Amerindian rights are being eroded – Opposition Leader

first_imgAs Guyana celebrates Amerindian Heritage Month, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said he believes there is not much to celebrate, as many of Government’s promises have not been fulfilled; as such, he says, Amerindian rights and welfare continue to be eroded, although Government has defended its position.A number of unaddressed issues concerning Guyana’s First People were brought to the fore by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday. Addressing his weekly media conference, the PPP General Secretary said these issues continue to erode the rights and welfare of Amerindians.He pointed to several areas wherein Government has failed Guyana’s First People, and has explained that these issues should have been of paramount importance.“Not a single new Amerindian land title has been issued during his tenure, except for the ones that was prepared under the PPP,” he stated.He also noted that the President had dismantled the Amerindian Land Titling Unit, and he spoke of the US$10.7 million.Jagdeo had previously called for President David Granger to answer for the delayOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeoin the Amerindian Land Titling (ALT) project. “When does he plan to give out the new Amerindian land titles? We left a significant amount of money to continue the work of giving out land titles,” he said.Jagdeo also said the coalition Government had slowed implementation of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) programme for the hinterland, although monies were set aside for this through the Guyana Red Investment Fund (GRIF) project.Another newer and even more worrying development, according to the PPP, has been the intrusive role of the Government in the declaration of new Local Authority Areas in Amerindian-titled lands, in violation of the 2006 Amerindian Act and the amendment to the Local Democratic Act 2006, which “removed any council established in an Amerindian community” from inclusion in LAAs.“This newer challenge is very serious. The Amerindian governance structure is a separate and distinct layer from the LAAs. Without notice or consultations, the Government included Amerindian villages and communities in gazetted orders to establish these new LAAs,” he charged. Describing them as impositions on the Amerindian people, Jagdeo’s party has said this reveals the scant respect the Government has held for the people and their elected leaders. Maicobie and Campbelltown’s opposition to their inclusion in the new township of Mahdia is striking, he said.“We hope their voices will be heard and obeyed. The new Annai NDC is a glaring violation of the Amerindian Act, with several titled villages becoming a Neighbourhood Democratic Council,” he charged.Government has been charged with failing to propose an alternative for the Hinterland Household Electrification Programme, and after four or five years of the solar systems installed by the PPP Government, there is no maintenance plans to provide new batteries.The PPP has said communities that were listed and expecting to receive their solar systems in 2015 were still waiting, as this project appeared to be abandoned by the Government.The US$17 million hinterland ICT programme, from the PPP’s LCDS, was also diverted to other targeted beneficiaries, and the industrial solar units acquired for the computer hubs in 100 Amerindian villages were diverted for executive use, yet another blow to the Amerindian development agenda.Only last month, at the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) conference, the former Chairman Joel Fredericks put Government on blast for a number of unimplemented promises.According to Fredericks, Indigenous people were promised a number of things, including constitutional reform and the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006.However, in the three years of the incumbent APNU/AFC Government, trust in the Government has been eroded by its failure to effectively act on these promises.Jagdeo also took umbrage at the group occasionally being labelled as “oppositionists” because they fight for their rights.last_img

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