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Textual: análisis del medio rural latinoamericano

On-line version ISSN 2395-9177Print version ISSN 0185-9439

Textual anál. medio rural latinoam.  n.72 Chapingo Jul./Dec. 2018


Book review

The indigenous question in mexico and latin america

Jorge Antonio Acosta Calderón1 

1Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Doctorado en Ciencias Agrarias. Departamento de Sociología Rural, km 38.5 carretera México-Texcoco, Chapingo, Texcoco Edo. de México. C. P. 56230.

The text presented to us by the author is of utmost importance to address the challenges that the current social and political context imposes on us as members of the university community and as Mexicans. A central element of this context consists of acts of state terrorism used to impose mega extractivist and infrastructure projects. These acts essentially consist of a systematic deployment of violence (criminalization of protests, disappearances, displacements, assassinations, purchase of authorities, etc.) against Indigenous Peoples and communities that oppose the advancement of the aforementioned projects.

In this sense, I believe that the topics dealt with in the text are a valuable contribution to exposing this systematic use of violence, which implies the violation of a number of rights of Indigenous Peoples. The reflections developed provide guidelines that will be taken up again during the process of democratic transition from a right-wing to a progressive government. From the start of the next government, the problems that I have pointed out will be dealt with promptly, so the reflections on the recognition of the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, as a means for the impartation of justice and the pacification of the country, are relevant.

As part of this political and social transition that we are experiencing, it is also necessary to point out its counterpart that is being lived out in our university. At this level, the book reminds us of the importance of the role of the university in the processes of justice and peace. The author does not hesitate to make very clear the critical and supportive stance that the universitarian - as a person - and academia - as a collective - must keep regarding the problems of our Indigenous Peoples and communities. In this regard, the appearance of this work is of utmost importance to revitalize the critical perspective of the thematic lines of UACh’s Department of Rural Sociology, which has been hijacked by a group that insists on burying this type of proposal and pushing a light, uncritical, and neoliberal spirit onto students and their research.

As for the characteristics of the text, it can be pointed out that it is a series of eight articles presented at different congresses and forums. However, the texts have been organized and harmonized in such a way that there is a logical and thematic sequence. In addition, they are written in a manner that makes them very accessible for students who are initiated in sociology or anthropology, but, above all, for com rades of the Indigenous Peoples in resistance who require this type of reflection in order to know the history of their struggle.

Another virtue of the text is that it uses a variety of sociological and anthropological perspectives of national and Latin American origin, without leaving aside the dialogue with those from “the West.” This procedure implies a certain revitalization, always so necessary, of the thinkers who have historically attended to the development of the struggle of Indigenous Peoples and who have placed their faith in the constitution of Mexico as a diverse and pluricultural nation.

In the first article, the subject of ethnicity and multiculturalism is addressed. The author reflects on the refusal of Latin American nation states to recognize the ethnic diversity on which they are founded. This stance implies that Indigenous Peoples are denied participation in the construction of development proposals. The author emphasizes the importance of adopting the intercultural approach not only for the State and the inclusion of these Peoples, but mainly for the articulation of struggles that become a Latin American indigenous movement for the formation of a common front against the processes of accumulation by dispossession.

In the second article, the author reflects on the conflict in Chiapas and the failure to comply with the San Andrés Larrainzar Accords and the implications thereof for the democratic transition process of 2000. It also analyzes how ethnic conflict, understood as the denial of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, has important implications for the effects of globalization at the local and national levels. The author states that human rights must be respected, and in the case of Indigenous Peoples, collective rights must be recognized. This implies that the autonomy and self-determination of the Indian peoples in Mexico must be recognized, and that, in turn, the San Andrés Accords must be respected.

The third text deals with the issue of the development of Indigenous Peoples. After establishing the importance of consolidating Mexico as a pluri-national state, the limits imposed on the construction of development models from below are analyzed. The author suggests that Regional Pluri-ethnic Autonomies should be recognized as a means of trying to ensure that the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the dynamics of globalization is not as cheap labor and that their territories are not viewed only as stocks of natural resources.

The fourth article is an analysis of the Latin American indigenous movement, particularly Mexico’s. This work shows the maturity of this movement and the implications of its struggle. That is, it is recognized that, among these identity and political movements, there are aspects that recover the knowledge and forms of struggle of the national liberation movements. Against this background, the author emphasizes the importance of the recognition of Indigenous Peoples and respect for political plurality as an important action to prevent the emergence of more violence.

In the fifth article, the author analyses the limits of ethno-development. Under the same perspective used in the other articles, the author points out that non-compliance with the San Andrés Accords is the main limitation, because without it, Indigenous Peoples only receive welfare support that deepens their dependence on the State and, above all, does not allow the flourishing of true proposals for endogenous development.

The sixth article analyzes the problem of the indigenous agrarian question, sustainable development and self-consumption agriculture of Indigenous Peoples. The author presents a proposed solution to this problem that consists of five points, two of which I would like to single out: the recognition of the autonomy of Indigenous Peoples and the ecological modernization of farming, understood as the recognition of the principle of patrimoniality of natural resources in the hands of Indigenous Peoples.

The penultimate article deals with the COCOPA proposal and the government’s counter-proposal that implies ignorance of the San Andrés Accords. The author concludes that the government lacks the political will for the true inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the decision-making process for the country’s development. This article also contains an important analysis of the constitutional contradictions concerning this recognition of Indigenous Peoples. Finally, the last article is an analysis of the Constitutional Reforms from 2001 to Article 20, enacted to respond to the demands of the national indigenous movement. The author explains why this reform violates the human rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico.

I recommend Dr. Sámano’s text in order to deepen one’s knowledge of the issues within the context of democratic transition and, above all, to stoke the historical struggle of Indigenous Peoples for their political recognition, justice and peace.

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