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Argentina: Situation of Quechua- (Quichua)-speaking people, particularly those of Bolivian ancestry; treatment of such individuals by the police and state authorities (1998 - November 2000)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 23 November 2000
Citation / Document Symbol ARG36102.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Argentina: Situation of Quechua- (Quichua)-speaking people, particularly those of Bolivian ancestry; treatment of such individuals by the police and state authorities (1998 - November 2000), 23 November 2000, ARG36102.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be0820.html [accessed 21 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Estimates vary as to the size of Argentina's Quechua-speaking population (Mapuche Documentation Center 21 Aug. 1995; Asociación Tucumana de Investigadores en Lengua Quechua 21 Nov. 2000; Ethnologue 1996). According to Ethnologue (1996), there are over 900,000 Quechua speakers in Argentina: approximately 5,000 speakers of Northwest Jujuy Quechua living in the north-west region of Jujuy province near the Bolivian border, 75,000 speakers of Santiago del Estero Quichua living in Santiago del Estero and Salta provinces, and 850,000 speakers of South Bolivian Quechua, of whom "200,000 [are] temporary laborers, about 100,000 looking for work, 500,000 living in Buenos Aires ... Also possibly 70,000 in Salta Province" (ibid.). In a 21 August 1995 report, the Mapuche Documentation Center indicated that

Quechua is the most widely spoken indigenous language in the northwestern provinces. While there are about 5,000 permanent residents who are Quechua speakers in the province of Jujuy, there have been estimates of about 800,000 Quechua speakers from Bolivia coming to Argentina for employment ...

However, in a 21 November 2000 interview, the president of the Tucumán Association of Quechua Language Researchers ( Asociación Tucumana de Investigadores en Lengua Quechua) estimated that there are roughly 300,000 individuals living in Argentina whose mother tongue is Quechua.

A number of reports published between 1998 and 2000 refer to initiatives undertaken in the provinces of Santiago del Estero and Salta to promote the use and study of Quechua; examples follow.

In 1998, the city of Santiago del Estero passed a municipal by-law requiring street signs to be written in both Spanish and Quechua (Clarín 31 Aug. 1998). According to a 15 October 1999 report by the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación, the National Technological University (Universidad Teconológica Nacional) had opened a Quechua language school in Tartagal, Salta. In October 2000, approximately 2,400 individuals participated in the Sixth International Quichua Congress (VI Congreso Internacional de Quichua), held at the National University of Santiago del Estero (Universidad Nacional de Santiago del Estero, UNSE), whose program areas include a course of study in Quechua (ibid.; Clarín 31 Aug. 1998).

According to Ethnologue, published in 1996, use of Santiago del Estero Quichua by the media was increasing, and a decree was promulgated in the province authorizing its "promotion and teaching in schools."

The Research Directorate could find reference to at least three organizations providing services to or advocating on behalf of Quechua speakers, including the Quilmes Indian Community (Comunidad India Quilmes) in Tucumán, the Alero Quichua Cultural Institute of Santiago del Estero (Institución Cultural Alero Quichua Santiagueño) and the Tucumán Association of Quechua Language Researchers ( Asociación Tucumana de Investigadores en Lengua Quechua) (Comunidad India Quilmes 2000; Institución Cultural Alero Quichua Santiagueño 1998; Asociación Tucumana de Investigadores en Lengua Quechua 2000).

No information on the situation either of Quechua speakers living in other regions of Argentina, or specifically those of Bolivian ancestry, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Sources consulted by the Research Directorate differ as to the treatment of Quechua speakers by the police or other state authorities. In a 21 November 2000 interview, an executive committee member of the non-governmental Alero Quichua Cultural Institute of Santiago del Estero (Institución Cultural Alero Quichua Santiagueño) claimed that Quechua speakers living in the province of Santiago del Estero do not face discrimination or other significant problems on account of their mother tongue. However, the executive committee member noted that Quecha speakers in some regions of the province suffer from high levels of poverty. The executive committee member added that while some Quechua-speaking children, particularly in the interior of Santiago del Estero province, have faced discrimination in the classroom because of their inability to speak Spanish, a program was launched approximately five years ago to address this problem by providing teachers with Quechua language training (ibid.). The executive committee could not provide information on the treatment of Quechua speakers elsewhere in Argentina.

According to the president of the Tucumán Association of Quechua Language Researchers, a non-governmental organization, Quechua enjoys no official standing in Argentina's educational or justice systems, and Quechua speakers, many of whom live in disadvantaged areas and suffer from a high degree of socio-economic marginalization, often attempt to hide their Quechua identity in order to avoid discrimination at the hands of employers or the police (21 Nov. 2000).

No specific information on the treatment of Quechua speakers of Bolivian ancestry could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Asociacion Tucumana de Investigadores en Lengua Quechua, Tucumán. 21 November 2000. Telephone interview with president.

_____. 2000. " Asociacion Tucumana de Investigadores en Lengua Quechua." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2000]

Clarín [Buenos Aires]. 31 August 1998. Julio Rodriguez. "Las calles tendrán carteles bilingüess." [Accessed 17 Nov. 2000]

Comunidad India Quilmes. 2000. "Comunidad India Quilmes." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2000]

Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 1996. 13th ed. Edited by Barbara F. Grimes. "Argentina." [Accessed 17 Nov. 2000]

Institución Cultural Alero Quichua Santiagueño, Santiago del Estero. 21 November 2000. Telephone interview with executive committee member.

_____. 1998. "Institución Cultural Alero Quichua Santiagueño." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2000]

Mapuche Documentation Center. 21 August 1995. Pamela Burke. "Indigenous People in Argentina." [Accessed 17 Nov. 2000]

La Nación [Buenos Aires]. 23 October 2000. Jorge Rouillon. "La lengua quichua despierta interés muy lejos de donde es hablada." [Accessed 17 Nov. 2000]

_____. 15 October 1999. Editorial. "Tecnología para aborígenes." [Accessed 17 Nov. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases.

LEXIS-NEXIS.

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International.

Asociación Tucumana de Investigadores en Lengua Quechua.

Center for World Indigenous Studies.

Centro de Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente.

Centro de Documentación Mapuche.

Clarín [Buenos Aires]. 1998-2000.

Human Rights Watch.

Initative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity.

Instituto Argentino contra la Discriminación y la Xenophobia (INADIX)

Minority Rights Group International.

La Nación [Buenos Aires]. 1999-2000.

Red Solidaria.

World Ethnic Survey.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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