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.


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