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Posts Tagged ‘injustice’

August 9th is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples; so designated twenty years ago by the United Nations General Assembly in an attempt to guarantee the human rights of over five thousand indigenous groups that exist in 90 countries.

Zapotec woman at Oaxaca's Feria del Tejate y del Tamal - July 23, 2014

Zapotec woman at Oaxaca’s Feria del Tejate y del Tamal – July 23, 2014

However, to cruise around the online versions of CNN International and the New York Times, one would never know of the day’s significance.  At least Día Internacional de los Pueblos Indígenas isn’t being ignored by CNN Mexico.  In an article published today (in Spanish) they cite seven challenges faced by the indigenous of Mexico:

  • Justice – The CNDH reported on July 24 that there are 8,334 Indians in Mexican prisons. Of these, the majority “have not been assisted by a defender and interpreter or translator companion, and even often know why they are internal,” the commission said in a statement.
  • Health – 20% of the indigenous lack access to health services, a rate similar to the population as a whole, except, as the article notes, in recent months the issue has drawn public attention following cases of indigenous women who have had to give birth in hospital courtyards or bathrooms, as they were not given immediate attention by hospital authorities.
  • Education – 50% of Mexico’s indigenous are said to be educationally “backward.”  And the article noted, the three states with the highest failure rates in primary and secondary school are Guerrero, Michoacan and Oaxaca, three of the states of the country with the largest indigenous populations.
  • Housing – 40% of the indigenous have inadequate housing.
  • Food – 42% of Mexico’s indigenous population receives insufficient nutrition.
  • Poverty – 72% of the indigenous in Mexico are living in poverty.
  • Discrimination – In August 2012, the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred) released a survey showing that 44.1% of Mexicans believe that the rights of indigenous people are not respected.

    http://noticiasmvsfotos.blob.core.windows.net/media/infografias/8a206f5d5c58f9e85b3774ff6fd05a2b.jpg

    Pueblos Indígenas en México (Indigenous peoples in Mexico) — Infographic from NoticiasMVS

And, regarding discrimination, yesterday ADNPolítico.com published an article, 5 ‘retratos’ de la discriminación hacia indígenas mexicanos (in Spanish).  Despite the fact that the first article of the Mexican Constitution declares, any discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin is prohibited, the story highlights five recent cases that have made national headlines:

  • The death of a 20-year-old pregnant Mixtec woman and the baby she was carrying, after she had spent 5 hours in the waiting room of a community hospital in Copala, Guerrero.
  • The case of a 13-year-old girl, with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, who was denied medical care in the Civil Hospital of Oaxaca.
  • A Tarahumara laborer from Guachochi, Chihuahua, died after spending five days outside a hospital in Guaymas, Sonora, without food and without shelter, having been denied admission to the hospital because he did not have enough money.
  • A 10-year Tzotzil boy originally from Chiapas who, while selling candy to buy his school supplies, was humiliated by an official of the municipality of Centro, Tabasco, who forced him to throw his merchandise on the ground.  A video of this travesty went viral and sparked outrage.
  • A gas station in Zapopan, Jalisco, was closed last June after its owner was shown on video assaulting an Indian couple who was eating outside the station.

We, in Oaxaca, just experienced the spectacle of the Guelaguetza celebrating the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca.  However, some say (in Spanish) it presents a static view of indigenous peoples, reinforces stereotypes, and sells exoticism — all to promote tourism.

Mixtec dancers from San Antonio Huitepec at La Guelaguetza, July 21, 2014.

Mixtec dancers from San Antonio Huitepec at La Guelaguetza — July 21, 2014.

The focus of this year’s International Day is “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples.”  Is it all talk, no action, and a lot of window dressing?  I don’t know, but it sure seems like that to me…  Sometimes, “poco a poco” isn’t good enough.

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