Towards the first Inter-American Meeting of Indigenous Peoples

Considering the present situation, but also the historical and ancestral resistance in defence of Good Living, a collective and balanced life, where life is the centre of decision- making, how can the union movement contribute to this struggle, give visibility, and learn with Indigenous Peoples?

“Good Living could be the difficult experience of maintaining a balance between what we can get from life, nature and what we can give back. It is a balance, a delicate balance and it is not something we achieve through an individual decision.”

Ailton Krenak, Caminhos para a cultura do Bem Viver
(Paths to a Culture of Good Living)

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) – estimates that 9,8% of the regional population, 58 million people belong to 800 different indigenous peoples in Latin America. (ECLAC, 2020). Structural inequalities have been impacting indigenous peoples for more than five centuries in the region, particularly in the countryside and indigenous territories where vulnerability and poverty persist.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) over 86% of indigenous people work in the informal economy globally. The figure for non-indigenous workers is 66%. Precarious working conditions, low wages and a lack of social protection are all extremely common in the informal economy.

The Inter-american region is shaped by its history of colonialism and enslavement. The pandemic of covid-19 has exacerbated existing structural inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean. These inequalities are expressed in the concentration of and lack of access to power and resources, resulting in exclusion, racism, intolerance, and misogyny.


Discrimination against native and indigenous peoples bases itself on the theory of races, which defended the superiority of the white race over others. A linear concept that does not consider cultural and human diversity. This thought justifies, even today, violence, lack of public policies, difficulty in accessing rights, and persecution of indigenous leaders. On the other hand, this video seeks to draw attention to the ancestral resistance of the native peoples of the Americas, making it through their voices and highlighting the importance of this fight for the preservation of the environment and Mother Nature.

A fight called resistance

The covid-19 pandemic has also provoked related and overlapping social, economic, health crises - in all societies. However, Indigenous peoples particularly women, girls, young people, and the elderly suffer the consequences of these crises disproportionately.  According to ECLAC, the percentage of indigenous workers that are in the informal economy is 80%, slightly lower than global numbers.(ILO, 2020a & 2019). However, indicators of inequality are wors for indigenous women. High informality contributes to social isolation which directly impacts indigenous producers and limits their access to markets.

Indigenous peoples are also the most prejudiced by the pandemic in terms of access to health systems. This is due to the low capacity of health services in indigenous territories to recognize local necessities and provide appropriate solutions. Furthermore, indigenous peoples have a higher vulnerability to respiratory diseases and often live in precarious conditions.

In addition, extractive companies and settlers, that include miners, lumber companies and other groups frequently trespass onto recognized Indigenous territories,  increasing the risk of a variety of diseases, including covid-19. Autonomous mitigation measures based on traditional  cosmoperception of the world are disrupted by these constant invasions.

Indigenous peoples have never stopped resisting throughout these same five centuries. Recently, groups of indigenous peoples from across Inter-america crossed the Atlantic Ocean, the inverse journey colonizers did, in order to defend life on Earth based on indigenous cosmoperceptions. During COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference that took place in Glasgow, from 1st to 12th November, Indigenous Peoples proposed  fundamental paradigm shifts: without Indigenous Peoples there is no environmental preservation, consequently, no sustainable life on Earth. In other words, the model of profit over people cannot continue the model of development under penalty of extinction of life on Mother Earth. The pandemic make this lesson clear.

Considering the present situation, but also the historical and ancestral resistance in defence of Good Living, a collective and balanced life, where life is the centre of decision- making, how can the union movement contribute to this struggle, give visibility, and learn with Indigenous Peoples?


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed inequalities for the most vulnerable populations and particularly for native peoples. The achievement of rights is recent for indigenous peoples, and it's at risk right now, whether due to the dismantling of public policies or the development model based on profit above the people! This video denounces this situation and pretends to point out joint actions paths between workers and native peoples. It is a transformation based on collective and diversity!

Transformation is collective and diverse

Public Service International (PSI), in cooperation with the DGB BW, invites you to the FIRST INTER-AMERICA MEETING OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, that will take place on November 24th and 25th.

The goals of the meeting include:

  • understand Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives and concerns in the Inter-America region

  • discuss the union movement’s role in Indigenous Peoples struggles

  • establish strategic alliances between the union movement and Indigenous Peoples Organizations to strengthen bonds and build a collective agenda

 PSI highlights the importance of these issues with the videos” A struggle called resistance” and “Transformation is collective and diverse”, both make jointly with Workers Television (TVT – BRASIL) with the support of the DBG BW. These videos aim to highlight and discuss the living conditions, struggles and collective resistance of Indigenous Peoples.