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Venezuela's Mapoyo Indigenous Language Declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO

The language of the Mapoyo, an indigenous people of Venezuela, became the first of the country’s indigenous languages to be included on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as part of the Urgent Safeguarding List, according to a Tuesday announcement by Luis Alberto Crespo, Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

For the third consecutive year, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was lauded by nations party to UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.  These countries are holding the Ninth Intergovernmental Committee Meeting in Paris, where they affirmed the importance of the Mapoyo oral traditions and their symbols in ancestral territory in Venezuela as having high universal value that requires urgent safeguarding.

Crespo emphasized that this recognition is a great achievement for the Revolution and the people of Venezuela “that will allow us to revitalize our indigenous oral traditions, given that [the Mapoyo] are a people who took part in our war of Independence and are a part of our history.”  In an interview with La Radio del Sur, the diplomat said that Venezuela’s entry was the only one from Latin America this year.

He then congratulated Benito Irady, President of the Center for Cultural Diversity and Identity, for the achievement and said that thanks to “Hugo Chávez, the vindication of our human values and the union between the people and armed forces has been sown, which has also made Venezuela sovereign in regards to cultural diversity.”

An Achievement Made into Reality

The Mapoyo language is used by indigenous communities that live in Venezuela’s savannah in the state of Bolívar.  Currently, the language is in a critical state given that less than 300 people, from around 55 families, still speak it and the majority of those are elderly.

Irady said that in the past three years Venezuela has made itself more visible to the world through these recognitions of Intangible Cultural Heritage, “the first of which were the Corpus Christi Dancing Devils, followed by the San Pedro de Guatire and Guarenas Parranda [festival] and now the oral tradition of the Mapoyo people.”

He stressed that Venezuela was the only Latin American country who took a strong position on the subject this year within UNESCO, which congratulated the Bolivarian Government for the quality of its presentation.

AVN / Press – Venezuelan Embassy in the US / November 25, 2014

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