According to the latest UN data, there are 476 million indigenous people in the world, in 90 countries on 5 continents. Although they are very diverse peoples, we are going to highlight some common points that seem important to us.
The first is their very existence, their resistance. Despite the cruelty and cruelty with which they were conquered, they have been able to survive and sustain their cultures. In the process, many peoples disappeared, but many others survived and today they are organising and fighting to exercise their rights.
The issue of rights is another common point, because there are international instruments on the subject. The International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169 and the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples stand out. These agreements have not been ratified by many countries and in other cases are frequently violated, but they provide an important basis for further progress.
But probably the most important commonality is the struggle of these peoples to preserve and recover their territories. This leads to serious conflicts because these territories are home to the largest reserves of natural resources on the planet, and this motivates all kinds of violence.
Before continuing, we would like to emphasise that two worldviews, two ways of seeing life and positioning oneself in the world, are confronting each other. For the indigenous people, territory is not a piece of real estate of more or less value: it is the space in which they grow, in which they coexist with other forms of life, in which they shape their spirituality in relation to the natural environment, to the land, the river, the forest… It is the place where they constitute themselves and their culture. The indigenous people respect and defend this necessary vital space.
On the other hand, from the dominant culture, these territories are simply reservoirs of economic resources to be exploited: mines, water, oil, land for monoculture, real estate speculation and tourism.
There is a very unequal struggle between these two conceptions: on the one hand, these peoples with their scarce resources; on the other hand, all the power of the large extractivist corporations, agribusiness, and the states that defend them, out of incapacity or convenience. It is a predatory global policy, supported by armed private sector gangs and state security forces. On a smaller scale but with the same logic, conflicts with private individuals, allied with local politicians and police, are repeated in many places. All this results in the persecution and assassination of indigenous leaders and their supporters, as well as the millions of hectares of deforested land, polluted rivers and land, forest fires and so on.
In this sense, and in the context of the climate crisis, indigenous peoples play a valuable role because by defending their territories they are also defending the environmental balance and thus the lives of all.
In their great capacity for growing adaptation, indigenous peoples incorporate the most positive elements of the dominant culture: they use social networks, they study, they manage their own resources, they travel and expand their relationships, and they form alliances among themselves and with other sectors.
Despite all this, they suffer from the prejudice of a large part of the population, fuelled by the mainstream media. And the fact is that the mainstream media are a central actor in this great global conflict, because, defending the interests of their sponsors, they are responsible for silencing, lying and misinforming, manipulating public opinion. The role they play is truly criminal, because they justify and encourage the violence that leads to the suffering and death of many people and communities.
To break this information trap, indigenous peoples have the support of alternative media such as ours. That is why we participate in this task with our own production, and by sharing that of other media friends: to make visible what is happening and to influence our own culture, helping to decolonise and overcome prejudices, favouring whenever we can the direct expression of the protagonists.