New President Names Mayan Indian to Cabinet Post
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ New President Ramiro de Leon Carpio has named a Mayan Indian as education minister, the first appointment of an indigenous person to a Cabinet post in Guatemala in decades.
Celestino Alfredo Tay Coyoy, a Quiche Indian, took the oath Wednesday.
″One of the Mayan community assuming an important government position is a step toward social development,″ Tay Coyoy said at the swearing-in ceremony.
More than half of Guatemala’s 9.6 million residents are indigenous and 23 Indian languages are spoken in this Central American nation bordering southern Mexico.
Tay Coyoy, who holds a doctorate in political science, was the fourth appointment to the new Cabinet of De Leon Carpio, a president elected June 5 by Congress to serve out the term of ousted predecessor Jorge Serrano.
The rise to power of De Leon Carpio, the former human rights prosecutor, came after Serrano declared one-man rule in late May only to be ousted by the powerful army.
″We want to generate a new style of governing,″ de Leon Carpio vowed in his first address to the nation last Sunday, in which he pledged to redirect more government spending to the country’s indigenous poor.
The new education minister said his priorities would be launching a national literacy campaign in a country where about 40 percent of the people cannot properly read or write.
The selection comes a month after the first World Indigenous Summmit, held May 24-28 in Guatemala and led by Rigoberta Menchu, a Quiche Indian activist in Guatemala and 1992 Nobel Peace laureate.
She had called for greater indigenous participation in politics.