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Monday, September 29, 2014

Mexico Seeks to Protect Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Freedoms

Presidency of the Republic Staff

During his participation in the Plenary Session of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, within the framework of the 69th United Nations General Assembly, President Enrique Peña Nieto confirmed Mexico's ongoing commitment to the protection and recognition of the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples from all regions and countries.

He stressed that, "In Mexico we are determined to build a true society of rights in which all people, regardless of their ethnic origin, can exercise the rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and international treaties in their daily lives."

President Peña Nieto was invited to participate in this forum on behalf of the Geopolitical Group of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is a tribute to the leadership of Mexico in protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples globally. In this capacity, he declared that for Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, the indigenous issue is at the root of our identities and our historical, social and political circumstances.

He explained that, in compliance with international commitments, in Mexico, "We have established a respectful, direct dialogue with various indigenous communities to guide public policies and infrastructure projects in their areas of influence." This ensures effective participation in the definition of actions that promote their development, with full respect for their self-determination.

Describing the policies protecting indigenous rights in the country, the president stated that in order to enable more than 15 million indigenous people in Mexico to fully exercise their rights, the state has a comprehensive policy focusing on improving their quality of life and creating greater opportunities for development.

This policy, he added, includes specific actions to eradicate hunger and overcome extreme poverty in indigenous municipalities, as well as the construction of basic infrastructures in their communities. Furthermore, the main program for alleviating poverty, which serves more than six million people of indigenous origin, was redesigned and strengthened.

"We are firmly supporting their incorporation into public education, healthcare and decent housing. We are also promoting their access to justice, as well as their efforts to increase the production and marketing of their products and crafts, with a focus on sustainability," he added.

The president said the government of Mexico is promoting actions to achieve inclusive development without losing their cultural identity or compromising the country's natural heritage.

He repeated that the Constitution guarantees their autonomy to decide their internal forms of coexistence and social, economic, political and cultural organization. It also recognizes the right to preserve and promote their culture, traditions and customs in an environment of equality and nondiscrimination.

In the Plenary Hall, addressing heads of state and government and representatives of first peoples from dozens of countries, President Peña Nieto thanked the General Assembly for organizing, for the first time ever, a historic high-level meeting dedicated exclusively to the welfare of indigenous peoples.

He said that, "For Mexico, it has been a great honor to contribute to the preparation of the World Conference and the negotiation of the final document," designed to achieve the effective exercise of the rights of indigenous peoples in all nations. He noted that this is a major achievement, the result of an open, inclusive and constructive dialogue between member states and indigenous representatives.

"Mexico is confident that the final document will be a road map to reposition indigenous issues on the international agenda and give renewed impetus to the actions of United Nations organizations on this matter," he said.

President Peña Nieto said that the Mexican delegation values the incorporation of several of the approaches presented in favor of indigenous people, including:

The fact that the post-2015 development agenda seeks to secure the rights of indigenous peoples.

The fact that the participation of indigenous peoples in UN work has a different status to that of NGOs.

That national laws will be harmonized in the spirit of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

That the UN Human Rights Council, in consultation with indigenous peoples, will be able to monitor, evaluate and improve the implementation of this declaration in all member states.

"Mexico wants these ideas to translate into tangible benefits for the five thousand indigenous groups estimated to exist in the world," he said.

The Mexican President recalled that inequality, injustice and discrimination against indigenous peoples are still searing realities, and called for society to work together to eradicate these practices and strengthen international cooperation to address them.

"UN Development initiatives deserve the sum of the skills and experiences of all countries, because only together can we achieve the purpose of building a better future for all mankind," he explained.

In her address, Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, thanked the Mexican government and its president, Enrique Peña Nieto, for his involvement in the preparations for this meeting and the drafting of the final document, which will undoubtedly contribute to the improvement of indigenous peoples.


Press release, Sep. 22, 2014, Presidency of the Republic, Mexico, DF; Presidency of the Republic translation

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