Intervention of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 5th Session

Intervention of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean: Caney Quinto Mundo, Puerto Rico; Guyana Organization of Indigenous Peoples, Guyana; Hoboshirima Arawak Community, Venezuela; United Confederation of Taino People

Monday, 22 May 2006
Plenary Session: Ongoing priorities and themes
Agenda Item 4(b)

With regard to Agenda Item 4(b), we welcome this opportunity to address the human rights of Indigenous peoples specifically as it relates to the Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean.

With this in mind and in accordance with Item 85 and 86 of the Plan of Action for the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean recommends that Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:

1) Hold a Caribbean regional meeting on indigenous issues on the Island of Trinidad among existing organizations to strengthen cooperation, coordination, and capacity building among Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean.

2) Facilitate Regional Special Consultative Session to focus on the unique situation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples. Organization and planning of the regional meeting and special consultative session should take place in collaboration with the member organizations and communities represented within the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean and the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples.

3) Ensure the regional meeting and Special Consultative Session is open to representatives of indigenous organizations from throughout the Greater Caribbean region.

4) Pay particular attention to ensuring access including equal funding to representatives from the Island of Borikén (the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) to ensure their participation at the Regional and Special Consultative Session. Since Puerto Rico is not a member State of any UN or OAS International Bodies, Agencies or Organizations because of its colonial status, Indigenous Representatives have been denied funding by the UN Voluntary Found for Indigenous Peoples to participate in meetings, conferences, regional specific consultations, capacity building opportunities and conferences in Geneva, the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

Failure to address the effects of institutionalized colonialism only serves to perpetuate colonialism, and affect our ability to participate effectively within these systems as Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean, which is not the intention of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

5) Encourage the financial contributions and participation of all relevant UN agencies and programs (e.g. UNESCO, UNDP, UNEP, ILO etc.) for the Regional and Special Consultative Session.

6) Invite the Special Rapportuer on the Situation of the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People to the Special Consultative Session to review the particular situation of indigenous Caribbean communities including their claims that;

a. national laws and policies are discriminatory and inconsistent with International Human Rights laws and standards, as in the case of the recent Amerindian Act of Guyana.

b. The legal and judicial systems discriminate against indigenous peoples asserting, claiming and enjoying their rights to their lands, territories and resources as in the recent case of the Taino Peoples Reclamation of Caguana Ceremonial Grounds in Utuado, Puerto Rico.

7) Specific mention should be made in the fifth session report of the inclusion of the Indigenous Taino Peoples of Borikén (the "free" associated state of Puerto Rico).

8) Call upon States to create adequate mechanisms in conjunction with the Indigenous Peoples of the Greater Caribbean to facilitate uninterrupted communication and border crossings between the Arawak, Carib and Warao Peoples of Venezuela, Guyana, and Surinam, the Taino Peoples of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Dominican Republic, and the Carib Peoples of Dominica and Trinidad who all share common ancestral heritages.

Justification: The Greater Caribbean is defined here as an area of cooperation in recognition of common ancestral heritages and common geographic spaces shared by the Indigenous Peoples of the region.