The Colectivo Chuhcan: a new voice for people with psychosocial disabilities in Mexico
Over the last year, visiting disability experts from DRI have helped activists establish the first organization in Mexico run entirely by people with psychosocial disabilities. The organization is called the Colectivo Chuhcan. The activists chose the name, taken from one of the indigenous languages of Mexico, to mean that the Colectivo is “a place where life is dignified.” The activists are working to ensure that Mexico protects their rights under the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Raúl Montoya is the Executive Director of the Colectivo Chuhcan. He formerly lived in Long Beach, California where he attended college. Due to his disability, he returned to his family in Mexico. “I have been lucky not to have been put in an institution. My friends and family support me and I live in the community.” At first, the experience of living with a disability in Mexico was very difficult, he says, but participation in the Colectivo has changed his life. “The chance to help other people like me makes a real difference.” Raúl teaches English and is an accomplished painter.
Ildemaro Correa is a classical composer and a music teacher who and is now the President of the Colectivo Chuhcan. He agrees with Raúl about the way the Colectivo has changed his life. He says he feels much stronger and more confident since he’s been part of the Colectivo. Ildemarro admits it’s taken courage to speak out in public about having a disability. But he also says that the stigma disappears when people meet someone with a disability who is working as an activist and taking control of his or her life. “I am now a human rights activist, and I am working to bring an end to discrimination in Mexican society….People in Mexico respect that.”
The Colectivo Chuhcan at the United Nations
Raúl Montoya, the Executive Director of the Colectivo Chuhcan, will travel this month to the United Nations to speak about the Colectivo’s experiences as activists in Mexico. They will be participating in a worldwide conference of people with disabilities to talk about implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. “I am so excited and happy to go the United Nations and to visit New York and Washington, DC. We need to teach our society and our government that we are people just like everyone else. We need to fight for the rights of people with disabilities,” said Raúl. “I want to fight for people less lucky than me, but not less important than me.”
To learn more about Disability Rights International’s work in Mexico or other projects around the world, visit www.driadvocacy.org