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A Journey Into Paradise

Respect for Indigenous Culture of Vital Importance in Mexico

16 September, 2012

Following centuries of attempts to integrate indigenous people with mainstream so-called ‘civilized’ society,Fox News reported in August on the current trend in all parts of Mexico real estate to cultivate a healthy respect and support for their unique culture. Fox called this development a “new historical period” that is focused on respecting the Indians’ way of life.

“Those of us who have Western training do not have the right to change their concept of happiness because they are more happy than us,” states Xabier Abreu with the National Commission for the Development of Indian Peoples. “What we do have to do is help them to live better,to have good lives.”

Mexico’s indigenous population numbers around 15.7 million people,which equates to more than 14 percent of the nation’s total population. As a symbol of the new relationship that is emerging between the native Indians and larger society,a new museum,the Museo Indigena,has opened in Mexico City.

“Mexico’s indigenous cultures in 2012 are very different from those of 500 years ago,” shared Abreu. “There has been an intercultural dialogue,with learning by one side and the other. Society needs to embrace ancestral Indian teachings about the value of time and respect for the Earth.”

Mexico is committed to narrowing the social and economic gaps between native people and the rest of the country’s population. To do this effectively,the federal government must continue preventing the signing of laws that enact policies that could be harmful to Mexico’s indigenous peoples.

Mexico has been officially recognized as culturally diverse since 1992,and the constitution was later amended in 2001 in order to recognize the co-existence of multiple indigenous peoples with characteristics of their own.

“Today,unlike 50 years ago,they have their own voice,their own way of relating to the state,but it is still not easy because sometimes that is not recognized,” shared distinguished sociologist Rodolfo Stavenhagan. “Let us look at the scarce number of proposals about this in the last elections,” in reference to challenges that still exist between Mexico’s indigenous population and the federal government.