Washington, D.C. (UCTP Taino News) - For
the 14th consecutive time CARICOM member States of the OAS refused to
participate in the meeting of negotiations on the points of consensus on
the historic Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of
the Americas. This meeting was held at OAS headquarters in Washington DC
from April 18-20 2012. This noble effort could become even stronger
than the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
and would be a beacon of hope for the entire world - if only certain
OAS member states would stop trying to sabotage it at every opportunity
a member of the Indigenous Caucus who has been involved in these
important negotiations since the year 2000, I cannot fail to highlight
and congratulate the delegations of the following OAS member states from
Latin America - who were strong supporters of the hopes and aspirations
of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas; namely Bolivia, Ecuador,
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
These 9 countries represented half (50%) of the Latin American countries
in the OAS.
contrast, of the 14 CARICOM member states (also half/50% of whom have
indigenous populations ranging from less than 1% to up to 13% of their
national populations) only the Bahamas and Guyana attended the opening
session. They stayed for only 10% of the time (108 minutes) that the
participating 18 Latin American countries' delegations who stayed for
the entire 18 hour duration of negotiations over 3 days. This writer
would have preferred that the CARICOM member states stayed and at-least
'pretended' to be interested like the 50% of Latin American states who
sought every excuse to impede progress rather than their now routine
disrespectful apathy and no-show attitude towards the entire process.
remind CARICOM that their combined Amerindian Indigenous populations
exceed 150,000 persons - with 75,000 (50%) of this amount in 9 Tribal
Nations residing in Guyana alone!
has the second highest Amerindian population in CARICOM with 45,000
Mayan Amerindians, Suriname is third with 18,000 Amerindians and
Dominica with 9,000 Amerindians of the Kalinago-Carib Tribal Nation.
Belize celebrates an official 'Garifuna Day' yet the Mayas who are the
actual pre-existing Indigenous people of Belize get no such official
recognition. Suriname does not even officially recognize the existence
of Indigenous Amerindians within its borders - yet it negotiated
autonomy with the Saramakans - who usurped Amerindian territories in
order to establish themselves in that country.
is a gross insult and violation of International Human Rights Laws that
even the Secretary General of the OAS referred to with embarrassment at
the IV Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia
in April 2012 (though without naming the State directly). Dominica
still refuses to grant more land to the woefully small and inadequate
Kalinago Territory in that country or to remove the illegally imposed
Dominica Police station from off the Kalinago Autonomous territory. They
could easily move this hated outpost a few hundred meters and site it
OFF the officially recognized indigenous lands. Dominica has & CAN
do much better than this sad state of affairs for the descendants of
this great Caribbean Tribal Nation who fought European colonialism in
the Americas so heroically for so many centuries!
the weak CARICOM states prefer powerful and covetous neighbors to show
their Amerindian peoples the respect they deserve? Can CARICOM afford
such a political gamble in these times that we live in? Would it not be
wiser and more prudent for CARICOM to be on the RIGHT side of
International Laws and Conventions concerning Indigenous Peoples and be a
positive example in the world - rather than being on their current
WRONG side as they hide behind outdated condescending 'National Law'? Is
CARICOM so bereft of legal intellectuals that they do not understand
and accept that INTERNATIONAL Human Rights Law takes precedence over
take this opportunity to remind CARICOM that they once had the
praiseworthy foresight to create an 'Indigenous People's desk' within
the CARICOM Secretariat although they have never appointed anyone. If
this ever does happen hopefully only an INDEPENDENT Indigenous person
would ever be selected. There are certainly enough 'mascots' in member
states already only too eager to take up such a seat.
both Guyanese Lokono-Arawak and Dominica Kalinago-Carib ancestry myself
many have said that I would be a good candidate for such a position
within CARICOM. Alas as some of you readers are aware I have a fearless
reputation for holding flames to the feet of ALL governments who violate
Indigenous Rights AND no hesitation to offer praise to all governments
who do what is equitable and just for Indigenous Peoples. It is
precisely because I cannot be manipulated by the political power elites
that one such as myself will NEVER be considered to fill such an
there are far too many 'yes-men' and women out there who, to quote a
Guyanese expression, ‘put their mouth wherever the soup leaks'.
Caribbean Governments prefer these kind of mascots who sing the praises
of the various CARICOM governments at every local, regional and
international Forum in the world reading from the political script given
to them whilst conveniently omitting facts that show otherwise.
this 14th Session, the Caribbean Indigenous Caucus was represented by
Damon Corrie of Barbados, Chief Tony James of Guyana, and Evelyn
Monsanto of Suriname.
three of us were honored to be included in the 20 Indigenous
Representatives from the entire Hemisphere selected by the OAS to
negotiate with its member Nation States - for justice and equity on
behalf of all the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Author: Damon G. Corrie
Gerard Corrie is the Founder/President of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of
Indigenous Tribal Nations & Barbados Representative of the United
Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP). He is a registered participant in
the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), a
member of the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas working group on the
Draft Declaration of the Americas and the Caribbean Representative on
the planning committee of the 4th Indigenous Leaders Summit of the
Americas (ILSA) both at the Organization of American States (OAS).
Corrie is also CARICOM Commissioner on the Indigenous Commission for
Communications Technologies in the Americas (ICCTA).