Canoa Launched to ‘Internationalize Spanish Language and Culture’

En Español The Canoa project to promote culture in Spanish was launched with the signing of its creation agreement by the heads of four large institutions (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México–UNAM, Spain’s Instituto Cervantes, Centro Cultural Inca Garcilaso, Peru, and Instituto Caro y Cuervo, Colombia) whose home countries account for more than half of the Spanish-speaking world.

The main objective of this Pan-Hispanic network is the internationalization of Spanish and its culture, and the plan is that other institutions such as universities—the first is likely to be that of Buenos Aires—and countries like the U.S. or Canada will join. “We will try to win the support of national and international organizations whose objective is to strengthen Ibero-American states,” said the Instituto Cervantes’ Luis García Montero.

Canoa is being created to widen the sphere of Spanish (a language used by 577 million people, 480 million as native speakers) and its culture, so that the Spanish-speaking community becomes “increasingly influential and relevant as a pole of civilization in the multipolar world that characterizes the 21st century.” According to the agreement, “the expansion of the Spanish language and its cultural diversity will allow the group of countries that make up the Pan-Hispanic pole to strengthen their shared values, affirm their language as a language of international communication and, therefore, as a vehicle and instrument for economic, social, scientific, technical, and cultural development.”

This October, UNAM will host representatives from the four founding partners in Mexico to discuss priorities, among which are making Spanish a scientific and technological language, reflecting on the role of culture in the digital age, and debating the role of women’s creativity in Hispanic culture.

Canoa was the first Native American word to be adopted into Spanish. It’s a symbol of integration and unity, because “the language belongs to everyone and we’re coming together while respecting diversity,” explained García Montero, who stressed the “Pan-Hispanic perspective” of the institution.

In the same vein, Carlos Herrera Rodríguez (Inca Garcilaso, Peru) highlighted the “federal value” of the Spanish language and the importance of this “exciting” project. Carmen Millán (Caro y Cuervo, Colombia) added, “Canoa will allow us to reach unexpected places” once Spanish-speaking countries “have overcome the paradigm of the mother country.”

The rector of UNAM, Enrique Graue, called the agreement “a culminating moment” of the growing collaboration among the community that shares Spanish and promised to work “with all intensity” to reinforce and expand the project.

The signing ceremony included recorded video messages from Nobel Prize–winning Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, Colombian writer Piedad Bonnett, director of the Academia Mexicana de la Lengua Gonzalo Celorio, and the president of CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), Rosa María Menéndez López.

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