indigenous

Nicaragua’s Century-Old Dispute

Monday, January 2, 2017 - 08:45

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[1] 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[2] [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[3] 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[4] 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[5] 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.

 

Carlos' Story

Monday, December 19, 2016 - 08:00

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.

Pitt Hosts International Symposium on Andean Writer Gamaliel Churata

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 13:00

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.

Indigenous Education Symposium

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 09:00

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.

Interculturalidad y Buen Vivir as National Rebranding in Ecuador

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 13:30

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.

Health and Safety Concerns Over Brazil's Uncontacted Tribes

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 08:00

It is believed that this unnamed tribe was forced out of their land by illegal loggers and miners near the border of Peru and Brazil. Being forced out of their homes and hungry they were forced to make contact. Upon arrival at the Ashinanka village, they signaled that they were hungry and were given plantains. The next day they came back, not because they needed more food, but because one of the members had come down with cold or flu like symptoms.

Christopher Columbus: A Controversy 500 Years Later

Monday, October 20, 2014 - 10:00

October 13th is nationally recognized as Columbus day, marking the day Christopher Columbus discovered the new world in 1492. This encounter, as students learn as early as elementary school, changed the course of American and Latin American history. This year, many cities across the US have protested this holiday demanding that instead of lauding Columbus, we use this day to recognize the indigenous people whose land Columbus allegedly invaded.

Julieta Paredes Brings Discussion of Communal Feminism to Pittsburgh

Monday, April 6, 2015 - 08:00

In the spring semester of 2013, the University of Pittsburgh held an interdisciplinary conference entitled “Feminism and the Ruses of Coloniality” at which the Bolivian feminist Julieta Paredes gave a speech entitled “Communal Feminism is Revolutionary Feminism”. This year, Paredes attended the University’s First Symposium of Bolivianists, where she spoke again. Her talk was entitled “Depatriarchalization, a Categorical Proposal of Communal Feminism.”

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