Native Planet > Indigenous Cultures > Pech > Preservation

  The Pech
Human Rights, Land Ownership and Cultural Preservation

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.

 Land Titles

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 also threats.

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.


Note: Background photographs and design by Jean-Philippe Soule 1997

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