According to the Population Census, up until 2020 more than 520,580 people continue to speak Mayan today. Yet the government’s recognition of their needs continues to be incredibly low.
“When a Yucatecan Maya leaves their community, for whatever reason, they take their language with them because it is inherent to their identity. This forces the state to generate institutional mechanisms that guarantee the use of their mother language,” said Congresswoman Manuela Cocom Bolio.
As defined by the UNESCO, intangible heritage consists of nonphysical intellectual wealth, such as folklore, customs, beliefs, traditions, knowledge, and language.
Because of this, the congresswoman presented an initiative for the Mayan language to be awarded intangible heritage status.
“The importance of the language can be observed from the perspective of its psycho-emotional value or potential”, says Cocom Bolio. “Language also creates a sense of identity and belonging; and, at the same time, a tradition or way of life.”
Although not heavily promoted, the language is present in everyday life around the Peninsula, particularly in the surnames and names of municipalities.
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“It should be noted that the great knowledge that allowed the development of the Mayan culture was transmitted orally through time […] Through it we not only communicate, but it also becomes the tool through which we define our identity to the world, we tell our story and transmit knowledge from generation to generation”
Because of this, Manuela Cocom asks that the state follow the agreement of the Universal Declaration of the United Nations, to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples.
“There needs to be official recognition for original cultures to thrive,” says Cocom. “We must follow the objectives presented by the UN. Revitalize, use, and promote to future generations have to become top tier priorities.”
This declaration would also imply that the Ministries of Education, Economic Development and Labor, Tourism Development, the Ministry of Culture and the Arts, the Institute for the Development of Mayan Culture, and the Municipalities carry out actions to preserve, disseminate and promote the language.
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