Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Arapaima fishing permit could generate $20-23M for Annai

GUYANA - Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud on Tuesday issued an arapaima fishing permit to Annai Village to allow Amerindian communities in the area to sustainably harvest the fish by February.

According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release the permit was given to Toshao of the North Rupununi Village, Michael Williams, which will allow communities within the area to harvest 101 of the large fish by February 15, 2010. The area covered by the permit includes 16 villages and 5,000 residents; therefore each community could get more than $1M each. On presenting the permit to Williams, Persaud noted that with prices for the fish ranging from $600 to $1,000 per pound and with an adult arapaima weighing around 200 pounds, the permit could generate as much as $20-23M which can be invested to address the critical needs of the communities.

GINA said the permit was issued under the Arapaima Management Plan, which was officially launched on April 20, 2007. It was designed with various objectives including increasing the local Arapaima population, improving fishing income and advancing local institutions. The Plan also includes population counts, sharing an annual harvestable quota and has a guiding philosophy to conserve an economically important natural resource. Management rules also specify that arapaimas should not be harvested unless the procedure is conducted within the confines of the Plan, with the two most important rules stipulating that only adults are harvested and that the harvesting is done only during the non-reproductive cycle.

The minister encouraged Williams to let the communities utilize the funds in a manner similar to that which the presidential grants are used. Persaud also said his ministry will look at working with the Brazilian business community at processing the fish to add value and therefore, increase the income that can be obtained from the permit in the future.

In February and March of this year, a population count showed there were 3,062 arapaimas which measured one metre or more of which 1,617 were juveniles and 1,445 adults. The permit will expire before the next arapaima spawning season commences in March 2010. It takes about six years for an arapaima to mature to adulthood.

Source: Stabroek News

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dr. Desrey Fox of the Akawaio Tribal Nation passes on

Georgetown, Guyana (UCTP Taino News) - Dr. Desrey Fox, 54, passed away this morning at the Georgetown Public Hospital in Guyana. Dr. Fox, a member of the Akawaio Tribal Nation was a Minister in the Guyana Government’s Ministry of Education. Local reports indicate that she sustained back and head injuries in a tragic auto accident on Tuesday evening. Her grandson was also injured in the accident and remains in the hospital’s pediatric ward.

Read the full story at UCTP Taino News

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guyanese Indigenous Organization Changes Leadership

Georgetown, Guyana (UCTP Taino News) – The Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) has changed its leadership recently and is now being run by an Interim Executive Committee. The new Committee office-bearers include Dr. George Norton (Chief), Mary Valenzuela (Deputy Chief), Colin Klautky (Public Relations Officer), Esther Robinson (Secretary), Gracene Rosheuvel (Asst. Secretary), and Sheffield Forero (Treasurer). The Committee will remain in place until the GOIP Annual General Assembly schedule to be held in July 2010. GOIP works to facilitate the development of Indigenous Peoples in Guyana through institutes and by promoting the recognition of the internationally recognized rights and interests through partnership with other NGO’s, stakeholders and agencies.

UCTPTN 12.10.2009

Minister Fox still in hospital

GUYANA - Desrey Fox, Minister within the Ministry of Education who was injured in a three-vehicle collision on Tuesday remains a patient of the High Dependency Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Family members yesterday declined to speak to this newspaper on the minister’s condition.

The minister’s grandchild, two-year-old Carlos Fox was also injured in the accident.
The accident occurred at the junction of J B Singh Road and Thomas Lands just in front the army base some time before 6:00 on Tuesday evening; and involved the Minister’s vehicle, an ambulance and a taxi.

Source: Stabroek News

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Study sees limited impact from Romanex gold project on villages

GUYANA - Direct impacts on individuals in indigenous villages surrounding the proposed Romanex gold-mining project at Marudi, Region Nine would be limited but there are potential indirect impacts that create social risks.

This is according to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) draft report on the project.

The report- on the key socio-economic findings and issues/concerns related to the project noted that there are few communities located in close proximity to the proposed mine and direct impacts on individuals in indigenous villages would be limited. However there would be potential indirect impacts that create social risks due to the project such as possible influx in the remote areas due to upgrading of the access road from Aishalton to Marudi, it says.

The ESIA has been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agency is now inviting the public to comment on it before a decision is made on whether to grant or deny an environmental permit. In an advertisement in the Guyana Chronicle yesterday, the EPA said that the public has 60 days from the time of publication of the notice to make written submissions on the project to the Agency.

Romanex Guyana Exploration Limited is seeking to undertake alluvial gold mining at Marudi Mountain. The large-scale project will entail the excavation of mineralized gravel, the establishment of a mineral processing plant for the recovery of gold and the construction of supporting facilities, buildings and road. No chemicals will be used and the project will serve as a demonstration of non-chemical recovery of gold from placer deposits, according to the Project Summary. The proposed mine is 155 kilometres (Km) from Lethem and 28 km from Aishalton. Karaudarnau, the closest community to the mine, is linked to the area by a trail and is 20.5km away.


The draft ESIA says that a socio-economic baseline study was undertaken to create a profile of the communities in and around the project area. It noted that there are few communities located in close proximity to the project. The report says that the development of the mine and potential employment opportunities may attract people to the site for work. It stated that the operation of the mine may restrict access to the area for hunting and fishing and this may result in loss of revenue/livelihood for the members of the communities who use these areas. “These impacts will be mitigated by working with indigenous communities to minimize the impacts. The operations will create employment opportunities for residents of the area. The project will create a demand for skilled labor. The project may therefore result in people in the communities acquiring new skills”, it goes on to say.

It was noted that the commencement of construction activities at the site may attract local people who sell goods and services to the workers, including prostitutes. “Social interaction with other groups is also likely to bring about an increase in alcohol and drug abuse, prostitution and crime”, it says. The report noted that the influx of people could potentially increase pressures on existing resources in the area. It noted that the site is in a remote area which lacks resources and infrastructure and increases in population will pressurize the limited resources such as land, water, forest use and the current goods and services in the area. In addition, uncontrolled access to the area may create security issues and result in increased crime and indirect impacts on communities in proximity to the mine site, it says.

Uncontrolled influx

It further noted that the uncontrolled influx of people from outside could possibly create health risks to the Romanex employees and vice versa. This may be manifested in the form of increased transmission of contagious and other diseases. Influx of sex workers often leads to a rise in HIV and other STDs. The circulation of money from wages and salaries would sustain all of the workers’ leisure activities. This may increase the demand for alcohol, drugs and sexual services especially for those migrant and expatriate workers. In the mid-term this may bring about an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, the report states adding that “these are moderate impacts (high severity, low likelihood)”. However, it noted that the impacts will be mitigated by working with the village councils in the area to control access to the mine site as well as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission. Additionally according to the report, Romanex will incorporate into their employment contract a stipulation that dismissal will result for employees who patronize service providers. The mitigation measures will result in minor impacts (low severity, low likelihood), the report says.

Meantime, the potential impacts related to construction activities at the mine site and to mining operations include potential impacts to the atmosphere, aquatic and terrestrial resources and to human, socio-economic and cultural resources, the document states. It says that potential impacts to soil could result from widening of the access road from Aishalton to Marudi and from vegetation clearance of the creek flats to be mined and excavation for creek diversions.

“The likelihood of soil erosion and sedimentation will be minimized or avoided by the implementation of the Best Management Practices (BMP). The movement of heavy equipment during construction and mining may impact soil resources by causing rutting and compaction of susceptible soils. The impacts to the soil resources are expected to be minor (low severity, low likelihood). Topsoil mixing could potentially occur during the project execution. BMP implemented during construction and operation will result in minor impacts”, the Executive Summary of the ESIA states.

It stated that construction works will result in emissions of fugitive dust and products of combustion. Impacts to air quality could be moderate. These impacts will be mitigated by scheduling land clearing activities to less windy days, limiting vehicle speed during construction to a maximum 30 km/hr and employing dust suppression technique. Analyses indicated very minor changes in air quality resulting from equipment emissions, the ESIA report says.

Carbon dioxide

According to the document, clearing of tropical forest will result in approximately 1750 and 2600 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year no longer being sequestered by the forest. The project will also generate approximately 5200 tonnes of CO2 each year. It says that approximately 217 hectares of tropical forest will be cleared for the mines, widened roadway and related facilities. “This will result in a loss of approximately US$8391 per year based on the 15 million hectares being able to annually generate US$580 million”, the document states. It noted that the entire value of this would not be restored by reclamation of the mined out areas since the zone includes areas cleared for the Aishalton to Marudi access road upgrade. “The impacts of the project on the LCDS (Low Carbon Development Strategy) are consequently minor (low likelihood, low severity). No mitigation is necessary”, the document states. It had noted that the project will entail progressive reclamation of areas cleared for mining thus the project impacts on forest resources will consequently be carbon neutral.


Meantime, the ESIA report states that removal of the surficial soils will result in insignificant impacts on the geology of the area. An erosion and sediment control plan will mitigate potential impacts to water quality from erosion. It states that the potential for accidentals spills of fuels, oils and grease and the associated contamination of surface waters will be minimized by implementation of a Spill Prevention and Contingency Plan.

On the roadway from Lethem to Aishalton, it stated that the project will not result in significant increases in the level of traffic on the Lethem to Aishalton road and the upgraded road from Lethem to Aishalton would impact positively on the social sectors particularly in health and education.

According to the ESIA report, the project will introduce chemical free technology to Guyana’s gold mining industry and will serve as a demonstration project for application elsewhere.

It stated that an Environmental Management Plan was developed to mitigate the potential negative impacts and risks and to enhance the potential positive impacts of the proposed action. Environmental management measures address the environmental impacts and risks to both the physical and socio-cultural environments. A monitoring programme has been developed for the plant and this will provide data which would serve as the basis to determine the environmental performance of the operation. “The facility will be monitored to confirm its adherence to sound environmental management practices and contractually established operational standards. Monitoring will be conducted during the construction and operation phases of the project”, the report states.

Source: Stabroek News

Friday, November 27, 2009

Vincentians reject new constitution

St. Vincent & the Grenadines (BBC) - The Vincentian government suffered a major defeat on Wednesday, in its bid introduce a new constitution for the country.

The Ralph Gonsalves administration in Kingstown was seeking the public’s permission to replace the charter adopted on independence in 1979, with a new set of laws.

One of the proposed changes under the draft document was for the removal of the British monarch as head of state in favour of a President.

Under a new constitution the Caribbean Court of Justice would also replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s final court of appeal. The governing Unity Labour Party needed a two thirds majority for the change to take effect.

But the main opposition New Democratic Party had called on voters to reject the constitution, arguing it did not sufficiently reduce the powers of the prime minister.

Preliminary results from the electoral office showed that 55.6 percent of the votes cast were against the proposed charter, compared to 43.1 percent who endorsed it.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said he didn’t anticipate the result, adding that the people did not consider this was a document which they should support.

“We were engaged in a noble enterprise, we did not succeed from the ‘yes’ campaign at the polls to persuade the majority of those who went to vote that the constitution was worthy of being changed and this (new) one was worthy of being supported,” Gonsalves said.

Though disappointed, Gonsalves conceded that the opposition ran ‘a very spirited campaign’ and was able to mobilise their voters to support their position.

“It was also a sense that people had some grievances against the government or from their representatives,” Gonsalves said.

Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace said while there is a need for constitutional reform, there are still a number of issues that must be addressed.

“I’m happy with the decision taken because we felt that there are too many difficult issues that are outstanding and need resolution in the proposed constitution,” Eustace said. However he did not rule out future discussion on constitution reform.

But political commentator Renwick Rose told BBC Caribbean that Wednesday’s vote represents a setback for the constitution process.

He also believes the result will have implications for local politics.

“I think what it indicates is not just a rejection of the constitution, but also some serious questions will be raised on whether it was a referendum on the government itself and on the prime minister.

“It means then that one year away from the end of the life of the parliament the opposition now can claim that they had a decisive majority from the people,” Rose said.

The results make for a telling story – the No vote dominated in thirteen of the fifteen constituencies.

While the No and Yes votes were separated by a few hundred votes in the majority of the constituencies, there were a few where the gap between the two was huge.

In the Northern Grenadines for example the No vote was just over 2,000 to the mere 353 people who voted yes.

The Southern Grenadines was also firmly in the No camp, with more than a thousand No votes there, to the 466 Yes votes.

The Yes campaign didn’t do any better in Central Kingstown where the No camp received 1020 votes more than they did.

East Kingstown was also impressive for the No vote campaigners.

The Yes vote had its best showing in North Central Windward, the prime minister’s constituency. Two thousand, four hundred and fifty-one people there voted yes – almost three times more than the 836 who opted to make their “x” against the proposed change.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Amerindian villages getting rice huller machines

GUYANA - The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs will be providing rice hulling machines to several hinterland communities as efforts move apace to boost agricultural production in those areas.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that under a rice project funded by Spain, communities located in South Central and Deep South Rupununi will benefit from the programme. It is expected that the programme will build the capacity of the villages to produce their own rice.

The machines will be given to communities such as Shea and Achawib, Deep South Rupununi, Region Nine and others in Region Ten. Through the implementation of a $43M hinterland rice project under the purview of the agriculture ministry, several Amerindian communities in regions eight and nine have already benefited. Since its implementation the project has also benefited from assistance from the Guyana Rice Development Board and the National Agricultural Research Institute.

Karaudarnau community located in the Deep South Rupununi Region Nine has also received a machine. Toshao Arnold Stephens said since its operations over the past three years, the machine has produced about 20,000 tonnes of paddy from where the rice was sourced for the ‘Hot meal’ hinterland school feeding programme. “Since we acquire the rice huller, farmers have been increasing their production…it benefits the community and encourages farmers to produce more,” he said

Source: Stabroek News

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brown pelican off endangered species list

Washington, DC (UCTP Taino News) — After being pushed to near extinction caused by pesticides, hunters, and the loss of habitat the brown pelican was removed from the endangered species list on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009.

"We can all celebrate this victory for our sacred relative.” stated Roger Guayacan Hernandez, a Liaison Officer for the United Confederation of Taino People in Boriken (Puerto Rico).

Read the full article at UCTP TAINO NEWS

Monday, November 9, 2009

Two Region Nine villages receive speed boats

GUYANA - Two aluminum speed boats valued $600,000 were recently presented to the Amerindian villages of Baitoon and Katu’ur in Region Nine by the Amerindian Affairs Ministry to improve the transportation needs of the communities, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai who visited the region recently handed over the boats to senior councillor of Baitoon, Guy Anthony for the two communities.

Sukhai said the purchase of the speed boats is in keeping with a request made by the satellite villages and she urged Anthony to ensure that they are used to assist the communities.

GINA quoted Minister Sukhai as saying, “We expect that when you receive this special gift you take care of it and ensure that the council enters it into their inventory as an asset of your satellite village.”

Anthony expressed gratitude to the minister for providing the boats, noting that residents had been faced with difficulties in travelling from their communities to Lethem, GINA added.

Source: Stabroek News

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amerindians bless burial grounds in Sando

Members of the Amerindian community put on a dance during Tuesday’s ceremonial blessing of the grounds on St Vincent Street, San Fernando, believed to be a former Amerindian burial ground. Photo: Rishi Ragoonath

TRINIDAD - Indigenous people from Arima, Guyana and Suriname, wearing their native dress, created quite a stir on Tuesday when they blessed the grounds on St Vincent Street, San Fernando, believed to be a former Amerindian burial ground.

The site is under construction for a $7 million state-of-the-art community centre in the San Fernando West constituency. Some stakeholders have raised objections to the construction on sacred grounds. Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Junia Regrello, said there was no evidence that it was an Amerindian burial ground, but in the face of concerns raised, the project was temporary halted to undertake an investigation to see how authentic the claims were.

After consultation with the Amerindian community, they agreed to bless the site so work could proceed. “We don’t want to offend any community,” Regrello said.

Work is expected to resume today, he added. Led by Chief Ricardo Bharat-Hernandez, the Amerindians called on the great Spirits to consecrate the grounds and forgive any disruptions which may have been caused by the construction. Visiting High Priest from Suriname Harold Taweroe, also led a song and dance around a container filled with dirt, and a half of a calabash filled with water, as the Native Indians smoked their peace pipe and shook their chac-chacs to complete the ritual. Bharat-Hernandez, Deputy Mayor of Arima, said the site, on which a basketball court was presently constructed, may have been an Amerindian cemetery. “I have asked for evidence, but no one could give that evidence. Burial grounds are very sacred, and in the absence of concrete evidence, we performed a simple ritual, as if it were a burial ground, to appease the Spirits and ask the creator to bless what is happening here now,” he said.

Bharat-Hernandez said the First People had no intention of stopping any development of the community. He said he was happy to hear Regrello say they were about putting people first and his intention to create a shrine or special place to preserve whatever remains or artefacts they may find. Bharat-Hernandez also used the opportunity to call on government to recognise the First People and put them in their rightful place. He said all of the other people who came to T&T has been recognised in many ways, but the First People, in spite of their contribution, had not.

“Here we are concerned about the remains of our ancestors, but we have living indigenous people across the world and in our region and we are in a struggle for meaningful recognition.” He said without that recognition, a very important cultural heritage would be lost. “The Minister said we put people first, well I want to tell him to put the First People in their rightful position,” he said.

Author: Yvonne Webb
Source: http://guardian.co.tt/news/general/2009/10/22/amerindians-bless-burial-grounds-sando

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amerindians call for public holiday

TRINIDAD - Indigenous people have called on the Government to give them a one-time public holiday as they celebrated Amerindian Day last Wednesday. After dawn, the indigenous community held a ritual ceremony at the monument area of the Arima Savannah, where they paid tribute to their ancestors who were killed by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. Following the ceremony, chief/ president of the Santa Rosa Carib Community Ricardo Bharat-Hernandez led his people in a street procession through Arima. Spectators stopped to enquire about the celebration and many expressed interest in knowing about the history of the indigenous people.

Chief responds

In an interview, Hernandez said a public holiday should be given by the Government to honour the contribution of the Amerindians. “People are not aware of our history and that is why we need a public holiday. We can even have a one-off public holiday. People are working and busy and it’s difficult to reach them so that they could support this. The indigenous heritage needs a public holiday or a one off, so the country can stop and recognise our indigenous past,” Hernandez said. He said if a public holiday was given, the Carib community could organise a heritage day.

The Carib chief also said T&T could learn a lot from the legacy of the Amerindian people, as they practised conservation and respect for life. “We know that they practised conservation in the way they treated the forests. They did not destroy the forests. They hunted enough to feed themselves. They also had knowledge on the medicinal value of plants, as well as a strong, vibrant agricultural tradition,” Hernandez said. He explained that people could also learn from the belief systems of the Amerindians, as they honoured their ancestors and showed respect for family life.

Preservation of history

Hernandez said some indigenous instruments were still being used within the Carib community today. “Some people have lost interest in some of the traditional utensils but we still use the couleve, a long woven basket to strain the bitter cassava,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the indigenous history was rich and needed to be preserved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moraikobai looks to large-scale agriculture, call for govt assistance

 At the mini exhibition, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud examines a cassava grown in the community while Regional Chairman, Harrinarine Baldeo (partly hidden, at back) looks at a craft item.
At the mini exhibition, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud examines a cassava grown in the community while Regional Chairman, Harrinarine Baldeo (partly hidden, at back) looks at a craft item.

GUYANA - As Amerindians support the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), residents of Moraikobai in the Mahaicony River have called on government to assist with equipment and soil testing so they could diversify to large-scale agriculture.

The residents, concerned that they would have to ease up on logging, which is their main means of earning a livelihood said Moraikobai is not a major farming community but they were willing to start planting and growing more.

As part of the celebration of Agriculture Month, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud visited the area on Saturday to “address” some of the concerns of residents and assured them that they would get the required support. At the end of his address he presented a quantity of fruit and vegetable seeds, chemicals to deal with acoushi ants along with two breeding pigs to Toshao Dereck John. The items would be used to benefit the community.

The residents had gathered for training sessions including farming techniques, controlling pests and proper care of animals, conducted by technical staff of the Agriculture Ministry and the Guyana Forestry Commission.

John expressed gratitude for the items they received. He told this newspaper that residents were also grateful for the knowledge they were gaining from the training sessions. “Technical personnel are not here so these people come in to teach us and demonstrate to us and it is a big boost to the community,” he said.

The minister told the residents that while the community relied on logging he was happy that residents have been exposed to the discussion on the LCDS and what is happening in terms of climate change and that they would be part of the strategy.

He also pointed out that the LCDS is not intended to impinge or interfere with their livelihood but that government would ensure that the community has a stable and sufficient supply of food and that there are no disruptions in terms of forestry activities.

A mini exhibition, showcasing ground provision and as well as craft items made by the women, was also held. The women raised the issue of their crafts not being sold despite efforts to display them at various exhibitions.

Persaud then advised them to be a part of AGRIFEST at the National Stadium on October 31 as a way of securing markets.

Meanwhile he took the opportunity to ask Jamaica’s Minister of Commerce Michael Stern who was in Guyana on a business trip and joined the team on the visit to take note of the women’s concerns about markets.

Stern, who promised to assist in that regard, advised the people “to try and do as much as you can to create wealth in your community. Through that wealth creation you would become more sustainable and your children would have a better life…”

He said too that if they take advantage of all the assistance that they were getting they would have a successful community. He even promised to return one day to enjoy some of what they produce. The community had received computers for a state-of-the-art computer laboratory which is currently being housed at the primary school until a building which is currently being constructed for lab is completed. The building, according to the Toshao, would also be used for farmers’ training.

Persaud mentioned that on a previous visit residents had complained that the computers could not be used because the area only gets electricity at nights and that a generator has since been provided.

The residents said the community is having problems accessing potable water and Regional Chairman Harrinarine Baldeo informed residents that Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali would be visiting this week.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs Nigel Dharamlall who was also part of the team told the Amerindians that the ministry intends to continue serve them and that the budget proposed for next year is bigger.

Dharamlall said too that all Amerindian villages are considered vulnerable and that the ministry has recently launched a Database Management Information System to capture all the problems affecting them as well as the proposed solutions.

Source: Stabroek News

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Venezuelan Yukpa Indigenous Community Attacked, Two Murdered Following Land Grants

Yukpa chief Sabino Romero (Aporrea)

Mérida, Venezuela -- On Tuesday, the day after the national government granted more than 40,000 hectares of land to Yukpa indigenous communities in northwestern Venezuela, assassins attacked the community of Yukpa chief and indigenous rights activist Sabino Romero, killing two and injuring at least four.

Romero's son in law, Ever Garcia, and a young, pregnant Yukpa woman were shot dead in the attack. Romero received three bullet wounds and is currently in the hospital in stable condition, according to reports from the community. Romero's daughter, grand daughter, and nephew were also hospitalized with bullet wounds, and are now in the hospital in stable condition.

Romero was one of several Yukpa chiefs who led land occupations last year to demand that the government pay indemnity to the private estate owners and transfer the land to the Yukpa in the form of collective property, in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution and indigenous rights laws passed by the government of President Hugo Chavez.

Since the land occupations began in July 2008, the Yukpa communities involved have been subject to repeated death threats and attacks by thugs believed to have been hired by large estate owners and their local government allies.

In August 2008, estate owner Alejandro Vargas participated in an attack on Romero's community, during which Romero's father, a community elder of more than one hundred years of age, was beaten and killed.

Vargas, a cattle rancher, in an attempt to justify his deadly raid on the Yukpa, accused Romero of stealing several head of cattle. He also claimed on one occasion to have paid bribes to local legal authorities for protection against prosecution, according to the victims of the attacks.

The Yukpa reported the attacks to local police, who said investigations were opened, but no suspects have been arrested.

The National Guard maintains a heavy presence and the government plans to build a new military base in the sparsely populated and conflict-ridden border zone, which is rich in coal deposits and affected by the spillover of refugees, guerrilla insurgents, and paramilitaries from the civil war in Colombia.

Romero and other Yukpa chiefs allied with him are openly opposed to the land grants issued by the government on Monday. They say the government did not effectively consult with the Yukpa communities about the proper demarcation of Yukpa land, and instead carved up Yukpa territory to protect large estate owners, preserve access to coal deposits, and preserve space for a military base in the region. Meanwhile, several other Yukpa chiefs have allied themselves with Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nicia Maldonado and supported the government's plan for indigenous land demarcation.

Housing and Credits Granted to Indigenous October 12th

In addition to the land titles issued on October 12th in celebration of Columbus Day, which the Chavez government officially renamed Indigenous Resistance Day in 2004, the government also gave houses, transport vehicles, and a variety of small business credits to semi-rural indigenous communities in the states of Amazonas, Bolivar, Anzoátegui, and Zulia.

Education Minister Hector Navarro and Agriculture and Land Minister Elias Jaua attended the inauguration of a bilingual public primary school in Anzoátegui state, where the local indigenous community will be able to study and learn in Spanish as well as their native language.

In the Amazon region, Presidential Chief of Staff Luis Reyes visited a community of approximately one hundred Piaroa families who received small houses of uniform suburban design that were built by the government. The government also gave the community vehicles to transport fruit from their farms to the market. In previous years, the community received credits to build a fruit processing plant and a radio station, and the government built a primary school and a local health clinic as well.

Venezuela's indigenous population constitutes less than two percent of the national population. Indigenous communities have gained substantial constitutional, legal, and parliamentary recognition since President Chavez took office in 1999.

Author: James Suggett
Source: Venezuelanalysis.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mid term evaluation of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People

The evaluation is a stocktaking exercise, so as to identify progress made and areas on which the UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations, Member States, indigenous peoples’ organizations and civil society organizations need to invest more effort, so as to further the successful implementation of the Decade’s goal and objectives. In order to obtain a balanced and well documented evaluation of the progress made in the implementation of the Second Decade.

Click here for further information.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Taino Documentary Turns Lens to Boriken

UCTP Liaison Officer Roger Guayakan Hernandez,
Naniki Reyes Ocasio of the Caney Quinto Mundo,
and videographer Ray Ibsen meet in Orocovis, Boriken.
(Photo: A. Zacarias)

Boriken/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) -
Emmy Award winning team Alex Zacarias (Producer/Director) and videographer Ray Ibsen traveled to Boriken (Puerto Rico) in August to continue work on their Taino documentary production.

The filmmakers interviewed various members of the island's local Taino community including representatives of the
Consejo General de Taino Borincanos, the Caney Quinto Mundo, the United Confederation of Taino People and others. The team also interviewed the Hon.Victor L. Vassallo Anadón of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives and Dr. Juan Martinez Cruzado, a Geneticist at the University of Puerto Rico.

Zacarias noted that the recent trip to Boriken resulted in the gathering of enough film footage and information to pursue the funding needed to continue production.

UCTPTN 09.05.2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Karrau gets tractor from gov’t

GUYANA - Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai on Monday handed over a John Deere tractor to the people of Karrau Village, Region Seven to boost their income-generating capacity.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai (right) hands over the tractor keys to Toshao, James Cornelius of Karrau, Region 7. (GINA photo)

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai (right) hands over the tractor keys to Toshao, James Cornelius of Karrau, Region 7.

At a brief ceremony held at the ministry, Sukhai said the $6.4M tractor is the latest effort by government to boost the lives of its first peoples. She said government has also designed several economic programmes aimed at developing traditional skills and has marketed produce from indigenous communities to help to generate income.

Sukhai handed over the keys to the vehicle to Toshao James Cornelius and urged him to ensure that it is used in productive activities that can benefit the community.

GINA said this year some $488M has been budgeted for the Amerindian sector. A total of $30.7M had been allocated to boost livelihoods in several hinterland communities where residents face difficulties accessing transportation to carry out their daily activities.

Source: Stabroek News

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

UN Observes International Indigenous Peoples Day

Program Master of Ceremonies Roberto Borrero (Taino) and UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro at the 2009 Observance of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. (UN Photo)

United Nations (UCTP Taíno News) –
An official observance commemorating the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was held at UN headquarters in New York on Monday. The event was organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in cooperation with the NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples and the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The theme of the observance at UN Headquarters was "Indigenous Peoples and HIV/AIDS".

The event included messages from the United Nations Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly, the Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, and the Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. There were also performances by indigenous artists, and a panel discussion on "Indigenous Peoples and HIV/AIDS".

In his message to mark the day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to HIV/ AIDS. “It is essential that indigenous peoples have access to the information and infrastructure necessary for detection, treatment and protection,” he noted.

Other observances for the UN Indigenous Day were held around the world with events celebrated in Suriname, Brazil, Northeast India, Nepal, and Geneva among others.

UCTPTN 08.11.2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Suriname Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

Paramaribo, Suriname (UCTP Taíno News) – The United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples was celebrated in Paramaribo, Suriname on 9 August 2009. Suriname officially adopted the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples as a national holiday for the first time in 2007.

Photo: During a “Tamusji” ceremony held to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day in Suriname, a local Carib spiritual leader blesses a young participant by pouring herbal water upon his head. (Photo credit: nachophoto.com)

UCTPTN 08.09.2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kalinago Carib Elect New Chief in Dominica

Waitukubuli/Dominica (UCTP Taino News) - Elections were held in July in the Carib territory of Dominica, West Indies to choose a Chief for a new 5-year term of office. Former Chief Garnet Joseph won the election over incumbent Charles Williams.

Joseph said his work focus will include health, education and respect for council members in the Territory. The new chief has also pledged to bring more development to the 3,800-acre (1,538-hectare) territory, where Caribs live in greater poverty than the rest of the country. Dominica is home to about 3,000 Caribs, or ethnic Kalinagos.

UCTPTN 08.07.2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hugo Chavez in Dominica to unveil $35M facility

ROSEAU, Dominica -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez unveiled a $35 million oil-storage facility Saturday in the Caribbean island of Dominica, a day after he met with regional leaders about his Petrocaribe program.

Chavez said the complex that Venezuela helped build will store 35,000 barrels of diesel, jet fuel and cooking gas.

The Petrocaribe program, which Dominica participates in, was created in 2005 to supply fuel to allies under preferential terms.

"Dominica will no longer have to concern itself about the supply of gasoline and oil,'' he told a cheering crowd. "All the oil Dominica will need for the next 200 years will be right there in Venezuela.''

People wearing red T-shirts in support of Chavez lined the streets for about two miles (three kilometers) as he made his way from the airport to the facility.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit promised to supply free cooking gas to poor people, but he did not provide details.

The storage complex is located near the capital of Roseau and is named ''Waitukubuli,'' the Carib Indian name for Dominica.

Chavez said he also will help fund a coffee-processing plant in the tiny Caribbean island and set up a local branch of a leftist Latin American trade group.

Source: Associated Press

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Elections in 133 titled Amerindian communities a success

One hundred and thirty-three titled Amerindian communities have recently completed elections of village councils and Toshaos for the first time under the new 2006 Amerindian Act and from all accounts the process was successful, Minister Pauline Sukhai said yesterday.

GUYANA - At a press conference at her ministry, Sukhai acknowledged that there have been complaints lodged by a disgruntled group at Orealla concerning a nominee who was later found to be ineligible to contest the polls in that community.

Eight members from the group staged a picketing exercise outside the ministry yesterday.

“They have not sought an audience with the ministry … if they choose to go elsewhere we will only respond when they are ready to take the matter up with us,” she said.

The minister acknowledged that with any system or process there would always be some section of the electorate that will want to raise issues about something they feel did not go in their favour. However she noted that the dissatisfied had not seen it wise to approach her.

Sukhai said she received complaints from the winning side and was only privy to a photocopy of the complaints from the disgruntled group through a representative of the Alliance for Change (AFC) party.

“If you are seeking redress for any matter you feel offended about the ministry has established a forum and institution whereby Amerindians could come to have issues redressed, she said, and insisted that Amerindian issues should not be used as a political football.

The minister said she received a report that the protestors were eight in number and were accompanied by AFC Member of Parliament Khemraj Ramjattan, who in her mind was there either to “monitor, join or instigate and that is their right.”

She indicated that the party should dedicate its efforts to see that developmental issues are addressed and work to foster development rather than try to sow seeds of discord.

Meanwhile in relation to the issue of the man who was not allowed to contest, Sukhai said the people of Siparuta and Orealla felt the nominee was not residing consistently in the community for three years prior to the election and this was a prerequisite to contesting according to the Act.

“You can vote in those circumstances, but you cannot run for Toshao,” she specified. She explained too that while the Act provides for being an absentee, the person still cannot run if they do not have a home in the village. She said that based on the complaints she received residents have argued that the home which the man visits belongs to his parents and is currently occupied by his son.

Sukhai said further that the Act gives three months following the elections for any issue to be ventilated and then addressed and she was letting that time frame go its full course.

She noted though that the matter was not a closed one and will be investigated.

“We will deal with the matter but we have to allow due process to follow. Our hands will not be forced by anyone, we have to deal with it fairly and squarely,” she maintained.

Source: Stabroek News

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nicaragua gives asylum to Peru protest leader

MANAGUA, (Reuters) – Nicaragua’s leftist government has granted political asylum to Peruvian indigenous leader Alberto Pizango, wanted in Lima on charges he fomented protests against Amazon oil exploration that killed 60 people.

Nicaragua’s ambassador in Peru, Tomas Borge, told Reuters yesterday that Pizango sought asylum in the Nicaraguan Embassy in the Peruvian capital.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

PR Representative Vassallo urges respect for Taino

Ponce, Boriken (UCTP Taino News) – Representing District 25, Ponce – Jayuya, the Hon. Victor L. Vassallo Anadón this week urged the citizens and government of Puerto Rico and federal agencies to respect the island’s “sacred national patrimony” and the rights of the Taino People. The official statement was presented to the Boriken Liaison Office of the United Confederation of Taino People in the form of a proclamation displaying the seal of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives. The proclamation issued by Vassallo recognizes Taino People as pre-Columbian inhabitants of Puerto Rico whose descendants remain on the island today.

Photo: In Ponce, UCTP Boriken Liaison Roger Guayakan Hernandez looks on as the Hon. Victor L. Vassallo Anadón signs the official proclamation urging respect for Taino People in Puerto Rico.

UCTPTN 06.16.2008

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Indigenous leaders urged to practise inclusiveness

GUYANA - Amerindian leaders were urged to examine the issue of good governance in their communities and to practise inclusiveness as it is vital to development.

According to a Government Information agency (GINA) press release Minister Pauline Sukhai made these statements at the recent Conference on Sustainable Development in St Ignatius, Region Nine. She said the Amerindian Act addresses the issue from the community level which comprises the village council, national toshaos and district councils. The minister highlighted many instances where governance issues arose and attributed them to the breakdown of collective decision-making.

Sukhai advised the meeting to seek ways of boosting collective decision-making in order to reap greater benefits for the villages and gradually eradicate issues related to weak administration. She said several village offices have been erected to facilitate this process as inclusiveness is vital to driving development.

Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Kellawan Lall urged indigenous leaders to take the lead in developing their communities. He said communities that enjoy inclusiveness are more vibrant and that is needed as plans for sustainable development become reality.

Source: Stabroek News

Massacre in the Peruvian Amazon

The Peruvian military attacked unarmed Indigenous protesters in Bagua Chica, in the northern Amazon region. The attack which included snipers and helicopters started early last Friday until late Saturday. (Photo: © Enlace Nacional & Catapa)

Peru (UCTP Taino News) - Effectively shutting down parts of the Amazon and the Andes for over 50 days, local Peruvian communities have been engaging in massive strikes organized to protest government proposed development in the region. On Friday, June 5 the peaceful protests were met with a violent military response by the Peruvian government leaving civilians and police dead with hundreds more injured.

As a result of an almost total media blackout, unconfirmed casualty reports from the area have ranged from 38 civilians and 10 police to 100 civilians and 22 police dead.

On April 9, an "indefinite strike" began throughout the Amazon region to protest the Peruvian Congress' failure to review six government decrees that are identified by local leaders as endangering the rights of Indigenous Peoples. These decrees were issued by Peruvian President Alan García Pérez and relate to the implementation of Free Trade Agreements signed with the United States and Canada. Opposed by Indigenous Peoples, the legislation paves the way for oil, mineral, and agricultural exploitation in the ecologically sensitive region.

Following an international Indigenous Peoples summit held in Puno, Peru last week, the Coordinating Body of Andean Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) issued a call for an “international denunciation” of President García Pérez and his administration for the “bloody repression of Indigenous Peoples in the Peruvian Amazon”. The CAOI has called upon indigenous organizations, social movements and human rights organizations around the world to take concrete action by sending letters to the Peruvian government, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples and other relevant parties to demand an end to the violence and respect for indigenous rights.

A coalition of indigenous, human rights and environmental organizations are urging the Garcia Government to step down and cease violent confrontations by the military.

AIDESEP, the national indigenous organization of Peru has called for a nationwide general strike starting June 11th. Emergency solidarity demonstrations are being scheduled at Peruvian Embassies around the world to coincide with the national actions. For additional information visit the Amazon Watch and AIDESEP websites.

UCTPTN 06.09.2009