Cusco local government officials are pushing new initiatives to promote the official use of the indigenous language Quechua.
According to El Comercio, the efforts are being spearheaded by Cusco lieutenant mayor Silvia Uscamaita Otárola, who speaks Quechua fluently and says she is descendant of the fourth Inca, Mayta Cápac and a member of the Uscamaita clan.
2007 census figures indicate that around 3 million Peruvians speak Quechua. El Comercio reports that the Academia de la Lengua Quechua believes that the number is much higher, estimating that as many as 14 million Peruvians speak the language of the Incas. According to El Comercio, 52% of children over the age of five learn Quechua instead of Spanish; 2007 statistics indicate that 48% of school-age children in the Cusco región speak Quechua as their first language.
One of the changes included in Uscamaita’s push for Quechua is the creation of a municipal office in which citizens can seek help in Quechua.
“We want to give our language the importance it’s due,” Uscamaita told El Comercio.
Cusco will also hold events such as Quechua Week, Quechua-language book fairs, radio programs featuring traditional Quechua songs, and awareness campaigns in schools and public areas. Authorities want to recognize the historical and cultural significance of the Quechua language as well as its importance in modern society.