Every now and then, if you have a sense
of humour, you see something that leaves you in hysterics.
The PPP, as usual wanting to control
and not regulate Amerinindian affairs in this country, want to introduce
an Amerindian Bill; now despite popular opinion I do not consider Baharat
Jagdeo to be the solution to our problems, but the cause of them, he is a
control freak, he just cannot help it, he goes around with his namby pamby
attitude but underneath that façade resides an Indian version of Forbes
So he gets an Amerindian woman who is
prepared to betray her heritage for position and he makes her Minister of
Amerindian Affairs, her budget is controlled by his office and she basically
can do nothing without his permission. Since this started out to be a piece on
humour I want to tell you that in Wednesday's ramblings this week which is by
the way my favourite newspaper event of the week on the 28th
September 2005 the author asks the question why do we need a Minister of
Amerindian Affairs? And notwithstanding the satire, I ask the same question.
But we do have a Minister of
Amerindian Affairs so we have to live with that for now, she and Jagdeo rush in
like bulls in a china shop to trample on the rights of the Amerindian people
and they run into an elephant by the name of David James. Now I have met and
have spoken to David James he is an ice man, totally cool and brighter and
better informed than both Jagdeo and Rodrigues on this particular matter, so for
the PPP what was supposed to be an exercise of stealing candy from a baby has
turned out to be a nightmare since David James, like his Biblical counterpart, is
about to slay Goliath. It's hilarious.
In these commentaries unlike what you
see in the newscast per se we examine strange situations and we try to find the
reason why certain things are happening, it is a sort of editorial and that is
why I have allowed my commentaries and indeed Kit Nascimento's as well to
occupy a place within the newscast itself, it is our way of editorialising .....
of interpreting the facts for the public who may not fully grasp all the
elements of a certain situation.
So I kept asking myself why would Jagdeo
want this Amerindian Bill put in place now so close to the 2006 elections,
since many obnoxious elements contained in it was bound to cause trouble among
the Amerindians and could even lead to lost votes. I have concluded that given
the powers this bill seeks to confer on the Government, that fair campaigning by
non PPP politicians within the Amerindian Communities would be impossible since
part II 5. (1) of the bill states Quote "that any person, other than a person
referred to in section 8, who wishes to enter [Amerindian] community lands
shall apply for and obtain the permission of the Village council" the
exemptions in section 8 are government employees conducting legitimate state business
Rodrigues has said publicly that she has
had far reaching consultations with the Amerindian community throughout the country;
she nevertheless comes up with a bill which none of the four Amerindian organisations
in Guyana want.
First of all the bill is called the
Amerindian Bill, the Amerindian orginisations want it to be called the
Indigenous People's Bill. It has been a sore point from day one in the
consultations between the government and the Amerindians; Rodrigues tells us
that if the Amerindian People's Association is so in love with the term
Indigenous People then they should change their name to the Indigenous
People's Association! Well I for one consider this completely unacceptable; an
insult to the Amerindian People's Association and hopefully the United Nations
has taken note of it.
Ladies and gentlemen less than 12 years
ago the United Nations drafted what they called the declaration of the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, let us face it, we came here all of us, and we took
their lands we are the intruders here not them, this UN declaration sought to
confer certain rights on Indigenous peoples so that they would not be exploited
by anyone, and I am convinced after speaking to David James and others that
if this Bill is called the Amerindian Bill and not the Indigenous People's Bill,
the Amerindian people in this nation may not be able to approach international forums
for redress and protection under the Indigenous People's Convention of the United
Nations, which this Bill contravenes in numerous ways. Now if as
Rodrigues says there is no difference in the name, then why this inexplicable
resistance to changing the name on the Bill? One can only conclude that she is
The rights conferred on Indigenous
people by this UN and other International Conventions are far reaching Ladies
and Gentlemen, the Marxist PPP would never understand it, for example Article
IX of the UN draft says that and I quote it "indigenous peoples shall be
entitled: a) to establish and set in motion their own educational
programmes, institutions and facilities b) to prepare and implement
their own educational plans, programs, Curricula and materials, Article VII
surprised even me, it says that and I quote section 2 of article VII "Indigenous
Peoples are entitled to restitution in respect of the property of which they
have been dispossessed, and where this is not possible compensation on a basis
not less favourable than the standard of international law" it says that they
should be given autonomy to pursue their economic, cultural, ancestral
and other activities, not to be completely controlled by a Minister to the
extent that if a village wants to build a toilet they have to get Ministerial
permission, which this Bill seeks to do!
Before we got independence in this
country in 1966 the British government asked Burnham who came to power in 1964,
to look into the ancestral lands of the Amerindians as a conditionality of our
getting independence, and to this end a Commission was set up to identify and
demarcate the Amerindian lands in this country, the 1965 Commission demarcated 24
thousand square miles of the 83,000 square miles of this country as Amerindian
Ancestral lands, the Amerindians whose numbers are growing due to low migration
and better health care these days now have only around 8 thousand square miles
of Ancestral Lands, one third of what they should have.
In our supreme court at the present time
there is action number 1114-W of 1998 in it the captains of the Amerindian
villages of Phillipi, Jawalla, Kako, Paruma, Waramadong and Kamarang have sued
the Attorney General of Guyana for, as they claim, taking away from them
certain lands which they have enjoyed from time immemorial.
Ladies and gentlemen they still thiefing
the people's Ancestral Lands! This Bill on passing mandates every Amerindian to
accept whatever area that is currently demarcated before any new lands
are added to their respective village areas.
Today the poverty within the
Amerindian community is frightening, exploitation of Amerindians is unprecedented,
Minister Shadik that paragon of competence does not understand the UN's
definition of trafficking in persons, so people have been trafficking in
Amerindians under her nose with impunity, are we strengthening the Amerindian Associations
to help their brothers? No, that would be too humane, too intelligent, instead
we have the President himself ridiculing the Amerindian People's Association in
the media alleging that they are trying to rationalise their external monetary
grants by making trouble for him and poor Ms. Rodrigues.
No President in any Democracy anywhere
should be allowed to make such statements about any organisation which is
defending itself against what they perceive to be aggression by the government,
especially when they are the indigenous peoples of the nation. Mr. Jagdeo must
apologise to the APA and to David James for his unwarranted attack.
Rodrigues must also apologise for her
outrageous remarks about the name of the APA.
Ladies and gentlemen let us raise our
voices and demand that this Bill be put where it belongs, in the garbage bin.