• Indigenous peoples in Mexico

    Indigenous peoples in Mexico

    There are 16,933,283 indigenous persons in Mexico, representing 15.1 per cent of the total Mexicans. Mexico has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and is a declared pluricultural nation since 1992. Yet, the country’s indigenous population are still facing a number of challenges.
  • Peoples

    16,933,283 indigenous persons live in Mexico
    15.1 per cent of all Mexicans are indigenous peoples
  • Diversity

    68 indigenous languages and 364 counted dialect variations are spoken in Mexico

Mexico

Indigenous peoples in Mexico

There are 16,933,283 indigenous persons in Mexico, representing 15.1% of the total population. Mexico adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, signed ILO Convention 169 in 1990 and became a pluricultural nation by amending Article VI of the Constitution in 1992. Yet, the country’s indigenous population are still facing a number of challenges.

Mexico’s indigenous peoples 

The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), the National Population Council (CONAPO), and the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) registered 16,933,283 indigenous people in the country, representing 15.1% of all Mexicans (112,236,538). There is a sustained population growth due to higher rates of indigenous fertility, offset only in part by the higher general mortality rate.

Mexico is the country in the Americas with largest indigenous population and the greatest number of native languages spoken in its territory, that is 68 languages and 364 counted dialect variations.

Main challenges for Mexico’s indigenous peoples

One of the main challenges faced by indigenous peoples in Mexico relates to a lack of recognition. In 2001, as a result of an indigenous peoples’ mobilization demanding legislation based on the "Acuerdos de San Andrés" — result of the negotiations between the Government and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in 1996 —, Articles 1, 2, 4, 18, and 115 of the Mexican Constitution were amended.

As of 2003, the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) commenced implementation of the Accords throughout its territories, creating autonomous indigenous governments in Chiapas, Michoacán, and Oaxaca. Although the states of Chihuahua, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, and San Luís Potosí have provisions regarding indigenous peoples in their state constitutions, indigenous legal systems are not yet fully recognized.

Another challenge relates to Mexico’s indigenous people’s health. Indigenous peoples are considered to be the most vulnerable sector of the population in regard to this matter, with the highest maternal and infantile mortality rates, acute and chronic malnutrition rates higher than the national average, lower life expectancy, and severe limitations for access to health services.

In relation to human rights, the Front Line Defenders report reveals that Mexico ranks fourth among the world’s most dangerous countries for defenders of rights. During 2017 there were 31 murders, the majority of which were of activists involved in indigenous and environmental causes. 

Case: Visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  

In November 2017, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, made an official visit to Mexico. She met with federal and state authorities, as well as with representatives of indigenous peoples and organizations of civil society.

Some of the issues highlighted by the Rapporteur in her end-of-mission statement were the following. First, the fact that the indigenous peoples are not being adequately consulted in accordance with international standards on projects and other decisions that affect their rights, including the right to the life. An alarming 99% impunity rate in cases of human rights violations particularly affects indigenous persons. Moreover, the violence faced by indigenous groups who struggle for their rights, in particular in cases of implementation of extractive megaprojects.The Special Rapporteur emphasised the fact that the report’s objective is to make known the principal violations of the rights of indigenous persons and communities in Mexico.

MÉXICO IW 2019

Mexico has the largest indigenous population in the Americas and the largest number of native languages spoken in its territory: 68 languages and 364 registered dialects. According to official statistics, principally from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), 6.5% of the national population speaks an indigenous language while 10.6% of the population indicated that they live in an indigenous household. 21.5% (27.5 million) of Mexico’s population describes themselves as indigenous people.

Continue Reading

New documentary about indigenous women in prison in Mexico

"Under the shadow of the Guamúchil" is a documentary made during the workshop "Life Stories", by Aida Hernandez Castillo, within the Atlacholoaya Morelos prison in Mexico, between 2008 and 2009. Besides the video, which can now be watched in English, a book about the women has been published in Spanish.

Mexico: International recognition for radio series on indigenous women in prison

The winning program selected by the International Radio Biennial tells the story of Máxima Pacheco, a Nahuatl woman from the state of Puebla. She describes how encouraging it was to share and write about her life before and after imprisonment with other indigenous women in the same situation. According to the panel, the program was selected in the gender category because of the sensitivity with which it portrays the interviewees, avoiding victimization or an underestimation of their experiences.
 

About IWGIA

IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

Contact IWGIA

Prinsessegade 29 B, 3rd floor
DK 1422 Copenhagen
Denmark
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
CVR: 81294410

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you do not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand