During a mass at the southern Mexican state of Chiapas on Monday, Pope Francis criticized how Mexico’s indigenous populace has suffered from the “culture of rejection” found in our modern world. His comments could also apply to the indigenous peoples of other nations in Latin America and the Caribbean that continue to confront major obstacles for socioeconomic advancement.
A new World Bank study concluded that indigenous people make up 14% and 17% of the region’s poor and extreme poor, respectively, even though they account for 8% of the total populace. The report further claimed that indigenous people face great difficulties to obtain basic social services and access new technologies.
Amerindians in some countries fare bother than others such as in Bolivia and Brazil where poverty levels have decreased while the education gap is shrinking in Ecuador and Nicaragua. Overall, however, process has moved at a glacial pace compared to non-indigenous peoples.
"Latin America has undergone a profound social transformation that reduced poverty and expanded the middle class, but indigenous peoples benefited less than other Latin Americans," said Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, in a statement.
Nearly half of the indigenous populace reside in cities and tend to reside in neighborhoods that are “less secure, less sanitary, and more disaster-prone” than those typically inhabited by residents of other groups. The labor outlook for indigenous urban residents does not fare much better as the World Bank found that it is more likely for them to work in the informal sector.
The international organization urged governments to give Latin America’s indigenous communities a quality education as well as promote policies against discrimination and exclusion. As mentioned by Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, World Bank Senior Director for Social, Urban, Rural & Resilience Global Practice, “inclusion of indigenous peoples in development policies and programs is not just about poverty reduction – it is the process of improving the ability and opportunity for them to be active stakeholders in society”.
Representatives of indigenous groups from around Latin America participated in an encyclical in Chiapas prior to Pope Francis’ visit there. They were hopeful that his trip to the area could help strengthen the call for greater rights to indigenous peoples:
The encyclical “has points in common with our agenda and our doctrine. It’s not just about defending indigenous peoples, but also about the Catholic Church defending a more just and environmntally sustainable society,” Jorge Pérez, president of the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Peru, told IPS during the event…
“We have been worried about how to generate a profound conversion in the communities, among the new generations, because it isn’t just about reading a document, but about living and preaching it, so we can be stronger, with a word of encouragement,” Pedro Gutiérrez of the Tzetzal indigenous community, a member of the non-government Institute of Intercultural Study and Research (INESIN), based in San Cristóbal, told IPS.YouTube Source – euronews
Online Sources (English) – Vice News, Fox News Latino, World Bank, IPS