James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Native Challenges. Discussion »
SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR "I am concluding my visit to El Salvador in my capacity as Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the rights of indigenous peoples. Since 13 August, I conducted a series of meetings with representatives of various ministries and institutions of the Salvadoran and representatives of indigenous peoples, both in San Salvador and the municipalities of Sonsonate, Izalco, Resume, Panchimalco, Resume and Cacaopera."
James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur
"I would like to thank the Government of El Salvador for their kind invitation to the country and for the excellent cooperation extended to me during the visit. I would also like to thank the United Nations system in El Salvador for their indispensable collaboration, and representatives of the indigenous peoples in El Salvador who shared their stories with me."
"Over the next weeks I will be reviewing the information I obtained during the visit to prepare a report evaluating the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in El Salvador and will include a series of recommendations. This report is made public and will be submitted to the Human Rights Council United Nations. I hope the report will contribute to finding solutions by the Government of El Salvador and indigenous peoples to the various challenges facing indigenous peoples in the country."
"In anticipation of my report, I now offer some preliminary observations. "
"During my visit I got to know the various points of view of indigenous peoples and government representatives about the possibilities and challenges that exist in relation to the rights of indigenous peoples in the country, including people Nahua, Lenca, Pipil and Kakawira "
"I've seen that all parties agree that indigenous peoples in El Salvador in the past have suffered serious human rights violations and that the effect of these violations continue to manifest in combination with generalized conditions of disadvantage in the present. In almost every meeting I had with representatives of indigenous peoples, mention was made of the infamous slaughter of 1932 in which thousands of indigenous people were killed by army troops. In Izalco I step on the ground that one of the killings occurred in this episode and see some human remains that could not be buried in a mass grave there."
"The massacre of 1932 marks a policy of oppression against indigenous peoples fighting for their rights and a policy of then and successive governments to abolish indigenous identity. The terror caused by the killing continued to live in the collective memory of peoples Indians along with decades of marginalization and denial of the practice of the indigenous peoples of their tongues and other manifestations of their cultures differentiated."
"In 1983 the community of Leaves, municipality of San Antonio del Monte, during the armed conflict in the same period, massacred over seventy indigenous people who were defenseless. Several indigenous elders told me that what happened in Sheets reminded them of the slaughter of 1932 and to be an Indian was a crime."
"The historical oppression of indigenous peoples and the suppression of manifestations of indigenous identity has led to large-scale loss of important aspects of that identity and many of the cultural and human features. That loss opened a wound that continues yet to heal a wound that is represented by popular expressions in El Salvador and there are no indigenous peoples."
"However, indigenous peoples themselves have been felt their survival in the country. I note also the recent steps the Government to recognize indigenous peoples and advance respect for their rights as such."
"An important step has been the President''s apology on behalf of the Salvadoran government for 'the extermination and persecution of those who have been victimized indigenous peoples' of the country's long history. In addition, the President declared in the name State recognition of 'El Salvador as a multiethnic and multicultural society.'' I know that linked to this recognition has established a number of initiatives to address indigenous issues in different institutions."
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Editor's Note: The Statement by Special Rapporteur of the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the conclusion of his visit to El Salvador is published here in its entirety for those interested in matters pertaining to indigenous peoples.
posted August 20, 2012 7:00 am edt