PANAMA CITY – Latin American Indians have benefitted less than other people from the region’s economic bonanza over the past decade, and so they should be included and listened to, according to a World Bank study released Monday in the Panamanian capital.
The latest available figures show that in 2010 there were about 42 million indigenous people in Latin America, representing almost 8 percent of the total population but 14 percent of the region’s poor and 17 percent of those considered destitute.
The study, entitled “Indigenous Latin America in the 21st Century,” says that thanks to the combination of economic growth and appropriate social policies, more than 70 million people in Latin America emerged from poverty during the period.
Poverty among indigenous households declined in countries such as Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.
Even so, indigenous people still lag in their access to basic services and in the adoption of new technologies, a key element in societies that are becoming more and more globalized.
“Latin America has experienced a profound social transformation that diminished poverty and increased the middle class, but the indigenous peoples benefitted less than the rest of Latin Americans,” said World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean Jorge Familiar at the official presentation of the report in the office of Panama’s president.
He warned that if achieving the objectives of “reducing poverty and pushing shared prosperity” were desired, the region must “fight against discrimination and exclusion so that all Latin Americans have the same opportunities to have a better life.”
The World Bank document suggests considering the problems of Indians through a different lens that takes their voices, cultures and identities into account.
“This report acknowledges that the indigenous peoples generally have a more nuanced concept of what development is and why it’s important. If the indigenous peoples are to assume their role as key actors in the post-2015 agenda, their voices and ideas must be taken into account,” said the senior director for the World Bank Group’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, who accompanied Familiar.