Salvadoran leaders passed a constitutional reform in June that officially recognizes Indigenous Peoples and compels the nation to adopt policies that will support the ethnic and cultural identities of indigenous communities.
On June 12, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador voted to ratify an amendment to Article 63 of the Republic that states, "El Salvador recognizes the Indigenous Peoples and will adopt public policies that will maintain and develop their ethnic and cultural identities, their cosmic vision, values and spirituality."
The National Indigenous Salvadoran Coordinating Council (NISCC), the nation's largest Native organization, expressed their gratitude to the many national and international organizations that supported the legislation in a press statement issued the following day, June 13. The NISCC also asserted the importance of the new amendment for Indigenous Peoples in the country.
"These advances in terms of indigenous rights, are tools which will strengthen our cultural identity based on our vision of the cosmos, which itself is a guarantee for proposing a culture of peace for the entire society that has been affected by violence, individualism, and excessive consumption sponsored by an exclusionary and predatory system; this constitutional reform especially contributes to strengthening the good living of Indigenous Peoples."
National and international leaders also hailed the amendment as a positive development for the indignenous Nahua, Pipil, Lencan and Mayan Kakawira Chorti peoples, representatives of which attended the Assembly's vote.
Sigfrido Reyes, President of the Legislative Assembly, called the passage "a great achievement" for the country and expressed hope that "this recognition will translate into direct and concrete measures" for the country's Indigenous Peoples to help them, "…preserve their identity, language, religion and other aspects which define them as first peoples."
"This ratification marks a crucial first step in recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples in El Salvador and in reversing the historical suppression of indigenous identities and cultures," said Victoria Tauli Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"Now I urge the government to move swiftly to develop policies that will promote and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples in El Salvador and to create an adequate institutional framework towards this end," she stated.