Editorial: The OAS & CARICOM: Missing in Action*

In prior negotiations with the Organization of American State (OAS) on the draft American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United States has usually stood alone in its opposition to the advocacy efforts of the Indigenous Caucus. It was sad to see at the recent 8th session on the elaboration of the Declaration that the USA is now playing 'second fiddle' to the delegation of Canada (led by Mr. Paul Gibbard) who now have become the most strident opponents facing the Indigenous Caucus.

I must also take this opportunity to again highlight the fact that despite all of their flowery rhetoric (usually around election time) citing 'deep concern for their Amerindian citizens' - not a single CARICOM government representative participated during the 8th session, which was held in the Simon Bolivar Room at the OAS Headquarters in Washington DC. Caribbean government representatives were in the OAS building however, and I made notes of the times I saw various CARICOM delegates entering and leaving the building, having lunch at the OAS cafe etc.

Seems it was too much trouble to expect them to fill their seats like other OAS member States who were with us every day proving that actions do speak louder than words. I applaud the Latin American countries who were the staunchest allies of the Indigenous Caucus yet again.

At the very least I expected to see Guyana, Suriname, Belize, Dominica and Trinidad represented officially, for they all use the Amerindian component of “their” societies to promote various national tourism efforts. It is interesting to note however that here, amidst a discussion on an issue of the direst importance to the present and future generations of their “beloved” Amerindian populations - they show no interest in the process whatsoever.

This is an unfortunate but very revealing development indeed, especially when less than one month ago with the exception of Dominica, these same CARICOM States helped to essentially block the passage of the most important Indigenous Rights Declaration in the history of the United Nations. These states mimicked the clearly dishonest argument that African states flaunted, which was that 'they needed more time to review the Declaration". Let us all bear in mind that this Declaration process at the UN has been in existence for over 20 years!

With that in mind, Indigenous Peoples rigthtly ask 'What is it exactly that the CARICOM diplomats do besides draw large salaries from the taxpayers and live in luxury abroad?' Please give us an answer as it relates to the Indigenous Peoples on whose lands your Neo-Colonial States exist.

Submitted by Damon Gerard Corrie (Lokono Arawak)
Member of the Indigenous Caucus working Group
on the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples.

*The Caribbean Community and Common Market or CARICOM was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas[8] which came into effect on August 1, 1973. The first four signatories were Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

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