12/10/2017 Society

October 12: Indigenous peoples of Latin America defend their roots and reject the "Day of the race"

In the recent years, the world has seen massive protests against the commemoration of Christopher Columbus day on October 9 with many nations replacing it with a celebration of Indigenous communities.


Víctor Fajardo/ARCHIVE LANA


The ongoing demonstrations denouce the fifteenth century explorer as the man responsible for decimating the first peoples of the Americas.

Indigenous communities make up about 13 percent of the total population in Latin America in countries inclduing Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador and Brazil.

According to International Monetary Fund, the vast majority of the Indigenous populations across the continent continue to suffer discrimination, violence and poverty.




"For the five countries with the largest indigenous populations, poverty rates for indigenous peoples remained virtually stagnant over the past decade," Gillette Hall and Harry Anthony Patrinos, said in an IMF report

In 1990, Ecuador hosted the first ever Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance that was attended by nearly 400 people from 120 Indian Nations, International organizations, and a historic Declaration of Quito was signed.




"Genocide and ethnocide have been committed against us Indian people by European invaders in the name of "God, civilization and democracy" the statement said.

"The Indians of America have never abandoned our constant struggle against the conditions of oppression, discrimination and exploitation which were imposed upon us as a result of the European invasion of our ancestral territories," it added.

Apart from Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are the other Latin American countries that have officially recognized the days of Indigenous resistance under different names.

For example, Bolivia's first Indigenous president, Evo Morales, changed the day's name to "Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America."




While Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa initiated a “Day of Inter-culturality and Pluri-nationality."

Argentina named it as the “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity." Nicaragua and Venezuela on the other hand adopted the day as "The Day of Indigenous Resistance."

"Our struggle is not a mere conjunctural reflection of the memory of 500 years of oppression which the invaders, in complicity with the "democratic" governments of our countries, want to turn into events of jubilation and celebration," the 1990 Quito Declaration said.




"Our Indian People, Nations and Nationalities are basing our struggle on our identity, which shall lead us to true liberation. We are responding aggressively, and-commit ourselves to reject this "celebration," it added.

Many cities in the U.S. have also ditched Columbus day for a celebration of Native American culture and life.




52 cities across the country have now replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Inspired by the Quito Declaration, one of the first cities to make the move was Berkeley, California.

Others include Amherst, Northampton in Massachusetts, Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Cruz in California, San Antonio, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lawrence, Kansas.; Boulder, Colorado, Portland and Seattle.