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Indigenous Peoples, Representation and Citizenship in Guatemalan Forestry

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Larson, Anne
Date: 2007
Agency: World Resources Institute, DC, USA
Series: Representation, Equity and Environement Working Paper: WP #27
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4365
Sector: Forestry
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): indigenous institutions
decision making
forest management
Abstract: "Forestry decision-making is still largely centralized in Guatemala. Nevertheless, elected municipal governments can now play a key role in local forest management. These local governments, with some exceptions, are the principal local institutions empowered to participate in natural resource authority. Some theorists argue that such elected local authorities are the most likely to be representative and downwardly accountable. But, do these political institutions have the ability to represent the interests of minority and historically excluded or oppressed groups? Latin American indigenous movements are fighting for new conceptions of democracy and practices of representation that recognize collective rights and respect for customary law and authority. How does this approach compare with elected local government? This paper compares how elected municipal governments versus traditional indigenous authorities represent the interests of indigenous communities in forest management. It traces the historical context of relations between indigenous people and the state in the region, and then presents the findings from case studies in two Guatemalan municipalities. The paper finds that both authorities have some strengths as well as important weaknesses, thus supporting arguments for the conscious reinvention of both liberal democracy and tradition in the interest of inclusive citizenship."

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