Program Partner Contribution
Por Udiel Gonzalo Miranda Feliciano
Institutional Director of Asociación Comisión Paz y Ecología (COPAE)
On August 9, 2022, several human rights organizations held activities on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to demand respect and the guarantee of the right to self-determination. Nevertheless, seldom do we reflect on the pre-existing conditions and institutional guarantees necessary to be able to exercise the fundamental rights that develop the principle of self-determination: cultural identity, territory, land, collective natural goods, good living, self-governance, and others.
What are the necessary conditions for Indigenous peoples in Guatemala to be able to effectively exercise their right to self-determination?
One of the conditions is to move from particular and segmented claims to a broader proposal that articulates all of the Indigenous peoples’ movements and organizations, around the rights to cultural identity, territory, land, collective natural goods, good living, and self-governance. Currently the way these rights are practiced is sectorial; for example, the Indigenous mayoral councils have not generated a proposal for self-governance by the Maya People; nor do the institutions handling territories’ collective management and administration have a proposal for an economy of good living. However, these institutions and Indigenous community practices function in the communities and breathe life into the nation-state. For that reason, it is important to strengthen the status of Maya People as political subject through processes of political training, integration of reclamation proposals, and investigation for political action.
It is important to highlight that more social and Indigenous peoples’ organizations are motivating processes geared towards strengthening political actors and rights. On August 13 and 14 of this year, the first Plurinational Gathering for Good Living was held in Guatemala City, with participation by leaders and representatives of Indigenous peoples’ movements and organizations. One of the agreements of the event is to promote a process to integrate proposals around the right to self-determination, posed by the Campesino (Farmworker) Development Committee, the Movement of Women with Constituent Power, the Waqib’ Kej National Maya Coordination and Convergence, the Maya People’s Council, among others.
In conclusion, the starting point entails coming to consensus around a political project for self-determination based on the multiple demands and practices of Indigenous peoples’ communities, organizations, and institutions. That said, other problems remain open to reflection: How are political constituent subjects build, and what are the institutional, regulatory, and cultural transformations necessary for Indigenous peoples in Guatemala to effectively exercise their right to self-determination?