My name is Bryan Russell Mujica, I am from Peru and I have Down syndrome. I want to share with Mexican men and women my experience in the world of politics. I started my career in 2018. My main interest was to promote inclusive education. The education system in Peru, as in most Latin America, excludes people with intellectual disabilities. Only a few of us can exercise our right to education.
That is why I got involved with political movements from my country that also promoted inclusive education, for example, with the candidate for Mayor of Miraflores, a municipality in Lima. I got to know him, promoted his campaign and got to be in charge of the inclusive education area. That is how I started my political career.
In addition to inclusive education, I was interested in promoting a quota system to include people with disabilities in political parties. The main objective was to promote social inclusion and educational development so people with disabilities could participate in the social development of their own communities. We wanted an inclusive municipality.
I met the President of the political party Perú Nación, Francisco Diez Canseco, and the Secretary of the party, Carlos Manuel Ponce. That party included me in the list of councilmen.
People wondered if it was possible that a person with Down syndrome could run for elected public office. Throughout the way, I was able to prove that I had my own opinions and that I was not someone to be used. The campaign lasted for 56 intense days of long working hours; however, it became clear that it was possible to participate in politics. All we need is to have opportunities and political parties can generate them.
In the afternoon of the election day, I found out our opponent had won. It was very saddening and I felt awful but that didn’t stop me because I was focused on my project of inclusive education for people with disabilities at national level, which is why I ran for Congress in 2020.
In politics, you win or you lose; you can have voter support or not; yet we all have the right to participate in equal conditions and political parties have a great responsibility in making that happen. Disability cannot be an excuse to exclude us from political processes. We also need to be represented. Democracy is not possible if it does not include all diverse voices and the voice of people with intellectual disabilities must also be heard in collective decision-making.
There are many prejudices that prevent people with disabilities from becoming subjects with full rights; many countries even forbid people with disabilities from voting, as it was the case in Peru, until recently. Luckily, that is not the case in Mexico; however, we should promote not only our right to vote but also our right to be voted for and to participate in collective decisions as agents of change.
I have already run twice for Congress in my country, the first time as a candidate for Perú Nación party and subsequently for Victoria Nacional party. On both occasions, I obtained a considerable number of votes: 14,000 with Perú Nación. My street campaign and getting in touch with people had very good results and even though Perú Nación did not obtain enough votes to be represented in Congress, one thing was clear. Many people voted for me and they were interested in my four proposals: education for everyone, more jobs for people with disabilities, proper compliance with Peru’s disability legislation and zero tolerance towards corruption.
I was able to participate because the political parties that nominated me helped me with my political training and provided me with a political identity, all in a warm environment that allowed me to build character and to have self-confidence, a sense of political belonging and scope. I believe that every country, including Mexico, should adopt these initiatives and be open to diversity of militants and activists, giving them a base and a channel for participation.
Thank you very much.