Monday, August 2

Mayan singer Sara Curruchich: “Being here represents walking against a racist system”

Everything seemed predictable at the MTV Millennial Awards (MIAW) 2021, a gala aimed at youth, with great weight of the ‘stars’ of Tik Tok and reggaeton singers. Until Sara Curruchich stepped on stage.

Artisans from an indigenous community in Mexico denounce Zara’s plagiarism of one of their traditional embroidery

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“Arriving here today represents walking with my sisters against a racist and patriarchal system that violates us, oppresses us and kills us,” said the Guatemalan singer, of Mayan origin Kaqchikel, at the start of a brief speech, after receiving the MTV Transforma MIAW award this Tuesday in Mexico, in recognition of her fight for gender equality through her music.

With futuristic lighting, the singer originally from San Juan Comalapa, took the stage dressed in the huipil and the traditional indigenous court of her land. She only smiled when she picked up the award and thanked, in her native language, “all the women of the native peoples.”

Then, his face changed to, now in Spanish, dedicate the recognition “to the ancestors, the girls and the diverse women of all the territories who are not with us victims of genocide and femicide.” “We are standing up demanding justice. We are here and we will be stronger and stronger,” he said.

Curruchich attends from Mexico. His music, he explains, has a “political position” because he is aware of its “great power to reach many people.” In a country like Guatemala where, so far this year there have been 280 femicides and violent deaths of women, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, the singer-songwriter assumes a “responsibility” to report the situation wherever she goes.

“I have the possibility of being able to go to places to share the aggressions that we are experiencing as women in all spaces, be it on the street, in schools and at work, and even this state violence that is also quite crude.”

These complaints are transferred to their songs. Curruchich reconverted the traditional Guatemalan legend of the Siguanaba in an allegation against the sexualization of the body of women, sexist violence and child marriage. “Forced to marry an older guy who believed that women should be dominated and that their bodies are a sexual object. But she fled, because she knew that her body only belonged to her, no one should hit her. Her life is hers and nobody else’s. They call her the Siguanaba, they call her a witch, they call her an animal because she fights against the violence of the patriarchal system, for women and their dignity, “he recites.

This issue arose after the invitation of an organization in the Basque Country that worked with other Guatemalan women to address the legends of this Central American country from a gender perspective. “I chose Siguanaba because it is a story that I heard many times as a child and had a very misogynistic charge, so I tried to make visible her strength to prevent violence against other women in a country where there are many forced child marriages and that they are practically violations. ”

Sara Curruchich’s apparent shyness transforms every time she goes on stage: “When I jump, laugh and dance, I feel like I’m doing it with my grandmothers at that moment, even if I don’t see them. I think I’m in those spaces thanks to them.” The artist sings in Kaqchikel, one of the 22 Mayan languages ​​spoken in Guatemala. It is his way of claiming a language that in some places is a reason for pointing out. Curruchich points out that he has received “racist comments” for composing in his language: “They ask me why I keep speaking or singing in Kaqchikel if it is something late.”

Your inspiration

The singer comes from San Juan Comalapa, a town in the department of Chimaltenango surrounded by hills, where numerous artists have been born who have been an inspiration and “school” for the young artist, such as Maximiliano Icú and Carmen Cúmez. “If I had the opportunity to choose a place to be born, I would choose San Juan Comalapa again, a town that has undergone a very great healing process after being badly beaten in the war,” he proudly emphasizes.

One of the most emotional moments that Curruchich has lived dates back to June 2018, when he sang in his municipality on the occasion of the arrival of the mortal remains of 172 unidentified people who were annihilated by the army between 1980 and 1985. The bodies were exhumed between August 2003 and December 2005 in a former military detachment of the town where Sara was born, currently called ‘Landscapes of Memory’.

Next to the two large graves from which several bodies were extracted, Curruchich sang Ralk’Wal Ulew (Daughters and Sons of the Earth) in tribute to the 200,000 people killed by the military in the internal armed conflict, many in Comalapa. This year, together with the Guatemalan rapper Rebeca Lane, he presented the song ‘Kixampe’, recorded in this emblematic place where the bones of the 172 victims were buried and a list was placed with the names of more than 6,000 people whose whereabouts are unknown: “We will be reborn from the ashes, we are the fire that burns history, we grow tall as the cornfield and our threads weave memory “, says the song.

The Kaqchikel singer-songwriter discovered music as a child accompanying her father and mother, when they visited sick people whom they tried to help with music. “That impacted me a lot and I felt that this was the place where I wanted to be. I like to think that my dad, who is not physically here now, perhaps in one way or another could perceive this taste for music on my part and began to play. the guitar with me and inviting me to sing “, he recalls.

Sara remembers listening to the radio at all hours, “holding the broom” as a microphone and singing on every corner. “That is why now I am very grateful to have that possibility of having it and, of course, I thank my family for having supported me with the dream and I hope to be able to support other indigenous girls in the villages so that they can have much greater access to spaces. of art”. The Guatemalan singer composed the song ‘Ch’uti’ xtän ‘ (Girl) in tribute to her parents.

“The racist system tries to deny us spaces”

One of the things that Curruchich likes the most when performing in Guatemalan communities is sharing the stage with indigenous girls, who “for so many years” have been “denied” that visibility. He is moved when he remembers Jessica, a seven-year-old girl who at a concert in San Antonio Palopó took the stage to ask her for a song. “I asked her if she knew it. She nodded. When I asked her if she wanted to come sing it with me, she said no because she was very embarrassed, she wondered what the people who were there could say about her.” Sara asked him not to be afraid. “I told her that we were together and not to turn around to see other people, but to just look at each other as if we were alone.”

When Jessica took the stage, they began to sing opposite each other, but “in the middle of the song, the girl turned to the audience and started singing and waving her hands.” This whole situation was a “very clear message,” he continues, for a “racist system that intends to continue denying us those spaces that are now ours and we are recovering them so that all indigenous girls in Guatemala can occupy them with great dignity and hope, to build something different for us. ”

Sara also felt the same as Jessica on December 1, 2012 when she first took to a stage with the Mayan language rock band Mam ‘Survival’. “Survival has many fans and we were on stage in Sololá, where I saw so many people chanting their songs. I was very scared because I was going to sing two songs with them,” she recalls. At that moment, when she was in front of the microphone, she was once again that girl who longed, holding on to a broom, to sing with a microphone.

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