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5 Mexico

The General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples grants all indigenous languages spoken in Mexico, regardless of the number of speakers, the same validity as Spanish in all territories in which they are spoken, and indigenous peoples are entitled to request some public services and documents in their native languages. Along with Spanish, the law has granted them — more than 60 languages — the status of “national languages”. The law includes all Amerindian languages regardless of origin; that is, it includes the Amerindian languages of ethnic groups non-native to the territory. As such the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the language of the Kickapoo, who immigrated from the United States, and recognizes the languages of the Guatemalan Amerindian refugees. The Mexican government has promoted and established bilingual primary and secondary education in some indigenous rural communities. Nonetheless, of the indigenous peoples in Mexico, only about 67% of them (or 7.1% of the country’s population) speak an Amerindian language and about a sixth do not speak Spanish (1.2% of the country’s population).

The indigenous peoples in Mexico have the right of free determination under the second article of the constitution. According to this article the indigenous peoples are granted:

  • the right to decide the internal forms of social, economic, political and cultural organization
  • the right to apply their own normative systems of regulation as long as human rights and gender equality are respected
  • the right to preserve and enrich their languages and cultures
  • the right to elect representatives before the municipal council in which their territories are located