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

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New law Threatens Ancient Indigenous Patrimony in Puerto Rico

San Juan, Boriken (UCTP Taino News) - The Puerto Rican Senate and House of Representatives are deliberating on the approval of revised Permit Law Projects that opponents state would endanger the Caribbean island’s environmental and archeological patrimony. Local archeologists, environmentalists, and indigenous Taino groups are calling on the government to abandon this process involving Permit Law Projects No. 880 in the Senate and No. 1649 in the House of Representatives.

The Permit Law Projects are being touted as much needed initiatives that would to re-structure and expedite construction permits on the island. As noted by several public statements made by those opposed to the projects, the proposed legislation would nullify current legal protections for environmental and archaeological resources while favoring development with little oversight.

“This proposed policy would also regulate ‘public’ participation in these processes to an informal position” stated Naniki Reyes Ocasio, a local Taino community leader.

Reyes Ocasio continued stating “This permit law proposal is a violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an international human rights law standard that calls for prior and informed consent.”

A demonstration calling on the government to abandon the current Permit Law Projects will be held tomorrow, Friday June 5 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The event will begin at 11am at “Puente Dos Hermanos” in the Condado area where Ashford Avenue ends and leads into Old San Juan. For more information on the demonstration contact “Coalición Todo Puerto Rico Por Puerto Rico” at 787-274-8087, 787-502-0194 or

UCTPTN 06.04.2009