Indigenous Continental Summits: The International Politics of Resistance

The Fifth Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples of the Abya Yala, held November 10-15 in Cauca, Colombia, was only the latest expression of Indigenous diplomacy. The Indigenous expression Abya Yala (“Continent of Life” in the language of the Kuna people of Panama) refers to the Americas, and increasingly to a series of continental summits. The process started with two ad-hoc meetings, the 1980 Encounter of Southern Cone Indian Organizations in Ollantaytambo (Peru) and the 1990 Continental Conference on Five Hundred Years of Indigenous Resistance in Quito (Ecuador). In 2000, the First Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples took place in Mexico, followed by a Second Summit in Ecuador (2004), a Third in Guatemala (2007), and a Fourth in Peru (2009). The process stirred up other continental venues like the Summit of Indigenous Communication, which held its second summit October 7-13 in Oaxaca (Mexico). This Summit confirms that Indigenous politics are marked by their international savviness.

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