10/19/2005

An Open Letter to H.E. Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana

Your Excellency, Honorable President Bharrat Jagdeo:

On behalf of the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP), I am writing to express our great concern for our indigenous Guyanese sisters and brothers. As our people, the Taíno, are descended from the First Nations of this hemisphere to encounter Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana are our blood relations and their struggle is our struggle.

The UCTP is well aware that the indigenous peoples of Guyana have long called for “revision, repeal or replacement” of the existing Amerindian Act of 1951, especially since they have deemed the legislation to be outdated, discriminatory and undermining of their basic human rights.

Considering that we have entered the second United Nations International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, it was our hope that in proposing new legislation the present Government would fully recognize the rights of indigenous peoples of Guyana by following previous national recommendations which call for the “expansion of indigenous self-determination”. Sadly, after our review of “Amerindian Bill 2005, we find that on the contrary, this discriminatory legislation would not only weaken many existing rights but is also incompatible with Guyana’s Constitution and international law.

In particular, we strongly object to the excessive powers the Minister of Amerindian Affairs would be vested under the new legislation as it blatantly contradicts the right to self-determination and is discriminatory in that no other Minister is able to exercise equivalent powers with regard to non-indigenous peoples.

With this in mind, we stand in solidarity with the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) and the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) and urge the Government of Guyana to seriously consider and implement their recommendations concerning the “Amerindian Bill 2005 (Bill No.13 of 2005).

Honorable Excellency President Jagdeo, as it up to you and your Government to ensure that the rights of Guyana’s indigenous peoples are respected, we call upon you do your best to prevent the passage of “Amerindian Bill 2005” in its currently proposed form. The eyes of the world are upon you.

Respectfully submitted,

Roberto Mucaro Borrero,
President and Chairman,
United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP)

CC: United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
UCTP Representatives, affiliations, and allies