Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 04:58:45 -0500
L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b) <LISTSERV@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
To: Haines Brown <BROWNH@CCSUA.CTSTATEU.EDU>
> S * IN ACTIV-L
--> Database ACTIV-L, 7781 hits.
> print 07710
>>> Item number 7710, dated 96/05/10 19:08:58 -- ALL
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 19:08:58 GMT
Reply-To: MEXPAZ_analysis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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From: MEXPAZ_analysis <email@example.com>
Subject: MEXPAZ #71 -- ANALYSIS
Although the Zapatista uprising and its sequel have focused the spotlight on the movement for indigenous autonomy, such demands have long been expressed by aboriginal groups and encompass far more ethnic groups than those in the state of Chiapas (Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tolojabal, Chol, among others, who share a common Mayan ancestry). More than 200 delegates attended the fifth National Indigenous Plural Assembly for Autonomy (ANIPA), held the last week in April in Chilapa, Guerrero, representing indigenous peoples in the states of Guerrero (Nahuatl, descendents of the lordly Aztecs), Sonora (Seri, Yaqui), Oaxaca (Zapotec, Mixe), Michoaca'n (Tarasco, Pure'pecha), Hidalgo (Otomi', Nahuatl), among others. There are at least 62 distinct ethnic groups in Mexico, each with its own language, traditions, customs and territorial roots. The delegates proposed the creation of regional autonomies and criticized a proposal of the National Indigenous Institute (INI) which would decentralize the present organization, shifting control to the states, and create a new National Indigenous Commission.
The INI proposal is contained in an
The New Relationship of the State with Indigenous Peoples:
The existence of autonomous regions in no way threatens the sovereignty of the national state. The autonomy movement is by no means separatist: indigenous groups are not proposing secession from Mexican territory to form their own nations. Rather, they are suggesting a new relationship with the State which would imply a system of co-jurisdictions. Such a relationship would be legally implemented at all juridical levels: the federal constitution and pertinent national legislation, state constitutions and laws and municipal regulations. Thus, autonomy represents the negotiation of new links with the State, implicitly recognizing the (limited) authority of the latter in exchange for greater local self- determination. Obviously, a shift of powers to local autonomies wrests some political and economic control from the central government. But isn't that thrust of new federalism?
There are precedents for such dual jurisdictions. The state
constitution of Oaxaca for examples, mandates respect for community
customs and uses in choosing political representatives.
Leaders are chosen much more intimately in local town meetings where
the entire community participates. The results are then ratified
according to formal regional elections, whose outcome is recognized by
federal and state governments.
Modernization (technology, economic development, infrastructure) is not opposed to upholding tradition. One of the great fallacies of classic liberal thought holds that progress can only be achieved by springing society free from the stranglehold of habits and customs. The philosophical underpinning of this liberal tenet is that traditional societies are inherently reactionary, resisting change at all costs or demonstrating themselves incapable of change (a wholly racist assumption).
In fact, indigenous forms of social organization have proven highly adaptable, adjusting to outside impositions but managing to maintain a sense of group identity. Although contact with dominant national culture
As Floriberto Di'az, mije leader, stated eloquently:
[D]evelopment has no future when final decisions are made by the
State. Therefore, we are sure that if we are the ones who really
decide, we can put together and execute efficient projects. Modern
science and technology are not opposed to indigenous peoples'
development. Nor do we feel condemned to abandom our culture if we
use them to reinforce our own communities and achieve development up
to the challenge of the times. (La Jornada, May 3, 1996,
supplement, p. 3.)