The Story of Alaíde Foppa, Who Initiated Women’s Forum through Radio UNAM
| Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, IOP, Kolkata - 22 Mar 2019

UNESCO Awards Recognition to Guatemalan Woman In Exile

  • Alaíde Foppa was a poet, writer, feminist, social activist, art critic, teacher and translator of Guatemalan descent on her maternal side and Argentinean through her paternal legacy.
  • The feminist poet lived as an exile in Mexico where she composed a large part of her poetry.
  • Born in Barcelona, Spain she held Guatemalan citizenship and lived in exile in Mexico. She worked as a professor in both Guatemala and Mexico.
  • Much of her poetry was published in Mexico and she co-founded one of the first feminist publications, Fem, in the country.
  • After her husband's death, she made a trip to Guatemala to see her mother and renew her passport.
  • Alaíde Foppa was detained and disappeared in Guatemala City on 19 December 1980, presumed to be murdered.

By Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief (Kolkata), Indian Observer Post

Kolkata/Mexico, March 2019: The great contributions made by women throughout history have been tremendous and decisive for the progress of humanity. José Antonio Rodríguez, the permanent delegate of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says the same.

In a message on the commemoration of International Women's Day, the diplomat said that at present more and more women occupy top positions in the different political, economic, social, sporting, artistic and scientific spheres on a massive universal scale, which is a commendable transformation.

In a much-related field in the early 1970s, the social activist, feminist and founder of the magazine "Fem", Alaíde Foppa initiated the screening of the radio program "Foro de la Mujer" (Women’s Forum), through Radio UNAM.

Alaíde Foppa was a poet, writer, feminist, social activist, art critic, teacher and translator of Guatemalan descent on her maternal side and Argentinean through her paternal legacy. She lived as an exile in Mexico where she composed a large part of her poetry.

Born in Barcelona, Spain she held Guatemalan citizenship and lived in exile in Mexico. She worked as a professor in both Guatemala and Mexico. Much of her poetry was published in Mexico and she co-founded one of the first feminist publications, Fem, in the country. After her husband's death, she made a trip to Guatemala to see her mother and renew her passport. She was detained and disappeared in Guatemala City on 19 December 1980, presumed to be murdered. Some sources note the date of her disappearance as 9 December 1980.

According to the Ambassador of Guatemala to India Giovanni Castillo, “We feel proud about Foppa, who has left forward her legacy to the whole world. She is from Guatemala, and her voice stands out for every other woman regardless of the country and the culture.”

The program, which was conducted by Foppa until 1980, addressed unpublished topics on the radio such as the decriminalization of abortion, contraception, voluntary motherhood, female liberation, parental alienation, gender violence, the rights of sex workers and harassment, among several others.

The series is composed of 258 programs, with testimonies by Elena Poniatowska, Marie Langer, Benita Galeana, Rigoberta Menchú, Graciela Hierro, Marta Lamas, Silvia Solórzano Foppa, Ifigenia Martínez, Guadalupe Rivera Marín, Fanny Rabel, among other personalities, and is kept in the music library "Alejandro Gómez Arias" of Radio UNAM. Due to its importance, last year it was proposed to be declared a Memory of the World by UNESCO.

Created in 1992, the Memory of the World Program (MoW) is an initiative of UNESCO aimed at preserving the world's documentary heritage - housed in libraries, archives and museums - as a symbol of the collective recognition of humanity. This heritage reflects the diversity of people, cultures and languages, belongs to all and must be fully preserved, protected and be permanently accessible.

On February 6th, Catherine Bloch Gerschel, president of the UNESCO Memory of the World Mexican Committee, informed the director of Radio UNAM, Benito Taibo, that due to its historical and cultural importance, as well as its state of preservation, the documentary heritage proposed by this institution had been registered as part of Memory of the World (Mexico) under the title "Women's Forum - first Mexican radio series having content of feminism".

The ceremony in which the certification diploma was delivered took place on Sunday, 3rd March, in the Salón de Actos del Palacio de Minería, as part of the 40th International Book Fair.

The Women's Forum program offers reviews of feminist magazines that emerged, disappeared or were censored, special mention given to the Catalan Vindicación Femenina, the Brazilian Mulherio, the monthly newspaper María del Pueblo published in Cuernavaca, and of course Fem, the first magazine on feminism from Latin America founded by Alaíde and Margarita García Flores in 1974.

Elena Urrutia, journalist, writer, researcher, academic, feminist, pioneer of gender studies and also a contributor to the magazine "Fem" subsequently took charge of the leadership of "Foro de la Mujer", which at that stage fulfilled a new task of documenting the history of feminism in Mexico through interviews with the founders and members of the different feminist groups and centres dedicated to the protection, support or study of women (Forum for women, program 58). This second phase concluded in June 1986.

Currently, the original tapes are stored in the Alejandro Gómez Arias Sound Library of Radio UNAM. The digitized media is conserved in the Digital Mass Storage System of Radio UNAM and a mirror copy is available in the National Sound Library, located in Coyoacán.

All the programs can be found in the Octavio Paz Audioteca of the National Sound Library, as well as in the Virtual Network of Audio-libraries of the same institution.

 

(DIDHITI GHOSH is the Director of a cultural-exchange radio programme at Radio Satelitevisión y Americavisión, Chile. She is a professor & a certified conference interpreter of the Spanish language and is the Bureau Chief of INDIAN OBSERVER POST based in Kolkata. Contact: didhiti.24@gmail.com).

 

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