By Danilo Valladares
"When workers are hired we are also passed over. And indigenous women who work in the 'maquilas' (plants assembling goods for export) are hit especially hard by discrimination," said Pu.
These views were corroborated by a survey on "Racismo y discriminación racial en el sector empresarial" (Racism and racial discrimination in the business sector), carried out in November by the Association for Research and Social Studies (ASIES), an NGO, and the Presidential Commission on Discrimination and Racism Against Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala (CODISRA).
Based on telephone interviews with 550 business owners in greater Guatemala City, the survey found that on average, only 12 percent of workers in small and micro-enterprises are indigenous people, while the workforce of medium and large businesses is made up of 20 percent native people.
According to official statistics, indigenous people comprise close to 40 percent of Guatemala's population of 14 million, but native organisations put the figure at over 60 percent.
Over half the business owners interviewed (52 percent) said they do not pay mestizos and indigenous people the same wages for the same work, and in some service sectors like retail the proportion of those admitting that they paid different wages was as high as 56 percent.
This shows that racism has little to do with raw numbers. Whites can discriminate even when they're a small minority--as they did in many colonial nations in Africa and Asia. Eliminating racism isn't simply a matter of electing a minority president, because the problem goes much deeper than that.
For more on Guatemala's Indians, see Reagan Aided Atrocities Against Indians and US Infected Guatemalans with STDs.
Below: "Indigenous people in Guatemala face discrimination in the workplace." (Danilo Valladares/IPS)