Indigenous Groups: Essential in A Post-Pandemic RecoveryBy Sofía Hanna | Tue, 08/31/2021 - 14:20
A transformative recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic based on conscience and sustainability can be achieved through the worldview and experiences of indigenous groups, according to the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC). The fund argues that future policies should emphasize the collective rights and participation of these groups.
FILAC highlighted the relevance of indigenous people in a transformative post-COVID-19 recovery in a recent event, during which Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), stated that “it is critical that recovery policies emphasize the collective rights of these people and that their pivotal themes be participation and consultation with a view to obtaining free, prior and informed consent for any measure that would affect them, including the participation of indigenous women and young people. Although it is undeniable that progress has been made in recent decades on their recognition and collective rights in all the region’s countries, important gaps still remain.”
According to the Social Panorama of Latin America 2019 report, the poverty rate of indigenous people was 46.7 percent and of extreme poverty was 17.3 percent, equivalent to double and triple times the respective rates for the non-indigenous population in the set of nine countries that had information available. Bárcena emphasized that indigenous people experience structural inequalities, discrimination and racism, creating a scenario of greater vulnerability and risk in the face of COVID-19 and the effects of the crisis. “Between 2015 and 2019, ECLAC identified 1,223 conflicts in 13 Latin American countries, arising from impacts on indigenous peoples’ territorial rights that were associated with extractive industries, including mining, hydrocarbons, energy and monocultures,” mentioned the ECLAC report. Bárecena also highlighted the importance of solidarity with indigenous groups in Latin America and the Caribbean, who had to face the pandemic’s effects in conditions of marginalization and exclusion.
As previously reported by MBN, indigenous communities continue to be one of the groups without proper accounting of the number of COVID-19 victims. About 617,000 people belonging to indigenous communities in the Americas had been infected with COVID-19 by June and at least 15,000 had died from complications. This is particularly problematic in Mexico where, according to the UNDP, income concentration is extremely high as the revenue of 50 companies represents around 40 percent of the Mexican GDP, heavily limiting the opportunity for social mobility and access to better financial and social opportunities.