The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America
The "Indian question" has come to the forefront of political agendas in contemporary Latin America. In the process, indigenous movements have emerged as important social actors, raising a variety of demands on behalf of native peoples. Regardless of the situation of Indian groups as small minorities or significant sectors, many Latin American states have been forced to consider whether they should have the same status of all citizens or whether they should be granted special citizenship rights as Indians. This book examines the struggle for indigenous rights in eight Latin American countries. Initial studies of indigenous movements celebrated the return of the Indians as relevant political actors, often approaching their struggles as expressions of a common, generic agenda. This collection moves the debate forward by acknowledging the extraordinary diversity among the movements' composition, goals, and strategies. By focusing on the factors that shape this diversity, the authors offer a basis for understanding the specificities of converging and diverging patterns across different countries. The case studies examine the ways in which the Indian question arises in each country, with reference to the protagonism of indigenous movements in the context of the threats and opportunities posed by neo-liberal policies. The complexities posed by the varying demographic weight of indigenous populations, the interrelation of class and ethnicity, and the interplay between indigenous and popular struggles are discussed. The volume concludes that the Indian struggles are having a direct impact on the character of democracy, and in the process contribute to the redefinition of Latin American societies as multicultural.
Publication Date: 9/1/2004