Indigenous rights in the Mexican context.
As a multicultural and pluri-ethnic nation Mexico has an invaluable richness strengthened by their indigenous people and native groups, guardians of ancient knowledge whose ways of living and understanding nature are deeply related with their own cultural background, ritual expressions and practices. As a matter of fact, there are over 68 native groups and more than 364 linguistic variables, coexisting inside the Mexican territory, making this one of the most diverse countries in the world. That’s why the Article 2 of the “Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos”, establishes that:
The nation has a pluri-cultural composition supported by native groups, descendants of those who inhabited this territory at the time of contact and further colonization; whose social, cultural, political and economic institutions remains, even if it´s partially. (translated by Hernández García, M.)
This states that the initiative to restore a respectful and fully equative relationship with the indigenous and original people recognizes the historical debt with those who have been neglected and ignored for centuries. One of the guidelines of this paradigmatic change is the adoption of a legal framework that recognizes and grants rights and competences to indigenous peoples and communities, as individual and collective subjects; in addition to procuring the necessary administrative tools so that public institutions can, within the framework of their competences, promote a model of development with identity. Members of a traditional community share the general rights as Mexican citizens, aware of the considerations that might surface from their cultural particularities; In fact, there has been an amazing effort to fulfil their access to equal opportunities, moreover their right to fully explore and reproduce their cultural heritage without discrimination.
Their identity as a minority group, with an approach to life and nature that differs from the ruling majority, is a fundamental step forward to the recognition of their collective rights. By any means this implicate they are subjects of privilege; rather than their circumstances, particularly those related with the socio-economic gaps that may exist between indigenous and other members of the national community, deserve special measures that shall be adopted as appropriate for safeguarding the persons, institutions, property, labor, cultures and environment of the peoples concerned. It should be noted that the Mexican state considers that the provisions on indigenous matter only apply to “communities that are members of an indigenous people, those that form a social, economic and cultural unit, settled in a territory and that recognize their own authorities according to their uses. and customs”
In México Indigenous autonomy or self-determination is understood as respect for the internal practices and decision-making modes, it also means that indigenous communities participate in the various levels of economic, political, cultural, and legal decision-making associated with the state. Government shall ensure then, that indigenous people have the tools to decide their own priorities for the process of development as it affects their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well-being and the lands they occupy or otherwise use, and to exercise control, to the extent possible, over their own economic, social and cultural development. In addition, they shall participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programs for national and regional development which may affect them directly. That’s why the consult process is a significant form to ensure the indigenous peoples rights, by considering them subjects capable of controlling their own destiny, rather than objects of public policies; since acknowledging their rights means nothing without their participation.
Metztli Sarai Hernández Garcia;
Lic. Antropología Social por la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.
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