By Rene Quenallata Paredes
LA PAZ, April 9 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish-speaking Bolivia is recognizing the importance of its native languages.
Under Evo Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, laws that require state employees to speak a native language have been gradually strengthened.
In future general and regional elections, all candidates will have to provide a certificate verifying they can speak at least one native language, according to Guillermo Aluce, coordinator with the Vice-Ministry of Decolonization.
"It is not something we made up, it is in the Constitution and Law 269, which establish that candidates for the presidency, vice presidency and other public posts must speak a native language, at least at an elementary level," Aluce told Xinhua in an interview.
Bolivia's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) will be in charge of ensuring candidates to all elected office, from legislators to governors, mayors, judges and local councilors, are certified in a native language.
Aluce said the law also stipulates that each public- or private-sector enterprise must also demand that its executives speak a native language, as well as Spanish.
"In each public help-wanted ad, private entities must include, among their requisites, the ability to speak a native language," said Aluce.
Some 36 different native languages are officially recognized in Bolivia, including Quechua, Aymara and Guarani, and three agencies are credited with granting the certificates: the Vice-Ministry of Decolonization, the Plurinational School of Public Management (EGPP) and the Plurinational Institute of the Study of Languages and Cultures (IPELC).
According to the government, of the country's 350,000 state employees, at both the national and local levels, only 20,000 have been accredited by the ministry, with the other two agencies accrediting a similar number each.
Aluce concedes that much still remains to be done before all elected officials and major public figures meet the "fundamental requisite of speaking a (native) language at a basic level," but Bolivia is at least well on its way.