MEXICO CITY – Indian children are the group with the most needs in Mexico and have a mortality rate that is 60 percent higher than that of non-Indian children, the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, said.
Indian children suffer from “the lowest level of respect for their human rights,” CNDH rapporteur Teresa Paniagua said.
The CNDH official inaugurated a conference Saturday on the human rights of Indian children in Papantla, a city in the eastern state of Veracruz.
Conference participants worked to develop strategies to help Indian children, the CNDH official said.
The risks for Indian children “increase when they belong to communities characterized by poverty, marginalization and discrimination,” Paniagua said.
Some 32.2 percent of Indians younger than 5 are below average in height and weight, and illiteracy runs four times higher for this group than the national average because Indian children start working as farm laborers at an early age to help their families survive, the CNDH, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, says.
Indian children should be educated “in the language spoken in their community” to prevent language differences from becoming “obstacles to their development,” Paniagua said.
“We should also work toward improving their quality of life, economic (situation) and social conditions so they will not be objects of violence and discrimination,” the CNDH official said.
Proposed constitutional reforms to bolster human rights will improve the lives of Mexican children, Paniagua said.
Mexico has about 14 million Indians, who account for nearly 12 percent of the population.
Some 4 million Indians live in urban areas, the National Commission for the Development of Indian Peoples, or CDI, says.