Updated 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Risk is still around

What does 'Abya Yala' mean? The expression comes from the language 'Kuna', one of the threatened extinction in Latin America and means 'land of vital blood'. It is used by indigenous movements to refer to America and to re-name the continent from its native culture.

"In almost all the countries of the region there is a recognition in the Constitution or other laws of the existence of a multicultural , of a multilingualism. There are also public policies, but they remain very much in the paper," said Sputnik Inge Sichra, coordinator of the 'Sociolinguistic Atlas of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America' with support from the UN agency for children, Unicef.

The lack of protection of the native languages of the continent is reflected in another study data: currently 44 indigenous peoples speak Spanish as only language and 55 others only Portuguese. For Sichra, this is a political problem as the regional economy concentrates on the extraction of raw materials located in indigenous territories. "What is least wanted is to strengthen the peoples because that would also be strengthening their territoriality," said the sociolinguist, who is part of the Program of training in intercultural bilingual education for the Andean countries. The project coordinated by the Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Cochabamba, Bolivia, brings together institutions from that country, as well as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

"In Mexico there is a lot of work on languages, their recognition, their varieties and their characteristics, but they are measures that have no effect in the villages. It is like presenting a wealth of which you can be proud, but not Is effective because it is against the interests of the State. There is no country that accepts its existence and the rationality of the strength of the people, "Sichra lamented. On the other hand, the expert exemplified that Peru "has many more advances in the implementation of policies favorable to indigenous languages and cultures than Bolivia, proclaimed as a Plurinational State." "Peru has much more action in favor of strengthening its languages and cultures despite having a more right-wing government," he added.

Regarding the language of the expression 'Abya Yala', an atlas organized by another UN agency, Unesco (for Education, Science and Culture), That the variety spoken in Colombia is "seriously endangered." According to the document, that means that only the elderly speak the language. The younger ones can understand it, but they do not talk to each other and they do not transmit it to their children. For its part, the 'kuna' of Panama is placed in the 'vulnerable' category, that is, it is still transmitted to the new generations. "Most children speak the language, but their use may be restricted to certain domains, such as the family home," reports the study.