Magazine Iguanazul: A literary space to preserve and promote Mexico´s national heritage.
Judith Santopietro founded Revista Iguanazul to create a vibrant space for preservation of indigenous cultures and languages.
Honoring and promoting Mexico´s diversity
Mexico´s diversity lies not only in its landscape as it spans through different geographic areas and topologies, but also in its vibrant indigenous population, with 64 different
languages and 364 linguistic variations. Some of these languages are Náhuatl, Zapoteco, Mixe, Mixteco, Zoque, Totonaco, Otomí and Huichol. Yet, very little is being done to
preserve these indigenous languages and promote their cultural and creative expressions.
Judith Santopietro, a writer and a literature student, took up the challenge to fill the void, a space for indigenous writers to publish and promote their cultures, also using this space to
create dialogue among Spanish speaking and indigenous communities and artists. Judith said “Magazine Iguanazul aims to influence the role of writers in society, as those who
contribute to social cohesion by preserving memory of a people and transmitting stories, traditions and customs.”.
Raising awareness one issue at a time
In mainstream Mexican culture, indigenous communities are perceived as poor victims subjected to oppression and discrimination, without being able to exercise agency in their
own lives. Yet in her work with the indigenous community, Judith has discovered that they have a different cosmic vision of the world which is not based on material possessions.
Judith said “the concept of poverty is relative depending on your understanding of the world.” In directing Magazine Iguanazul, Judith has intimately shared many cultural
manifestations with diverse array of indigenous communities all over Mexico. One of the many things she learned was that indigenous youth feared speaking their native
languages due to discrimination. Magazine Iguanazul is to reveal the diversity of indigenous culture, situating indigenous writers as agents of change and as voices to
speak for their communities that are struggling to maintain their traditions while confronting problems of migration and poverty.
What started out as a small team of dedicated individuals compiling and editing the first issue of Magazine Iguanazul using Microsoft word is now an internationally renowned
unique publication which empowers indigenous writers to preserve their languages and cultures. Within 3 and half years, Magazine Iguanazul has published 6 issues, with 1,000
printed publications of each issue. (including one issue which was a collaboration between Magazine Iguanazul and Mexican Youth Institute.) In addition to distributing magazines
among indigenous communities, Magazine Iguanazul can now be bought in an established bookstore, EDUCAL,across Mexico. In addition to the Magazine Iguanazul, Judith also
directs a radio program to provide an additional platform for diffusion of indigenous writers.
Judith’s tenacity and creativity has allowed Magazine Iguanazul to receive funding from Puebla’s state government as well as University of Valle of Mexico and Ashoka Youth Venture.
Meet the indigenous writers
So who are indigenous writers and artists who contribute to Magazine Iguanazul? Martin Barrios, who is from Tehuacán in the state of Puebla learned Nahuatl language on his own
and launched his writing career in Spanish and Nahuatl, which has earned him nationally renowned awards. Martin Barrios focuses his writing on social issues such as defending
human rights for indigenous communities and maquiladora workers.Irma Pineda Santiago is president of a social organization, Indigenous Language Writers and a university
professor who has received scholarships from national cultural organizations and has published 5 books in Zapotec language. Francisco Regalado is a Zapoteca painter, who is
one of the few privileged artists who can earn a living from his art. His paintings focus on his native village, Juchitán in the state of Oaxaca, depicting the nearby sea, lives of
fishermen and zapoteca cosmic vision of the world.
Vision for future of Revista Iguanazul and beyond
Judith´s inspiration for overcoming obstacles comes from Eduardo Galeano, an Uruguayan writer, who wrote ¨utopia is to keep walking along the path, with much energy
to arrive to the goal that will never be fully accomplished.” In a country with prevalent discrimination against indigenous citizens and with little infrastructure for sustaining
cultural expressions, Magazine Iguanazul faces many challenges in the present and for the future. Due to harsh economic realities and scarce educational opportunities, few
indigenous youth can consider dedicating their lives to their art. Market realities offer few incentives for indigenous youth to focus on preserving their cultures and languages. One
of the challenges that Judith aims to tackle is training a new generation of writers in indigenous languages. She also hopes to expand the literary world from elitist circles in
order to accept indigenous writers who are mixing their cosmic vision of the world with their daily realities of migration and economic hardships. Magazine Iguanazul hopes to
promote dialogue among indigenous communities in the process of constructing their collective identities. Judith hopes Magazine Iguanazul becomes a channel for indigenous
writers to create and direct initiatives within their communities and an inspiration not only indigenous communities in Mexico but also all over Latin America.
Make it happen:
Judith urges the readers to get involved in Revista Iguanazul by promoting indigenous languages within their own communities, which she considers as the most important
mission of the publication. You can also promote the magazine within your communities which will ensure a wider exposure for aspiring writers and artists from indigenous
communities. Magazine Iguanazul welcomes submissions in native languages from other parts of the world in order to enrich the diversity of the magazine.