Information on COVID-19 in Maya language is urgent in Yucatan

Bernardo Camaal Itzá

People from the Mayan communities in southern Yucatan are the most vulnerable to the health contingency since there have been no campaigns on COVID-19 in their mother tongue.

Agronomist Bernardo Caamal Itzá pointed out that people from the Mayan communities of the Southern part of the State are more vulnerable to the pandemic, stressing that more than four months after the contingency, no authority has carried out any type of information campaign in Maya language, which leaves many Maya speaking families that already have infected relatives totally unaware of the protocols for their care.

At this moment we see the situation of people who have been infected and have died due to the lack of information in the municipality of Peto, many do not go to health services in a timely manner, said Caamal Itzá.

The case of the cultural promoter, Felipe Tapia, who died last May in the municipality of Peto, exposed the health system because he did not have the necessary medical support, since he sought medical attention and was denied the service, he went back home, and after a week or so, he was finally taken to a hospital, where he spent the last four hours of his life.

“It is true that there is an official municipal telephone line, but the reality is another. When people go to medical centers they are sent home to die”, Camaal said.

The case of Bernardino Canul Xix, who also died from COVID-19, also reveals the reality that the Maya people are facing in southern Yucatan, because they first sent him to the “Agustín O’Horán” Hospital, from there to Tekax hospital (eighty miles away), where they told the man that he needed to go back to the O’Horán, where he finally died after a couple of days.

The man spent eight hours aboard an ambulance.


Chaotic situation
Now, since the pandemic has already undermined the entire State, we are experiencing a chaotic situation, we must generate a consistent line of information, provide timely information on the situation we are experiencing with the pandemic in the Maya language.

Right now, there are no more beds in hospitals, so these people need information in Maya so they know how to take care of their relatives at home, and how to protect themselves from the infected person.

“What is happening in the municipalities is that two or three people in the family who live in the same house are dying, that means that there is no clear information”, Camaal continued.

It is also important to avoid crowds at parks and sports centers, many of which remain open in these rural communities.

“If we act intelligently at the three levels of government and society, we can learn from this difficult situation, we need to be in solidarity with our people”, Bernardo Caamal Itzá concluded.

Peto is 135 kilometers (81 miles) south of Mérida. (Google)

People have no idea of the situation’s magnitude

For his part, Eliseo Ek Yah, a Mayan language teacher in the municipality of Tadhziú, said that there is an urgent need to carry out information campaigns in the Mayan language since the communities have no idea of ​​the critical situation the world is going through, and they don’t know what is really happening in Yucatan.

Nurse Juan Apóstol Caamal Pech, originally from Kikteil, Yaxcabá, pointed out that because they saw that there was no information about the pandemic in the Mayan language, together with two young activists they decided to make a video to inform the community in a coherent and appropriate way, the basics about the disease, how to protect yourself and how to feed yourself to improve the conditions of the immune system.

Finally, Samuel Castillo Yah, director of Social and Rural Development of the Peto City Council, indicated that the municipality has carried out information campaigns in the Mayan language in the media and on the streets, however, more actions are needed to alert communities in their own language.