Rita Patiño, the Mexican indigenous woman who was locked up for 12 years in a US psychiatric hospital because her language was not understood

Rita Patiño Quintero

The police arrived at the church on June 8, 1983. The woman, with her dirty clothes, her feet battered and confused, uttered some words that the agents could not understand. They interrogated her in English, insisted, but communication was not possible. And since no one knew what she said, she lost her freedom for the next 12 years.

Rita Patiño Quintero was her name, a Rarámuri indigenous woman, originally from the state of Chihuahua, in northern Mexico. That day she was taking refuge in the basement of the Methodist temple in the city of Manter, in western Kansas, USA.

Before the authorities arrived, a pastor discovered her while Rita was eating raw eggs.

It is presumed that she arrived there on foot from Mexican soil. After all, Rarámuri means “light runners” and comes from rara, foot, and muri, light.

For this ethnic group, running has an important social and cultural meaning. They live on the slopes of the Sierra Tarahumara, whose complicated topography forces them to avoid obstacles, cross streams and climb mountains. They have to be fast and even more resilient to face the conditions of their home.

Source: bbc