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POLC99 Lecture 9 – March 8
The Politics of the Rural Dispossessed: Ecuador + Bolivia
The Indigenous Question: The debate over the special political and socio-
economic rights that should be granted to indigenous peoples citizens of nation-
-Reserved seats in legislation
-Special autonomy of self-determination for indigenous communities
Explanations for the Rise of Indigenous Movements
-International human rights, norms and legislations
-ILO Convention 169 indigenous + tribal peoples
-UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights (2007)
-Neoliberalism: political and economic exclusion
-Social capital: unions are on the decrease; indigenous people have a great
reserve of social capital to mobilize people.
The Electoral Path to Change
Autonomy in participation : a combination of protest and electoral politics as a
means of advancing a group’s agenda.
Option 1: Rejection of Electoral Politics
Examples: Guatemala and Mexico. In 1999 they had a referendum in Guatemala to
include indigenous rights into the constitution.
Option 2: Join an Existing Party
Examples: Argentina and Brazil. Not very happy with the workers party in Brazil.
Option 3: Form Your Own Party
Examples: Ecuador and Bolivia. Combining electoral and protest parties.
Pachakutik Party in 2002 with Lucio Gutierrez worked with indigenous movements
to overthrow a corrupt government. Suddenly turned back on indigenous people and
signed a number of IMF agreements. Bolivia: Movement Toward Socialism (MTS).
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POLC99 Lecture 9 – March 8
Pros and Cons of Participating in Elections for Indigenous Peoples
-Mobilizing on multiple fronts is highly effective. Ecuador and Bolivia have
the most progressive laws and constitutions with regard to indigenous
-Indigenous peoples are often seen in horrific ways as backwards, so sitting in
parliament and participating in elections serves as a strong antidote to racist
images of indigenous peoples.
-Effective redistribution instead of just recognition. You’re talking about
access to land, agrarian reforms, development funding, not just getting you
language as an official language. NGOs throw money at them, because they
are no taking up rams, they are working through legal channels.
-Great tool of international and domestic alliances, for getting funding, for
non-indigenous parties to join indigenous parties. In Peru ordinary peasants
are now putting on an indigenous label to get funding.
-There’s a risk of being co-opted, corrupted, and compromised by being part of
the system selling out
-Risk of failure. In Ontario there’s a small population of indigenous people, so
forming their own party would not work
-Western system of liberal democracy: why should we participate in white
man’s elections? Symbolic support for Western institutions.
-Always produces riffs and divides. Who going to run for this office? By
forming a party you become part of the problem by creating a division.
Bridging protests and electoral politics: the idea of moving from protest to
proposal is not helpful In fact indigenous peoples do protests with proposals.
Achievements of Indigenous Peoples Parties
-Improved political representation: before Ecuador had regional parties
representing coasts but they never had parties representing the poor.
-Improve democratic consolidation in a region that’s historically unstable. It
could be the key to democratization. Bolivia: it’s making things more unstable
by including the poor, it’s debatable.
-Constitutional reform in Ecuador. All indigenous groups want
pluronatioanality. They want to be recognized not as ethnic minorities, but
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