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Unformatted text preview: Human_01.qxd 25/10/05 6:15 PM Page 1 Human_01.qxd 2 1 Introduction: The Indigenous
Peoples’ Decade in Latin
Gillette Hall, Heather Marie Layton and Joseph Shapiro 1 6:15 PM Page 2 Introduction transferred a greater share of public expenditure to state and local control.
Multilateral organizations have also changed their approach. In 1991 the
International Labour Organization (ILO) passed Convention 169, the only
legally binding instrument of international law to deal exclusively with the
rights of indigenous peoples. Major development organizations such as the
World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have added the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights to their operational guidelines and
stepped up their effort to incorporate the needs of indigenous communities
into the design and implementation of their projects.
The purpose of this volume is to investigate whether these developments
on national and international fronts have been accompanied by real
improvements in the material conditions of indigenous peoples. It does so
by addressing four main questions:
● In 1993, on the recommendation of the World Conference on Human
Rights, the United Nations Assembly proclaimed the International Decade of
the World’s Indigenous Peoples, to begin on 10 December 1994.1 At the same
time a report entitled Indigenous People and Poverty in Latin America
(Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, 1994) provided the first regional assessment
of living standards among indigenous peoples. It found systematic evidence
that indigenous peoples suffered far worse socioeconomic conditions than
the population as a whole. In addition to high poverty rates it documented
social exclusion via labour market discrimination and limited access to public education and health services. This report set a baseline from which
future progress could be measured.
The year 1994 heralded a major uprising of indigenous people in the
Mexican state of Chiapas, known as the Zapatista rebellion. Deploring the
world’s lack of attention to their plight and fearful of the effects of rapid globalization on their local economies and culture, the actions of these people signaled the beginning of a new era in which indigenous peoples would begin to
play an increasingly vocal part in national politics. In the subsequent years
indigenous groups throughout Latin America exercised their political muscle
in new and increasingly visible ways. Indigenous movements took to the
streets in Ecuador on five separate occasions during the 1990s, leading to negotiations with the government and ultimately to constitutional change. But
this newfound political muscle was not truly felt until 2003, when indigenous
groups led a coalition that toppled President Sánchez de Lozada of Bolivia.
These actions are considered to have brought about some of the most farreaching reforms in favour of indigenous peoples world-wide (UNICEF, 2003).
Latin American governments have responded in two ways. First, many contries have enacted or attempted to pass legislation supporting the rights of
indigenous peoples. Second, countries have directed a greater share of national
resources towards education, health and poverty-reduction programmes, and 25/10/05 ● ● ● Have poverty rates increased or decreased among indigenous peoples
since 1994, and what are the main determinants of the observed trends?
How does this compare with changes in the poverty rate among the rest
of the population?
Have the main human capital indicators (education and health)
improved for indigenous and non-indigenous groups alike? What factors
explain these trends?
As income (and therefore income poverty) is to a large extent determined
by human capital, have the income returns from human capital changed
for indigenous and non-indigenous people? What explains differences in
labour market earnings?
Does access to major social and poverty reduction programmes differ
between indigenous and non-indigenous people? The study covers the five countries in Latin America with the largest
indigenous populations – Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru2 –,
(The subsequent implementation of household surveys has allowed the
inclusion of Ecuador in this volume. which was not included in the previous
report (Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, 1994) due to lack of data.) The focus of
each country chapter is similar to that in 1994, with particular emphasis on
human development indicators (poverty, education, health, income determinants and access to basic services). While this emphasis gives the study a
high degree of comparability with the 1994 report, it limits its scope to a subset of factors that can lead to improved poverty outcomes, omitting for
example consideration of assets, access to credit and so on, which will be
explored in future work.
Using additional information which has become available since publication of the 1994 report, this book provides a more complete picture of
human development issues that are expected to play a fundamental role in
poverty reduction over the medium to long term. In particular each country Human_01.qxd 25/10/05 6:15 PM Page 3 Gillette Hall, Heather Marie Layton and Joseph Shapiro 3 chapter has an expanded section on health issues, a new section on access to
social assistance programmes and an extended discussion of issues pertaining to the quality of education. Each chapter differs slightly from the others
as it draws on the unique mix of statistical information available in each
country. However the chapters have been made as comparable as possible in
terms of the topics covered.
The remainder of this chapter describes the setting against which the
study takes place by summarizing the major policy changes that occurred
during the indigenous peoples’ decade. Further introductory material is
provided in Chapter 2, which discusses the complexity of identifying indigenous peoples and addresses the question of how many indigenous people
reside in Latin America. Chapters 3–7 are the individual country studies.
Chapter 8, identifies regional patterns and proposes an agenda for future
action based on the major conclusions of the study.3
Before proceeding it is important to point out an important reality regarding indigenous peoples about whom this book is written while indigenous
peoples do describe the material conditions in which many of them live –
poor education, unemployment, and so on – as ‘poverty’, they also consider
themselves rich in terms of cultural and spiritual traditions that may be
absent in larger societies.4 These factors tend not to be captured in this book
as it assesses poverty only in quantitative terms. This book is both strengthened and handicapped by that approach. The strength of our approach is
that it speaks in terms that are familiar to national and international policy
makers, and as such its goal is to have a direct impact on policy decisions
that will strongly affect the lives of indigenous peoples. Yet at the same time,
this quantitative approach does not reflect on all the needs and values of
Latin America’s indigenous peoples. While indigenous peoples consider that
poor education, malnutrition, bad health, unemployment, discrimination
and so on are causing them to live in poverty, they consider themselves. The policy setting
Indigenous peoples’ visibility in Latin American society and politics grew during the 1990s,5 Their presence is being felt, first and foremost, via increased
political participation. Across the region indigenous political representation
has historically been minimal, but substantial advances have occurred
recently, most notably since 1990. As one politician commented, we are
finally electing leaders who look like the people they represent (Forero, 2003).
Changes in representation vary by country. In Peru, in 2001 Alejandro
Toledo Manrique, a descendant of the Quechua people, was elected as the
country’s first indigenous president. In 1993 Bolivians elected Ayamaran
Victor Hugo Cárdenas as vice-president. This is the first time that an indigenous person has held a position of such prominence. In Bolivia in particular,
where a majority of the population is indigenous, rapid increases in local Human_01.qxd 4 25/10/05 6:15 PM Page 4 Introduction Table 1.1 Elected indigenous political representatives, Guatemala, 1985–2000 1985
2000 Total number of
representatives Number of indigenous
representatives Indigenous representatives
as a percentage of the total 110
12.4 Source: Lux de Cotí, 1991; MINUGUA, 2001. political participation has followed. In 1995 about 20 indigenous representatives were elected to local councils (IWGIA, 1996). In 1997, partly due to
disagreements between indigenous groups about electoral strategy, an
indigenous alliance received only 3 per cent of the votes and only one
indigenous member of parliament was elected (IWGIA, 1998). However in
2002 the Movement for Socialism (MAS), a party established by indigenous
cocoa growers in the late 1990s, won 20 per cent of the votes and a new
indigenous party, the Pachakuti Indigenous Movement (MIP), won an additional 7 per cent (Madrid, 2003), thereby tripling the proportion of indigenous congressional law makers in Bolivia (Forero, 2003).
Guatemala has experienced similar changes. In 1995 Robert Qume Chay
became the first K’iche person to win a major mayoral election. He duly
became mayor of Quetzaltenango, the second most important city in
Guatemala (IWGIA, 1996). In the country as a whole the percentage of
indigenous national representatives rose from 8 per cent in 1985 to 12 per
cent in 2000 (Table 1.1). However indigenous representation is still far from
proportional as about 40 per cent of Guatemalan citizens are indigenous.
Moreover there is evidence of apathy: in 1999, when Guatemala held a referendum to ratify constitutional reforms, including the 1995 agreement on
indigenous rights, only 12 per cent of Guatemalans voted, 57 per cent of
whom rejected the reforms (IWGIA, 2000; Stavenhagen, 2002).
In Ecuador the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador
(CONAIE) entered into partnership with several unions and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) to form the Movement for Pachakutik–New Country
(MUPP–NP). This party only received a small proportion of the votes in the
1996 and 1998 general elections, but in 2000 it joined forces with the Patriotic
Society Party (PSP) and won 20 per cent of the votes (Madrid, 2003). Prior to
that, in 1996 an indigenous confederation had won 10 per cent of deputies’
seats (Beck and Mijeski, 2001). In 2002 a number of indigenous organizations,
including the MUPP–NP, backed Lucio Gutierrez’s successful presidential campaign and subsequently several cabinet positions were awarded to indigenous
leaders. For example Nina Pacari, an indigenous lawyer who had been involved
with the indigenous movement since its inception, was appointed minister of
foreign relations. However President Gutierrez soon began to distance himself Human_01.qxd 25/10/05 6:15 PM Page 5 Gillette Hall, Heather Marie Layton and Joseph Shapiro 5 from his populist platform, firing several indigenous government officials in
the process. Nine months after Gutierrez took office the MUPP–NP withdrew
its support for his administration (Fraser and Jeffrey, 2004). Informal movements
As indigenous participation in formal political elections has grown there has
been a parallel proliferation of indigenous movements. These movements
include NGOs and less structured groups such as the Zapatista movement in
the Mexican state of Chiapas. NGOs that represent excluded groups such as
indigenous peoples have increased in importance worldwide: Boulding
(1997) estimates that the number of international NGOs with an ethnic basis
increased fivefold between 1970 and 1994 to about 550 organizations. These
NGOs have played an increasingly prominent part in world events.
The spread of indigenous NGOs and movements in Latin America has
been comparable. Yashar (1998, p. 23), in a review of political movements in
the five countries considered in this book, concludes that, with the exception
of Peru, indigenous organizations have made obsolete the common assumption that ‘ethnicity in Latin America has had comparatively little explicit
impact on political organizing, party platforms, debates, and conflict, in
sharp contrast to other regions in the world’. Yet even in Peru, some political momentum among indigenous peoples has taken place (Remy, 1994).6
The Emiliana Zapatista Liberation Front (EZLN) has been one of Latin
America’s best known indigenous movements. In 1994 it began an uprising
in the state of Chiapas to protest against economic liberalization and other
policies of the Mexican federal government. In 1994, 100,000 people rose in
Mexico City in support of the Zapatistas. The movement did not seek to
control the government, but rather to influence national policy and increase
the voice of Mexican indigenous peoples. The movement continues to exist,
although its influence has diminished since 1994 (Bruhn, 1999).
Indigenous movements in Guatemala have had a more direct influence on
national policy, and particularly on the 1996 peace accords that followed the
civil war. Guatemala’s Civil Society Assembly (ASC) and groups such as
Majawil Q’ij, the National Coordinating Committee of Indigenous People
and Campesinos (CONIC) and the Council of Guatemalan Mayan
Organizations (COMG) fought for indigenous rights in the peace accords,
and their efforts were partly responsible for the creation of the Accord on
Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples after the 1996 elections. Another
indigenous organization is Nukuj Ajpop, an electoral coalition that successfully fielded several municipal and legislative candidates in 1995 (IWGIA,
1995, 1996). Much earlier, from the 1970s a Mayan movement began to
strive for the involvement of Guatemala’s Mayan people in political debates
(Jiménez Sanchez, 1998).
Ecuador’s Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE) spearheaded indigenous mobilization in that country and became one of the Human_01.qxd 6 25/10/05 6:15 PM Page 6 Introduction most influential indigenous NGOs in Latin America. Indigenous organizing
in Ecuador began as two separate movements in the Amazon and the Sierra,
but merged in 1980 under the CONAIE banner (Selverston, 1994). In the mid
1990s CONAIE began discussions with the national government about the
reform of a national agrarian law that CONAIE condemned and Ecuador’s
Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees had declared to be unconstitutional.
The reformulated law contained far more provisions on the rights of indigenous peoples (IWGIA, 1996). In 1997 the indigenous movement participated
in popular uprisings that brought about the overthrow of the Abdalá
Bucaram government (IWGIA, 1998). CONAIE also played a significant part
in organizing protests against the government of Jamil Mahuad, who was
eventually deposed as president in 2000. After Mahuad stepped down a
three-man junta briefly took power. This comprised a military general, a former Supreme Court judge and Antonio Vargas, who at that time was the
president of CONAIE (Beck and Mijeski, 2001).
Despite such changes, in Latin America and elsewhere indigenous peoples
continue to complain that lack of governmental participation is responsible
for a substantial part of their poverty. On behalf of the World Bank, Narayan
et al. (2000) interviewed 60,000 poor women and men in 50 countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Ecuador. The respondents included in their
definition of poverty the absence of participation in and positive interaction
with the government in terms of voice, effective programmes and transparency, plus the existence of discrimination and lack of concern about
discrimination. So for indigenous peoples, misguided or non-existent policies
not only cause poverty but also perpetuate powerlessness (Box 1.1). Thus
while major changes in political participation have taken place, there is still
much progress to be made. Policy changes
The increased political participation by indigenous peoples in Latin America
has been accompanied by policy changes in two major areas with a potential
impact on poverty and human development. First, significant changes in
legislation on indigenous peoples’ rights have occurred since 1990, particularly regarding claims to land and resources. Second, many countries have
implemented programmes to reduce poverty, and in some cases these are
specifically targeted at indigenous peoples, such as the provision of bilingual
education. We shall review related developments below.
A primary goal of indigenous political involvement, through both formal
elections and non-governmental movements, is to generate legislation that Human_01.qxd 25/10/05 6:15 PM Page 7 Human_01.qxd Gillette Hall, Heather Marie Layton and Joseph Shapiro 7 Box 1.1 Thoughts of the indigenous poor in Ecuador on governance and
The World Bank’s Voices of the Poor report included participatory poverty
assessments in 50 countries. The Ecuador assessment identified indigenous
respondents. Though many responses focused on lack of income, inferior health
and education services, and other traditional indicators of poverty, a number of
replies commented on lack of effort from government, or lack of voice in government affairs.
We suffer in the countryside because we haven’t received any help from the different
governments. We don’t receive anything. They don’t want to help us.
– Indigenous woman from indigenous Amazonian community, Ecuador
Money does not reach the needy … because the government does not define any policy;
every time there is a new government, the policy changes. … Each government has a
different work plan that cheats people.
– Indigenous person from Ecuadorian highlands
The government does not really govern; the rich are the ones that govern. … The farmers words are not heard and his product is not valued. … The press does not inform on
our collective rights. … We are never told of communities that make plans. … There are
a lot of us who don’t know our public rights, above all.
– Indigenous Ecuadorian
There used to be institutions that would help us with projects, but they were embezzled. If we protest what they have done, they say that they will create another organization. We are also learning the bad practices of the State. They are learning from
Dahik, Verduga [state secretaries charged for embezzlement].
– Indigenous woman from Ecuadorian highlands
Source: Flores (1999). better reflects the needs of indigenous peoples. Such legislation is in reality
both a cause and an effect of indigenous political power. On the one hand,
international conventions and constitutional amendments encourage the
creation of programmes for indigenous peoples and may facilitate legal
recourse against discrimination. Internal policies in organizations such as
the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank can change the ways
in which those institutions operate. On the other hand such legislation
arises because indigenous peoples and others working on their behalf, such
as NGOs and politicians, lobby international organizations to introduce it.
Both international legislation and national constitutional amendments to
improve the situation of indigenous peoples have expanded significantly
over the last century. However this is only the first step, and much
remains to be done in terms of strengthening the implementation and
enforcement of legislation. Impediments to this include lack of money and 8 25/10/05 6:15 PM Page 8 Introduction weak institutional structures at the national and regional levels (InterAmerican Development Bank, 2003).
In 1989 the International Labour Organization (ILO) produced Convention
169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries. The
convention is broad and includes po...
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