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Models for Recognizing Indigenous Land Rights in Latin America

By: Roque Roldán Ortega

This paper is a useful source of basic information on the current situation of indigenous land rights in selected Latin American countries. It provides a historical framework, reviews indigenous land tenure regimes and discusses common problems. Finally, it examines indigenous land tenure in four case study countries: Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru.


The first chapter of this paper provides a short history of indigenous legal treatment in Latin America. The second chapter reviews the current legal frameworks for indigenous land tenure in selected countries, illustrating the range of indigenous experiences across Latin America. Common problems affecting national legal frameworks are discussed in the third chapter. Finally, the fourth chapter examines the law in four selected countries to show how the differing bodies of law  contribute to or undermine the ability of indigenous people to manage natural resources in their traditional territories.