Indians Advocate Plurinational States Involving Brazil and Neighbors

An Yanomami Indian from Brazil Indigenous peoples from Brazil and neighboring countries would like to turn Latin American nations into plurinational states. Representatives of different indigenous peoples from 10 countries of Abya Yala (America) took on this commitment at the Indigenous Peoples, Constitution and Plurinational States seminar, held in La Paz, Bolivia, between January 15 and 17.

Between 18 and 19, they discussed the impacts posed by the initiative for South American Regional Infrastructure Integration (IIRSA).
 
In Latin America, a Nation-State is considered a monolithic state, representing the people as a whole. In the opinion of indigenous peoples, these states must be redesigned in order to become more intercultural and plurinational states.

At the seminar, indigenous peoples concluded that, based on the experience of the Bolivian Constituent and on other social struggles, a plurinational State is not a distant reality in the continent, but something that is actually being established.
 
In this connection, the participants demonstrated their support to the constituent process that has been taking place in Ecuador in a final document prepared in the seminar, hoping that the country is also considered as a plurinational state – as happened in Bolivia.
 
At the event, some characteristics of what would be a Plurinational State were discussed; they are: communitarian economy, acknowledgement of the traditional medicine and justice, bilingual education, political organization of their own, territorial reorganization, amongst other.
 
Peruvian indigenous leader, Miguel Palacin, stressed that indigenous peoples want to play a "political and social role, and not just to be seen as adornments or as a folklore for democracy." Palacin is the coordinator of the Andean Coordinating of Indigenous Organizations (COIA), which was the organization that held the seminar.
 
Integration
 
Between January 18 and 19, COIA, together with the Center for Studies Applied to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CEADESC), held the IIRSA and Indigenous Peoples seminar.
 
The main topic discussed during the event was the kind of development expected in South America. Indigenous peoples who attended it stressed that they do not want a model that will destroy and withdraw natural resources from their lands, but rather a model based on the integration of indigenous peoples. 

Thereunto, indigenous communities must be better informed on large projects that are being developed in order to be consulted on whether these projects can be carried out or not.
 
The IIRSA is a project developed by 12 countries which includes 507 transport, electricity and telecommunication infrastructure projects, with the aim of increasing the movement of goods inside the continent and also for export purposes. Many of these projects pose threats for indigenous lands.
 
Brazil is considered as one of the main interested and beneficiaries countries of the IIRSA. Brazil's performance and the line of action of different enterprises headquartered in the country were remembered with concern in a final letter prepared in the seminar.
 
The seminars were attended by representatives from the Aymara, Quéchua, Poqra, Mapuche, Kichwa, Pemón, Miskitu, Guarani, Ayoreo and Chiquitano peoples. There was no indigenous representative from Brazil, but a representative of the Brazilian Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi), an organ from Brazil's Catholic Church, attended the seminars.

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