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Indigenous Groups Continue to be Excluded from Development Across Latin America

Steven James Grattan - Latin Correspondent
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February 18, 2016



A woman from the Brazilian Amazon region protests during the COP20 climate change conference in Peru in December 2014. (AP/Martin Mejia)

They are the first inhabitants of the American continent, speak a total of 560 languages and have countless varied and rich traditions: the 42 million indigenous people across Latin America.

However, despite 70 million Latin Americans having escaped poverty over the past two decades, almost half of the continent’s indigenous groups remain under the poverty line, according to the new World Bank report entitled Indigenous Latin America in the Twenty-First century.

However, improvements were reported in the representation of indigenous peoples as part of the region’s political life, as well as access to primary education and electricity. Equality in the educational sector was also established between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Mexico, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

But there are still significant gaps between the two populations.

“Born to indigenous parents markedly increases the likelihood of growing up in a poor household,” the report says. Today indigenous people remain the poorest group across Latin America, suffering from lower levels of income and reduced access to schooling.

In addition, indigenous communities do not necessarily share the same vision of development in terms of economic, political and social achievements.

Several countries have adopted laws and other mechanisms to recognize indigenous rights, territories and traditions.

In addition, indigenous communities are now facing new and challenging realities: for example, almost half of the natives of the region live in cities, which poses new challenges on how to preserve their culture and respect their identity.

Read the rest at Latin Correspondent

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