the best blogs is Habla Quechua. It is a blog created by N who is a Quechua interpreter and lawyer. Her blogs talks about Andean culture, teaches quechua, helps people translate from Quechua to Spanish and offers her services as a lawyer to Quechua people. She makes posts in both Quechua and Spanish but her videos are mostly in Quechua where she talks to indigenous people about issues in the community. Below she talks in both Spanish and Quechua in Barra de Mujeres a show about women’s political and social problems. She talks about the importance in Quechua and how there should be more interpreters for Quechua speakers. She also talks about the problem of inclusion of Peruvian main stream society and the disparity between Quechua community and Spanish speakers.

Most other blogs are usually in Quechua and Spanish. They focus more on teaching Quechua so the majority of the content is in Spanish. For example quechuanuestralengua and allillanchu are blogs dedicated to teach Quechua culture and language. They have folktales written in both languages as well as phrases and sayings.

Another blog that was one of the pioneers in Quechua was Tukuy niraq willakuykuna by Nancy Ayala. It was a blog for the Radio Peru network part of a huge media conglomerate in Peru. It was a very popular blog but it ended a couple years after it started.

A noteworthy group of blogs that are not in Quechua but are made by Quechua people are: tambobamba and ccatcca. Helped by the Living Culture Storybases groups, these two blogs record the history of the Quechua people by interviewing village elders for them to tell their life stories, sayings and folktales. Living Culture Storybases also sets workshops to teach people how to create their own blogs so they can continue their recording their culture.  Below a video of a workshop in Cuzco where young kids were thought the tools necessary to make their own blogs.

For a detail explanation of the state of Quechua on the internet visit: Global voices.

Radio Quechua

The most widely use Quechua  communication outlet is the radio. It is economical and not hard to set up. Most of these radio stations are privately finance,  partially finance by NGO’s or companies such as Xtrata, they are not protected in any way by the government.

Quechua radio is predominant in the Andes but most of the programing is in Spanish with only Quechua in certain time slots. Rural community radio broadcast mostly in Quechua in contrast with city radio that is usually in Spanish. Most of the radio segments in Quechua do not have much dialogue instead they play songs or religious content. However some radios such as a radio in Chinchero which is near Cuzco. Chinchero is one of the oldest communities in Peru. Most of its people are Quechua speakers and they make a living through agriculture and their beautiful textiles which they are known all over the world. They still use the Inca way of weaving textiles which is a show in itself to see them weave. Consequently, there is no surprise that in a town as traditional as Chinchero the radio is vastly in Quechua. Below an example of an Evangelical group that set up a radio in Huancayo.

However, there is a strong growth of Quechua radio because of the organization of Peruvian Quechua Radio stations. Red Quechua Peruana (The Peruvian Quechua Network) serves the purpose to promote the the Andean and Amazonian culture. The network started as an initiative by radio directors and radio center in the Southern Andean region and the central part of Peru. They produce a weekly show of half an hour together besides their own shows.

Click on the picture to listen to the broadcast.

The shows talk about problems that plague their communities as well as ways to promote their culture. The radio has served Quechua speaking communities as an outlet to promote certain issues such as bilingual education in their communities. Some shows talk about politics that usually revolved around the environment, education and inclusion. Below is an example of a quechua radio broadcast that talks about bilingual education and its importance to the Quechua community.  It also promotes going to school and how important that is for the growth of the community. Through radio the Quechua communities are able to organize and talk about issues that matter to them. The improve of political discussion has help them improve their participation in Peruvian politics. Nowadays, more Quechua speakers are in congress than ever before.

For a list of Quechua stations click on List of Radio stations.