Declaration of Quito
Quito, Ecuador (July 1990)
Call to Action!
Declaration of Quito
500 Years Commission
Education, Culture and Religion Commission
Commission on Indigenous Organization, Experience, and Means of Communication and Coordination
Territory and Natural Resources Commission
Commission on Indigenous Law
Commission on Human Rights and Indigenous Political Prisoners
IntroductionConfederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) We, the Indian People of the American Continent have taken a very important step forward by meeting in Quito, Ecuador from July 17-21, 1990.
Indian delegates from 20 countries and many representatives from international organizations and popular movements were able to meet for the first time due to many years of organizing from a grassroots level.
Every delegate put their best thoughts and experiences to work in order to become unified in a coordinated effort to demand our freedom, justice and respect. As a result of this enormous effort, we were able to develop the following resolutions regarding our aspirations as Indian people. The Declaration of Quito reflects our demands, ambitions and hopes.
The South and Meso-American Indian Information Center (SAIIC), the Confederation of Indian Nations of Ecuador (CONAIE), the Organization of Indian Nations of Colombia (ONIC), the Awakening of Indian and Campesino People of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI), and the Confederation of Indian Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) were the organizers of the Quito Conference. We are pleased to present these preliminary resolutions. We will eventually be publishing them in book-form along with interviews and illustrations from the historic event.
We hope to continue the dialogue regarding our rights and aspirations on a national, continental and world level.
President of CONAIE
President of CONAIE
Casilla Postal No. 92-C, Sucursal 15, Los Granados 2553 y 6 de Diciembre (Batán)
Quito - ECUADOR
Quito - ECUADOR
On July 17-21, 1990, nearly 400 Indian people, representing 120 nations, tribes and organizations of the Western Hemisphere met for the first time in Quito, Ecuador to discuss their peoples' struggles for self-determination and strategize for a unified Indian response to the 1992 Jubilee celebrations. Despite the offensive denial of truth in the official histories, we choose instead to use this symbolic date to reflect upon what the invasion has meant to us, to work with a renewed effort for our autonomy, to educate the people of the world, to celebrate that we are still here and our cultures are still alive thanks to 500 years of resisting, and to formulate alternatives for a better life, in harmony with Mother Earth.
We, at SAIIC are serving as a liaison between Indian people of the South and Indian people of the North, as well as educating the general public about what the past 500 years has meant to Indian people in South and Meso-America and how we are strategizing for change.
In peace with justice,
PO Box 28703
Oakland, CA 94604
PO Box 28703
Oakland, CA 94604
Declaration of Quito, Ecuador
July 1990The Continental Gathering "500 Years of Indian Resistance," with representatives from 120 Indian Nations, International and Fraternal organizations, meeting in Quito, July 17-20, 1990, declare before the world the following: The Indians of America have never abandoned our constant struggle against the conditions of oppression, discrimination and exploitation which were imposed upon us as a result of the European invasion of our ancestral territories.
Our struggle is not a mere conjunctural reflection of the memory of 500 years of oppression which the invaders, in complicity with the "democratic" governments of our countries, want to turn into events of jubilation and celebration. Our Indian People, Nations and Nationalities are basing our struggle on our identity, which shall lead us to true liberation. We are responding aggressively, and-commit ourselves to reject this "celebration."
The struggle of our People has acquired a new quality in recent times. This struggle is less isolated and more organized. We are now completely conscious that our total liberation can only be expressed through the complete exercise of our self-determination. Our unity is based on this fundamental right. Our self-determination is not just a simple declaration.
We must guarantee the necessary conditions that permit complete exercise of our self-determination; and this, In turn must be expressed as complete autonomy for our Peoples. Without Indian self-government and without control of our territories, there can be no autonomy.
The achievement of this objective is a principal task for Indian Peoples however, through our struggles we have learned that our problems are not different, in many respects, from those of other popular sectors. We are convinced that we must march alongside the peasants, the workers, the marginalized sectors, together with intellectuals committed to our cause, In order to destroy the dominant system of oppression and construct a new society, pluralistic, democratic and humane, in which peace Is guaranteed.
The existing nation states of the Americas, their constitutions and fundamental laws are judicial/political expressions that negate our socio-economic, cultural and political rights.
From this point in our general strategy of struggle, we consider it to be a priority that we demand complete structural change; change which recognizes the
Inherent right to self-determination through Indian own governments and through the control of our territories.
Our problems will not be resolved through the self-serving politics of governmental entities which seek Integration and ethno-development. it is necessary to have an Integral transformation at the level of the state and national society; that is to say, the creation of a new nation.
In this Gathering It has been clear that territorial rights are a fundamental demand of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.
Based on these aforementioned reflections, the organizations united in the First Continental Gathering of Indigenous Peoples reaffirm:
1. Our emphatic rejection of the Quincentennial celebration, and the firm promise that we will turn that date into an occasion to strengthen our process of continental unity and struggle towards our liberation.
2. Ratify our resolute political project of self-determination and conquest of our autonomy, In the framework of nation states, under a new popular order, respecting the appellation which each People determines for their struggle and project.
3. Affirm our decision to defend our culture, education, and religion as fundamental to our Identity as Peoples, reclaiming and maintaining our own forms of spiritual life and communal coexistence, In an Intimate relationship with our Mother Earth.
4. We reject the manipulation of organizations which are linked to the dominant sectors of society and have no Indigenous representation, who usurp our name for (their own) Imperialist interests. At the same time, we affirm our choice to strengthen our own organizations, without excluding or Isolating ourselves from other popular struggles.
5. We recognize the Important role that Indigenous women play In the struggles of our Peoples. We understand the necessity to expand women's participation In our organizations and we reaffirm that It Is one struggle, men and women together, in our liberation process, and a key question in our political practices.
6. We Indian Peoples consider It vital to defend and conserve our natural resources, which right now are being attacked by transnational corporations. We are convinced that this defense will be realized if it Is Indian People who administer and control the territories where we live, according to our own principles of organization and communal life.
7. We oppose national judicial structures which are the result of the process of colonization and neo-colonization. We seek a New Social Order that embraces our traditional exercise of Common Law, an expression of our culture and forms of organization. We demand that we be recognized as Peoples under International Law, and that this recognition be incorporated into the respective Nation States.
8. We denounce the victimization of Indian People through violence and persecution, which constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights. We demand respect for our right to life, to land, to free organization and expression of our culture. At the same time we demand the release of our leaders who are held as political prisoners, an end to repression, and restitution for the harms caused us.
We must reclaim our traditional values, our Indigenous ways of organizing ourselves, of conducting ourselves as communities. Before the arrival of western values, women occupied half of the cosmos. In order to re-establish balance in our homes and in order to realize the self-determination and liberation of our oppressed peoples, women and men must participate equally In accordance with the traditional values of our Indigenous Nations. At this time, compañeros y compañeras, we must work together In order to establish balance in this conference.
3. The churches must respect our religions as we respect theirs. We have the right to practice our native beliefs, to have our sacred sites and our sacred objects. Instead of celebrating the 500 years in 1992, the churches should ask our forgiveness and observe our time of mourning and pain. We must have the right under law to our religious ceremonies In accordance with our Indigenous beliefs. We must protect our sacred sites and our sacred burial grounds.
4. Militarism is anti-life, anti-Earth, anti-women. Militarism Is the destruction of our ancestral culture, the destruction of our way of thinking and acting. We stand against military recruitment which robs us of our sons and brothers and turns them Into bullets In the hands of the oppressor. When they return to their homes, they no longer know how to live with respect and in community. We have the right to live in freedom, in peace, without military Intervention, without war.
5. We recognize that In insolation, we cannot achieve the goals of our struggle. Within the oppressor's system we are alienated as Indigenous Nations, as women. We suffer from a lack of information. The mass media does not effectively communicate our needs and objectives. The mass media distorts and deletes our truth. For example, very few of us were aware of the Indigenous uprising here In Ecuador prior to coming to this Gathering.
We conclude that it is necessary to establish an effective communication and support network and to coordinate among the Indigenous women's organizations of the Americas.
6. We agree that as Indigenous women of this hemisphere we will participate in a coordinated manner In the different activities opposed to the so-called discovery of America, declaring a day of mourning for Indigenous Peoples.
7. From here on, we will actively participate In the national and international tribunals, In order to guarantee the representation of Indigenous women. We no longer accept the intermediary role of "Intellectuals" who use us as objects of folklore.
8. We are very concerned, and have discussed In detail In our commission, the lack of training, education and health resources for women. We know that the first step in resolving these grave problems Is to reclaim our traditional values, our spirituality, our culture. The fundamental base of this Is to respect the Earth and all living beings of the cosmos.
Here In this gathering we are laying out the basics. The real work begins when we return to our communities and our organizations. We work together for our own development, one which reflects our values as well as our needs: organizational training, an end to Illiteracy, eradication of addictions such as alcoholism and drug addiction, rescue and development of our traditional medicines without throwing away the technology developed for the good of humanity, and rescue and development of our own agricultural and nutritional systems.
9. To live according to our Indigenous values Is to assume responsibility for the well-being and the harmony of all, putting an end to poverty and Inequality. We need all people, each person has their place, the old and the young. We must support the widows, the orphans, the single mothers, and the elders, as has been the way of our peoples.
10. As women and as Indigenous People, we feel a connection to the Earth. In order to bring closure to this gathering In balance with the Earth we must be here at her breast, where we have our sacred fire. The Women's Commission proposes to the Plenary that we not return to the National Congress and that we decide, as a gathering of people, to finish here the cycle we have begun.
On Self-determinationWe Indigenous People make our own rules to love and respect each other. These notions do not have to necessarily coincide with those of the academicians. Each Indigenous nationality has the right to adopt the rules that would be best adapted to their political struggle in their respective countries. We have achieved common laws that have been accepted by the United Nations and the Organization of American States where it has been recognized that all peoples have the right to self-determination.
Our peoples share grave problems with other popular sectors of the population, such as poverty, discrimination, oppression, exploitation and marginalization. All of this Is due to the neo-colonial domination of the dominant classes in each country. Because of this, we think that the alliances between Indigenous Peoples and other popular sectors are imperative. However, these same alliances must fortify and affirm Indian Peoples identities. In order to achieve this, all parties must be egalitarian and respective of each other's differences.
Political ProjectSelf-determination Is an inalienably right of Indigenous peoples. To achieve autonomy and self-determination, we have been and will continue struggling within our countries. Autonomy means the right to control our lands, including the management of natural resources under and above ground, as well as control over our airspace.
By the same token, autonomy (or sovereignty, in the case of North American Indian Peoples) implies the defense and the conservation of nature, of Pachamama (Mother Earth) of Abya-yala (the American Continent), of the equilibrium of the ecosystem and the conservation of life.
Autonomy for Indigenous Peoples also means control over the businesses and processes out of which we democratically create our own governments (self-governments).
We urgently demand, and we will fight for, the modification of the constitutions In each American country, In order to establish In clear form, the rights to self-determination of Indigenous peoples In regard to Judicial, political, economic, cultural and social matters.
We are convinced that our goal of self determination will be achieved only after the rejection of the capitalist system and the elimination of all forms of sociocultural oppression and economic exploitation. Our struggle Is geared toward the construction of a new society, pluralistic, democratic and based on popular power.
DutiesThe Self Determination and Political Committee recommends the adoption of the following commitments:
1) Encourage reflection and debate around the issue of self-determination and clarify in concrete form, what this means for Indian Nations, considering their specific realities In their respective countries,
2) Promote a communication and coordination network to strengthen relations between peoples and to give continuity to the resolutions and commitments previously taken,
3) Promote the struggle for the official recognition of our ancestral lands, so that we can manage them In accordance to our traditions,
4) Promote International solidarity in the struggles of our brothers and sisters,
5) Promote unity of action with those popular sectors that favor the achievements and historical objectives of Indian peoples and of those other sectors oppressed and exploited in our countries,
6) We propose to convert the commemoration of these 500 years of oppression into a process of reflection which will help In realizing our liberation.
- Class and ethnicity are not contradictory, the important matter is our self-affirmation as Native Nations.
- Inclusion of African-American people Is a must: they, like Indian people, are oppressed and possess specific cultural characteristics.
- Each Indian Nation must choose Its own terminology to best self-define Itself within the peculiarities particular to Its' country.
- We proclaim solidarity with the struggle of all Indigenous peoples of the continent, independently from the terms they choose to define themselves, as well as solidarity with the liberation struggles of all oppressed popular sectors.
- It is of primary importance for the advancement of our struggle to understand who are our enemies and who are our allies. Since we can't fight alone, It Is Important to develop a struggle inclusive of all oppressed sectors.
- We must understand that oppression and exploitation are also actualized at the international thus It Is necessary to define a political line of our own countries outside existing international alignments.
- To define our struggle as nationalities does not mean that we exclude other popular sectors, it only signifies the ratification of our reality as Nations.
- All oppressed sectors are fighting against the system, yet each has its own approach and imprint, that is to say, its own Identity and culture.
Resolutions1. The work of the Continental Campaign of 500 Years of Indian Resistance should continue to be directed at the rank and file of the organizations in order to strengthen our Continental Campaign of 500 Years of Indian and Popular Resistance. National committees will be formed with the participation of the popular sectors, thereby promoting communication, coordination and joint activities at a regional and continental level.
2. A communication network must be established in order to present all the proposals put forth with respect to the 500 year celebration.
3. Alliances with other sectors should be founded on the principal of mutual respect. We will further our struggle based on our Identity as Indigenous Peoples, and on our history, in order to transform the realities in our respective countries.
4. In order for our cultures to flourish, we believe It is important to establish cultural exchanges between the youth and elders of the entire continent.
5. We resolve to struggle against the current policies of modernization, privatization and total subordination to U.S., European, Israeli and Japanese imperialism embraced by the governments of our countries. These policies have meant a loss of land and natural resources to Indian People. Multinational corporations have converted our people into workers, exploited by both industrial and large-scale agricultural enterprises.
6. We resolve that the struggle for Agrarian Reform in our countries also be for the recovery of our communal lands which have guaranteed our lifestyle.
7. We resolve that the struggle for our rights (to land, education, healthcare, etc...) will take place within the framework of our own political project, thereby permitting an organized struggle that contributes to the transformation of the dominant society and the building of an alternative power.
8. In an effort to decolonize our peoples, we are struggling for bilingual, intercultural education for the entire continent. Priority should be given to education of Indian People by Indian People.
9. We resolve to support and coordinate both, the efforts to hold a Tribunal of the Peoples, designed to process and fudge the 500 years of invasion, and the church meeting known as the "Popular Santo Domingo." Both encourage coordination with other sectors interested in organizing a meeting with broader representation In the future.
10. We demand that In 1992, the United Nations declare the right to self-determination of all Indigenous Peoples. For this to occur, it will be necessary to organize popular support pressuring the governments, as well as to seek out international alliances with other popular sectors and progressive governments.
11. The delegates from the U.S. propose that they will pressure the president candidates during 1992 to take into account the problematic of Indian People in North America, and attempt to influence the decisions of the North American government with respect to it's International policies affecting Indigenous Peoples.
12. As a policy of Indian Peoples, it is necessary to establish mutual relationships with the states and official international organizations in order to achieve an international block pressuring for political space and for negotiations.
13. If Spain is willing to pay for the damages caused by the invasion, we demand that these funds be channeled toward plans and projects which we have developed, which we administer and which are used to satisfy the needs of our peoples. We need to organize a workshop focusing on drafting policies with respect to indemnification.
14. We resolve to encourage activities which break the conditions limiting our full development within the present national limitations, such as the recovery of land, etc...
15. We demand the immediate removal of all North Americans in Panama; that the U.S. government stop financing the war in El Salvador, as well as against the free and sovereign people of Nicaragua, Cuba and other peoples and countries in America. We condemn the U.S. for it's continuous interventions.
16. We demand an Immediate end to the repression In our countries with respect to human rights abuses and the right to organize ourselves Independently of the government and political parties.
17. We demand the demilitarization of our communities, people and countries, as well as an end to conscription. We demand that the portion of the budget allocated for arms be designated for meeting the needs of our peoples.
18. We rejects the payment of the foreign debt by our countries and demand indemnification for the genocide, massacres and pillage of our peoples. However, it Is also necessary to define proposals and loins strategies in an earnest move not to pay the debt.
19. North American Indigenous Peoples request the solidarity of all peoples to end the exploitation of the minerals used In the U.S. to manufacture arms.
20. We express our solidarity with the African-American people who have been the victims of a process of destruction Initiated by the European invasion. We call upon them to join us In our struggles, based on the mutual respect and unity of all oppressed and exploited peoples of this continent.
- Our campaign ought to Include joint proposals and activities of both an immediate and a long-term character. Our strategy is anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist. We are striving for the full recovery of our peoples and nations. For this reason, we are opposed to all forms of oppression and denial of our existence. Our goal is to promote activities in each country and throughout the continent which combat this oppression and denial.
- We denounce the visit of the King of Spain to Chile and the Intergovernmental meetings between Spain and Chile In support of the Quincentennial celebrations.
- We will direct a campaign against the transnational corporations and their policies of plundering Indian lands.
- We denounce militarization as a means of strangling our societies, above all, at a time when our America has become a warehouse for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
- We reject organizations and institutions which usufruct the name of Indian people In order to promote projects which are not In our Interests.
- We support actions to recover our legitimate rights and which reflect the combative direction of our campaign, such as the Indian Uprising In Ecuador.
- We will develop an Intense campaign directed at the national and International media which will Inform people of our existence and our true situation.
This European education only serves to expose us to processes of acculturation, subjugation and Individualism. We refer to this as "banking education."
Religion Is the weapon which was used to humiliate us, dominate our people, and plunder our wealth. In the process, our own true religion and spiritual practices were disregarded and devalued. We want to affirm our spirituality, and accept all those who wish to share our spiritual form of life, given that this Is the authentic alternative for Indian Peoples. We will continue struggling until we achieve the complete realization and recovery of our spirituality.
Western religions have found some things in common with our mysticism and religion, given that In our daily lives we fulfill all of the cosmic universal principles of a healthy, balanced and just life which has a harmonious relationship with the energy of Mother Earth, In other words, with the micro and macrocosm.
In spite of this, it is important to remember that several non-indigenous people have committed themselves to our cause and have offered their lives for the liberty of our nations. These include Bartolomé de las Casas, Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Leonidas Proano, and others.
At the present time there are several religious clergy who are committed to our struggle. However, this does not mean that the institution supports our demands. We have seen clearly that the church has two faces, one belonging to the poor and the other to the rich. In most recent times the church has been losing control and strength. For this reason, it has been trying to recover control and influence by opting more for the poor. This Is something we are understandably wary of.
1. All institutions which have sacred objects, manuscripts, and the remnants of ancestral valuables belonging to American Indians should return these to our Indigenous spiritual leaders and organizations.
2. The creation of national museums to promote awareness of our peoples. These should be controlled by Indigenous Peoples.
3. That the autonomy and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples are recognized and respected.
4. That bilingual, intercultural education be officially recognized In the constitutions of all countries of the Continent.
5. That Indigenous organizations have access to the research undertaken by different national and International institutions.
6. That all Indigenous Peoples be allowed to freely participate In their ceremonies, Chat they have access to their sacred sites, and that they have the right to use sacred plants.
8. We demand the immediate withdrawal of the Summer Institute of Linguistics from our communities and territories.
9. To do a follow-up and evaluation of the proposals which are being put forth in order to present them to the UN and obtain their support for our petitions.
10. To carry out a campaign to teach literacy to our Indigenous Peoples in our own languages.
11. To establish a university for Indigenous Peoples of America and to ensure that it Is controlled by our own peoples.
12. That a network of communication be developed In our countries to enrich our cultural and spiritual life.
13. That a project be developed to create institutes and scholarships for the training of Indigenous People in each country.
14. That the philosophical names, concepts and dress/costumes of our Indigenous Peoples not be used to exploit us.
15. That any research about Indigenous Peoples be undertaken only with the approval and collaboration of the community Involved. A copy of the research done should be left with the appropriate organization.
16. That existing Indigenous institutes work towards strengthening the health, social security, economic situation, and spirituality of our Indigenous Peoples.
17. That The teaching of Indigenous spirituality, languages, traditions, knowledge and customs be Included In our education.
18. Instead of whites, mestizos or others to writing about and distorting our perspectives, and selling magazines, books and newspapers about us to other communities, there should be writers and reporters from our own Indigenous communities present at all meetings and conferences of Indigenous Peoples.
19. Promote exchange of experiences from different countries.
20. That history be written by our own Indigenous Peoples.
- That the content of our education be based on Indigenous philosophy and our cosmovislon.
- That there be structure and continuity In pre-school, primary and secondary education.
- To demand the creation of bilingual vocational schools to train Indigenous teachers.
- To demand [access to] popular channels of communication to spread knowledge of our cultures among Indigenous Peoples and Nations.
- We not only demand the withdrawal of the Summer Linguistics Institute and other organisms that embrace cultural norms which are foreign to our communities, but that the movable goods and property that these groups have appropriated should be handed over to our communities and used for our benefit and service.
- To call on all ministries of education In every country of the Continent to Include In their educational activities, specific references to dates which are significant to Indian Peoples.
- That every organization present at the Quito Conference make the necessary efforts to ensure that Indian peoples have unrestricted access to means of communications.
- We demand that national governments and international organisms respect the use of coca leaf, peyote and other sacred plants. These are essential elements of the culture, medicine, and spirituality of Indian Peoples.
- It must be clarified that coca Is completely distinct from cocaine, which is a product of the decadence and corruption of Western society. The war against drug-trafficking should not be used as a pretext for the repression of Indian Peoples.
- That bilingual education be extended to the mestizo population, and that the teaching of English be replaced with the teaching of autochthonous languages, given the fact that one of the reasons why bilingual education Is rendering our own languages obsolete Is due to the failure to educate the mestizo population In these languages.
- That our education become a source of strength for our culture, rather than as a source of destruction which has been the case for the last 500 years.
- That as Indigenous Peoples we do not become the objects of research, and that we evaluate what intellectuals and research centers are doing. We should train ourselves to become the primary researchers of our own culture.
- That the 12th of October be declared a day of mourning and destruction of our cultures rather than a "Dia de la Raza" or day of discovery.
- To reaffirm the value/importance of our Indian heroes as defenders of our struggles for freedom.
As Indigenous People, we must strengthen our own organizations and must take a clear position on our roles within our movement, without Isolating ourselves from the rest of the population that live in a similar situation of poverty, hunger, and repression. However, each organization should maintain Its autonomy. We are Indian people. We must defend our rights, but we must not forget the global reality in which we exist.
Over the past 500 years individual state policies have sought to annihilate Indigenous movements and forms of organization through various repressive and subtle methods which are still befog used. For example, the massacres In Guatemala, the creation of parallel organizations managed by governments, the establishment of small economic projects which are linked to small groups of families, which divide and conquer the traditional community and undermine the national and regional organizations.
This commission briefly evaluated the existence of such international organizations as the South American Indian Council (CISA) and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (CMPI or WCIP) and concurred that these are structures which have served to divide Indigenous organizations of each country, acting much more in the service of Individual Interests.
In order to respond to the Quincentennial celebrations being promoted by the governments of Europe, the United States and the Latin American and Carribean nations, it Is absolutely necessary that Indigenous and popular organizations participate, rejecting these celebrations, and establishing alternative forms which represent our true history.
Conclusions and Proposals1. Recognizing the Internal difficulties and the different level of organization (within each country) we consider It to be Important that In each country, space Is created for reflection, where we can examine our tasks and functions and elaborate proposals for unity among different Indigenous organizations and positions and aim towards International solidarity of Indigenous struggles.
2. In order to attain our rights, Indigenous organizations must define a political project which confronts state policies; within this project, the reality of each country should be taken into account, as well as the need for a joint response with other popular sectors.
3. In order to strengthen our organizations, It Is absolutely necessary to empower our leaders and community base - where the work of the organization Is constantly reviewed and which allows for renewal and or change of leadership. The objective would be to set up a closer relationship between organizations, their base and leadership, In order to avoid fragmentation.
4. In order to achieve the fortification of inter-continental coordination it is essential that we consolidate grassroots work in each country. Such coordination should not depend solely upon Individual interest but must answer to the people who provide its sustenance.
5. it Is important to find opportunities for political debate about our Peoples and organizations, seeking coordination In concrete actions. There should be a functioning means of communication among us, with one country assuming the responsibility of centralizing and distributing information.
6. It Is necessary to name a coordinating commission, responsible for organizing our next Encuentro prior to 1992. It Is of fundamental importance to promote the realization of regional and national meetings In which other popular sectors participate, with an eye towards consolidating our work for the 500th anniversary.
7. The Indigenous organizations of the Americas should confront together the 500th anniversary, planning coordinated actions and reclaiming significant dates such as October 12th. As a coordinating mechanism we propose recognizing and carrying out the resolutions on the 500th anniversary passed during the Continental Gathering of Indigenous and Campesino Organizations which took place In Colombia on October 7-12, 1989.
8. As an initials concrete action, CONAIE should assume the responsibility for distributing the 11st of addresses of participating organizations In this Encuentro, In order to facilitate networking. it Is also very Important that each country make up a list of all Indigenous organizations, large and small, of all Ideological persuasions, so we may have a clearer vision of the situation of the Indigenous movement in the Americas.
- It is necessary that Indigenous Peoples recuperate our ancestral forms of organization, and not imitate Western organizational models which do not correspond to our reality.
- It is Important to establish effective systems for coordination as we call for Indigenous organizations to participate In the different gatherings, congresses, and meetings, with the objective of following up and carrying out the resolutions.
- International organizations such as CMPI and CISA must be examined: if they are going to reap benefits in the name of Indigenous Peoples, then they must respond to our Interests. At the same time, we must identify those national and international organizations which are truly representative of us.
- It is urgent that we denounce and disclaim the shadow organizations created by governments In order to divide legitimate Indigenous organizations.
Our Cosmic VisionOur conception of land Is sustained by our understanding of that which Is human and that which Is nature as well as of the inter-relationship between them both. Our organizational, political, economic and production forms, In fact, all the elements that form our cultures, are rooted In, and oriented by, communitarianism. Out of this, we believe that the ownership of the land should be collective. Out of this, we cultivate It In community and we distribute its fruits among the community. And out of this, we believe In solidarity and thus, our children are of the community.
It is this value of the communitarian from which we understand the meaning of that which Is human and the possibility of each and every one of us to achieve a harmonious life, that which sustains our concept of territory and our persistence in maintaining lives of solidarity. Thus, to live fraternally means also to live with other beings, that Is to say, with all of nature.
We don't consider ourselves the owners of the land. It Is our Mother, not a piece of merchandise. It Is an Integral part of our life. It Is our past, present, and future. We believe that this definition of the interaction between humans and the environment Is not only valid for our communities but for all Indo-American peoples.
We believe that this form of life is an option, an alternative, a light for the peoples of the world oppressed by a system sustained by the domination of people by people, by the domination of nature, a system where the individual is supreme, where the peoples' rights are mere declarations inconsistent with practice, and where people are denied the right to exist with their own cultures, and are denied their rights to self-determination and autonomy.
For the capitalist system, diversity, the collective, solidarity, autonomy and self-determination only signify obstacles to the exercise of imposition, exploitation and domination.
In light of these reflections, we want to look at the history of our peoples with respect to territory. History has tried to obscure the Invaders, depreciate and deny our cultures, treat them as backwards and archaic to Justify the invasion, the genocide, and the permanent ongoing pillage during 500 years and deny their historic responsibility.
The domination of our peoples has been the constant that the dominant system has used for five centuries to maintain Itself, embodied first In the Europeans, then In the Creole or descendent of the European and finally In the United States and Japan In collaboration with Latin-American governments.
Thus, the lands of our continent are Inhabited by thousands of peoples who saw their development truncated by the arrival of Europeans. The greed and voracity of the Invaders denied that we are human beings to legitimize the ethnocide and genocide subjected upon our peoples. To them, we were lust another part of nature available to be dominated.
For this reason, we affirm that our territories do not have owners. We do not legitimize the invasions, the expropriation and robbery of the natural resources in the name of God by European invaders.
I. Our Current SituationIn the decline of the 20th century, often called the apogee of "civilization," while technological advances have surpassed all calculations, the problem of humanity have not been solved, much less an understanding and resolution of the problems of Indian peoples. The so-called powers that boasted of their development have deepened the level of Inequality, ambition, crisis, ecological destruction and had put the equilibrium of the planet In serious danger. Now, of these two antagonistic models that have existed In Imbalance, It Is the alternate position of the Indian Peoples that rises vigorously with Its historic responsibility, product of Its clear cosmic vision and harmonious co-existence with all of nature.
Our dally experience tells us that we still suffer active and profound problems that demand urgent solution. Among those which correspond to territory, natural resources and ecology, we analyze the following:
A. Territory and Natural Resources
Persistent problems are:
- The irrational management and use of the surface, subsurface, and river and groundwater basins generating, as a consequence, the destruction of our ecosystem.
- The use of our traditional technology In the exploration of the land and natural resources of our peoples has been trampled on and Invaded by the machinery of capitalist technology, a reality which leads to the total destruction of our cosmovision and our treatment of Nature. In addition, It has led to the sterilization of our ecosystem.
- The equilibrium and dynamic of life within our territories has been destroyed by the voracious exploitation of the resources and the utilization of different chemical elements that not only poison the subsoil, but also humankind and all living befogs.
- The tenacious Introduction of monocultivation, the squandering of our rich and varied production and traditional foods, the depredation of our mangrove swamps and Jungles has provoked the introduction of changes in alimentary systems that bring about a growing malnutrition and destruction of our peoples.
Persistent problems are:
- The Ignorance of governments about our culture has brought about ethnocidal policies Imposed on our peoples, attempting to exterminate and destroy our traditional practices of the management of our territories. Thus, they have created and still create laws that affect us without consulting with us.
- They bureaucraticize and refuse to deliver property titles.
- They create national parks and reserves as a sophisticated form of robbing our territory.
- They give large concessions of land to oil and other transnational companies which foster the pillage and permanent deterioration of the ecosystem and finance neocolonialism.
- They permit the creation of military zones of so-called "national security."
- They Impose models of economic development, foreign to our cultures and necessities based on monoculture which forces us to produce what Interests the International monopolies.
- They dictate laws of Agrarian Reform and colonization Imposed by imperialism.
- They feel the weight of a heavy foreign debt contracted by the oppressors of our peoples who generate an ever-deepening dependency demonstrating to us that the lender powers are accomplices In the destruction of our lives.
- They respond to our struggle for our legitimate rights with repression, forced removals from our recuperated territories and control of free Indian movement.
- We endure a disrespect of our Identity and forms of self government. The division of our own organizational practices proliferate and parallel organizations are formed to weaken our capacity to mobilize and determine our own futures.
- The proliferation of sects such as the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), Nine Tribes, Wings of Assistance and other denominations that are part of the same chain of oppression strike against our sovereignty.
- Also the Individualization and fragmentation of the land destroys our communal existence.
- There exists a persistent manipulation and utilization of certain Indigenous leaders, converting them Into tormentors (executioners) of their own brothers and sisters.
- Our sovereignty Is also sustained through the spiritual relationship with our Mother Earth which we recognize as the place of union with the Supreme Creator and source of life. From this point, we are prepared to fight until the end Including giving up our lives because we feel that our Mother Earth Is worth more than our lives. This feeling Is also associated with the negation of our thousand year historic memory and the Impossibility of recuperating our sacred monuments, living testimonies of our ancestral history.
- Our rights as Indian Peoples have been violated with the political history of pillage and aggression on our territories which bring with it the loss of Identity. International accords of universal and popular rights have been trampled, forcing massive migrations to urban centers where, before finding protection, the immigrants are exposed to misery, racism, salaries of hunger and begging.
- Within this context, we present the organized struggle for the defense and recuperation of our territory as the only alternative whose recent and living example Is the latest Ecuadorian Indigenous uprising.
- Another form of violation of our rights is the indiscriminate penetration of tourism which traffics with our culture and presents our people as exotica and Items of curiosity and diversion.
- Social such as prostitution, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc., produce the moral degeneration of our peoples.
- In the presence of these realities, we issue a call for continental solidarity as Indian peoples and we stand firm until we re-establish our legitimate territories and are able to practice our self-government and determine our own futures.
II. Mandate of the Indian Peoples of AmericaA. We declare the inviolability of our ancestral territories and we demand respect for our sovereignty and self-determination.
B. We are determined to continue to encourage programs of drawing up our own boundaries to the traditional territories of our Indigenous Peoples in global and communal form. These territories are interconnected with neighboring nationalities on the regional and continental level.
C. We will work toward the expansion of our Indigenous territories that have insufficient space and, at the same time, we will undertake actions to recuperate our stolen lands with our own organized struggle.
D. We oppose all intervention and militarization In our Indigenous territories on the part of the state, and the creations of military zones on International borders, as in North Caye (In the borders of Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru,) which preclude Interaction between our brother peoples.
E. In Indigenous territories, we will undertake plans of Reconcentration of Indigenous Peoples to create new communities which will permit us to control the integrity of our Indigenous territories against the advance of colonialization and the proliferation of lumber, agro-industry, drug and mining businesses.
F. We oppose the creation of new national parks and reserves by the government which are forms of legitimizing the then of our territory, and we demand the coadministration by the state and Indigenous organizations of the reserves and parks already created. We will Implement an ecological, educational and consciousness raising tourism that give the same chance to all social groups.
G. With respect to strategic and non-renewable resources such as oil and uranium, the state may not negotiate in a isolated manner with a small local organization, but must consult and coordinate with the principal organization of our Indigenous Peoples, applying national laws and International agreements. Contrarily, if this does not happen In this way, these agreements will be considered Invalid and non-existent by our peoples.
H. We Issue an urgent call to our Indian Peoples to take on again and fortify our position of communal lands or territories, to promote unity through concrete strategies with a network of intercommunication and solidarity that eliminates borders and limits of any kind.
I. Because of the profound respect we have for our Mother Earth, and because we are not part of fratricidal wars alien to our culture, we declare our territories zones of peace In the case of wars and International conflicts.
J. We demand that national governments suspend indefinitely, the authorization of permits to exploit renewable and non-renewable natural resources on our Indian territories.
K. We will encourage alternative programs of social development that guarantee the sovereignty, autonomy, unity, cultural and ecological integrity of our peoples.
L. We will develop our own economic policies, based on the harmonic utilization of our natural resources, oriented primarily toward the betterment of our peoples and that will permit us to achieve shared ownership giving an alternative to the New International Economic Order.
M. We demand that governments and churches vacate and return our territories as an act of reparation for the 500 years of genocide and ethnocide, and we demand the repatriation and return of our cultural wealth, pillaged and profaned by Europeans.
N. We do not recognize and we oppose the Agrarian Reform laws, imposed on our people and which correspond to the Interests of the dominant and oppressor classes of our continent.
O. We are determined to fight energetically, all governmental attempts to create parallel organizations.
P. The land and Indigenous Peoples are Inseparable. Land Is life and cannot be bought or sold. It is our responsibility to take care of the earth according to our tradition to guarantee our future.
Q. With respect to religious sects, such as the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), Nine Tribes, Wings of Assistance and others that are found operating within our Indian territories, we declare that if there Is no political will on the part of the respective government for their expulsion, It will be our own Indian organizations which will undertake the battle of their expulsion, and through this, recuperate our sovereignty, shared partnerships and self-determination through raising the consciousness of trapped Indigenous communities, and the radical prohibition of their entrance onto our lands.
The case of Guatemala serves as a particularly good example. Guatemala's constitution was developed by military personnel who were in the process of handing over power to a civilian government. The laws are entirely anti-insurgent, antipopular and anti-democratic. Because of this, any efforts to attain human rights, particularly Indigenous rights, have been violently suppressed, resulting in almost daily massacres.
This example demonstrates how Irrelevant and Inapplicable the legal system is to the Guatemalan military and government. Agrarian Reform laws have been particularly abused. The Guatemalan legal system Is of no use to the majority of the population.
The few laws favorable to Indian people In the books of some countries were obtained through political pressure and popular demands. In spite of the official legal systems, the administration of justice through traditional Indigenous law has been maintained. Law In accordance with the Indigenous Cosmovision, and relevant to our dally activities and traditional infrastructure exists in our communities.
These rights may be seen as alternative rights, which transcend the logic and effectiveness of official laws and historically are effective ways of solving the problems of Indigenous Peoples.
The following document was developed in order to make some changes to existing documents on Indigenous law.
We recommend that the wording of "Customary (Consuetudinary) Law" be changed to read "Indigenous Law" whenever It refers to Indigenous People who are following the recommendations of the Seminar-Workshop on Comparative Indigenous Law of America, held In Quito In May, 1990, with the participation of Indigenous jurists from the entire continent. Customary Law refers to the official judicial practice, be It by Indians or by persons belonging to any other social sector, acting from custom or oral tradition. Indigenous Law Is referred to as Customary Law by official sectors and refers to judicial, cultural and ancestral practices.
- the establishment of a systematic body of Indigenous laws In each country. Our goal being to consolidate Indigenous Law according to how It Is practiced In communities.
- Because Indigenous People Interact with other social sectors, we must demand that legislative diversity be evident In political constitutions demanding that the official accept Indigenous Law as such, thus opening up areas for the consolidation of cultural plurality and the self-determination of people.
- In reference to Official or State Laws, we demand laws which are favorable and Just to Indigenous Peoples and that discriminatory laws be rewritten to meet the needs of Indian People.
- We refer here to the ratification of Agreement #169 of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples adopted by the International Labor Organization whose proposals have an International scope and perspective on the future. In this agreement some Improvements are needed, such as those that speak of Peoples rather that populations, and a relative recognition of our rights to lands and territories, also the right to have bilingual and intercultural education, that our world vision be respected, etc... That Is why Indigenous organizations must apply pressure until said Agreement is ratified in every country.
Proposals1. To know, codify and organize Indigenous Law. To do this we propose that research begin to Intensify on this field at national and international levels.
2. At the same time, we propose the creation of an organization of professional Indigenous jurists to form an international committee of Indigenous jurists and leaders, so that they may be In charge, guide and organize events and initiate studies about this Important topic. Together with said proposal, we suggest that democratic tradition be recuperated for Indian People. This means that laws ought to be researched, developed and approved by the members of Indigenous communities.
3. When developing laws, terms and concepts should be understood by everyone. Confusion and controverted interpretations should be avoided. Thus, Indian legislation will be framed into a project against colonization, that may reflect the language used as well as the breadth and content of the same.
4. State laws are to be developed within a reasonable amount of time which will bring about reforms In political constitutions, beginning with a recognition of the pluri-national and pluri-cultural nature of states.
5. Therefore, we must urgently DEMAND that governments and legislative powers ratify Agreement #169 about Indigenous and Tribal Peoples adopted by the ILO. In the same way, we must demand the acceptance of other projects of law, especially applying to each one of the nationalities of the different countries.
6. That a world organization be created to deal with Indigenous affairs and named International Indigenous Nations.
To accomplish these things, we must make a decision of a continental scope to support each others struggles at an International level. Besides, we should seek solidarity from other social sectors to obtain the adoption of national and international laws In each of our national countries.
Recommendations1. To carry on permanent events, to make known and advertise laws about Indigenous rights, and to open a debate about the topic at local and International levels.
2. We recommend grass-roots participation In the development, discussion and recognition of Indigenous Law.
3. That the official laws about Indian People be made known so that they may be debated openly.
4. To open the possibility of studies and Interchanges In order to know and broadcast Indigenous legislation in every town.
5. We recommend the participation of the Indigenous people of the continent in the discussions of the project of the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights which Is currently being discussed at the United Nations.
ResolutionsWe, of the Human Rights and Political Prisoners Commission held a discussion to determine what our rights are from an Indigenous perspective. As Inhabitants of this continent, we are concerned about Creator-given human rights.
In consideration of human rights, we must take into account the continuous vital cycles of Mother Earth, air, water, the world, plants, those that fly, those that swim, the world of the four-legged, and all beings, because as human beings, we cannot live without all these natural beings.
Some of the examples of Human Rights violations that we Indian Peoples face are the following: they steal our land; they deny us the right to self-government; they massacre our peoples, they Impede us from speaking our languages and practicing our religions.
One of our greatest concerns are that we, as Indigenous Peoples need to develop our own concept of natural rights and not depend on Western definitions. As Indigenous communities we share a history of 500 years of painful human and natural rights and violations.
In spite of the efforts of numerous governments to divide and conquer us, we are here to reaffirm our relationships among Indigenous Peoples, among ourselves as well as within the cycles of life.
We have distinct and unique cultures and ways of living that often are In conflict with the dominant cultures. Due to this conflict, many human rights Instruments developed by dominant cultures don't respond to our cultural values or to the problems we face.
Our Ideas on rights are based on communities, recognizing the interdependence of all beings.
In spite of the Incapacity of existing human rights pacts and agreements dealing with Indigenous rights, we believe that it is necessary for communities to familiarize themselves with these instruments and to use them as tools in the continental Indigenous struggle.
SubjectsUtilizing the norms that have been developed In the Internal Pacts and Accords on the Human Rights, we see that as Indigenous Peoples, our rights continue being violated daily. The following are some of the main themes that came up In our discussion.
It was agreed that, especially for our brothers and sisters throughout the continent, our fundamental right to life has been denied. The massacres in Colombia, Peru, Guatemala and other countries are the most obvious examples. The policies of genocide and ethnocide present a more subtle denial of the right to life. By destroying our movement's by practicing forced sterilization, taking away our children, and by denying us our educational and religious practices, the National States are killing our peoples.
Even though we've maintained some control over parts of our land, we are denied the right to self-determination because as long as we do not control the exploitation of what they call "national resources" our efforts at organizing ourselves are suppressed.
We don't have the freedom to come and go as we wish. Frequently, our communities are divided by borders that have been Imposed with no respect for our ancestral territories.
Over the last 500 years, our land has been stolen by different governments and by transnational corporations that exploit the resources that are found on our lands. These resources are necessary for our survival. The result of this exploitation is not development, rather the death of our communities due to contamination of the land and water and the ethnocidal and genocidal policies of manipulating governments that are Intent on destroying us.
Resolutions1. While many communities are suffering human rights violations, we would like to express our particular concern for the Indigenous Peoples of i Latin America who are suffering genocidal and ethnocidal massacres, especially in Peru, Guatemala, Colombia and El Salvador, where the governments are carrying out a systematic war against Indigenous Peoples. We ask our brothers and sisters for urgent measures to be taken In solidarity with these peoples.
2. That the International documents released by such organizations such as the United Nations, the International Organization of Work Ethics, etc..., be In force and distributed to the Indigenous organizations in each country, so that we may be knowledgeable in the fight for our rights.
3. That a list of the Indigenous Nations and organizations that currently work at an International level be made available to all the participants of this Conference.
4. We recognize the Importance of utilizing an Informational network to address the human rights violations on our Peoples. We need to establish a permanent structure for communication among all peoples In regards to these rights.
5. It Is necessary to have more meetings In our communities In order to continue documenting and developing our comprehension of human rights, as well as to document the violations and abuses against them.
6. As a follow-up to the last Item, we propose that an International Indigenous Congress be formed with the purpose of coming up with an International Indigenous Rights and forming an International Indigenous Rights Coordinating Body.
7. It is necessary to identify and form strategies to combat the exploitation of Indigenous natural resources.
8. We are opposed to development projects carried out by governments and Imposed by the International Monetary Fund which have attempted crimes against the physical and cultural integrity of the Indigenous Peoples of this continent.
9. We reject "Indigenist" policies of different countries of this continent, which are of an integrationalistic and assimilationistic character, and which don't take into account our ancient cultures.
10. We need to regain control of our education end develop multi-cultural programs that keep our culture and teach our own perspective about our rights, so the future generations can defend themselves and destroy the pattern of genocide and ethnocide.
11. Within our documents on Indian rights we must specifically recognize women's rights.
13. We are against obligatory military recruitment of our community youth, because this Is against our culture. It sets up Indigenous People to kill amongst our own selves, oppressing our brothers. The military converts our sons Into murderers that don't defend our homeland, but rather kill people. We don't want militarization of civilian people. For example, In Guatemala where obligatory civilian patrols are enforced with the pretext of "protecting" the community. In actuality, these patrols are used by the military to control and repress the people and for those who don't participate, they are accused of being "communists."
14. We support the immediate release and unconditional freedom of all political prisoners of this continent. We denounce the deplorable conditions of refugee camps and prisons, which are cruel and Inhumane. We recognize that these political prisoners suffer because they defended and protected our natural human rights. We will not cease our demands until they are all free.
- We should act immediately on behalf of human rights victims and Indian political prisoners by urgently sending letters, telegrams, fax, etc., to all involved governments.
- We should specify that our rights are defended and are part of a grassroots political decision and are not a voluntary concession by a government nor by an international organization.
- We should oppose the existence and application of unjust laws that oppress our people in each country. We reaffirm the need to develop an alternative legal system that Is based on our Indian rights.
- We should condemn genocidal and ethnocidal governments, such as Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Peru and others that are directly responsible for crimes and disappearances.
We acknowledge that with the European invasion came genocide, repression, massacres, slavery and suffering, which continue unabated today.
We acknowledge that the entire hemisphere has been overwhelmed by foreign law, foreign religion, and foreign economic and social systems.
We acknowledge that the contemporary dislocation of non-indigenous people, through military and economic force, further aggravates the pressures on those Indigenous People still occupying their ancestral lands.
We acknowledge that contemporary development policy, combined with these economic, social and military forces, create contemporary processes of colonization.
We acknowledge the continual dental of your sovereignty and of your fundamental human and political rights:
- through the exploitation of natural resources on Indigenous land and territories by states and multi-national corporations;
- through the exclusion of Indigenous People from policy making processes of International agencies, such as the World Bank;
- through refusal by state and local governments to recognize traditional legal systems and traditional leadership;
- through the denial of fundamental rights to language, religion, autonomous education and traditional economic systems;
- through the refusal by state and national governments and corporations to recognize traditional and communal land rights of Indigenous People;
- through the continual use of violence and force, which makes possible all of the aforementioned processes.
We stand with you in recognition of the diversity and inter-dependency of all cultures and of all life, and with your commitment to maintaining the rights and requirement of this diversity.
We call upon all people, organizations, institutions and governments to respect the fundamental rights of Indigenous People for self-determination.
We commit ourselves to this alliance with you, the Indigenous People of the Americas, and to work with your agreements and plans as formulated at this Continental meeting.
We commit our access to resources and connections to facilitate and enhance your efforts in the struggle for your rights.
We commit ourselves to this work unconditionally, to walk with you in this immense effort towards your liberation and self-determination, toward a just and humane future.