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AMLO gets a warm welcome while visiting an indigenous community. AMLO gets a warm welcome while visiting an indigenous community.

Special recognition by indigenous people a sign of confidence in new president

'We have great hope that the new government will attend to the serious problems we have'

Mexico’s new president will receive special recognition today by the country’s indigenous people.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador will become the first president to take part in a traditional indigenous cleansing ceremony as part of his inauguration.

Representatives of Mexico’s 68 distinct indigenous peoples as well as members of Afro-Mexican groups will hand over a bastón de mando – a staff or baton indicative of authority – to the new president as a show of confidence that he will govern for all citizens and make wise decisions.

Adelfo Regino Montes, a Mixe man from Oaxaca tapped to head up the new National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, will be in charge of the ceremony, which takes place at 6:00pm in the zócalo, Mexico City’s central square.

He told the newspaper El Economista that there will be two fundamental parts to the observance, which will occur just hours after López Obrador has been officially sworn in as Mexico’s new president.

“On the one hand, [there will be] a ceremony of purification and consecration, what we call a cleansing . . . .” Regino said.

“After that will come the handover of the bastón de mando, then there will be traditional music, flowers, copal [a tree resin burned as incense], a range of elements that are traditionally used at these kinds of events,” he added.

Regino said that the “bastón de mando is a symbol of service, identity [and] commitment to the Mexican people,” explaining that in indigenous communities it is traditionally bestowed on a leader at the start of a new seasonal cycle or mandate.

The new president’s acceptance of the baton will reinforce his legitimacy in the eyes of the nation’s indigenous people, he added.

“He [López Obrador] has been very clear in stating that the priority for his government will be the most humble people, the excluded, the forgotten people of the homeland and that’s who we, the indigenous peoples and communities of our country, are. The important thing is to provide a message of service and hope to these people from the start of his rule . . . that’s the meaning [of this ceremony],” Regino said.

López Obrador, he explained, was more than happy to take part.

“He accepted [the proposal] with a lot of love and affection. He has traveled to the indigenous towns of our country . . . With the knowledge he has of the reality and the political and social life of our people, he welcomed the proposal with great enthusiasm and affection . . . We’ve been working with our traditional authorities, with the people who do these ceremonies, so that we are ready for December 1 . . .” Regino said.

“It’s the first time that in a public ceremony and [as part of] an inauguration that a president of the republic will receive the bastón de mando on behalf of our people and communities . . . [That fact] has been welcomed with a lot of joy, a lot of emotion and hope, because our people have great hope that the new government will attend to the serious problems – the neglect, the marginalization – that we have.”

Source: El Economista (sp) 

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