Toward the end of next year, the Cervantes Institute will open its first center in Los Angeles, which will be "the home of Hispanic cultures," according to Cervantes director Luis Garcia Montero. Announcing the project at the Los Angeles Central Library last week, Garcia Montero said that Los Angeles was a bilingual city "where Spanish has its role" and stressed the importance of the institute to reinforce the importance and prestige of Spanish and Hispanic culture.
The deputy mayor of the city and head of international relations, Nina Hachigian, recalled that Spanish was spoken in California before English and publicly conveyed the full support of the mayor of Los Angeles for the creation of the institute. The mission of the new center will be to teach Spanish to everyone who wants it to be part of their culture, to serve the future of the city.
Spain's secretary of state for international cooperation and for Latin America and the Caribbean, Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, insisted that this was a "pan-Hispanic initiative," that will help establish a common diplomacy among all Latin American countries. He stressed the importance of working closely with other Spanish-speaking nations: "You can't speak Spanish in Los Angeles without being close to Mexico," he said, adding that the new center will promote education, certification, and culture in Spanish in an area "where Spanish was never a foreign language." The Mexican consul, Marcela Celorio, strongly criticized "policies that denigrate Spanish," a language that in Los Angeles "not only serves as a means of communication, but is also a refuge, a way of belonging among those who speak it." Spanish, in short, she said, is "a language that will always be ours."
California is the state with the largest number of Hispanics, more than 15 million, in a country where almost 60 million Hispanics live and work.
Latin Consuls Support Dual-Language Education
Juan Pablo de Laiglesia and Luis Garcia Montero later met at the Mexican Consulate with representatives from eight Latin American countries to strengthen their collaboration.
The consuls of Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, and Brazil stated in the meeting that Spanish is a shared heritage and a language of inclusion. They declared that, in the face of positions that undermine Spanish and the Hispanic community, they must promote a "dynamic of appreciation" for the contribution of the Spanish-speaking community to American society, of which historically it has always been a part.
All of them agreed to support dual-language education, as well as the status of the Spanish language in the U.S., and its teaching at all educational levels. The U.S. has the largest number of Spanish students in the world: about 8 million.