Friday, May 27, 2016

Maya Vision: The UN state-centric model is an affront to Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations' state-centric model is an affront to the Indigenous Peoples it purportedly wants to empower.

The United Nations is compromising traditional belief systems and privileging stiff bureaucracy over indigenous ways, Mayan leader Policarpo Chaj said in an interview with teleSUR on Wednesday.

The U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, now in its second week, invites state and Indigenous representatives from around the world, but both are granted equal opportunities to speak. If the international body really wanted to respect Indigenous values and the Indigenous fight for survival, said Chaj - head of Guatemalan refugee organization Maya Vision - then they would not let state representatives have the “privilege to read pretty speeches,” which he cast as lies that obscure grave human rights abuses.

“We feel obligated to say what they (the U.N.) want us to hear” in their own format, said Chaj, instead of freely listing all the threats that they face. But he maintained that his organization’s two representatives at the forum will buck that pressure and instead express the full list of abuses they have faced at the hands of the state, including confiscated land, criminalization of families and forced political exile.

The state-centric format also adheres to artificial borders that prevent traditional routes of communication and transportation — the same borders that are separating families daily, he added.

“What we want is for the U.N. to stop being deaf, blind and dumb to the reality of Indigenous peoples,” said Chaj. The “hegemonic” institution drafts recommendations every year, but rarely do states heed their instructions.

Since the documents produced by the forum are of virtually no use without being binding, Maya Vision goes on to network with other Indigenous leaders around the world — all of which call out their states for their abuses — strengthening one another and showing that “our fight has no borders.”

Chaj, who has attended the permanent forum in the past, is himself a refugee in the United States after escaping state violence for his activism. He said that he is still very connected to his family back home, with “one foot in the United States and one foot in Guatemala.” The local fight is the one he’s interested in, which may draw inspiration from U.N. declarations, but in the end relies on the strength of the people.           


Monday, May 23, 2016

UNPFII 2016: Intervention of Mario Luna Romero, Yaqui Tribe, Sonora, Mexico

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 
15th Session  May 9-19, 2016   UN Headquarters  New York, NY
Item 9 (b) Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and President of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
Intervention by Mario Luna Romero, Yaqui Tribe

May 16, 2016

Good day to all present, good day Madam Rapporteur, good day to all members of the Permanent Forum.

My name is Mario Luna Romero, I come on behalf of my people, the Yaqui People of Sonora, Mexico; an ancient people that refuses to disappear, an Indigenous People that continues to resist the onslaught of racist government policies which seek to rob our ancestral territories from we who are survivors; survivors of mass government deportation campaigns and a continuous state of war for over two hundred years in the recent past.

Despite having survived the mass deportations of children and women from the early 1900s until 1910, having endured government bombing airstrikes against the defenders of our territorial integrity as Yaqui People in the 20s; today we still face the same lust for plunder by state programs designed from a government desk that reflects contempt for the life of our peoples in order to promote since 2010 from the spheres of government the redistribution of volumes of water from our Yaqui River regardless of the fact that this government action divests this vital liquid from the Rio Yaqui in order to to benefit another region that has greater technological and economic capacity.

Contrary to what one might imagine my people have exhausted all domestic institutional remedies granted by the Mexican state to defend our human right to water and life, to the extent that our legal appeals have reached to the Supreme Court of the nation where we were granted validation of our case, with a corresponding order in recognition of our rights as Yaqui Peoples to be respected and granted through consultations based on international standards of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in Good Faith.

Nevertheless, this order from the highest level of the judicial system in Mexico so far has not been fully complied with. Government institutions responsible for applying the mandatory consultation process have been remiss in their actions and for the most part have demonstrated the tendency to take the consultation as a mere technical requirement in order to purportedly validate the dispossession of our ancestral rights, our constitutional rights, and our human rights to the waters of the Yaqui River, a river that gives origin to our name and historically articulates our community existence.

It should be added that in a clarifying decree requested by Mexican institutions to the Supreme Court, it was specified that in terms of procedures of evidence, denunciation, or effects regarding the Independence Aqueduct project, should the availability of water to which the Yaqui People are entitled by right be irreparably affected by the pipeline, that the project should be cancelled and suspended regardless of whatever phase it is in the ordered process of consultation.

To resolve this point and as part of the consultation process, SEMARNAT, CONAGUA and we as Yaqui People people requested the INAH to conduct an expert survey in order to determine the impact of the construction and operation of the Independence Aqueduct project which we challenge as Yaqui People. This specialized institution determined and published publically the findings that the operation of the Independence Aqueduct serious affects our present and future water availability and more even recommended the immediate cancellation of the work.

Given the negative results of this expert report, the Mexican state has remained silent and only continues to advance on the requirement to fulfill the consultation processes while allowing the project to maintain its minimum operations regardless of the fact that this is a violation of the rule of law.  At the same time the government is allowing the operations to continue without the required environmental impact statement, thus leaving we Yaqui Peoples without domestic recourse of defense, we Yaqui Peoples who only demand full compliance with the laws that government representatives in turn vowed to implement and enforce.

As it is evident that the Mexican state has not satisfied the clear demand of our Yaqui People for respect and justice, we believe it is necessary for your intervention Madam Rapporteur so that soon you may observe personally and on the ground, the facts of the issues we here present to the opinion of this honorable assembly. With the understanding that failure to take in hand the situation in question would allow for repetition of a pattern acts of arrogance and state impunity such as the criminalization of protest and selective enforcement of laws against our defenders of the Yaqui River.

I just want to add that there is already precedent with the Inter American Human Rights Commission on the degree of risk which our spokesmen and human rights activists of the Yaqui people are now targets, a fact that has resulted already in the issuance of  more than six precautionary measures for key activists and in the same manner, the CNDH has issued recommendations to the government of Mexico not to repeat its actions in violation of the rights of Fernando Jimenez and Mario Luna both of whom were imprisoned for more than a year without having proof of any crime committed whatsoever.

Translation: TONATIERRA

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

La Tribu Yaqui en la ONU "Los que hablan fuerte"


Foro Permanente de Cuestiones Indigenas de las Naciones Unidas

Intervention de Mario Luna Romero 16 de Mayo, 2016


Intervencion de Mario Luna en el Foro Permanente de la ONU

Foro Permanente de Cuestiones Indigenas de las Naciones Unidas
Punto 9(b) Dialogo con la Relatora Especial de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indigenas y el Presidente del Mecanismo de Expertos sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indigenas
16 de mayo, 2016

Buen dia a todos los presentes, buen dia señora relatora,  buen dia a todos los miembros de este foro permanente.

Mi nombre es Mario Luna Romero, vengo en representación de mi pueblo, el pueblo Yaqui de Sonora, México; un pueblo milenario que se niega a desaparecer, un pueblo que sigue resistiendo los embates de políticas racistas que pretenden despojar del territorio ancestral a los sobrevivientes que somos nosotros; sobrevivientes a campañas de deportación y un estado de guerra continuo por mas de doscientos años en el pasado reciente. 

A pesar de haber sobrevivido a deportaciones masivas de niños y mujeres en los principios de 1900 a 1910 , de haber soportado bombardeos aéreos en defensa de la integridad territorial en los años 20; hoy en dia seguimos enfrentando la misma ansia de despojo por parte de programas de estado diseñados desde un escritorio que reflejan el desprecio por la vida de nuestros pueblos originarios al promover desde las esferas de gobierno desde 2010 la redistribución de volúmenes de agua sin importar que con esta acción de gobierno se despoje del vital liquido a una región para beneficiar a otra con mayor capacidad tecnológica y económica. 

Contrario a lo que pudiera imaginarse mi pueblo a agotado todas las instancias institucionales que otorga el estado mexicano en defensa de nuestro derecho humano al agua y a la vida, tan es asi que agotamos todos los recursos legales hasta llegar a la suprema corte de justicia de la nación donde nos conceden la razón, ordenan se respete y otorgue el derecho de audiencia al pueblo por medio de una consulta basado en estándares internacionales que sea libre, previa, informada, de buena fé. 

Este ordenamiento judicial de alto nivel en México, hasta el momento no ha sido cumplido cabalmente; ya que las instituciones encargadas de aplicar dicha consulta han sido omisas en su actuar y en la mayor parte del proceso han demostrado la tendencia a tomar la consulta como un mero requisito para validar el despojo de nuestro derecho ancestral, constitucional y humano al agua del rio yaqui que da nombre y articula históricamente nuestra existencia comunitaria. 

Cabe agregar que en una sentencia aclaratoria que solicitaron las instituciones mexicanas a la SCJN se puntualiza que en caso de apreciarse, denunciar o demostrar que este megaproyecto de trasvases de agua por medio del acueducto independencia afectara de forma irreparable la disponibilidad de agua al que tiene derecho el pueblo yaqui, en ese momento se cancelaria y suspendería el acueducto en mención sin importar la fase en la que se encuentre el proceso de consulta ordenada. 

Para resolver este punto y como parte del proceso de consulta la semarnat, conagua y el mismo pueblo yaqui solicitaron al INAH realizar un peritaje para determinar el grado de afectación de dicha construcción y operación al citado pueblo quejoso, determinando esta institución especializada y publica que la operación del acueducto independencia afecta grave mente la disponibilidad presente y futura del agua y mas aún recomienda la cancelación inmediata de dicha obra.

Ante los resultados negativos de dicho peritaje el estado mexicano a permanecido callado y solo se ha mantenido en la exigencia de dar por terminada la consulta y dejar que la citada obra siga manteniendo su operación mínima sin importar que con esto violentan el estado de derecho al mismo tiempo que permiten el funcionamiento de una obra sin el manifiesto de impacto ambiental dejando con esto en indefensión jurídica al pueblo yaqui que solo exige el cumplimiento cabal de las leyes que los representantes gubernamentales en turno juraron cumplir y hacer cumplir.

Como es evidente el estado mexicano no ha satisfecho la exigencia de nuestro pueblo en su reclamo de respeto y justicia por lo que creemos necesario la intervención de usted señora relatora para que en corto tiempo pueda constatar en el lugar de los hechos lo que aquí se denuncia y expone a la opinión de esta honorable asamblea; en el entendido que de no tomar en sus manos la situación planteada se pueden repetir actos de prepotencia e impunidad como la criminalización de la protesta y la aplicación selectiva de las leyes en contra de nuestros defensores. 

Solo quiero agregar que ya existe antecedente en la CIDH del grado de riesgo en que se encuentran los voceros y defensores de los derechos humanos del pueblo yaqui, motivo por el cual ya se han emitido mas de seis medidas cautelares para los principales activistas y de igual manera la CNDH ha emitido recomendaciones al gobierno de México para que no se repitan las acciones de violación a los derechos de Fernando Jiménez y Mario Luna mismos que permanecieron en prisión por mas de un año sin haberse comprobado delito alguno.


#origiNaciones #origiNations

Intervencion de Antonio Tizampa, Padre Ayotzinapa en el Foro Permanente ONU


Intervencion Ayotzinapa en la ONU: Testimonio de Antonio Tizapa 

Intervencion de Antonio Tizampa,

Padre Ayotzinapa en el Foro Permanente ONU

Foro Permanente de Cuestiones Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas
Punto 9(b) Dialogo con La Relatora Especial sobre los Derechos de Pueblos Indígenas y el Presidente del Mecanismo de Expertos sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas
16 de mayo, 2016

Intervención de Antonio Tizapa, TONATIERRA 

Muchas gracias y buenos días a todos los presentes. Me dirijo a ustedes los miembros del Foro Permanente de las Cuestiones Indígenas, a los miembros estados de las Naciones Unidas, a los pueblos indígenas de la madre tierra, y a la consciencia y corazón de la humanidad en representación de los padres y madres de Ayotzinapa.
Yo soy Antonio Tizapa y pertenezco a un pueblo indígena en Guerrero, México. Soy padre de Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, uno de los 43 estudiantes de la Escuela Normal Rural “Raúl Isidro Burgos”  de Ayotzinapa, desaparecidos forzadamente por el gobierno mexicano el día 26 de septiembre del 2014 en Iguala Guerrero, México.

Solo tengo una petición; a nombre de los padres, reiteramos la invitación a la Señora Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Relatora Especial de Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas de la ONU, misma que le hizo el año pasado María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, madre de José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa,  con el fin de el Gobierno Mexicano le abra las puertas de México para visitar Ayotzinapa y que se de cuenta de la represión por parte del gobierno mexicano hacia los estudiantes y pueblos indígenas, para que la comunidad internacional conozca al verdadero gobierno mexicano.

Tengo conocimiento que el tema del foro de este año es Conflicto, Resolución y Paz. El conflicto sigue, pero no tenemos a nuestros hijos. La resolución esperada es que sean entregados con vida a nuestras familias y de esa manera encontraremos paz momentánea. Una paz momentánea pues mientras el gobierno siga reprimiendo y desapareciendo, con ayuda de grupos criminales, a nuestros pueblos indígenas no habrá paz nacional.

Gracias al Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes y al equipo Argentino de Antropólogos Forenses sabemos que nuestros hijos están vivos. Gracias a la investigación de los expertos de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos sabemos que el gobierno mexicano nos ha mentido diciendo que nuestros hijos fueron asesinados.

No creemos, ni  confiamos en el gobierno Mexicano, por eso solicitamos ayuda internacional, así como  la creación y permanencia de un mecanismo de seguimiento puntual, a cada una de las recomendaciones del GIEI y del EAAF, es esencial  que le exijan al gobierno Mexicano que nos entregue a nuestros hijos.

La evidencia del informe del GIEI, confirma que fue el Estado en todos los niveles, exigimos así mismo el enjuiciamiento al Gobierno Mexicano.
19 meses sin saber de nuestros hijos, 19 meses buscándolos, 19 meses, exigiendo la aparición con vida, 19 meses pidiendo justicia.

Esperamos la visita de la Relatora Especial de Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas de la ONU, Victoria Tauli-Corpus a México para la resolución del conflicto de 43 familias y para encontrar paz, aunque sabemos que no solo son 43, son miles de 43.

Esperando contar con su ayuda, respaldo y su solidaridad les doy las más sinceras gracias a cada uno de ustedes.

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues United Nations
Agenda Item 9b
Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
May 16, 2016

Statement from Antonio Tizapa, Tonatierra

Thank you very much and good morning to everyone present. I appeal to you, the members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Member States, indigenous peoples of Mother Earth, and to the conscience and heart of humanity on behalf of the parents of Ayotzinapa.

My name is Antonio Tizapa, I belong to the indigenous people of Guerrero, Mexico. I am the father of Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, one of 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural School Ayotzinapa, forcibly disappeared by the Mexican Government on September 26, 2014 in Iguala Guerrero in Mexico.

We have one request; we reiterate an invitation to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the UN, which was first extended last year by Maria Tlatempa Bello, mother of Jose Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa so that the Mexican government permits her to visit Ayotzinapa. We hope for her to assess the repression the Mexican government makes towards students and indigenous peoples, and that the international community be made aware of the true nature of the Mexican government towards us as indigenous people.

I am aware that the theme of this year’s forum is Conflict, Resolution and Peace. Our conflict is ongoing, and we do not have our children. The resolution is simple: we expect our children delivered back alive to our families in order to find peace and tranquility. This would, of course, only be a momentary peace because so long as the government continues to repress and disappear our indigenous peoples then there will not be a national peace.
Thanks to the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Argentine team of forensic anthropologists (EAAF), we know that our children are alive. 

Thanks to international investigators who were working independently with international backing, we know that the Mexican government has lied by repeating our children were killed in Cocula.

We do not believe the Mexican government; it is not trustworthy so we request international assistance and monitoring. The creation of a mechanism that monitors the implementation of each of the recommendations made by GIEI and EAAF ensure the fulfillment of our demand that the Mexican government return our children.

Evidence from the report of GIEI, confirms that it was the state at all levels, and we demand the same prosecution to the Mexican government.

19 months have passed without us knowing our children’s whereabouts; 19 months searching for them; 19 months of us demanding justice.

We await the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the UN, Vicky Tauli-Corpus in Mexico. 43 families want to find peace, want to resolve this conflict, but we know that there are still tens of thousands of people in the same situation as the disappeared “43”.

I give my sincere thanks to each one of you, and hope for your support and solidarity.

"They were taken alive, we want them back alive"
Monday, May 16 
6 PM - 9 PM
Church Center, New York
777 United Nations Way

#origiNaciones #origiNations


Reporte GIEI sometido al Foro Permanente de Cuestiones Indigenas de las Naciones Unidas en anexo a la Intervencion de Antonio Tizapa, padre de Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, uno de los 43 estudiantes de la Escuela Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa, desaparecidos forzadamente por el Gobierno Mexicano el día 26 de septiembre del 2014 en Iguala Guerrero, México.
#origiNations #origiNaciones

Independent Expert Report submitted to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in annex to the Intervention of Antonio Tizapa, father of Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, one of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa who were Forcibly Disappeared by the Mexican Government on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico


Monday, May 9, 2016

Comision Continental Abya Yala: La Impunidad en Mexico

Impunity in Mexico / La Impunidad en Mexico

The Continental Commission Abya Yala convenes in Public Forum to address the issues of Impunity in Mexico from the historical context and perspective of the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples. Presentors from Ayotzinapa, Rio Yaqui, and Olinala will bring forward the regional, continental, international and global dimensions of the assault and complicity of the states upon the nationhood of the Indigenous Peoples in violation of the Right of Self Determination instituted under the regimes of North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA, Plan Merida-Mexico, the US War on Drugs, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement TPP, the and the Doctrine of Discovery of Christendom of October 12, 1492.

Facebook Event:

Monday, May 16 
6 PM - 9 PM
Church Center, New York
777 United Nations Way


La Impunidad en Mexico/ Impunity in Mexico

La Comisión Continental Abya Yala se reúne en Foro Público para hacer frente a los problemas de la impunidad en México desde el contexto histórico y la perspectiva de las Naciones Originarias de los Pueblos Indigenas. Presentadores de Ayotzinapa, Río Yaqui, y Olinalá presentarán las dimensiones regionales, continentales, internacional y mundial del asalto a las naciónes de los pueblos indígenas en la violación del Derecho de Libre Determinación instituido bajo los regímenes del Tratado de Libre Comercio América del Norte TLC, Plan Merida-Mexico, La Guerrar Contra la Droga, el Acuerdo de Asociación Transpacífico TPP, y la Doctrina del Descubrimiento de la Cristiandad de Octubre 12 de 1492 . 

Will the Permanent Forum Stand Up for Indigenous Peoples?

Peter d'Errico

The U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) seems complicit in the burying of its most profound action to date: the critique of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery issued at its 13th Session in May 2014: "Study on the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery on indigenous peoples, including mechanisms, processes and instruments of redress." [UN Doc E/C.19/2014/3]

The Permanent Forum—like most conventional bodies—avoided naming the religious basis of the Doctrine. But the Study itself took aim at the root: "the presumption of racial superiority of Christian Europeans." The Doctrine "originated with the papal bulls issued during the so-called Age of Discovery in Europe. It was compounded by regulations, such as the Requerimiento, that emanated from royalty in Christian European States."

The Study showed how the Christian presumption of superiority embodied by the Doctrine of Discovery fuels colonial land seizures and genocide of Native Peoples. "In all its manifestations, 'discovery' has been used as a framework for justification to dehumanize, exploit, enslave and subjugate indigenous peoples and dispossess them of their most basic rights, laws, spirituality, worldviews and governance and their lands and resources. Ultimately it was the very foundation of genocide."

The Study concluded with a realistic appraisal and recommendation:

"History cannot be erased. Its course, however, can be changed to ensure the present and future well-being, dignity and survival of indigenous peoples. Dignity and respect for human rights must be guaranteed, especially in the light of existing vulnerabilities. There must be a full and honest account of the past, in order to ensure that colonial doctrines do not continue to be perpetuated. A clear shift of paradigm is critical from colonial doctrines to a principled human rights framework, consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international human rights law."

The Permanent Forum "congratulated" the author of the study and affirmed that "all doctrines, including the doctrine of discovery, that advocate superiority on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust and should be repudiated in word and action."

The 13th Session Final report [UN Doc E/C.19/2014/11] recommended that the Study "be submitted to the President of the General Assembly and to Member States as a reference guide in the discussions relating to the high-level plenary meeting/World Conference on Indigenous Peoples," scheduled for September 2014.

The so-called World Conference on Indigenous Peoples—a misnomer because it was a conference of the General Assembly, not of Indigenous peoples—came and went without a word on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. Despite the explicit recommendation of the Permanent Forum, the Study was not discussed and no recommendations for action were issued.

Nonetheless, many observers declared the high-level meeting a "victory" for Indigenous Peoples. It appears that people can be easily confused about the difference between talking and doing. In this case, there wasn't even any talking in the Conference Outcome Document. The study of Christian Discovery fell through the cracks.

The UNPFII Recommendations Database categorizes the 13th Session recommendation as a "method of work" for the President of the General Assembly and the Member States. The "Status of Implementation" shows a blank. The implementation status of earlier recommendations from the 11th Session criticizing the Doctrine and calling for its revocation are shown as "ongoing."

Prior to its 14th Session in May 2015, the UNPFII requested information from member states about their responses to the 13th session. Five states responded: Australia, Denmark and Greenland, Mexico, Paraguay and the United States. Of these, only Paraguay reported any action regarding Indigenous title to lands—the fundamental issue affected by the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. The other respondents discussed various social service programs provided to Indigenous persons.

The Final Report of the 14th Session [UN Doc E/2015/43] did not call attention to this lack of response to the Study and recommendation. In fact, the report "welcome[d] the outcome document" of the high-level meeting, without alluding to the fact that the meeting failed to address the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. The Report reiterated, however, the right of Indigenous Peoples to have a say in the development of their lands.

Tellingly, perhaps, the 14th Session also recognized "the need to reduce the number of recommendations while strengthening the follow-up to and implementation of outstanding recommendations." The Forum pledged to undertake a "reform initiative."

The urgency of Indigenous land title has been increased by the awareness that, as the 14th Session reported, suicide among Native Peoples "is linked to the loss by indigenous peoples of their rights to their lands and territories, natural resources, traditional ways of life and traditional uses of natural resources."

Though the report followed this finding with an array of health-related action proposals, it also called upon "the Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth … to inform the Forum on progress in that regard at its fifteenth session."

The 15th Session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will occur in May 2016. The published agenda opens with "Follow-up to the recommendations of the Permanent Forum: (a) Update on the implementation of the Permanent Forum’s recommendations." After a subsequent "International expert group meeting on the theme 'Indigenous languages: preservation and revitalization,'" the agenda turns to two "Studies prepared by members of the Permanent Forum." The list does not include the Study on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery.

In a few weeks, we will know whether the U.N. Permanent Forum has forgotten about the Doctrine of Christian Discovery altogether, or whether it will insist that the question of Indigenous Peoples land rights must include a revocation of the Doctrine and the papal bulls out of which the dominating patterns of the Doctrine emerged.

The United Nations, like its member states, operates a huge bureaucracy, with many cracks for things to fall through. The member states do not regard Indigenous Peoples as full participants in the organization. Moreover, some member states—particularly the United States, have taken steps to draw a line between the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the rights of all peoples. Indeed, the parallel effort to define a "new status" for Indigenous Peoples in the U.N. indicates as much an effort to bury them in a closet as to raise them to full membership in the general body.

The U.S. State Department, at the time the U.S. switched its vote on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from no to yes, stated the Declaration creates a special category of rights that do not equal full participation in the global community of nations. The State Department went so far as to declare the "federal Indian law" system—based on the Doctrine of Christian Discovery—to be identical to the rights system set forth in the U.N. Declaration.

Putting these developments together—the UNPFII Study on Christian Discovery falling through the cracks and the effort to keep Indigenous Peoples in a subordinate status vis-à-vis states—one may well conclude that Indigenous Peoples' rights are not only still under attack by the colonizer states, but that the terms of the attack have not changed. Indigenous Peoples have a "permanent forum" for their "issues," but their issues are subordinate to the concerns of the states that claim superiority over them.

In Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," Marc Antony hides his love of Caesar: "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." The inverse works as well: an enemy may say, "I come to praise, not to bury." Beware protestations of friendliness to Indigenous Peoples…unless they are confirmed by actions.

Peter d’Errico graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. He was Staff attorney in Dinebeiina Nahiilna Be Agaditahe Navajo Legal Services, 1968-1970, in Shiprock. He taught Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970-2002. He is a consulting attorney on indigenous issues.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Free-determination and the States: Commentary on Barbados III

by Aucan Huilcaman  

From Abya Yala News V.8; N.4 (Winter 1994), 23-24.

I read with interest the "Declaration of Barbados III" reprinted in the last issue of Abya Yala News (Vol:8 no.3). Considering the breadth of material included in the declaration, I will only comment on the portion of that document which begins with suggestions to the governing Latin American states, the United Nations and its various specific bodies such as the OIT, UNESCO, UNDP, and FMI. Second, I also want to comment on the declaration's final section related to the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and the nationally constituted states.

We are in agreement in relation to the identification and historical analysis of factors which have made the political and cultural oppression of Indigenous peoples possible, as well as the views on ideological, political, religious, and economic colonialism and neocolonialism.

However, the declaration's call to the Latin American governing states seems misplaced. The states are fully aware of the reality in which we Indigenous peoples live. They know that this reality has been constructed by force and violence. The denial of our physical and cultural existence produced by the political constitutions and legal systems responds to the homogenizing nature of the governing states, and is the result of organized political decisions, not of coincidence or circumstance.

The promises which Latin America's governing states have made through documents in summits such as those held in Mexico and Spain respond to Indigenous peoples' undeniable reality, but these resolutions are very far from being implemented in practice. In the meeting in Spain, the governments promised to establish a Development Fund for Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. Now, when Indigenous peoples petition the fund for economic assistance, they are told that the fund has no resources and that it is only a negotiating table between some international organizations and Indigenous communities. In order to legitimize their actions, they have established an an oversight council with Indigenous representation. However, Indigenous delegates have to be acreditted by each country's chancellor. They call this "democratic participation," but it is nothing more than state colonialism under the guise of recognition and democracy.

Similarly, the governing states came to a set of agreements at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. If we try to verify compliance with these agreements, we do not find any concrete means in the legal, political or economic arenas to ensure better administration of natural resources. It is easier to identify the thousands of hectares of land, mountains, rivers, and lakes which have been destroyed and contaminated. Undoubtedly, as it has become impossible to evade the Indigenous reality, the governing states will make a declaration regarding Indigenous peoples whenever they hold a continental meeting, but in no case does this imply compliance with their promises.

I believe that any demands or exhortations require precision. We Indigenous peoples are fighting for the recognition of our rights, rooted in our historical and political condition as a people, with all powers in the areas of rights, ideology, politics, and culture which this implies, such as the restitution of fundamental rights and freedoms such as free-determination and the restitution of ancestral lands. These conditions are precede any form of recognition, otherwise, the states will continue to determine the framework for recognition and relations between Indigenous peoples and the governing states.

I consider out of context the call to the United Nations and its various special bodies, as if these were something separate from the constitution, control, and intervention of the governing states. It is time to state what the United Nations is and what it truly represents. The United Nations does not exist; what truly exists are "Concerted States" which are simply institutional structures with a legal, political and ideological base and with defined interests. Taking into account that the ideological base and sustenance of a nation is fundamentally cultural. It is no longer possible to contend that the "states are politically-organized nations." States in America (Wallmapu in the Mapuche language) have no corresponding socio-cultural reality. Therefore, the United Nations are the same governing states that have been constructed without taking into account the cultural diversity of the continent.

The ILO (International Labor Organization), UN Development Program and UNICEF are not independent of the United Nations or of the governing states. Thus, their actions are not autonomous. All of their plans, programs, and projects require governmental approval. It is sufficient that an Indigenous organization comes into conflict with the state in the process of their struggle, for these organizations to limit the help they give.

Relating to the declaration's statement, "We believe it necessary to approve the Charter of Indigenous Peoples Rights promoted by the UN," it is worth mentioning that after thirteen years of discussion between members of the UN Working Group and Indigenous representatives, the governments are not willing to recognize fundamental rights such as free-determination and the restitution of ancestral territories. Free-determination is a right prior to, or conditional for, enjoyment of the other rights. Before demanding prompt ratification of this legal instrument, it is essential to be sufficiently informed of the fundamental rights that Indigenous peoples are defending in the various spaces available to us, as well as positions taken by the states in relation to these rights. Without incorporating these conditions, new forms of domination could spring from international law, even as it is framed as the recognition of Indigenous peoples and their rights. During the Working Groups' final session (July 25-29, 1994), they did not permit revision of the declaration, and merely received Indigenous representatives "comments," thereby preventing full recognition of the conflict between Indigenous rights and the states.

The right to free-determination, formulated by the Indigenous peoples, shows the divide between the historical legitimacy of Indigenous peoples' inalienable rights and the legality that sustains the states. The Indigenous people maintain with all our conviction that the states, do not have more rights than we do, nor have we authorized them to invoke our exclusive rights, nor intervene in our peoples' future.

Since the declaration also calls on the International Labor Organization (ILO) and refers to its Covenant 169, I have to comment that this Covenant reflects the state-governments' politics of juridical colonialism as well as that of the UN's agencies. Although the Covenant recognizes us as peoples, it simultaneously rejects the rights that stem from this recognition, so that it remains purely symbolic. The Covenant's most significant element lies in providing Indigenous people the right to "consultation and participation." However, this right becomes ineffective when we remain politically oppressed by the states. Indigenous consent in this context is relative. At the UN World Conference on Human Rights in June of 1993 where I served as spokesperson for the Indigenous representatives, we stated "We call on the States to ratify Covenant 169 of the ILO provided that the Indigenous peoples are in agreement. We understand this instrument as the first step to establish new and better relations between the states and the Indigenous peoples."

In reference to the international development and financial organizations such as the World Bank, IMF, Interamerican Development Bank, it should be noted that the development they have imposed is unilateral, and has assaulted Indigenous cultural identities and the economies of reciprocity. These are the same organizations that approved projects for construction of hydroelectric dams and other such endeavors within Indigenous territories, for example, the hydroelectric dams on the River Bio-Bio within Pehuenche Mapuche lands. Any invitation to change policies made to these institutions is very far from being met, especially since they respond to the interests of the governments and are not independent bodies.

The declaration ends referring to the democratization of Latin America, of geopolitical reorganization, and the recognition of the Indigenous territories. I reiterate that we are in agreement on this: it continues, however, with a call for recognition of Indigenous rights "in a framework of a self-determination compatible with, and complementary to the sovereignty of national states.. I am not sure if I should conclude that in this passage the declaration presents a set of contradictions barely compatible with the previous analysis, or whether it is the political orientation of the signatory organization. Whatever the case, I will emphasize the implications this essential aspect has for possible solutions and new relationships between Indigenous peoples and states.

It is incongruent to propose the compatibility Indigenous self-determination and the sovereignty of the nationally constituted states. It's worth reiterating that Indigenous people are fighting for free determination and not self-determination. These concepts have different meanings and implications in the legal, political, ideological, historical, and cultural fields. Indigenous peoples have yet to determine whether we want to develop ourselves within or outside of the structures of the so-called nation-states. Furthermore, as I pointed out above, nation-states don't exist. What exists are state-governments. The homogenizing and unilateral nature of the state-governments is what maintains the lack of cultural understanding and social intolerance. Complementarity with the States as they are is impossible. It will only be possible when both institutions recognize each other reciprocally under the basic principle that neither is more valid than the other, and that each system of organization is the most adequate for its own culture.

Aucan Huilcaman is Werken, or spokesperson, for the Mapuche organization Aukin Wallmapu Ngulam-Council of All the Lands in Southern Chile.