Parikwaranau land issues to be investigated, residents seek long-term resolution

DPI, Guyana, Friday, September 15, 2017

Residents of the Village of Parikwaranau are calling on the administration to intervene and address their land issue, which has hindered their community’s development for the past two years.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock recently led a team of officials, including Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, to the community to listen to the residents’ concerns.

Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs Sydney Allicock, addressing the residents of Parikwaranau.

During a meeting, Toshao Cyril Anthony explained that a rancher has fenced and is occupying a large portion of the community’s land. It is alleged that the previous Toshao granted him permission to occupy the land.

Toshao Anthony further noted that when the Village Council made enquires, the rancher dispatched a letter to the council informing them that he intends to take legal action against the community. According to Anthony, the rancher has also instituted rules preventing persons from going beyond the space he occupies.

“We are asking for the matter to be treated with urgency, because there is where the people get their livelihood from, through fishing and farming. That is our land, we have documents for it and we have plans for it”, the Toshao related. He said that the community has plans for that particular area and is asking for the matter to be addressed “once and for all”.

Minister Allicock explained that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on land issues was established to resolve such issues, and Parikwaranau was one of the communities earmarked to be investigated. He said that, while the Amerindian Land Titling (ALT) project is ongoing, it cannot resolve issues of such nature, hence the establishment of the COI.

The Minister queried whether the community also plans to take legal action against the rancher, noting that once legal proceedings have begun, the ministry cannot intervene, because “the law has to take its course, it is a process and it takes time”.

He called on the village council to engage the people, examine the issue and make a collective decision on the way forward, “This problem exists across the country, the people need to work together because we need sober thinkers in order to move the development forward”, Minister Allicock noted.

Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton making a point during the consultations at Parikwaranau.

It was promised that once the village agrees, an investigation will be immediately launched, which will entail a process, that includes the Guyana Land and Survey, the Ministry of Communities and the Regional Administration.

John Daniels, a resident of the village spoke of the need for more consultations with the Village Council and the people. Adding that there is a need for improved good governance and management of village resources.

The residents agreed to work with the ministry to have the issue resolved in the shortest possible time.

Meanwhile, Minister George Norton said that Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) must start at the level of the community. “No one must come in your community and build a fence and taking up large portions of your land, there must be some sort of order.”

Minister Norton also cautioned residents to be mindful of persons entering their village and feeding them with negative ideas. “Get the facts, read and understand, engage your leaders and do not be misguided by those who do not have your interest at heart”, he advised.

 

By: Synieka Thorne

A section of the villagers gathered for the consultation on the land issue.

 

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