On Friday 17 April, Toshao Solomon Lewis from the village of Kurutuku, Region No. 7, along with Village Councilors, Michael Lewis and Timothy Lewis, visited the campaign headquarters of the APNU+AFC to speak on serious issues affecting their community. The Toshao said that his village of 160 residents has, for more than five years, been dealing with illegal mining, mainly by Brazilian miners. This has been exacerbated, Lewis said, by the fact that they do not own the rights to their land.
Despite several visits since 2009 to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs the situation continues to get worse within the community. Toshao Solomon said that there is a high incidence of trafficking in persons, prostitution, the selling of cocaine, marijuana and other illicit drugs and illegal weapons trade. Brazilian miners have also been creating illegal passages through village lands and have threatened villagers by gunpoint when they have tried to intervene.
When reporting these incidents to the Kamarang and Bartica police stations the police have been either unwilling or incapable of taking effective action.
The APNU+AFC recognizes that these challenges are not unique to Kurutuku and that all across Guyana Amerindians are facing similar challenges within their communities. It is unfortunate that Amerindian rights continue to be taken for granted. An APNU+AFC government will take firm steps to restore security and to protect the rights of our First Peoples by re-establishing a Lands Commission to review land claims.