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  • Deyanira Mishari, an Indigenous community leader in the Peruvian Amazon.

    Deyanira Mishari, an Indigenous community leader in the Peruvian Amazon. | Photo: UNDP Peru

Published 14 June 2020
Opinion

Rising criminalization of Indigenous peoples’ territorial demands is a phenomenon that is dangerously affecting the whole region, according to the ECLAC's executive secretary.

Territorial conflicts in Latin America and the Caribbean led to the killing of 232 Indigenous leaders, four murders a month between 2015 and 2019, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) in a report released Thursday.

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The study called ‘The Indigenous Peoples of Latin America – Abya Yala and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Tensions and Challenges from a Territorial Perspective’ presents an overview of Indigenous peoples’ lands rights and fights, demography, and the right to live in dignity. 

It aims to monitor the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and to urge actions needed to comply with the commitments taken by the continent’s nations.

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Barcena, warned during a virtual event for the launch of the report that rising processes for criminalizing Indigenous peoples’ territorial demands are a phenomenon that is dangerously affecting the whole region.

Barcena also said that the Indigenous populations continue to experience a higher level of poverty than non-Indigenous people and that the wage inequalities between Indigenous workers and non-Indigenous ones intensify according to education level and gender.

“We must put an end to the culture of privilege that naturalizes inequalities and different types of discrimination, which we have inherited from colonial times. We have to defeat the culture of privilege and move towards a culture of equality that shows special respect for the great wealth of Indigenous peoples,” the U.N. official said.

President of FILAC, Myrna Cunningham, noted at the same event that the document recalls a reality revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic: intensification of racism, exposure of the inequality between Indigenous peoples and other groups of society, and the crisis of the economic model prevailing in the region.

According to the report, the Indigenous population in Latin America is estimated at 60 million people belonging to more than 800 different Indigenous nations and representing 10 percent of the region’s total.

"The more than 800 Indigenous peoples present in Latin America should take a leading role in decision-making spaces, not only to safeguard their right to self-determination but also because of the significant contributions they can make to reformulating development models," the ECLAC said in a statement.

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