El Salvador recently passed major reforms to its constitution to recognize indigenous peoples and commit itself to adopt policies to encourage the development of indigenous communities in the country.

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Publicado 18 junio 2014

El Salvador recently passed major reforms to its constitution to recognize indigenous peoples and commit itself to adopt policies to encourage the development of indigenous communities in the country.

El Salvador recently passed major reforms to its constitution to recognize indigenous peoples and commit itself to adopt policies to encourage the development of indigenous communities in the country.

The amendments were made to Article 63 of the Constitution of the Republic and were approved last Thursday by 56 out of 84 legislators in the assembly – the two thirds majority required for the ratification in parliament.

 

All parties voted to ratify the reforms except for the right wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA), who abstained from the vote.

 

The amendments include new text added to Article 63 that reads: "El Salvador recognizes indigenous peoples and will adopt policies to maintain and develop their ethnic and cultural identity, world view, values and spirituality", as reported by the El Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Grafica.

 

Siegfried Reyes, President of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, said the reforms are “a great achievement” not only for indigenous peoples, but also for the people of El Salvador.

 

Yohalmo Cabrera, a politician from the ruling left wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMNL) party, stressed that these reforms attain justice for indigenous peoples who historically have suffered many violations of their rights.


 

The United Nations has also expressed their support for the amendments.

In a statement released this week, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said, “This ratification marks a crucial step in recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples in El Salvador and in reversing the historical suppression of indigenous identities and cultures.”

Now, I urge the Government to move swiftly to develop policies that will promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in El Salvador and to create an adequate institutional framework towards this end,” she said.

The indigenous communities of El Salvador include: the Náhuas, Pipiles, Lencas, Kakawiras and Maya Chortís. Many were present during the assembly dressed in their traditional indigenous clothes, including members of the Social Initiative for Democracy (ISD), the Indian National Coordinator Council (CCNIS) and the Office for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH).

 

President Salvador Sánchez Cerén – formerly the Vice President and Minister of Education – was elected into office in March of this year. He is the leader of the FMLN, a political party that was formed in 1980 as an umbrella group of leftist revolutionary organizations, just before civil war broke out in the country.

 

Cerén was believed to be the most likely FMLN candidate to bring about deeper social, economic and political reforms.


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