Journal article Open Access

Too Much for Too Few: Problems of Indigenous Land Rights in Latin America

Stocks, Anthony

In a number of countries in Latin America, recent changes in the constitutional and legislative environment under which indigenous people hold or claim land and natural resource rights have triggered a number of processes and projects to demarcate, legalize, or oth-erwise consolidate indigenous lands. This review begins with a look at Nicaragua and goes on to examine five of the South American processes, allegedly with the most favorable legal and policy envi-ronments, and concludes that they suffer from common problems related to (a) the amount of land and resources being claimed by rel-atively small numbers of people, (b) the contestation of the claims by non-indigenous sectors, and (c) the nature of indigenous organiza-tions and the NGOs that support them. The confrontation between policy and reality yields some lessons for the future.

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