This doctor from Jujuy, strongly committed to improving the living conditions of the native peoples of northwestern Argentina, today is part of an undertaking that seeks to demonstrate that fighting racism is possible
This doctor from Jujuy, strongly committed to improving the living conditions of the native peoples of northwestern Argentina, today is part of an undertaking that seeks to demonstrate that fighting racism is possible Credit: Gentileza

Jorge Gronda does not forget the time he visited, together with the Jujuy engineer Magui Choque Vilca, a school in the North of Buenos Aires. After both told the boys about the reality of the native peoples, one of them replied: “All that you say is a lie. We kill the Indians all“.

This doctor from Jujuy has extensive experience in the world of international organizations that seek the common good. Not precisely because of his work as a gynecologist, but because of his close ties with the original communities in his area. Despite being inserted in a province with a strong indigenous presence, he assures that contempt for indigenous communities is commonplace around there. That it is more than frequent to hear “shit coya“or”china shit“in reference to them, and that a bank official can deny them with impunity the request for a loan for machinery, arguing that”the coyas don’t need tractors but bosses“.

Gronda has seen too much money go through the Puna in the form of initiatives and projects that sought to improve the lives of native communities. But he maintains that the impact of all of them has been practically null. “Over time, I came to realize that the problem is white supremacy that prevails in many of those organizations. With good will, they send someone to speak, to try to teach the communities what to do. Right to them, who carry 14,000 years living prosperously in conditions where one would not endure a day, “he reflects.

But it was not overnight that this man began to question the meaning and effectiveness of meeting to talk about poverty and inclusion in luxury hotels. “One day I realized that, despite having been born, like them, in Latin America, I would sit at the table to discuss these issues, while Indians were part of the menu. They have to stop being part of the menu and they too have to sit at the table, “he asks.

Social capital and opportunities in advance

Dr. Gronda recalls that, in his early twenties and just received, he was ready to play in the big leagues simply because he was born. within one of the founding families of Jujuy. “That already gave me enormous social capital. When the judge is your uncle and everyone comes to your house: from governors and senators down, the will to work you have is important, but the opportunities you already have in advance. Being born in a family with privileges already gives them to you, “he acknowledges.

After training in Córdoba, doing his residency at the Argerich Hospital, in the City of Buenos Aires, and after six months in Europe, the young doctor Gronda was waiting for him in Jujuy at his uncle’s office -the most famous in the province- and a position in the hospital. “I immediately realized that racism permeated the entire health system“, he assures.” In the morning, in the hospital, 50% of my patients died and in the afternoon, in the office, with air conditioning, secretary and OSDE, no one died. In the Maternity sector, you could find two women who had just given birth sharing the same bed“, graph.


Jorge Gronda with René Calpanchay, leader of the Atacameño people
Jorge Gronda with René Calpanchay, leader of the Atacameño people Credit: Gentileza

It was on a trip to the Puna, driven by the interest of a vicuña venture, that he crossed paths with Rosario Quispe, a social entrepreneur descended from native peoples. “Rosario told me: ‘Doctor, stop fucking with the vicuñas and come to heal us because we are dying‘. And then I came across stories of women who died in childbirth or because of not having access in time to have a pap smear“, he recalls.

There she began to periodically travel to the interior of the communities, to operate on women on a table, and to discover that domestic service was, in the best of cases, the destiny of local girls. “The NOA and NEA remain governed by a feudal system that it was never very nice to say to the native peoples. My ancestors were monarchists. The feudal lords are the ones who make the money, but here the population is 80% indigenous. I grew up hearing: ‘they are some shitty coyas’, or ‘the shitty china’, to refer to the women of domestic service “, she is sincere.

With each trip, the bond with the communities became closer. Gronda says that his traditional group of belonging he was pushing it away until he felt understood only by his wife and four children.

Unlearn to learn

“This was a process of deep unlearning, which strengthened my integrity, ”he says. My friend and life brother René Calpanchay, an Atacameño entrepreneur, explained it to me based on neuroscience: ‘Just as you have in your brain furrows the idea of be a boss, I carry a history of more than 500 years of being the pawn. When they beat you with that for so long, you end up believing it, ‘he told me. “

-And what did you learn after unlearning?

-Personally, I learned to manage what is scarce, to let go, to free myself and have a light backpack. These communities have a structure, a worldview, a view of sustainability and the environment that can add us great value. But if you don’t add value to the fate of half of your girls who today end up in the domestic service, you are not thinking about the future of your community. Do not do it for good but for smart.

Currently, Gronda is part of Original Villages, an undertaking that offers tourist experiences that value the original communities of the Argentine northwest. It is made up of “criollas” and community people, and the distribution of power and responsibilities is given completely. symmetrical. There Dr. Gronda works as a driver.


Jorge Gronda along with part of the Original Villages team: René Calpanchay, Balbin Aguaysol and Clemente Flores
Jorge Gronda along with part of the Original Villages team: René Calpanchay, Balbin Aguaysol and Clemente Flores Credit: Gentileza

“I had a hard time talking about myself indian partner, that they received it as they receive me – he assures -. Some time ago they invited me to give a talk and I asked to go with my partner. ‘Who is your partner?’ They asked me. ‘An Indian’, I replied. ‘You better come.’, They told me. ‘But the company is theirs’, I had to insist. In the end I got us both. “

Gronda says that when he went on stage, he asked his friend René to come up as well. He then asked the assistants to guess which of the two was the driver, to show how internalized we have certain assumptions about what a person can or cannot do using only your ethnicity or skin color. “We created a company between Caucasian entrepreneurs and indigenous leaders … it is a tremendous learning,” he analyzes. And he concludes: “Racism appears all the time. We have made a mistake with white supremacy, which comes in our cultural matrix. The challenge of overthrowing it is enormous, but it is the only possible way.”

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Publicado en el diario La Nación

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