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MEXICO
Indigenous rights in the capital
7/23/2009
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Government agency starts regional survey on indigenous’ rights and culture to draft law.

Mexico City´s government has launched a four-month survey of the capital region´s indigenous population in an effort to draft legislation to protect this marginalized group.

The Rural Community Development and Equality Secretariat, a federal district government agency, is running the seven-phase survey from August to November to “determine and systematize the opinions of the indigenous villages, communities, organizations and citizens who reside in the [Federal] District.”

In its announcement of the survey, which was preceded by attention-raising campaigns in June and July, the agency said it has been determined that “public policies are not in line with the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples or the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169, especially in two central concepts: the recognition to free determination ... and the need for policies and programs directed toward indigenous peoples with their previous, free and informed knowledge.”

According to Mexico´s 2005 census, some 6 million Mexicans speak an indigenous language, or 6.7 percent of the country´s entire population.

Some 15 percent of indigenous women speak only their indigenous tongue, while only 9 percent of men fall into this category. Heladio Ramírez López, president of the Senate´s Rural Development Committee, was quoted as saying that 23 of the 56 indigenous peoples recognized by the Mexican government are facing the risk of “extinction.”

“There is still discrimination, and despite advances in the Constitution, indigenous peoples continue living in poverty,” he was quoted as saying.

According to government documenting outlining a strategy for Mexico´s indigenous peoples that was cited by El Universal newspaper, of the nearly 1.7 million illiterate Mexicans, 1.18 million are indigenous. The document ssid more than 599,000 indigenous Mexicans work without pay.
—Latinamerica Press.


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