Tuesday, August 13, 2013

People of color and indigenous groups often the target of discrimination in Mexico

Gays, HIV positive also report mistreatment in the nation's huge capital city, study finds

Guadalajara -
Mexico is a nation of morenos. The term means nothing more than dark skinned. Within that almost boundless category one sees human flesh ranging from a nearly imperceptible tan to almost black. People on both ends of the spectrum readily describe themselves as morenos, and commonly with pride.

It is not offensive to refer to someone in this country as a moreno. It is merely descriptive, and at times may even be regarded as a term of endearment. Which makes it all the more ironic that morenos report they are frequently the targets of discrimination for that very reason.

Such was the conclusion of Mexico City's Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination (COPRED) in a recently published survey covering social and cultural attitudes in the Federal District.

Three out of 10 respondents reported that they have been the subject of some form of discriminatory treatment, often based upon skin color, style of dress or personal appearance. COPRED concluded that most discrimination is directed at indigenous persons and morenos, followed by gays, the poor, senior citizens and those who speak little or no Spanish.

Three of those categories frequently apply to the same persons. Mexico has a very large indigenous population, particularly concentrated in the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, Quintana Roo and Yucatán. These more direct descendants of peoples who were here long before the Spanish arrived 500 years ago are often dark complected, and many rely upon Spanish as a second language, or do not speak it at all. A 2011 study reported over 350 indigenous languages or dialects are spoken in 17 Mexican states, by as many as seven million people. It is not uncommon to find Mexicans in remote provinces whose Spanish is marginal or nonexistent. The government has been recognized for its effort to teach them the nation's official language. Mexico is a model in eliminating illiteracy.

Morenas from the southwestern state of Chiapas

Those same indigenous groups often display ethnic dress on the street, which may lead to other forms of more subtle discrimination in large metropolitan areas. Guadalajara vs. los ambulantes: a familiar story.

Persons openly gay also reported frequent discriminatory acts in the COPRED survey, despite the fact that Mexico City is one of the world's most heavily populated urban communities. Courts here are grappling with the enormous task of trying to weed out deeply rooted sociocultural attitudes. Mexican Supreme Court: anti-gay comments are hate speech, not free speech, and are not legally protected.

The HIV positive are another segment who often encounter discrimination in the workplace. In June a panel of the Supreme Judicial Court uncharacteristically rejected an opportunity to protect infected persons from abusive treatment on the job, and to curtail the power of employers to dismiss them solely because of their health status. Mexican Supreme Court rejects HIV discrimination case.

When asked to measure the severity of their own experiences, most COPRED survey respondents ranked them 7 on a 10 point scale. The Democratic Revolution Party government of Miguel Ángel Mancera has made the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in the Federal District a high priority. Same sex marriage was first legalized there in 2009, as was abortion in 2008, and Mexico City is generally regarded as avant-garde on political thought and contemporary social issues.

"Citizens themselves share responsibility for the elimination of discrimination. They have to participate along with the state and federal government by dealing with the subject," said PRD governor Mancera.

Aug. 23 - 2,900 first and second graders in Chemax, Yucatán will learn how to read and write in their birth language, Mayan, while they master the same in Spanish. The state hopes to establish a model for bilingual education at the primary school level. Enseñan a escribir en maya.

Dec. 24, 2013 - Eighty percent of Mexico's indigent population, or about 5.4 million citizens, live in poverty, the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) reported today.

Oct. 4, 2012 - U.S. court rules against gay deportee

Morenos not uncommonly describe themselves as of three shades: Moreno claro (light brown in theory, but often almost white), moreno moreno (medium brown) and moreno oscuro (dark brown). This beautiful young woman, whom I'm happy to claim as a friend, is a classic morena morena.

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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