Poverty, Inequality and Indigenous Population in Municipalities of Chiapas, Mexico.

Friday, June 24, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
402 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Jorge Alberto Lopez-Arevalo, UNACH, San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
Gerardo Nunez-Medina, UNACH, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico
Rafael Alejandro Vaquera-Salazar, Autonomous University of Tamaulipas, Victoria, Mexico
The objective of this research is to analyze the evolution of the poverty and inequality between municipalities of mestizos and indigenous in the state of Chiapas, in function of their capacity to access goods and services, and their level of spatial segregation (measured in terms of the size of the community and the closeness to its administrative headquarters or cabecera), and the effects of this condition in the estimated levels of marginalization and poverty for these communities.

The relevancy of this research is based on the size of the indigenous population in Chiapas, which represents almost 20% of the total population in the state in 2010, with nearly a million of inhabitants. Chiapas is the third state in terms of indigenous population in Mexico; in Chiapas exist 12 of the 62 indigenous communities recognized by the Mexican authorities.

Notwithstanding, Chiapas is the state with the higher proportion of population less than 15 years old in the country, and at the same time occupies one of the main places in infant mortality with a rate of 18 deaths of children with less than a year old for each one thousand alive (2010). 52% of the population of the state lives in rural zones (this is, in communities or towns with less than 2500 inhabitants), which is more than twice the national average (24%).

The estimated poverty levels for the indigenous communities in Chiapas are superior in more than 50% of the observed in the general population and the highest in the entire country; situation that has been visible only by the Zapatista uprising. Despite of 20 years of welfare public policy, the poverty levels continue with no major changes; on the contrary, they seem to be in an increasing trend due to the impact of globalization, whose effects over the Chiapas economy have been devastating.

The hypothesis that we sustain is that one of the ways to address the situation of extreme poverty that the Chiapas indigenous communities maintains, has been the auto spatial segregation. This means, they look for places every time more apart that allows them to come to own minimal resources for subsistence, as a survival strategy in the medium and long terms; the consequences are clearly visible to analyze their marginalization indexes. The strategy focuses also on the difficulties to provide them the basic services of health and education, which increases the probabilities of transmitting inter generational poverty.

The causality line does not go in the way the government thinks, which idealized rural cities to address the dispersion of the indigenous population. The indigenes were dispersing due to their poverty conditions, lack of employment, and saturation of the informal economy in the cities, not the dispersion that generates poverty, but on the contrary. If a labor market exists that could offer employment and opportunities, they would abandon their “refugee regions” and emigrate to urban centers, as it is happening in several places, in the southern region and the north-west region of the country towards United States.