Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:56 GMT

State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009 - Argentina

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 16 July 2009
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009 - Argentina, 16 July 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a66d9c146.html [accessed 18 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Transnational scholarship programme

During 2008, Argentina, the second largest country in South America, continued to strengthen its international ties with other states in the region, including Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela.

Having been divided by the national frontiers imposed during the post-independence era, Argentina's indigenous minorities proclaim a transnational identity and also endorse greater linkages.

Bilingual intercultural education is an issue which continues to unite members of Aymara, Chiriguano, Mapuche, Mbyá Guarani, Mocoví, Quechua, Toba and Wichi nations that have ethnic links in all the neighbouring countries.

The indigenous population in Argentina is estimated at between 700,000 and 1.5 million. Although the Argentine Constitution recognizes indigenous ethnic, cultural and other rights, implementation is the task of the 23 provinces, of which only 11 recognize indigenous rights in their constitutions.

In 2008, IP poverty rates in Argentina continued to be above average and IP displayed higher levels of illiteracy, unemployment and chronic disease. Access to education remained a problem for indigenous children as well for the small, mainly urban, African Argentine population. African Argentines continued to experience discrimination in employment, housing and education, as well as racial insults while using public transportation.

Indigenous education

Indigenous education in Argentina is the responsibility of the National Institute for Indigenous Affairs (INAI). During 2008 it continued to focus on adding to the 6,000 plus scholarships which enable Argentina's IP to attend secondary and post-secondary institutions, including universities.

The country's interest in forging international links has also been visible in the area of IP and ADP education. Twenty indigenous and African descendants from rural Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are now receiving an education in Argentina at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral (National University of the Coast) in Santa Fe. The transnational programme is financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

The five students from each country, totalling eight women and twelve men, are participants in a two-year agribusiness administration degree programme. The students will receive full scholarships and also have an opportunity to build ties with indigenous students from within Argentina. Five indigenous students drawn from Mocoví and Toba communities in Santa Fe will also participate in the programme.

Food security is increasingly becoming an issue in the region. Along with Uruguay and southern Brazil, Argentina was among the countries most affected by what is arguably the worst drought to hit the region in decades. In early 2009 this began to pose a serious threat to agricultural production.

Land claims

In 2008 land claims and related issues continued, such as the eviction of IP to make way for mining forestry and other projects. In October Argentina's Supreme Court overruled a decision by Salta provincial court, which had previously turned down a land claim appeal by the Eben Ezer indigenous community.

IP of Eben Ezer had asked the Salta provincial court to issue an injunction halting the sale of provincial land previously considered a natural reserve and which they claim as ancestral territory. The Supreme Court indicated that Salta's court decision violated the Constitution and instructed the provincial court to take into consideration the rights of indigenous people to use the resources found on ancestral lands.

In December 2008, in response to a lawsuit filed by 18 indigenous communities, the Supreme Court ordered Salta Province to suspend plans to harvest approximately 2 million acres of forest, pending the outcome of a further hearing.

In 2008 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights continued to evaluate a petition presented by the Lhaka Honhat indigenous association concerning failure of the Argentine government to implement a titling policy that would return their ancestral lands.

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