Guyana – home to about 70,000 Indigenous People – observed the 17th commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on Tuesday 9th August. A Partnership for National Unity (A.P.N.U) Presidential Candidate Brigadier (ret) David Granger asserted that Guyana’s Indigenous people, however, have derived little benefit over the past nineteen years under the PPP/C administration. Little has been done to implement policies and programmes to eradicate poverty and alleviate unemployment in their communities.
Mr. Granger pointed out that, Indigenous people, living mainly in the hinterland, remain marginalised from mainstream society. This is so largely because of underdeveloped roadways, bridges and aerodromes; the high cost of fuel; insufficient coastal and riverain vessels and other transport infrastructure.
Indigenous people today, owing to their geographical location, still find it difficult to gain access to a secondary education. Overcrowding of dormitories at schools such as at Waramadong in the Mazaruni-Cuyuni Region has made education an ordeal. Travelling to schools such as at Charity in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region is expensive and burdensome because of the great distance from their homes. Road linkages are invariably very poor or non-existent in most areas.
Mr. Granger accused the PPP/C Administration of introducing only ad hoc, ameliorative patchwork programmes – such as the National Hinterland Secure Livelihood, Presidential Grants and School Uniform projects instead of a serious hinterland development plan. The PPP/C’s ad hoc schemes these have all failed to transform village development and improve the people’s quality of life. The PPP/C Administration also seems to be oblivious of its obligation to observe the principles of free, prior and informed consent in concluding agreements with, or on behalf of, Indigenous communities on important issues such as their land rights and environmental strategies.
A Partnership for National Unity (A.P.N.U) joins the struggle of the Indigenous Peoples in their continuous cause to fight for their lands and livelihood which are threatened by a cynical and uncaring Government.
The first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, 1995-2004, was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly seventeen years ago in December 1994. The Second International Decade, 2005-2015, was proclaimed by the Assembly in 2004 under the theme of “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” The observance of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, however, has been hollow.
There has been little “Action” and less “Dignity” to celebrate in the way the Indigenous People’s concerns have been marginalised and their communities have been manipulated over the past nineteen years.