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The Weakest Link? Neoliberalism in Latin America

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Related sponsored items Feedback on our suggestions - Related sponsored items. The peoples and indigenous communities are the owners and heirs of lands, territories and natural resources in which they live and, consequently, they demand respect and recognition of that right by the state and national and foreign companies that insist on their drive for privatization and commercialization. Therefore, they are demanding an end to any project, action, and concession that violates the ownership, use, exploitation, and integrity of territories, lands, sacred sites and natural resources of indigenous peoples, as well as laws, decrees and regulations that tend to dispossess and facilitate the exploitation of their natural resources by other than the indigenous communitiesii.

The educational and socialization processes also are generated from and by the communities, taking into account the knowledge that is rooted in the peoples and other popular actors and that enriches autonomous subjects, with the understanding that autonomy is strengthened by intercultural dialogue. This is more evident and necessary when two or more peoples are conjoined in an autonomous process Chiapas, regions of Guatemala and Nicaragua, for example and the unity of the autonomous subject is essential in confronting the transnationalized state. In the present circumstances, this subject is directly opposed to state actors officials, police, army, judges, and etcetera at the service of capital.

If autonomy is part of national issues, the indigenous movement that practices and promotes autonomy in its struggle to prevail must establish the necessary alliances, first among the indigenous peoples themselves, and from there with the oppressed and exploited groups of the country in question.

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The indigenous movements have never questioned the reality of the class matrix imposed by capital nor the type of state in which their struggles for autonomy are immersed and, consequently, the need for partnership between indigenous movements and those who propose democratic reforms against capitalism and even the construction of a new type of socialism.

Indigenous peoples have not been the ones responsible for the lack of interest shown by leftist parties and other political organizations in establishing agreements for a unified struggle on political, electoral or social mobilization fields. There are examples, some tragic, of the instrumental use of indigenous peoples in political processes and institutional spaces, even during the revolutionary wars that took place in Latin America.


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Furthermore, indigenous autonomy movements are not obsessed with spontaneous popular resistance. Rather, their movements are usually preceded by long discussions and as evidenced by the Zapatistas uprising, many years passed before the outbreak of rebellion and so far no steps have been taken arising from spontaneity or political adventurism. This movement demonstrates the value given to the consciousness and organization of the oppressed and exploited in the fight against a state that seeks to contain or even destroy them, politically and militarily.

We have to highlight the depth of some of them that for specific reasons have been able to develop organizational forms — even political-military — such as the EZLN, which give coherence and integrity to autonomous practices.

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In other situations, patterns of boss rule caciquismo or paramilitaries directly threaten autonomy with widespread repression and the criminalization of those who stand out in the process, as in the case of Xochistlahuaca, in the state of Guerrero, and among Triqui people in Oaxaca. Therefore, we insist on the intrinsic character of change, adaptation, reaction and innovation of the autonomous processes according to the international, national, regional and local context with which indigenous peoples are confronted.

The construction and strengthening of the autonomous subject also need to break with the old forms of indigenous policies implemented for many years by the State to keep control over the indigenous peoples and communities through paternalism and clientelism. We also found that the interference of political parties in most cases damages and even thwarts the exercise of autonomy. In the Mexican case, the reservoir of votes that the ruling party in the days of the dominant party state control, the PRI used to impose through the indigenous chiefdoms, was seriously affected by an indigenous movement that even rejects the current state parties system, calling into question the damaged components of tutelary democracy, and also imposing as an alternative another collective way of doing politics.

From the ethnocentric standpoint of the national society only representative democracy is possible, which denies any experience of direct democracy among the indigenous communities that have developed a political culture of resistance which is the very basis of existing autonomous processes. The Zapatista experience and other processes in Latin America show that the development of a consolidated multi-ethnic network of communities and regions, which even includes diverse peoples, is another significant change in the current autonomy projects, in which intra-communal tension caused by secular, boundary or resource conflict can be overcome, and that it is possible to respond together to the violent intrusion of states and capitalist corporations.

All internal transformations, ruptures, and redefinitions at the community, regional and national levels are impossible without the formation and strengthening of an autonomous subject with an inward capacity for hegemonic assertion, so that it can contribute to internal cohesion through building consensus, participatory democracy, tolerance and the overcoming of religious, ethnic or political differences, the fight against corruption and against attempts to co-optation by the state and its agents. This subject attracts the mobilization of peoples and communities to defend their rights and demands, and has support for a legitimate representation toward the outside world.

Pluriethnic and plurinational autonomies and their contribution to the democratic nation. Contemporary indigenous autonomies are far from the stereotypes predicted by their opponents which saw autarky as inherent to this phenomenon. On the contrary, as seen in many Latin American countries, the emergence of indigenous peoples in the political events of their nations is undeniable.

These autonomous processes seek substantial changes in the nature of these nations as plurinational, pluriethnic, pluricultural and plurilingual entities, and reaffirm indigenous peoples as political subjects of inalienable collective rights in their character as peoples and nationalities. The claims of indigenous peoples, the values they defend —the common good and solidarity, respect for nature and the notion of balance, rejection of the logic of consumerism and the preeminence of intangible values, the search for harmony and consensus — go beyond narrow communal interests.

They represent the affirmation of values that allow a universal adherence and which transcend the boundaries of ethnicity. From the comprehensive perspective of autonomy as expressed in the political, legal, economic, social and cultural fields, which supports the implementation at community, municipal and regional levels, we reaffirm the value and importance of political practices which are materialized in community assemblies, cargo systems, the tequio collective free work and, in general, obligations and community contributions.

Autonomy is constructed from a different logic from the hegemonic political culture, to which it is opposed by definition. These are turning out to be their most valuable tools for settling disputes arising from their diverse ethnic backgrounds, their different identities and different cultural and religious standards. It is important to discuss and nurture these Latin American experiences of autonomy, with those in other countries and continents, in other cultures, since the struggle for autonomy has as its goal to lead to a civilization different from the existing one even in the remotest corners of the planet.

To think of autonomy and its relationships with Latin American nation states implies a theoretical and political responsibility to a revolutionary and transformative resistance against the hemispheric project of the United States and its allies which intends to impose on Latin America what we can call a new expression of the globalization of capital.

Current Condition of Indigenous population in Latin America

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