August 19, 2007

Chavez and Morales, friends of Natives

Kearns:  Beyond sound bites:  The next U.S. president and indigenous AmericaChavez's pro-indigenous policies is the reason Native peoples throughout Latin America see him as a friend. Many are also positively inclined towards Chavez due to his close relationship to the man seen as the President of Indigenous America, Evo Morales. And how will the next U.S. president deal with this radical Aymaran leader? If he or she cannot deal with Chavez or Castro, does that mean that the chief executive will shun the one man in this hemisphere who has brought more indigenous people into the halls of leadership than any other official in post-invasion history?

That would be a great shame. Morales and his allies are trying to write a constitution that will guarantee property, cultural and political rights to some of the poorest people in the world; and in Bolivia that means mostly Aymarans, Quechuans and so many other indigenous and mestizo peoples throughout the country. Bolivia's Constituent Assembly is still struggling with all kinds of pressures, internal and external, but they have frightened the elites and their supporters and they have made some progress.

American Indians in the United States are looking to President Morales as well; they perceive him as a great inspiration and an ally. Morales has returned the compliment as well. On more than a few occasions in the last year, President Morales and Native leaders from the United States and Canada have met and discussed how they can help each other.

No comments: