AuthorMantilla, Yuri

    Regarding the indigenous population of Latin America, the World Bank indicates:

    According to the last round of censuses available, in 2010 there were about 42 million indigenous people in Latin America, representing nearly 7.8 percent of the total population. Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, and Bolivia had the largest indigenous populations both in absolute and proportional terms, comprising more than 80 percent of the total (34.4 million). (1)

    The same World Bank report highlights the number of indigenous people according to the census of each country. In Ecuador, there are 1.02 million indigenous people. (2) This is 7[paragraph] of its total population. (3) In Mexico, there are 16.83 million indigenous people, which is 15[paragraph] of the population. (4) In Peru, 7.60 million, which is 26[paragraph] of the population. (5) In Guatemala, 5.88 million, which is 41[paragraph] of the population/ (1) In Bolivia, 4.12 million, which is 41[paragraph] of the population. (7) In countries such as Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, indigenous peoples constitute a large percentage of the population. Considering this reality, it is essential to implement indigenous peoples' rights, and ensure their participation at the highest levels of economic and political leadership in Latin America.

    This study focuses on the descendants of the Inca Empire (the Quechua and Aymara indigenous people of the Andean region) of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, as a case study regarding the importance of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ADRIP) in the context of global economic integration. The article makes the case for considering both international economic law and international human rights law in the advocacy of indigenous peoples' rights, such as the Aymara and Quechua, in the current process of economic globalization. To accomplish this objective, the article analyzes the main features of the ADRIP as a source for the legal protection of economic and political rights of the Aymara and Quechua people. The right to self-determination, as one of the most important collective rights of indigenous people, is considered in its relation to the American Declaration.

    To understand the historical contexts that have influenced the legal and political status of the Quechua and Aymara people, this article considers the main historical features of the process of global economic integration and its impact on the rights of indigenous peoples. It also examines the Spanish normative instruments and the legal and philosophical ideas that justified the conquest of the Inca Empire of which the Quechua and Aymara people are descendants. Colonial ethnocentric legal and political ideas have systematically undermined the economic well-being of indigenous communities. As a remedy to this situation, this article makes the case for integrating international human rights norms, regarding indigenous peoples, in international economic policies that affect the lives of the Aymara, Quechua and other native people. This article suggests that the empowerment of indigenous peoples should be part of the response to the backlash against economic globalization.

    The Preamble of the ADRIP states:

    That the rights of indigenous peoples are both essential and of historieal significanee to the present and future of the Amerieas;

    The important presence in the Americas of indigenous peoples and their immense contribution to development, plurality, and cultural diversity, and reiterating our commitment to their economic and social well-being, as well as the obligation to respect their rights and cultural identity; and

    That the existence of the indigenous cultures and peoples of the Americas is important to humanity. (8)

    Indigenous peoples in the Andean region of Latin American are fundamental actors in processes of social and economic development. They also ensure the existence of diverse and multicultural societies and give strength to democratic institutions. The recognition of their contributions to the well-being of humankind is consistent with the necessity of analyzing indigenous peoples' rights in the historical context of the current process of global economic integration and the backlash against it.


    Despite the positive aspects of economic globalization, and the progress in the economic and political status of the Aymara, Quechua, and other indigenous nations in the Andean region of Latin America, racial discrimination, poverty and social exclusion continues to characterize their status in that part of the world. (9) To change this unjust situation, respect for fundamental human rights of the Aymara, Quechua and other indigenous people should become a priority for the governments and people of Latin America. This is necessary not only to improve the economic status of indigenous peoples, but also to contribute to the sustainable economic and social development of Latin American countries.

    The system of Spanish colonialism, in Latin America, was based on the exploitation of natural resources in indigenous peoples' territories, and the imposition of the Spanish culture and colonial rule. Spanish conquerors not only took over the territories of indigenous peoples, but they also destroyed vast numbers of indigenous populations in Latin America. (10) In countries such as Argentina, most indigenous peoples were annihilated." Despite those acts of genocide, in countries such as Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, the Aymara and Quechua peoples have survived and have preserved their ethnic identities. (12) This was the result of a systematic resistance against acts of genocide, racial discrimination, and assimilation. (13)

    It is important to know that the Quechua and Aymara peoples traced their roots to the Inca Empire. The Quechuas were leaders of that state and the Aymara were part of it. (14) Since the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the Aymara and Quechua people resisted the conquest and fought against unjust tax impositions that created economic and legal bondage. (15) One of the most famous rebellions against Spanish colonialism happened in the province of Charchas under the leadership of the Katari brothers, Tupac Amaru in Cusco, and Tupac Katari in La Paz, Bolivia. (16) Regarding the Spanish conquest, Aurolyn Luykx wrote:

    The Spanish Conquest was disastrous for the Andean civilizations, as it was throughout the Americas; highland populations fared somewhat better than others, by virtue of their numbers, inaccessibility. and level of organization. During the colonial period, the indigenous population was decimated by disease and slavery; tens of thousands died in the immense silver mine of Polosi alone. Indigenous social organization was severely disrupted, but not destroyed; in fact, it remained strong enough to stage a series of rebellions that at times seriously threatened Spanish rule. These reached their peak between 1778 and 1781, at which point 80,000 Indians were massacred in retaliation; nevertheless, uprisings continued sporadically for decades thereafter. (17)

    Simon Bolfvar (1783-1830) and other Latin American leaders enabled Latin American countries, such as Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, to liberate themselves from Spanish colonial rule and become independent nations. (18) Although some political rights of indigenous peoples were recognized, extreme economic exploitation and poverty continued to characterize the status of indigenous communities during the independence era. (19) The new ruling classes represented the interest of small sectors of society with no participation of the Aymara and Quechua people in the leadership of political institutions. (20)

    In the current historical context, social, economic and political exclusion continue to prevail in the Andean region. This is seen, for example, in ethnic stereotypes that regard indigenous people as "uncivilized" and cause economic underdevelopment. (21) On the contrary, to be of Spanish descent is a source of pride. (22) By comparing which indigenous persons have "learned" to be more like the elites of Spanish descent, they have sustained a system of ethnic assessments, which is a source of discrimination and ethnic conflicts. (23) Historically, mestizo ruling elites have sustained social and economic policies to assimilate and destroy indigenous cultures. (24)

    A prevalent source of disenfranchisement and economic exploitation of indigenous people, in the Andean region, is the ethnic division of labor. According to Donald L. Horowitz, ethnic division of labor means:

    [E]thnic specialization of occupation in general; the phenomenon is not confined to "labor" in the narrow sense. The concentration of particular ethnic groups in particular sectors of the economy and in particular occupations within sectors is a feature of many societies, but it reaches its apogee in the ex-colonial countries. (25)

    This type of division of labor is seen in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and other countries in Latin America. The Spanish colonial regime placed indigenous people at the lowest level of economic systems and forced them to serve people of Spanish descent. (26 ) As a result of these policies, the Quechua and Aymara people, until this day, are among the poorest in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. This fact is seen in their life expectancy, education, income, and employment. (27) As Steven Hendrix points out: "Lack of education, poor farming and mining methods... inability to speak Spanish, and societal biases keep the indigenous people poor." (28 ) Despite the progresses made in the economic and social status of indigenous people in countries such as Bolivia, indigenous peoples continue to be marginalized and are deprived from a meaningful access to economic power. The systematic discrimination against indigenous people in the Andean region is a source of economic underdevelopment and potential ethnic violence. When significant sectors of a population are...

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