We would love to transmit other information – with regard to what the children want to experience at present – since we have been able to witness this over a long time whilst living in various indigenous communities.
The national and international economy and its effects still directly and profoundly affect indigenous children, resulting in a lack of food in many communities almost daily; week after week, month after month and year after year.
The rates of malnutrition and mortality in Argentina are very high; on average, five indigenous children die per day. In addition, we encounter diseases that are not treated for lack of care, in some areas more than in others.
Furthermore, racism is still latent and sadly it can be felt. This applies to many of the communities and I especially put the emphasis on the children, who suffer of the lack of acceptance simply for being indigenous. Many of them fall into a situation of pain and renounce their own origins without being able to fully integrate into the current culture of Argentina. This leads them without identity, because for many of the natives, being indigenous means being marginalized, despised, deprived and humiliated since the present society does not act very differently from what our predecessors did – the Spanish conquerors – in the times where they colonized the indigenous peoples.
Their history as a community still reverberates in the memories of the elderly: such as the famous Conquests of the Desert and the multitudinous massacres to their ancestors. I have had the opportunity to discover some of the places where some of the biggest graves are, where hundreds of thousands of Indians were assassinated and buried. They have been waiting for the day in which their people are granted their rights, which they could not enjoy, but could be granted to the present descendants: the indigenous children of this present.
The current situation of children and adolescents in Argentina can be analyzed on the basis of the existing gaps between the current reality and the fulfillment of the commitments assumed by the country. This takes into account the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The CDN considers all children and adolescents subject to the law. This document, ratified by Argentina in 1990, sets the horizon to which the efforts of public policies and the actions of the society on issues affecting people under 18 should point.
The rights presented in the CRC can be grouped in:
Right to health, nutrition and early childhood development
Right to good and free Education
Right to special protection, i.e. from exploitation or child-labour
Right to Participation in matters that have a bearing on them
Right of identity, which includes freedom of expression
As a whole, an environment where all these rights are fully respected is configured as a Protective Environment for children and adolescents: at the community, municipality, province and at national level. The variety of rights contemplated does not imply supremacy or greater importance of some over others. There are clear synergies between the right to identity and the exercise of all other rights, between the right to health and nutrition and the exercise of the right to education.
On the other hand, the right to special protections, dedicated to re-establish rights already violated, is essential in situations where the exercise of basic rights such as those mentioned above did not materialize sufficiently.
Autor: Edgar Mazzalay