Forty indigenous Mixe women in Oaxaca are battling gender inequality in an orchestra that has been running for 11 years.
The Viento Florido Philharmonic Band is based in Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, 115 kilometers east of Oaxaca city, in the Mixe Sierra. Women in the region battled with men for decades to form the band, the newspaper Milenio reported.
The band recently performed the song Canción Sin Miedo (Song Without Fear), a 2020 ballad which has become an unofficial hymn of the feminist movement in Mexico.
In one part of their version of the song, performed in the Mixe language, Viento Florido sing the names of Mixe victims of femicide.
The band’s founder, Leticia Gallardo, said the region’s most recent victim had died too young. “The most recent case is Fany, which was a death that everyone really lamented because she had her whole life in front of her, she was very young. She is just another statistic and that’s really regrettable,” she said.
Gallardo added that violence was a constant threat to women in the region. “As a woman I identify a lot with the song, because any of us could be subjected to violence. There is also violence in communities which often isn’t talked about and isn’t seen,” she said.
Another band member called Karen said Canción Sin Miedo was a fitting song for the group. “Canción Sin Miedo has a very powerful message. It’s a call for justice from women, and that they have to stop killing our sisters,” she said.
Karen added that it was a struggle to start the group. “The music wasn’t well regarded. But despite that, I was the first woman in my town to play a wind instrument … the journey to arrive here in Santa María is about 10 hours, but I made the journey because I wanted to see my band mates and spend time with them,” she said.
With reports from Milenio