Press Release: Amerindian Peoples Association calls for Government of Guyana to secure full extent of traditional lands

Press Release: Amerindian Peoples Association calls for Government of Guyana to secure full extent of traditional lands

GEORGETOWN, May 13, 2016: The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) held its 9th General Assembly on 10-12 May 2016 in the village of Pakuri, Region 4. The main issues discussed during the assembly included land rights, climate change, and the various social and environmental issues affecting indigenous communities throughout the country. The assembly also highlighted the proactive measures communities are engaged in to build a stronger, greener, and more just Guyana.  A new 20-person executive committee, headed by Mario Hastings from Kako in the Upper Mazaruni, Region 7, was elected for a three-year period. 

As Guyana celebrates its golden jubilee, delegates from 68 villages from across the country addressed the issues at stake for indigenous peoples in Guyana today, in recognition of the decades-long struggle to have their lands recognised. Today, the international community recognises that indigenous lands hold some of the last real forests on our planet, and as such, recognition of indigenous lands and territories is critical.  As newly-elected President of the APA, Mario Hastings noted that securing and respecting indigenous lands would continue to be the main priority of the organisation moving forward.  

Resolutions approved by the assembly addressed the government, donors, allies, and member communities, and highlighted the priority issues that faced indigenous communities in Guyana.  They will guide the strategy of the APA over the coming three years. Some of the main resolutions include:

“We call on the Government of Guyana, as well as cooperating agencies, to recognise and secure the full extent of our traditional lands, according to our internationally recognised rights”.

“As indigenous peoples, we want our country and our communities to develop in a way that is based on real needs and a positive, constructive and collective vision of the future. Free, Prior and Informed Consent procedures that meet international standards must be established and respected with regard to any legislation, policy, or development initiative that affects us.”

The assembly committed itself to empowering indigenous women, to pursuing educational opportunities – particularly in technical skills, information technology and law – for youth, and to reaching out to communities and the general public. Finally, it commended the government's recent public commitment to ratifying ILO Convention 169 and the American Convention on Human Rights, and called on it to do so as soon as possible.

Attachments: Resolutions of the 9th General Assembly of the APA.

APA EXECUTIVE BOARD, 2016 – 2019

Mario Hastings, President

David Wilson, Vice President

Benson Thomas, Secretary

Earl Thomas, Treasurer

Jean Rahaman, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer

Sheri Balkaran, Women's Representative

Ted Lucas, Youth Representative

 

Regional Representatives

Region 1

Moruca: Jeremy Boyal

Mabaruma: Reynold Hutson

Matarkai: Nicholas Jones

 

Region 2

Harold Marslow

 

Region 7

Upper Cuyuni: Claude Anselmo

Middle Mazaruni: Alvin Joseph

Upper Mazaruni: Alma Marshall

 

Region 8

Potaro: Paul Benjamin

North Pakaraimas: Roger Alfred

 

Region 9

South Pakaraimas: Matthew Charlie

Central Rupununi: John Alfred

South Central Rupununi:  Allan Fredricks

Deep South Rupununi:  Ron James