At the end of May, Mexico’s National Congress approved a political-electoral reform that will organize federal and local elections for the year 2015. Such a reform represents a step backward for indigenous towns in Mexico because it does not consider the way in which they elect authorities through their own system of “uses and customs” legitimate.
Despite efforts by citizens, academics, organizations and indigenous movements, who turned in a series of proposals to senators and congress members from Oaxaca long before the reform was passed, the self-determination of indigenous towns and communities has not been guaranteed. The electoral adviser for the State Institute for Electoral Affairs and Citizen Participation of Oaxaca, Victor Leonel Juan Martínez, also says that the reform throws into question the autonomy of indigenous towns. “Far from looking to meet with indigenous groups, they look to undermine their collective spirit; instead of establishing agreements, they see them as political clientele; far from constructing a national multicultural project, they seek out factious interests and use the indigenous flag as an instrument for their own ends,” he declared during the Thirteenth Session of the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Affairs, which took place in May of this year.
For more information on Indigenous election assemblies, land use and autonomy read: Across Latin America, a Struggle for Communal Land and Indigenous Autonomy, Mexico’s 160 Indigenous Conflicts: A National Conflagration – Part II: Land Use and Social Conflicts