Paraguayan organizations call for linguistic rights of Guaraní-speakers to be respected

Days before Fernando Lugo is sworn in as Paraguayan President, Guaraní-speakers call for an end to ‘linguistic discrimination’ · Although the language is spoken by more than 80% of the population and has official status, Spanish is the predominant language at every level.

Fernando Lugo's victory in the presidential elections on 20 April brought an end to 61 years of right-wing rule and gave hope to Paraguay's indigenous community, which has traditionally been excluded from government. On Friday 15 August Lugo will take office as the President of Paraguay, and a group of some thirty political and cultural organizations have released a document asking him to put an end to the "linguistic discrimination" still faced by Guaraní-speakers. They want to put pressure on the former bishop by reminding him of his manifesto pledges concerning linguistic discrimination.

As A Nosa Terra reports, the document, signed by trade unions, educational establishments, cultural associations and other types of organization, stresses that Guaraní, despite being official and spoken by more than 80% of the population, is neither used in administration nor taught in most schools, reflecting an ongoing lack of respect for the linguistic rights of speakers of the language.

If Lugo really represents "change", the above organizations want the new President to implement a series of specific measures: they want the presidential swearing-in ceremony to take place in both Spanish and Guaraní; they want a new Languages Act to be drawn up, a Guaraní Language Academy to be established and the education system to be thoroughly revised; and they want the language to be introduced into public administration, signage and the media. The message to Lugo is simple: native languages must be promoted, protected and taught.

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