Public Notice: Manataka (MAIC) Response to the Taino People Requested

To: Manataka American Indian Council
Post Office Box 476
Hot Springs Reservation, AR 71902


Taíno'ti Guaitiao (Greetings Relatives):

On behalf of the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP), it is my hope that at the time you receive this communication, it finds you all in good health and spirit. As President and Chairman of the United Confederation of Taíno People's U.S. Regional Coordinating Office, I am with regard the appointment of OTTO RIOLLANO CABALLO BLANCO DÁVILA as Manataka Ambassador to Spiritual Elders of Latin America.

With all due respect to the Council and Elder Lee Standing Bear, I recognize that it has been sometime since we have communicated directly. The last instances were surrounding the passing our dear brother Jeremy Atkinson, a Lokono Arawak from Venezuela. Following this, we also communicated with regard to medical condition of spiritual leader Robert Woableza LaBatte. As Elder Standing Bear of Manataka is aware, I have personally met and prayed with Woableza in solidarity as indigenous peoples.

Considering what I interpreted to be good relations established between Manataka and the UCTP, I am greatly concerned with announcement of Manataka’s Ambassador to Latin America. While I would normally not involve myself in the affairs of other communities, as a Taíno community representative it is my responsibility to speak on this particular situation as it profoundly affects us.

In the information provide by Manataka, the UCTP is made aware that "Otto Caballo Blanco Riollano is Puerto Rican by birth or borinqueño -- that is, a native of Boriquén, which was the indigenous name of this Caribbean island before it was invaded and colonized by Spain. His racial and cultural background is Puerto Rican, which is a nationality mainly made up of a mixture of Spaniards, Africans and Taíno Indians. (Although the Taíno nation was exterminated as a body politic, Taíno blood ancestry, spirituality and social traits constitute a very strong cultural undercurrent in the Puerto Rican nation.)"

After reviewing this statement, and never having heard of Mr. Riollano before, it is apparent that he has no connection the Taíno community in Borikén or throughout the Caribbean. His biographical information claims that the 'Taíno Nation was exterminated as a body politic’ and what remains is some ‘blood’ and social traits, which would better be described as nostalgia. However well meaning the intentions of Mr. Riollano, his statements blatantly promote the same racist rhetoric our People have endured for centuries. This ‘extermination’ propaganda was put in place by an elitist social structure that continues to remain in control of the academic system and government in Borikén (Puerto Rico) and beyond. The fact remains that the Taíno have continued to exist in the islands, including the very area (Utuado) where Mr. Riollano was born. Contemporary meetings, ceremonies and other events organized by Taíno people are well documented throughout the island.

The UCTP in particular and its representatives on the island already have extensive contacts with our relatives from the Southern mainland, as well as from Central America and beyond. In 1995 a major Elders gathering took place in Borikén (Puerto Rico), which featured indigenous Elders from throughout the Americas. The gathering was held on the land of one of our community leaders, Naniki Reyes Ocasio of the Caney Quinto Mundo in Orocovis. This was a major and well publicized event, so much so that recognition for Elder Naniki and several other Taíno participating was issued officially by the conservative republican Governor in office at the time, the Puerto Rican Senate and House of Representatives. These documents are available on our web portal at http://www.uctp.org/ .

Understanding this history, my questions and concerns on behalf of the Taino People who are represented by the UCTP are the following:

1.) If Mr. Riollano feels such an affinity to Indigenous Peoples why is he unaware that Taíno People continue to exist in Borikén?

2.) Considering the story of Manataka and the mission of its Elders to promote peace, why is the Manataka Elders Council contributing to the oppression of Taíno People in Borikén by appointing a representative who does not have any relationship with any local Taíno organization or community on the island or other islands?

3.) Why is the Manataka promoting the non-existence of a ‘Taíno body politic’ when the UCTP and Manataka have had communications in the past? Further, I have noticed at least one other Taíno link on the Manataka website, which reveals that beyond the communications Manataka has had with the Taíno People and Nation represented by UCTP, they are aware of other Taíno entities in existence.

Considering the far-reaching implications of this issue, I am requesting that the mandate of Manataka's Ambassador to South American Indigenous Peoples be suspended until this matter can be resolved in accordance with our communities customs and protocols. Further, in the interest of promoting peace and respect for indigenous peoples, I would am requesting that Mr. RIOLLANO cease from making any further commentary about the extermination of the Taíno People or the non-existence of Taíno Tribal Authorities.

In the Spirit of our ancestors I await the response of the Manataka Elders Council on this matter and it is my hope that Manataka and the UCTP can work together in harmony to bring about the world changes we would like to see for our present and future generations.

Oma’bahari (With Respect),
Roberto Múcaro Borrero,
President and Chairman,
UCTP - U.S. Regional Coordinating Office