Every August 9th, the world’s indigenous peoples celebrate their International Day, recognized by the United Nations Organization. Although statistical data is not accurate and tends to be underreported, the world is home to around 500 million people, belonging to some of the five thousand indigenous peoples that exist on the planet.
In Latin America and the Caribbean there are 826 indigenous peoples, more than 100 of whom live transboundarily as they live in at least two countries and a larger number of peoples in voluntary isolation, almost all in the Amazon. Almost 60 million indigenous people live in the region and speak about 550 languages, most of which are threatened with extinction for various reasons.
On this date it is good to remember that since 1989 when International Labor Convention 169 was adopted, later followed by the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the same matter in 2016 the Original Communities have made remarkable strides in recognizing their quality as subjects of individual and collective rights.
At the regional level, the establishment of the Development Fund for the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, which celebrates its first 30th anniversary this year 2022, is undoubtedly a remarkable step forward, also because of its parity character. with equal participation of local and government delegations in all decision-making spaces.
Furthermore, it should not go unmentioned that these very positive changes at the international level have been accompanied in several countries by constitutional, legal and institutional reforms that represent a qualitative leap compared to the situation a few decades ago.
Historically, it has been possible to move from the logic of annihilation, submission, contempt, and denial, to recognizing that societies are multicultural and that different cultures must be fully respected, to building intercultural societies with just relationships between their members.
However, these recognitions, all the result of struggles around the world, have failed to transform the concrete reality of indigenous peoples and communities. In general, they are far from being considered a priority by the vast majority of States, they live in poverty and do not achieve the levels of social and political participation envisaged by the international standards mentioned.
There is also a need to deepen a global cultural shift that recognizes, on fair terms, the vast wealth and potential of indigenous peoples, who over the centuries have built up a wealth of knowledge considered sustainable in specific practices of tremendous benefit appreciates whole.
Indigenous communities are still a long way from being considered a priority by the vast majority of states
In today’s world, where we face intersecting crises as a result of exclusionary social and productive development, generation of inequalities and aggressive nature, the traditional knowledge of ancestral communities must be seen as an essential part of the answers to the great challenges of the present . And especially the knowledge of women, for they are jealous guardians and transmitters of it.
Peacebuilding and peacekeeping must be at the heart of the global political agenda. We must not resign ourselves to contemplating death and destruction without trying to avoid them, moreover we know that sooner or later the consequences of war will affect the most vulnerable, wherever they are.
It is about making agreements that allow every culture living together on Earth to do their best to pervert the current course. Therefore, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues proposed a new social contract at its meetings in 2021.
It is about launching a broad intercultural dialogue, an equal and horizontal interaction between the cultures that coexist on the continent, their expressions and worldviews, including synergies between scientific innovations and the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, such as necessary tools for understanding reality and act accordingly.
Freddy Mamani Machaca He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC).
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