Around twenty-five million Mexicans self-identify as being indigenous, that’s something like twenty percent of the population. And though it’s taken several centuries to recover, the numbers are roughly what they were when the Spanish first set foot in the country. Under the constitution, aboriginal citizens are (theoretically) entitled to self-determination, but in practice their rights differ from state to state. They continue to be discriminated against in all walks of life.
The First Indigenous Congress took place in Mexico in 1974. However, it wasn’t until the Zapatista uprising in 1994 that this diverse minority began to gain some political traction and get their voices heard. In 2018, María de Jesús Patricio became the first indigenous woman to run for the presidency. The Spokeswoman, the new documentary from Luciana Kaplan, follows ‘Marichuy’ as she hits the road to drum-up support.
The Spokeswoman charts the struggle faced by indigenous populations in Mexico for equal rights and to have their concerns represented in government. Many rely on the land to survive but corrupt local officials, drug cartels and other nefarious interests are always looking at ways to take it from them. Kaplan’s camera follows Marichuy as she travels around the country, listening to a diverse range of opinions and voices. Change takes time, especially with the amount of resistance from those with vested interests, but as The Spokeswoman illustrates there’s a determination to see this through to the very end.
The Spokeswoman screens at Hot Docs.