Twenty-three years ago, Mexico’s Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) successfully executed its famous uprising under its leader, Subcomandante Marcos, which many thought would be the first sentence on a new page in Mexican history. The revolution in Chiapas, which was intentionally planned to align with the introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), seemed as if it would achieve its goal of realizing rights for indigenous people (Young 2017).
Over the past few years, Mexico’s financial landscape has been undergoing a painful transformation, largely due to the sudden drop in oil prices seen worldwide. Just ten years ago, 35 percent of the government’s revenue was derived from crude oil production. As of last year, though, this had fallen to 20 percent as prices fell and the Mexican state-owned company Pemex reduced its typical 3.4 million barrel per day (bpd) production rate to around 2.2 million bpd.
On Friday, October 2017, troops and federal police were deployed after several government and environmental agency buildings were set on fire by hundreds of armed men in the town of Humaíta in the Brazilian Amazon.
When the Colombian Congress approved the peace agreement with the country’s largest dissident guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), at the end of November 2016, the accord was hailed as a triumph: the long-awaited end to fifty
Indigenous communities in Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast are working to secure rights to broad "territories" based on traditional patterns of use and occupancy. Nicaragua’s dispute over indigenous lands has claimed at least 30 lives since 2008. Two of those lives were lost just a few weeks ago over this century-old dispute. The conflict has existed since the Mosquito Coast was annexed to Nicaragua more than 155 years ago. The Miskitos were never conquered by the Spanish – for a long while, the region was a British protectorate.
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,” goes the old saying. Eighteen years ago, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that Nicaragua had violated the rights of the Awas Tingni to property, by granting a concession to a company to carry out road construction work and logging without the consent of the Awas Tingni community. Despite the native communities’ autonomy over the lands and preferential treatment under the law, a modern colonization-style land grab is underway as the Nicaraguan government looks the other way. The subsequent failure by the government to resolve the situation led to a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [PDF] in 2001, which confirmed the existence of the indigenous land rights in question, including the right of participation in matters affecting land rights and the requirement of the consultation with the Awas Tigni indigenous peoples.
But the law favors the indigenous. Perhaps the most important piece of legislation is law 455 on the Communal Property System of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities of Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast and of the Bocay, Coco, Indio and Maíz Rivers which, from 2003 on, also stipulates the right to self-government in the titled communities and territories. The 2006 General Education Law also recognizes a Regional Autonomous Education System (SEAR). When the Sandinista National Liberation Front came to power in Nicaragua in 1979, they subsequently had to face an armed insurgency supported by the United States. Indigenous peoples from the Caribbean Coast, primarily the Miskitu, took part in this insurgency. In order to put an end to indigenous resistance, the Sandinista government created law 28 on the Autonomous Regions of the North and South Atlantic (RAAN/RAAS), on the basis of a New Political Constitution and the Autonomy Law.
Yet, despite the constitutional and statutory provisions upholding indigenous land rights and authority, the Nicaraguan government itself has taken no definitive steps toward demarcating indigenous lands. Under the Nicaraguan civil code, all lands not titled to private owners belong to the state. It appears then that the Nicaraguan government, particularly its agencies charged with natural resource development, has approached the issue of land grabbing from the indigenous primarily from the standpoint of a party interested in securing its own property interests in the resource-rich Atlantic Coast.
Dr. Maureen Porter has always been surrounded by indigenous cultures. Some of her favorite memories were going on outings with her diverse extended family.
This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to spend half of my summer working in Sololá, Guatemala. The municipality is located in the Western highlands of the country, and I was specifically staying around the beautiful Lake Atítlan in the town of San Juan La Laguna. When my intern team’s boat landed in San Juan’s dock, I remember being a bit apprehensive – I had been forewarned that the town was more in tune to its Maya roots and that it would be a much more traditional experience than the other parts of Guatemala we had visited.
Last week I had the exciting opportunity to sit in on portions of an international symposium hosted by the University of Pittsburgh on Peruvian author Gamaliel Churata. The two-day long event titled Gamaliel Churata: Envisioning the Circulation of Andean Epistemologies in the Age of Globalization brought together writers and scholars from all over the world. Among them were the university’s own Ariel C. Armony, Senior Director of International Programs and Director of the University Center for International Studies; Scott J.
On September 21st, the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for International Studies in Education and School of Education combined with the University Center for International Studies to hold a day long symposium on indigenous education. The event had an international focus with eight different presenters discussing indigenous issues around the world. Beyond the presentations, there were also a tables focusing on indigenous culture from Peru to Samoa. Even the lunch was provided with a theme of traditional indigenous food and performers.
Since the 1990s the concept of interculturalidad [interculturality] has taken hold in Latin American politics. In Ecuador, it has been a tenant of indigenous movements and NGOs in the struggle to recognize cultural diversity and eliminate socioeconomic inequalities. The current government, under President Rafael Correa, has adopted interculturalidad as a paradigm shift against the state’s neoliberal past.