President urges speedy, evenhanded solutions to Amerindian land issues
Georgetown, GINA, October 27, 2013
Despite the significant and unparalleled achievements made under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration to title and demarcate Amerindian lands, President Donald Ramotar remains concerned about some common issues of contention regarding indigenous people’s territory.
During his interaction with Toshaos on day four of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) meeting at the Guyana International Conference Centre, President Ramotar highlighted the importance of all stakeholders working to resolve land issues swiftly, but also evenhandedly.
“The issues of mining and Amerindian land is very important and I had said very clearly to our colleagues, that we need to solve those as fast as possible, in a very fair manner,” President Ramotar said.
Litigation has stalled the land titling process in some villages in the Upper Mazaruni, Region Seven.
As interactions between Toshaos and Government officials lead by President Ramotar continued , some of the common concerns about lands purported to be owned by Amerindians being exploited were again expressed.
The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) took some of the blame for lagging behind in enforcement on what Toshao of Jawalla described as illegal mining activities in the Upper Mazaruni area.
Coming from a riverain community, Karia Karia in the Essequibo River where the tributaries were the lifeline of the people, President Ramotar said pollution has to be a concern of his.
“When rivers and creeks are polluted, I constantly think about my own life growing up on the banks of the Essequibo River and that was my source of water,” President Ramotar explained.
He assured the Toshaos that concerns about natural resource exploitation are being felt by his administration as much as it is a worry for the Amerindians.
“Many of our other colleagues are intimately aware of life in the interior regions and this is not only a question of government relations with the various communities, but a lot of it is also from our own personal experiences, and we would like to see the quality of life of all of our people being improved,” President Ramotar said
Emanuel Henry, Toshao of Eclipse Falls in Region One complained about the length of time it is taking for land titling and demarcation to be undertaken in his village after an application would have been submitted. He explained to the authorities that the promotion of sustainable development initiatives and the resolution of minor problems being faced in the village hinge on the completion of the land titling and demarcation process.
Only recently the Guyana Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a document for the titling of 13 communities and the demarcation of 33 others.
The funding for this project has come through the Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) after the Governments of Guyana and Norway signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).