“Is it possible to imagine another future?”, Asks Yásnaya Elena Aguilar Gil, linguist, writer and activist. She says yes, that it is necessary to imagine a world in which peoples and nations can achieve their self-determination.
The Government of Mexico takes everything away from its indigenous people: water, lands and even languages , claims Yásnaya Elena Aguilar Gil , linguist, writer and activist.
The authorities refuse to allow the communities to achieve autonomy and cause deterioration in education and health systems, says Aguilar Gil, who has been fighting for years for the rights of the inhabitants of Ayutla, in the Mixe zone of Oaxaca.
“We must imagine a future in which all the diversity of peoples and nations may have the right to self-determination. We must rethink our ways of relating to nature and the forms of consumption. To end resources is to attempt against humanity, “he said in an interview with SinEmbargo .
-In Mexico we have many nations.
The thesis is part of the text The future is today . What I am proposing is that the Mexican State has built the idea that we are one nation, but in reality, there are many nations, with territories, languages, identities in common that were encapsulated in the Mexican State. They have tried to invisibility all the history behind it. Languages other than Spanish have been left behind …
-The languages are still lost.
-It is reported that in 1820, when the life of this state began as an independent state, more or less between 65 percent and 70 percent of the oblation spoke indigenous language. This country starts with a majority of speakers of the indigenous language. Today we are 6.5 percent, and each time more languages are being lost, but that was not a personal decision or effects of globalization, because anyone can learn a language and still maintain their mother tongue, but there has been a series of public policies, especially after the Mexican Revolution, focused on eliminating indigenous languages.
In this country, people are discriminated against for speaking an indigenous language in the classroom. Girls, children were beaten, punished. And that unfortunately still happens. There are reports of physical and psychological punishment for speaking an indigenous language in the classroom. There is also systematic discrimination: the State continues to act monolingual in multilingual contexts. It does not respond It is not guaranteed to cover interpreters for the judicial system, for example, those who do so are from civil society. The State does not guarantee covering the interpreters either in the health system or in the educational system. Although there are indigenous education projects, there is not enough effort so that education is really imparted in other languages.
– What would be the call to the authorities?
– That they stop violating the rights that are already enshrined in the law. The State is the main violator of rights. Recently the calvary suffered by a person who wants to register his daughter was reported. The State should guarantee that languages are spoken in all its spaces. The State must respect the law, which is a paradox. They do not train officials or respond to these policies. It is important that they respond to a multilingual reality. Make a diagnosis of how the loss of languages is. The State does not respond to the height.
As communities, many of us are taking action to stop this type of dispossession of the territory. The struggle for languages can not be understood without the struggle for the autonomy of indigenous peoples. The people must have interference in our health system, in our system of delivery of justice, our territories, our educational system. If the State continues to decide, if it does not allow us to participate, then there will continue to be a monocultural, monolingual education.
One of the main challenges for indigenous peoples is the defense of the territory. With the megaprojects, it is affecting. How are we going to work and strengthen these languages when something basic in the territory, like water, is being attacked? The international protocols and the agreements that Mexico has signed on how to make a consultation are not respected. There is a trajectory, an entire legal framework that forces the Mexican State to consult in a certain way.
-What is the picture with the new administration?
-Indigenous peoples are consulted in a different way. The consultation that affects the territories has to respond to different guidelines. Many times they are not made by ballot boxes, but by assemblies. The decision must be informed, free and certain mechanisms must be covered. It is already signed. The State is obliged, if it does not do so, it violates the Law. Indigenous peoples must be consulted.
-You said in Congress that half of the languages are going to disappear in a century.
-Yes, that is a prediction made by specialists and Unesco. It is estimated that in 100 years, more than half of the world’s languages will have disappeared. It is a consequence of the conformation of the national states. In their idea of homogeneity, they did it. Public money was allocated, public policies. They sought to eradicate indigenous languages in the country.
-What actions do the communities carry out to stop the extinction of languages?
-In the country there are different initiatives. In Oaxaca, for example, there is a civil association that is fighting for linguistic rights in the judicial system and in the health system. They began, together with the Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca, the first masters in the country in interpretation and translation of indigenous languages. A more autonomous educational system is needed so that the needs of indigenous peoples can be met. It is difficult: the state must let go of control. There can not be a single educational vision for the whole country. Each people must decide how to impart that education. Languages go through recognition of the right to autonomy.
– Tell us about that search in your community, Ayutla Mixe.
-Ayutla is a community. It is part of the Mixe region. It is governed by internal normative systems different from those that are handled in the other municipalities of the country. In my community there are no political campaigns. The municipal presidency and the council are not elected with a campaign, but as a service. There is a system of charges. Power is not sought, but is determined by the services the person has given. That is how it is determined. And there is no remuneration. In my community, the Assembly is the most important body and the highest in the hierarchy of determinations. The General Assembly determines the directions that the community will take. In my community there is a great political participation of women. My community was the first Mixe community to elect a municipal president and since then three have been elected. In addition, women are present in different positions of the community council. There is autonomy.
We have had a very serious problem because of the access to water. We have been without water for almost two years. We do not have access to the spring. All the work was destroyed by an armed group. Those levels of violence had never occurred. We were attacked in broad daylight. There were wounded and a compañero died. Four women were kidnapped and released afterwards. We have been in dialogue tables, but there is a great omission on the part of the Government of Oaxaca. They sent us two water pipes without water. A mockery
-How does the State allow its communities to be without water?
-It is a totally ignored state. The attacked community is criminalized. If there are signs, there is no response.
-What do you say to the authority that does not address the situation?
– What interests are behind this? We ask for immediate attention, the connection of water to stop the humanitarian crisis. With water we can sit down to solve the challenges. Without water it is difficult. Neither in war treaties is it allowed to cut off access to water. That happens with the Termoeléctrica de Morelos. A lot of water is needed for those projects. Mining in our territories also puts our access to water at risk. Access to water is a challenge that humanity will face, large reserves are in indigenous territories. Everything is part of something global. The peoples are resisting.
– Is it possible to imagine another future?
– We must imagine a future in which all the diversity of peoples and nations may have the right to self-determination. We must rethink our ways of relating to nature and the forms of consumption. Ending resources is an attempt against humanity.
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