dorset chiapas solidarity

March 6, 2014

Government Officials Concur: San Andrés Accords with Indigenous Should Be Implemented

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:23 pm


Government Officials Concur: San Andrés Accords with Indigenous Should Be Implemented

Rosa Rojas
La Jornada, 27 February, 2014
Translated by Kathryn Konopka

The head of the Commission for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples (CDPI) of the Secretariat of Government Relations, Jaime Martínez Veloz, said, “Today, under the protection of the new national and international frameworks regarding indigenous rights, no valid argument exists that prevents the implementation of the San Andrés Accords.”

He was summing up the consensus among legislators and officials who opened the forum, “Indigenous Rights and Legisaltive Harmonization”, convened precisely in the context of the eighteenth anniversary of the signing of these agreements between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the Mexican Government (which it failed to fulfill).

They agreed in pointing out that, with legislative harmonization between the Constitution and national laws and the treaties and international agreements signed by Mexico, it is recognized that the indigenous people are subject to public rights; that there should be a general law for prior, free and informed consultation so that they are consulted about decisions and projects that concern their territories and natural resources; that the cited harmonization should be a democratic and pluralistic exercise with decisive indigenous participation.

The CDPI and the Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion (Cesop) of the Chamber of Deputies organized the event, carried out in the Museum of the City of Mexico, with the presence of about 150 people, of which 70 were members of Mexican indigenous groups.

Participating in the innaugural event were the Secretary of Culture, Eduardo Vázquez Martín, and the Undersecretary of Government Relations of the Federal District [Mexico City], Juan José García Ochoa, the deputies, Carlos de Jesús, representative of the Commission for Dialogue and Negotiation in Chiapas, and Sebastián de la Rosa Peláez, president of the Commision of Cesop, and senator Eviel Pérez Magaña, president of the Commission of Ingigenous Issues in the Senate.

Pérez Magaña expressed his “total willingness” to bring the document of recommendations that comes from this forum to the commission that he presides over and later to the full Senate. De la Rosa stressed that the country requires a single legislative framework with the constitutional recognition of the indigenous peoples’ rights.

The former special reporter for Indigenous Rights for the United Nations, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, in a speech read by Sedena Chuc, criticized that a secondary law, the Mining Law of 1992, has greater standing in practice than the Constitution itself, since it gives preference to the mining companies over the natural resources of the indigenous people. This contradicts the second article of the Constitution, reformed in 2001, that recognizes and guarantees to these people the use and preferential enjoyment of the natural resources in the areas that they inhabit.

He stressed that the little that has been achieved in regards to indigenous rights is due to the indigenous movements and organizations that made their appearance on the national scene starting in the 1970s and 1980s, including EZLN in 1994.

He indicated that today new routes for the defense of individual and collective human rights of the indigenous people have been half-opened, “but the gaps are narrow and behind closed doors historic institutional blocks are kept, supported by the powers that be that have taken over the political power in our country.” Martha Sánchez, activist for the rights of indigenous women, warned that the right to consultation included in Agreement 169 of the International Labour Organization covers the right of the indigenous people to say no to development projects contrary to what they want.

Pablo Yanes, leader of the Social Development Unit of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, pointed out that the indigenous people should have access to the country’s resources, with redistributive policies, because there are legislative advances, but inequality and structural discrimination [persist].

Lastly, the participants were divided up into work sessions in order to discuss different aspects of legislative harmonization and make proposals, from which a final document will be made that, upon the agreement of forum participants, will be distributed among the indigenous people of the country for their discussion.

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