In Mexico, as in many other parts of the world, Indigenous communities and those of African descent are marginalized, often not receiving the support they need from their governments. In the Latin American country, changes might be coming for these groups.

In late November, the Senado de la República unanimously voted to create the Instituto Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas, which recognizes these groups’ autonomy and self-determination and includes the right to consult with Indigenous groups when laws or measures affect them. It’s an important move for these groups economically, culturally, socially, and as it pertains to the environment. The law also, for the first time, groups Afro-Mexicans into this category and replaces the Comisión Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas.

Today, incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador formalized the instituto, which Adelfo Regino, a oaxaqueño lawyer, will lead. “We’re going to attend to all Mexicans and we’re going to respect everyone, (but) the priority will go toward those who most need it, to the poor,” he said, according to SDP Noticias. “And as we know, though it’s painful to even say, the poorest of the poor are the Indigenous groups of Mexico.”

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