|Nov. 29, 2005
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHILE’S INDIGENOUS
New Survey Documents Salary Discrepancies Between
Native And Non-Native Chileans
(Nov. 29, 2005) Salary discrimination against indigenous peoples continues
to characterize Chilean workplaces, according to a recent investigation
by the National Socioeconomic Characterization (CASEN) and the Ministry
of Planning and Cooperation (MIDEPLAN).
The study shows that on average, people of native decent are paid 26 percent
less, approximately 131,000 pesos per month (US$255), than non-indigenous
Chileans of similar job status.
Chile’s indigenous populations make up 5.4 percent of the country’s
total residents, with 88 percent of these populations belonging to the
Mapuche community. Chile also recognizes the populations (in descending
order according to population size) of the Aymara, Quechua, Rapa Nui,
Colla, Kawashkar, and Yagán tribes.
The CASEN and MIDEPLAN study detailed that salary discrimination pervades
all types of Chilean businesses. In the restaurant and hotel trade, indigenous
employees are paid 150,000 pesos (US$289) per month in comparison to a
non-indigenous salary of 192,173 pesos (US$370).
The most evident salary discrepancy, however, is found within the financial
sector. A non- indigenous Chilean is paid 654,146 pesos (US$1,260) per
month, while indigenous persons receive less than half that amount, 288,322
Indigenous groups in Chile said workplace discrimination is just one of
the many indignities they have been facing for years.
“This is just one type of discrimination that we suffer,”
said Hialario Huirilef, a representative of indigenous communities in
Chile. “Now you can see we are not just being crybabies, because
these statistics back us up.”
While these current salary discrepancies seem shockingly high, they have
actually dropped in the past two years. In 2003, the CASEN and MIDEPLAN
report showed a 34 percentage difference between salaries, which this
year has fallen to a 26 percent difference.
The study attributed the salary discrepancies not only to high levels
of racism, but to poor education among indigenous communities as well.
A UNICEF study last year showed that approximately 50 percent of Chilean
students said Chile was superior to other Latin American countries because
they had fewer “Indians”.
While 90 percent of indigenous people know how to read and write, in rural
areas the illiteracy rates among older indigenous people are high: 20
percent of indigenous people aged 35 to 59, and 45 percent of people aged
60 and over are illiterate. School drop-out rates are also considerably
higher in rural areas. Approximately 25 percent of children aged 6 to
17, and 50 percent of youths aged 18 to 25 drop out of school before graduation
from middle school.
“Indigenous youth drop out of school due to economic difficulties,
but this educational desertion only leads them to poorly paid jobs,”
the study said, adding that it’s a vicious cycle leading only to
the black hole of devastating poverty.
Jaime Andrade Guenchocoy, MIDEPLAN’S sub-secretary, said all of
these issues, including the salary discrimination and poor education,
help contribute to especially high poverty levels among Chile’s
Approximately 29 percent of Chile’s indigenous populations live
below the poverty line, and one in five households make less than 43,000
pesos (US$82) a month. Even more disconcerting, the average Chilean indigenous
family income is 40 percent lower than non-indigenous Chilean families.
The study also shows that the majority of Chileans living in extreme poverty
are indigenous populations. “Being a poor Chilean, and being a poor
Chilean of indigenous descent, is not the same thing,” the study
This crippling poverty among native populations is a problem that affects
all Latin American countries. A recent report by the Economic Commission
for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) showed that of the 213 million
Latin Americans living in poverty, 86 million of these of are of indigenous
decent (ST, Nov. 29).
SOURCE: LA NACIÓN
By Jackie Hailey