indigenous political representation in guatemala

In recent years there have been an increasing number of institutions and units created to uphold indigenous rights at the federal level. Although both adhere in principle to the constitutional norm of respect for environmental rights and prior consultation (consulta previa), they currently represent a challenge to Indigenous land rights. The ensuing protests and road blocks were met with harsh police retaliation. Today, the region boasts numerous elected Indigenous and Afro-descendant mayors, municipal councilors, state and national legislators, governors, and even presidents in the case of Peru and Bolivia. The convoy ignored repeated police requests that it retreat. When a license for exploration for the Canadian corporate project, the Marlin Mine, was proposed in 1999 in the municipalities of San Marcos and Huehuetenango in Guatemala, indigenous leaders decided to vocally and physically oppose the venture. Indigenous communities are among the most marginalized, as they face both institutional and cultural barriers in the country’s political system. Until then, Anixh will continue work through RENO’J and in her Maya Q’anjob’al community to strengthen the capacity of youth to lead initiatives and catalyze action within their own communities to prepare the next generation for leadership. In this regard, Congress in 1992 passed the Environment Law No. 1. Acknowledging their failure to gain the support of the majority of rural Guatemala, particularly the indigenous populations, two of the three major guerrilla organizations “spent several years being educated by the indigenous population and organizing a political support base primarily in the western highlands” (Totten, 2009, 379). Guatemala is a profoundly multicultural country. Unfortunately, due to their inherent weakness and the Guatemalan government’s pre-disposition to support foreign investors at almost any cost, the country’s courts have not forced foreign companies to take into account the victims of its mega projects. As mentioned above, the Guatemalan Constitution recognizes the methods of organization of the indigenous peoples, and the Municipal Code also clearly acknowledges the role of the indigenous authorities. Mayan Languages Academy: Created in 1990, this autonomous organization conducts research to stimulate and support the development of indigenous languages, implements educational development programs, and publishes bilingual articles, dictionaries, and books; Guatemalan Indigenous Development Fund (FODIGUA): Created in 1994, the Fund works towards the cultural, political, social, environmental, and economic development of the Mayan, Garifuna and Xinca peoples. At the turn of the 21st century, the harmful effects of corporate mining projects’ were already well-known among the communities living near them. The police and various security forces continue to repress the protestors, as was the case in March 2007, when they sprayed tear gas at those who were peacefully protesting Goldcorp’s Marlin mine. Despite its best efforts, however, the army was unable to extinguish the insurgency or capture its leadership. In view of the historical vulnerability of local communities to land seizures by those with political connections, financial resources, and fluency in the national language (Spanish), the accords call for legislative and administrative reforms to title, protect, defend, and settle land claims; to provide educational, legal, and linguistic assistance so communities can defend their interests; and to compensate communities that have lost lands. Seven were part of the Democrácia Cristiana Guatemalteca (Guatemalan Christian Democracy) party, while only Waldemar Caal Rossi was elected through the Unión del Centro Nacional (National Union of the Center) party. Whether deployed as part of a campaign platform (as Ollanta Humala did in Peru last year) or used as a catch phrase to describe the root of malaise (as Barack Obama has done in the United States), the idea of promoting inclusion of disenfranchised groups has entered the public discourse, and, in many cases, become a goal in itself. Timeline of approved legislation, Nonetheless, most indigenous leaders interviewed by Global Americans argued that the Guatemalan government had yet to recognize the right to self-determination and expressed frustration with the ongoing implementation gaps. Indigenous legislators occupied their three reserved seats in both chambers, with only Orsinia Polanco Jusayú coming from a non-Indigenous party (Polo Democrático Alternativo). The Indigenous fared better,  thanks to the support of established social and political movements, particularly under the umbrella of the Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia (National Indigenous Organization of Colombia—ONIC). The momentum gained by the professional work of the Attorney General’s Office must also be sustained. Anixh believes the future of indigenous communities hinges on changes at the national level, specifically reforms that strengthen participation and representation, as well as building capacities on the community level. In March, Guatemala passes the Agreement on the Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The unvoiced consensus among the powerful Europeanized minority remains that although the indigenous population is substantial, its political representation should remain marginalized. Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc. Our website houses close to five decades of content and publishing. To these concerns, Pan-Mayanists added the issue of collective cultural rights and self-determination, which they advocated through the Council of Mayan Organizations of Guatemala (COMG), a Mayan umbrella group. Until the country’s powerful, corrupt political class begins to make more of an effort to incorporate Guatemala’s excluded majority into social and political life, the prospects of reducing the exclusion of Latin America’s fourth largest indigenous community look bleak. Given the threatening political environment, this leadership dedicated themselves, at great personal cost, to press for the public recognition of human rights abuses and for greater influence in national politics. Ideally, the results and conclusions of this dialogue could also be turned into national law. Meanwhile, wealth has become even more concentrated among the richest Guatemalans making the country more unequal than it has ever been before.4, This level of inequality triggers other dimensions of social exclusion. They are actively working to promote Mayan schools as forums in which children might gain an education supportive of indigenous culture and language. Written on 24 April 2019.Posted in Guatemala. Decree 12-2002 creates the Municipal Code, which recognizes that indigenous communities have their own methods of organization, according to their own norms and with their own authorities. Table 4 It’s just not fair.”. IndividuaLs and communities would gain the right to shed hispanic names as they wished. For detailed descriptions of the methodologies used to identify Indigenous and Afro-descendant representatives, please access the individual country reports available at: On October 23, hundreds of Totonicapán community members marched from the site of the killings to the municipality’s central square, and Indigenous organizations staged solidarity protests in the rural departments of Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, Quiché, Alta Verapaz, and Chimaltenango. Although one Indigenous activist told us several years ago, “I dream that someday I will no longer have to protest,” that day seems as far off as ever. In contrast, Afro-descendant communities tended to be more dispersed across rural and urban communities. Land issues are also highly politicized. The indigenous movement lay semi-dormant for a number of years, until the recent election of Bolivia’s Evo Morales, the first indigenous leader in Latin America, raised expectations among Guatemala’s underrepresented community. During this process, Indigenous leaders formed the Comisión Indígena para Reformas Constitucionales (Indigenous Commission for Constitutional Reforms), which proposed 157 distinct reforms, most of them guaranteeing equal rights for Indigenous populations. Out of these movements and a 1990 March for Territory and Dignity came Evo Morales, an Aymara coca grower. The strength of the Mirador Electoral coalition was based on its ability to bring together the diverse civil society organizations featured in this blog series to conduct a larger and more effective observation than any individual organization could do on their own. The opinions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Democratic Institute. AMERICAS SOCIETY/COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS. The 2008 Constituent Assembly marked the first time Afro-Ecuadorians were visibly present in the political process. Anixh Ana María Pablo Tercero, a Maya-Q’anjob’al woman from the Cuchumatanes mountains in northeastern Guatemala, led the electoral observation efforts conducted by the National Network of Mayan Youth (RENO’J). The October 4 massacre was also a demonstration of the armed forces’ inherent incapacity to guarantee domestic public security, despite the president’s campaign pledge. The siege lasted two and a half hours. The principle legislative victory for Indigenous representatives was the 2003 Ley de Generalización de Educación Bilingüe Multicultural e Intercultural (Law of Generalization of Bilingual, Multicultural and Intercultural Education). Law 70 of 1993 created two reserved seats for Afro-Colombians in the Chamber of Deputies. Breakdown of initiatives presented by indigenous legislators at the Guatemalan Congress, But, once again, having indigenous legislators in Congress does not necessarily translate to increased representation of indigenous causes. His bill established a new level of governance by granting autonomy to traditional Indigenous communities located in the original political divisions of departments, provinces and municipalities. Given the startling levels of poverty and inequality, the wave of protests should, therefore, have surprised no one. In our study these articles are considered as four separate legislative projects. However, it has not achieved more than 22 seats in Congress (13% of total seats). MAS is legally a political party, but operationally it is a confederation of social movements, labor movements and left-leaning intellectuals. In 1993, with the help of a failed self-coup by former President Jorge Serrano Elias, the Permanent Maya Assembly, representing an early indigenous political movement, asserted its presence and its push for permanence in the Guatemalan political arena by submitting a list with three names for the vice-presidency.

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