The Peruvian TV character known as “Paisana Jacinta” is racist and insulting to indigenous people according to Congresswoman Hilaria Supa, a Quechua leader and human rights activist.
Supa publicly called on the Frequencia Latina Channel on March 24 to remove the “Paisana Jacinta” show from the air.
According to various sources, the character Jacinta is an indigenous Andean woman who comes from the mountains to the city of Lima to find work. The story arc of each episode involves Jacinta getting fooled, tricked or swindled by a variety of people. The role of Jacinta is played by comedian Jorge Benevides who has been accused of racism for his role as “El Negro Mama” (the Black Mama in English) as part of a general comedy show.
As “El Negro Mama” Benevides wore blackface and used a prosthetic nose and lips to portray the character who was described as being dishonest and stupid according to sources. The character was taken off the air and in 2013 Frequencia Latina was fined 74,000 Soles (approximately $27,000 U.S. dollars) for its failure to apologize to the Afro-Peruvian community. But Benevides and Frequencia Latina returned with the controversial indigenous character this year.
“Paisana Jacinta” had first appeared from 1999-2002 and then briefly in 2005 before re-appearing this February on the Frequencia Latina Channel.
“It is outrageous that in the middle of the 21st century, when we believe that we are advancing, you can see racist attitudes in stadiums, public places, schools, and on the media like with Frecuencia Latina which offends us as citizens when it reprograms like “El Negro Mama” or “La Paisana Jacinta,” Supa asserted in a press statement.
“These programs defame us, they make us seem like stupid, unkempt people, and that has to stop,” Supa added.
The Andean Congresswoman also met with Frequencia Latina directors the same day as the press conference, noting that she made clear to them that the character discriminates against Andean women.
“We conversed about this and they told me they would evaluate it and then respond to us,” Supa reported. “We are going to continue working so that they do not discriminate against women.”
After posting her criticisms of the show on social media Supa herself became the target of racist tweets. The Vice President of the Andean Parliament, Javier Reategui, defended his colleague in a public statement that same week.
“Hilaria deserves everyone’s respect and no one has the right to humiliate her for expressing her ideas related to that program,” Reategui said.