A 12-year-old boy from a small and isolated Mayan community in Quintana Roo stole the show at the state’s Seventh Children’s Parliament with a fiery and animated speech against corrupt politicians.
“Crime in Quintana Roo is a slap across the face, an insult to those of us who love this land,” he declared.
“Why don’t you, Mr. Deputy and Ms. Deputy, legislate to put him behind bars? Are you afraid or was your price already paid?” he continued to applause.
His words, delivered without referring to any notes, reverberated around the legislative palace.
Ángel told the newspaper El Universal, “I want to be a physicist and a politician because I want to do what the other politicians couldn’t do for the state, like support us because the resources don’t arrive, they stay for their benefit and they don’t send them here. They ignore us here because the village is small.”
Ángel’s speech to the children’s parliament was the culmination of a process that Ángel began with his teacher, Raúl Baez. Ángel asked for his assistance to prepare a speech on the topic, “Transparency and measures against acts of corruption.”
The research phase was not easy as there is no telephone, television or internet signal in Xcabil, a community set amidst the jungle, with very limited services and one that preserves Mayan customs and traditions.
Undeterred, Ángel collected newspaper clippings on his topic.
He is no stranger to hard work and overcoming adversity.
Every day he helps his father in the fields, cuts firewood so that his mother can cook, completes household chores and helps care for his baby brother in a modest home he shares with his parents and six siblings.
His parents, Minerva Tun Pat, who only speaks Maya, and Jacinto Noh Pat, are happy and proud of their son.
Minerva explained in her mother tongue that despite being very poor they are very happy but she hopes that her own children won’t have to suffer the same poverty when they are adults.
Some days they eat nothing more than roasted tomatoes and tortillas.
Ángel, for his part, is concerned about his parents’ health as they put their children’s well-being before their own.
“My dad really worries me,” he says. “His feet always hurt and he can’t walk. He has to wait for the pain to pass so that he can go to work and what he earns is so that we can eat. He doesn’t go to the doctor because there isn’t enough money. He’s dedicated to the corn fields and beekeeping but he’s best off when he has bricklaying work.”
Ángel is determined to continue his education but his teacher is concerned that his humble origins may prevent him from reaching his full potential.
“The boy already spoke up so I ask for heartfelt help so Ángel Jacinto can fulfill his dream and so his and his siblings’ education is not cut short,” Baez said.
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