Mexico: Electoral Reform Threatens the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples
Assembly of the National Indigenous Congress in CIDECI-Unitierra in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas in 2014, which had the name Alonzo Chair Juan Chavez. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)
At the end of May, Mexico’s National Congress approved a political-electoral reformthat will organize federal and local elections for the year 2015. Such a reform represents a step backward for indigenous towns in Mexico because it does not consider the way in which they elect authorities through their own system of "uses and customs" legitimate.
Despite efforts by citizens, academics, organizations and indigenous movements, who turned in a series of proposals to senators and congress members from Oaxaca long before the reform was passed, the self-determination of indigenous towns and communities has not been guaranteed.
"By not guaranteeing the right to autonomy and political representation in these towns, the diversity of political organization that exists in this country is being denied," says Aldo Gonzales Rojas, of indigenous Zapotec descent and a director for the Secretary of Indigenous Affairs in the state of Oaxaca, where he ensures that indigenous laws are being instituted and applied correctly. "A legal gap has been created given that this other system exists, but is not recognized. Indigenous communities should have juridical certainty," he continues.
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