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Each year, two percent of the population in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina cease to speak Aymara.

On Wednesday, Bolivian social and education organizations organized the first International Congress of Aymara Language and Culture.

The congress aims to construct a consensus on how to preserve and promote the indigenous Aymara language and culture. One of the main tasks of the meeting will be the creation of dictionaries and methodologies of research in Aymara.

The topics addressed during the meeting will be Pacha (cosmogonist thinking), Qama (principles, values and complementarity), Jaqui (well-being, semiology and language), Sara (knowledge and technology) and Thaqhi (cultural policies on language and economy).

Hundreds of representatives from Argentina, Peru and Chile are attending the event – countries of the region that have prominent Aymara communities, as well as Bolivian officials from the Ministry of Education, the Public University of El Alto, the Indigenous University Ayamara Tupac Katari, and the Institute of Ayamara Language and Culture.

“We must begin to recover what we were. Based on this, I think we are going to go a long way in reaffirming ourselves,” Lucio Choquehuanca, Rector of the Bolivia Indigenous University – Aymara campus, told teleSUR.

“I believe that our Aymara vision is for the whole world, not just for us, not just for Bolivia,” he added.

A number of social movements also participated, such as the Union Confederation of Rural Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB) and the Bartolina Sisa Indigenous Women’s Association of La Paz state.

The CSUTCB’s president, Felipa Huanca, told teleSUR, “We need these kinds of debates in order to give ourselves important political, economic, social, and cultural orientation.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales himself is Aymara, while the metropolitan area of La Paz and the nearby city of El Alto is home to the largest concentration of Aymara people, making it a fitting location for the historic first congress.

Last July, Pagina Siete, a Bolivian newspaper, warned that according to various regional studies the Aymara language was on the verge of disappearance. Each year, two percent of the population in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina, cease to speak it. 

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