Mexican Newspaper Launches Mayan-Language Edition

La Jornada, one of the main newspapers in Mexico, has recently launched an edition with content in Mayan. It will be published daily in Mérida, the state capital of Yucatán, in Mexico’s southeast.

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico, Mayan is the country’s second most spoken indigenous language, with about 800,000 speakers, after Náhuatl. Today, the largest populations of Mayan speakers can be found in the Mexican states of YucatánCampecheQuintana RooTabasco, and Chiapas.

The institute indicates that in Mexico around 6.6 million people speak an indigenous language, which in 2010 represented 6.5 percent of the Mexican population, a reduction since 1930, when this figure was around 16 percent of the population.

Mayan is also spoken in the Central American countries of Belize and Guatemala. It forms part of the legacy of the Mayan culture, which was famous for its literary and architectural wealth, such as the structures of Tikal in Guatemala and Chichen Itza in Mexico.

This is how La Jornada referred to their new Mayan-language edition:

With two platforms, one digital and one print, the most recent franchise of the national newspaper La Jornada is published with the intent to respond, using all the tools of journalism, to the information needs of the diverse, changing, and educated Yucatan society.

We don’t deal with news that conforms to the official story, instead we present facts from all angles; the publication insists on giving a voice to social movements and figures; the profession of critical journalism, the feature that tells a story without losing its ability to astonish, the report that goes deeper and asks questions, the interview that investigates, and maintains intelligent and enjoyable dialogues with political, social, and cultural figures; the accurate and independent publisher, article, and column.

Website Chilam Balam questioned the initiative to distribute this daily newspaper in Mayan:

A daily newspaper in Mayan and Spanish, destined for the entire Yucatan Peninsula. Is this really possible? In a context where the Mayan culture has been used for nothing more than “selling” tourism. In a social context where people have felt ashamed to call themselves Mayan, and educational institutions look down on our culture, and especially, our language, is this really possible?

On the importance of having a publication in Mayan, linguist Enrique Martín Briceño emphasised:

Still today there are many who ignore the fact that Yucatan Mayan is a language, like Spanish, Náhuatl, English, and Chinese, and the fact that there more than 800,000 speakers in Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo. There are also many who don’t know that Peninsular Mayan is the indigenous Mexican language with the greatest number of speakers and that it has important colonial literature, and its modern literature is flourishing (the Mayan storyteller, Sol Ceh Moo, won the 2014 Nezahualcoyotl Prize for Mexican Language Literature.

He also added:

Therefore, in an area with such a high number of Mayan speakers, we are not talking about a minority language but a marginalised one. In an area where the indigenous language has such vitality, not just in rural environments – Merida y Cancun are in a large part Mayan – the presence of the original culture and language cannot be reduced to merely the family environment and the few public spaces that up until now it had been granted.

Twitter user Martin del Mar celebrated the newspaper going into circulation:

The best Mexican newspaper arrives in the Yucatan Peninsula: From today La Jornada Maya will go into circulation in Mérida. Congratulations!

Chakz Armanda announced that he will be one of its contributors:

La Jornada Maya begins in Yucatán, where I will be contributing periodically. Grab your free copy now!…

The national version of La Jornada is a tabloid with a critical stance toward the government, constantly aligned with the discourse of the country’s political parties that identify themselves as “leftist”, among those, the Party of the Democratic Revolution, and the more recent National Regeneration Movement. Clarin (Chile) and the BBC (United Kingdom) are some of the organisations that are associated with the national edition of the publication.

In its second stage of distribution, La Jornada Maya plans to reach the states of Quintana Roo and Campeche in the southeast of the country. If it prospers, it will be one of the most interesting initiatives that has been undertaken to preserve and give presence to an Amerindian language at risk of falling into disuse — and perhaps extinction.

Source: Mexican Newspaper Launches Mayan-Language Edition · Global Voices

The Unbearable Heaviness of American Student Debt


When I was 17, and applying to university, my parents told me we’d be splitting the cost. For me, and for them, this meant taking out US federal loans that would be repaid over the next decade or more.

I was relatively lucky. As a lower-income student, I was eligible for a federal Pell Grant, and was accepted into an excellent state university which, at the time, cost just a little more than $10,000 per year in tuition fees. I kept my debt down by working part-time to cover expenses, and was grateful for any help my parents could offer. After graduating from university, I participated in a year-long national service program, earning a $5,000 award that went toward repaying my loans.

In the end, it took me eleven years to repay my student loans. I made my final payment on July 3 of this year.

Today, US students leave university with an average of $29,000 in debt. That figure goes up for students who attend universities in larger cities—the average graduate in Washington, D.C. carries a whopping $41,000 of student loan debt.

This state of affairs has led to what many pundits and scholars in the US are calling a“crisis,” with those hardest hit often students with smaller debts but dismal job prospects. For young graduates, the unemployment rate last year was 8.5%. The math is simple: If recent graduates can’t get jobs, they can’t repay their loans.

Shortly after I moved to Germany in 2014, the state of Lower Saxony became the last region to nix tuition fees, making university education free for all, including non-citizens. Several other European countries (such as Finland and Slovenia) offer free university education, as do Brazil and Argentina.

It’s hard to underestimate what this idea means to an American. From the time we’re old enough to dream about college, those of us without means are also worrying about how we’ll pay for it, while others can’t fathom being able to scrape together enough just to afford the down payments. In a country where 1.2 million primary and secondary school students are homeless, a college education is an extraordinary privilege.

Although the Obama administration has made significant changes to the way student loans work, for many, it’s still not enough. A four-year university education in the US costs between $40,000 per year on the low end (for a student attending a public university in his or her home state) to more than $125,000 for students attending private universities—and that’s only tuition fees. Add to that the cost of housing and other life necessities, and it’s no surprise that students are opting out altogether. Which is fine—so long as it’s truly a choice.

But in today’s economic environment, it really isn’t. Last year, university enrollment in the US fell by nearly half a million. Economists say that when the economy is doing well, fewer people attend colleges and universities, but when it isn’t, higher education becomes a “safe harbor.” In other words, young people are choosing themost likely path to self-sufficiency.

And yet, with so many jobs requiring a four-year degree, despite the high cost of attendance, not attending university can, in the long run, cost so much more in lost wages. The Pew Research Center estimates the earning gap between a high school graduate and a graduate of a four-year college or university is around $17,500.

We should all be able to choose our own path. University isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. But the choice, the ability to attend should absolutely be a right extended to all, without the burden of decades of debt.

Report Exposes ‘Revolving Door’ Within Corporate-Dominated TTIP Talks

We believe the revolving door exacerbates the corporate capture of TTIP negotiations,” says lobby watchdog

by: Lauren McCauley

As European delegates met with stakeholders in Brussels Wednesday to discuss the details of a massive, pending trade deal between the U.S. and Europe, a new report highlights the revolving door that exists between negotiators of the deal and the industries expected to profit from it.

Watchdog groups have long warned that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will benefit multinational corporations at the expensive of public and environmental health, labor rights, and state sovereignty. 

The study, published by Brussels-based watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), highlights at least fifteen examples of officials who once held positions of power within the European Commission or the UK government and are now actively lobbying the TTIP negotiations on behalf of some of the biggest food, telecom, pharmaceutical, and other industries. 

While the revolving door phenomenon is nothing new, the report notes that it creates great potential for conflicts of interest, particularly when it comes to TTIP and other trade negotiations.

“The fact that so many can cross smoothly from the public to private sectors or vice versa, indicates the shared interests and ideologies that can exist,” states CEO. “Whether the revolving door is a cause or an outcome of these synergies is not so easy to determine. But the synergies are there and we believe the revolving door exacerbates the corporate capture of TTIP negotiations.”

CEO research has further shown that European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, her Cabinet, and the Directorate General (DG) for Trade have met with industry representatives and lobbyists in more than 80 percent of declared meetings; whereas public interest groups were only included 17 percent of the time. Data shows that agribusiness and food industry groups dominated those talks, while telecommunications and Big Pharma interests were not far behind.

Indeed, on Wednesday, the European Commission hosted a TTIP Stakeholder Presentations Event, whose participants ran the gamut from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to corporate bigwigs Dow Chemical and Pfizer.

Rallying outside the talks on Wednesday, protesters bearing an inflatable Trojan horse chanted “Stop the TTIP” and reportedly sang Les Miserables’ “Do you hear the people sing?”

Critics of the deal are mobilizing after the European Parliament last week passed a draft text of the trade deal which, despite widespread opposition, included a version of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which establishes a parallel legal system enabling corporations to sue governments if public policy harms their profits.

Over 2.3 million people are backing a European Citizens Initiative to end TTIP negotiations altogether. In April, a global day of action against the deal saw tens of thousands of protesters across the European continent.

Source: Report Exposes ‘Revolving Door’ Within Corporate-Dominated TTIP Talks | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community