QUITO, May 5 (IPS) - Ecuador's new constitution, which a constituent assembly expects to finish drafting by mid-June, establishes a united "plurinational" state, recognising equality along with ethnic diversity, as agreed between the government and indigenous organisations.
"'Plurinationalism' means admitting that several different nationalities coexist within the larger Ecuadorean state, which is obvious in this country and need not scare anyone," said President Rafael Correa. "Everyone should have the same opportunities," he added.
"The next step is to properly define the scope of plurinationalism, which basically means recognising the different peoples, cultures and worldviews that exist, and for all public policies, such as education, health and housing, to recognise the plurinational dimension," he said.
The Ecuadorean Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE) agrees that the proposed plurinational state reflects reality in the country.
This recognition is one more step towards uprooting the colonial state, Humberto Cholango, the head of Ecuarunari, an organisation that groups Quechua communities from the country's highlands and is the biggest association within CONAIE, told IPS.
Cholango, referring to 500 years of discrimination against and struggle by indigenous people, said this is a historic moment.
However, he explained that the new constitution does not mean that indigenous communities will own the natural resources on or under their lands, as these belong to society as a whole and are therefore the property of the state.
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