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
Moruca: Jeremy Boyal
Mabaruma: Reynold Hutson
Matarkai: Nicholas Jones
Upper Cuyuni: Claude Anselmo
Middle Mazaruni: Alvin Joseph
Upper Mazaruni: Alma Marshall
Potaro: Paul Benjamin
North Pakaraimas: Roger Alfred
South Pakaraimas: Matthew Charlie
Central Rupununi: John Alfred
South Central Rupununi: Allan Fredricks
Deep South Rupununi: Ron James