Preserving the Pech Language
Today of the 1500 Pech people remaining only half speak their native tongue (view
Statistics). With the strong influence of the more numerous Latino and Miskito communities
(especially in and around Las Marias), the Pech language is disappearing quickly. Little
is being done by the government-run schools as far as bilingual education, the only
existing programs are in Miskito villages. Today, a few Pech leaders are working on
bilingual school projects but are in need of financial support and representation in the
government to make it happen.
The Constitution of 1982, title III, chapter VIII, article 173 is written as follows:
"El Estado preservara y estimulara las culturas nativas, asi como las genuinas
expressiones del folklore nacional, el arte popular y las artesanias." The State will
preserve and stimulate native cultures as genuine expressions of national folklore.. .
But the government has yet to take any action in supporting the Pech bilingual school
projects. With the loss of the Pech language, the few remaining vestiges of traditional
culture will disappear as well.
* The Bilingual school project isn't new. It has been implemented by other ethnic
groups. In La Moskitia, most schools are taught in both Spanish and Miskito. The national
education ministry is assisting in the preservation of the Miskito language. A similar
project is underway with the Pech, with some leaders and teachers in the process of
translating school materials into Pech. The issue of funding remains.
Today, with the exception of the people of Santa Maria del Carbon (who own title to
their lands. Read history of La Moskitia), the Pech live with the insecurity that they
could lose their land at any time. Without titles and legal and judicial support, they
lose ground to campesino homesteaders who exploit them. Without titles, indigenous people
have no recourse to re-claim what is being stolen from them. Even in the Rio Platano
Biosphere, a protected reserve where only indigenous people are allowed to live, lack of
enforcement has allowed campesinos to exploit land and natural resources on property
traditionally inhabited by indigenous people. Logging companies (legal and/or illegal) are
Today Indigenous people are struggling to get titles for the lands they received from
their ancestors. They are also fighting to protect their natural resources from illegal
exploitation. With little governmental support, a few organizations search for solutions.