Autor: Jitka Štěpánková (Institut mezinárodních studií FSV UK)

indianThe article written by Navarro and Carlsen examines the struggle of indigenous population of Mexico for their rights and attempt for constitutional reform which would recognize Mexico as a pluri-ethnic and pluri-cultural country and therefore ensure indigenous people nondiscriminatory treatment while recognizing their differences and distinctiveness.

Indigenous people in Mexico have been under the constitution perceived as second-class citizens. Indians have therefore attempted to change their situation and improve their legal status within Mexico. In 1996, after long negotiations of broad variety of interested groups, the initiative of Commission on Concordance and Pacification (COCOPA) was presented to the government, which was in compliance with San Andrés Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture signed by EZLN and Mexican government the same year. The reform asked for extending individual and collective rights to indigenous people and laid groundwork for pluralistic Mexican nation, while granting autonomy to Indians. Even though the initiative won public support and was accepted by EZLN and National Indigenous Congress, President Zedillo rejected it.

Instead, the Congress brought up its own initiative, which was consequently enacted into law by in 2001. Navarro and Carlsen call this Congressional act a counterrevolution because the content of the new reform was substantially different from COCOPA and in practice constrained rights of indigenous people and failed to change their legal status within the Constitution. Because Indians were not consulted about the law, authors argue that while the law is legal, it is not legitimate and strongly criticize the policy of government and its failure to grant indigenous people their full rights. Their arguments are supported by the fact, that the governmental provision has been challenged in courts ever since and became a reason for civil unrest and often conflicts in areas inhabited by indigenous people.

The article provides readers with history of indigenous rights within Mexican constitution and presents problems of current law, which outrages indigenous people and causes conflicts in the country. Authors call for Constitutional reform which would be based on COCOPA initiative and thus recognize pluri-ethnic composition of the population of Mexico and further democracy in the country.



Hernandez Navarro, Luis and Laura Carlsen. 2004. “Indigenous Rights: The Battle for Constitutional Reform in Mexico,” in Dilemmas of Political Change in Mexico, ed. Kevin J. Middlebrook. San Diego, California: Center for U.S.—Mexican Studies. Hills, Carla A. 2004. 


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