UN Recognizes Unique Situation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples in Official Report

United Nations, NY (UCTP Taino News) – One year ago, back in December 2004, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 59/174 establishing the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Although it may not be common knowledge, as a result of this resolution’s adoption, the Second Decade officially commenced on January 1st 2005. This resolution also requested that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan submit a report on a Comprehensive Program of Action for the Second International Decade to the sixtieth session of the General Assembly. The Program of Action was discussed and adopted by the General Assembly on November 21st 2005.

Highlighting the importance of participation within the international system, the program of action was developed based upon comments received from the UN system, governments, indigenous peoples' and civil society organizations. Twenty-two indigenous organizations provided input for the program of action. Among these submissions, the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) was the only entity representing Caribbean Indigenous Peoples to submit a formal proposal to be considered within this process. As a result of UCTP participation, the efforts of the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus of the Greater Caribbean was also recognized within the official report. Based on consultations among regional representatives, the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean submitted various interventions during the fourth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held in May 2005. The Caucus will reconvene at the next session to be held in May 2006.

UCTP President Roberto Mucaro Borrero stated “our participation within this process should make it clear that our people will not remain silent while governments, academics and others determine what they believe is in our best interest without our input or consent. All Caribbean governments and state-sponsored institutions need to not only respect our regional consultations and aspirations but they need to actively look for ways to work together with us in meaningful partnership as we are the First Nations of the region.”

The plan of action for the Second International Decade will rely on five key objectives which cut across the various areas of the main goal for the Decade established by the General Assembly, namely strengthening international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in the areas of culture, education, health, human rights, the environment and social and economic development. Those objectives also cut across the means set by the General Assembly for the achievement of the goals, namely “action-oriented programmes and specific projects, increased technical assistance and relevant standard-setting activities.”

Within the plan of action, a specific reference regarding Caribbean Indigenous Peoples can be found under Section 6 “Social and Economic Development”, item (b) Regional level, number 86. The recommendation suggests that “representatives of Caribbean indigenous peoples should be included in region-specific consultations and conferences in Latin America and the Caribbean, and on steering committees for planning and implementing the programme of activities for the Second International Decade. Serious consideration should also be given to organizing a special regional consultative session focusing on the unique situation of Caribbean indigenous peoples, which would take place in the Caribbean, hosted by a Member State and a local indigenous community.”

“This recommendation derives directly from the UCTP submission, which was based on consultations with regional representatives” stated Borrero. “This is a reference that community representatives can now use to lobby their local and national governments.”

The plan of action is available for review at the website of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in various languages.


URGENT: Call for Action on Climate Change Crisis

Taino’ti Guaitiao (Greetings Relatives):

It is my hope that at the time you receive this message you are all in good health and Spirit. I am writing to inform you that from November 28th to December 9th representatives from over 150 nations will be meeting at a crucial Climate Conference in Montreal, Canada. While many of them will be pushing for stronger world action on global warming, the representatives of the United States government will be present working behind the scenes to try and block any positive action. This is the role they have played for several years. Many people justifiably feel that the U.S. government is “fiddling while the earth burns”. We have only to look at recent events, such as the increase in flooding, drought, diseases, and higher asthma rates and respiratory illnesses to affirm the devastating effects of global climate change.

With that in mind, each and every person who affirms Taino identity and heritage should know that as Caribbean Indigenous Peoples we have a moral and spiritual responsibility to care take Attabeira, our Mother Earth, for our present and future generations. If we truly honor this responsibility than we must also realize that global climate change should not be a concern of environmental groups alone. We need to forge alliances with others who are mobilizing around this critical issue.

A call to action has been made by the Climate Crisis Coalition and they are urging peace and justice, business, labor, environmental justice, student, women's, religious, academic, scientific, political, minority and cultural communities to begin working together to advance a clean energy revolution and build a new national and international campaign on this issue. As you read this message, thousands of people from around the people are preparing to participate in demonstrations, which will demand action on global warming and call upon the U.S. to join the rest of the world and sign the Kyoto protocol. Around the United States and in Montreal where the United Nations Climate Conference is taking place, actions are scheduled for December 2nd and 3rd 2005.

You can participate in the following ways:

1.) Sign the “The People’s Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming
Treaty” online at http://www.climatecrisiscoalition.org/petition.html

2.) Send a letter, like the sample letter below, to President Bush and
your elected officials.

3.) Hit the streets to demand action on global warming. You can find
out if there is a local action happening in your area by visiting
http://www.climatecrisiscoalition.org/local-actions-december-3.html .
For information on what is happening in other countries around the
world check out www.globalclimatecampaign.org .

I will be personally representing the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) at the following actions taking place in New York City and would welcome your support and participation on:

4:30 - 6:30 PM Demonstration in Foley Square across from the Federal Building in NYC.

3:00 - 6:00 pm: a Global Warming Film Festival at the Community Church,
40 E. 35th St., NYC
6:00 - 7:00 pm: an Interfaith Religious Service for the Earth also at
Community Church

On behalf of the UCTP, I say bo’matum (thank you) in advance for your time, consideration, support and participation in this historic mobilization effort. I would also like to commend the members of the Climate Crisis Coalition (CCC) and all others who are organizing these efforts on their noble work for all our relations.

Oma'bahari (With Respect),
Roberto Mucaro Borrero,
President and Chairman,
United Confederation of Taino People,
U.S. Regional Coordinating Office
PO Box 4515, New York, NY 10163


Dear President Bush / Elected Official,

I'm writing to tell you that I am gravely concerned about global warming. Climate change overshadows the many great problems that society currently faces. The world scientific community is in agreement that the climate crisis is accelerating, and that the time for action is now.

The U.S. Government must join the rest of the world in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol as a first step toward a commitment to change. The Federal Government must then take action to achieve the 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which credible scientists agree is necessary to stabilize the climate. Further, the Government must
withdraw its annual $25 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels and create equivalent subsidies for renewable, safe, non-nuclear energy alternatives; it must dramatically strengthen energy conservation and fuel efficiency standards and actively defend the world's forests. The Government must also provide for a just transition for those most affected by these changes. Achieving these goals will have the added benefit of reducing US dependence on foreign oil and natural gas.

I am asking you, as my elected representative/President of the United States, to take a leading role in changing energy policy and achieving these urgent objectives for the good of our country, the planet, and succeeding generations.


Prayers for Community Members and Relatives

The UCTP respectfully requests that you keep community member Andre Manicatex Garcia in your hearts and prayers as he will be leaving for Iraq and then Afghanistan starting on January 2, 2006. Andre is the son of UCTP Representaties, Evelyn and Joe Kaonabo Garcia, and he has a wife, Dana, and daughter, Bella. We ask the Creator to keep him safe and return him to us in the same emotional and physical condition in which he leaves us…

Please keep our UCTP California representative, elder John Hu'acan Vidal in your prayers as we envision his speedy recovery from his recent hip operation…

The UCTP would like to ask the community to keep Taino elder James Running Fox in mind on November 29th as he will be undergoing an surgery for his serious condition of Glaucoma. As a disabled veteran, elder James is being treated by the Veterans Administration Medical Center...

The UCTP would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of Kacike Willie "AmaWarawao" Rios whose father passed into Coaybay recently at the age of 85.

The UCTP would also like to offer our condolences to the families of two great Native American visionaries who have joined their ancestors recently, R.C. Gorman (Dine) and Vine Deloria Jr. (Sioux). They will both be missed...

To review information on R.C. Gorman visit http://rcgormangallery.com/

To review information on Vine Deloria Jr. visit http://www.ipl.org/div/natam/bin/browse.pl/A31

"Ideological leverage is always superior to violence....The problems of Indians have always been ideological rather than social, political or economic... [I]t is vitally important that the Indian people pick the intellectual arena as the one in which to wage war. Past events have shown that the Indian people have always been fooled by the intentions of the white man. Always we have discussed irrelevant issues while he has taken our land. Never have we taken the time to examine the premises upon which he operates so that we could manipulate him as he has us."

-- Vine Deloria Jr. from "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto," (1969) pp.251-252



November 12, 2005

Considering the official invitation from the Government of Nicaragua, the Chiefs of State and Governments of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, as well as representatives and delegations from indigenous peoples and ethnic communities, convened on the 12 of November of the present year, for the First Garífuna Summit on Corn Island, in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region of the Republic of Nicaragua.

Taking into account that UNESCO defines culture as the set of distinctive spiritual and material, intellectual and affective features which characterize a society or social group, and that encompasses, in addition to the arts and letters, the way of life, the style of living together, the value system, the traditions and beliefs.

Considering that respect for cultural diversity, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, in a climate of trust and mutual understanding, are among the best ways of guaranteeing international peace and security,

Recognizing a greater solidarity based on the recognition of cultural diversity, in the conscience of mankind and in the development of cultural exchanges,

Considering that the Government of Nicaragua has established the projection of the Caribbean dimension of its Foreign Policy as one of its most urgent objectives,

Considering that the Government of Belize has been the pioneer in the effort that led to the Proclamation of a set of elements of Garifuna Culture as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,

Considering that the Magna Cartas of the Nation States of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua uphold the cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity of their peoples,

Noting the presence and condition of the Garífuna people, which affects other communities in the four countries of the Central American region.

Reaffirming that the peoples of the Caribbean coast of Central America, a part of which is in the Republic of Nicaragua, maintain historical and commercial bonds with the rest of Central America and the wider Caribbean.

Recognizing that the ethnic communities contribute with their knowledge, culture and traditional practices to sustainable and equitable development and to the preservation of the environment.


State our commitment to submit to our respective legislative bodies for ratification, the CONVENTION FOR THE SAFEGUARDING OF THE INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE approved in the UNESCO General Assembly in October, 2003.

Acknowledge the interest of the Garífuna communities in the management and conservation of the ecosystems and the protection and conservation of the environment.

Express our satisfaction at the interest of the ethnic communities, as well as their associations, in participating in the elaboration and definition of strategic policies for the development of their territories.

Recognize the importance of the involvement of the Garífuna communities and the organizations which represent them, for generating actions for the sustainable development of their communities and territories

Encourage the participating Governments in this Summit, which consider it feasible, to establish a National Garífuna Day.

Manifest our willingness to undertake necessary actions to incorporate elements of Garifuna culture into our educational strategies and national education systems, thereby contributing to the implementation of the Action Plan for the safeguarding of the language, music and dance of the Garífuna people.

Recognize and support the efforts of the Garífuna communities in the Central American region towards the development and implementation of the Plan of Action for the Safeguarding of the Garífuna Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Support the decision of the Government of the Republic of Nicaragua, which in its capacity as President Pro Tempore of the Integration System (SICA), will include in the XXVII Ordinary Meeting of the Heads of State and Governments of SICA, next December, a Joint Plan of Action for the coordinated and systematic management which will allow the generation of concrete actions for the safeguarding of the Garífuna Heritage.

Express our gratitude and recognition to the Government of Nicaragua for promoting this Garífuna Summit, which is the first in what is expected to be a series of encounters that will allow the realization of the aspirations of our ethnic communities.

Thank the Garífuna people of Nicaragua, the local authorities and all the ethnic communities for allowing us to share this historic cultural event, in which important Government leaders and community representatives came together, with the certainty that the world and our nations, will gain greater appreciation for our cultural diversity


Óscar Berger Perdomo,
President of the Republic of uatemala

Said Musa,
Prime Minister of Belize

Ricardo Maduro Joest,
President of the Republic of Honduras

Enrique Bolaños Geyer,
President of the Republic of Nicaragua

Abel Pacheco,
President of the Republic of Costa Rica

Roosevelt Skerritt,
Prime Minister of Dominica

Ralph E. Gonsalves,
Prime Minister Saint Vincent and Grenadines

Bharrat Jagdeo,
President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana

The Truth about "Thanksgiving"

The Truth about "Thanksgiving" by Russell Means
from "Where White Men Fear To Tread".

"When we met with the Wampanoag people, they told us that in researching the history of Thanksgiving, they had confirmed the oral history passed down through their generations. Most Americans know that Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag, had welcomed the so-called Pilgrim Fathers-and the seldom mentioned Pilgrim Mothers-to the shores where his people had lived for millennia. The Wampanoag taught the European colonists how to live in our hemisphere by showing them what wild foods they could gather, how, where, and what crops to plant, and how to harvest, dry, and preserve them.

The Wampanoag now wanted to remind white America of what had happened after Massasoit's death. Massasoit was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, whom the colonists called "King" Philip. In 1675-1676, to show "gratitude" for what Massasoit's people had done for their fathers and grandfathers, the Pilgrims manufactured an incident as a pretext to justify disarming the Wampanoag.

The whites went after the Wampanoag with guns, swords, cannons, and torches. Most, including Metacomet, were butchered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in the West Indies. His body was hideously drawn and quartered.

For twenty-five years afterward, Metacomet's skull was displayed on a pike above the whites' village. The real legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers is treachery.

Most Americans today believe that Thanksgiving celebrates a boar harvest, but that is not so.

By 1970, the Wampanoag had turned up a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor of the colony, the text revealed the ugly truth: After a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre. He encouraged other colonies to do likewise-in other words, every autumn the crops are in, go kill Indians and celebrate your murders with a feast.

The Wampanoag we met at Plymouth came from everywhere in Massachusetts. Like many other eastern nations, theirs had been all but wipe out. The survivors found refuge in other Indian nations that had not succumbed to European diseases or to violence.

The Wampanoag went into hiding or joined the Six Nations or found homes among the Delaware Shawnee nations, to name a few. Some also sought refuge in one of the two hundred eastern-seaboard nations that were later exterminated.

Nothing remains of those nations but their names, and even some of those have been lost. Other Wampanoag, who couldn't reach another Indian nation, survived by intermarriage with black slaves or freedmen. It is hard to imagine a life terrible enough that people would choose instead, with all their progeny, to become slaves, but that is exactly what some Indians did."


UCTP President Returns from UN Summit in Africa

UCTP Taino News - The President of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP), Roberto Mucaro Borrero returned this week from a successful mission in the North Africa. Borrero and other indigenous delegates from around the world were invited to participate at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society held in Tunis, Tunisia from November 16-18.

At a special event entitled “Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society”, Borrero reported on situations in Latin American and the Caribbean, highlighting some of the concerns, challenges and best practices of the region’s indigenous peoples with regard to information technology and the growing “digital divide”. The event was sponsored by the Government of Canada and the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. A final report on the event as well as its summary presented in the Summit’s plenary session will soon be available for distribution.

At the opening of the Summit United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stated "that [WSIS] must be a summit of solutions. It must push forward the outcome of the World Summit held two months ago at the United Nations in New York. It must lead to information and communications technologies being used in new ways, which will bring new benefits to all social classes. Most of all, it must generate new momentum towards developing the economies and societies of poor countries, and transforming the lives of poor people.”

While in Tunisia President Borrero took the opportunity to promote the rights of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples during several news conferences where he presented along with other indigenous leaders such as President Joe Shirley Jr. of the Navajo Nation. According to the U.S. Census the Navajo have the second largest Native American population in the United States after the Cherokee Nation. “This was an important opportunity to again highlight the unique situation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples before an international forum” said Borrero. “Our participation along side our indigenous relatives from throughout Latin America and from around the world, not only affirms our right to self-determination but we are also providing a platform and precedent for our younger people to get involved”. He continued saying “The use of internet and telecommunications technology is not something of our ancient past but it is something that our younger generations are growing up with and they need know there is an opportunity for them to use this technology as a tool that will benefit all our people.”

Follow up on the WSIS and future work with regard to Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society will continue with the creation of an Indigenous ICT Task Force. The Indigenous Caucus present in Tunis, which included WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee members (IISC) and others, affirmed that current indigenous members of the IISC will comprise a part of the new task force. The members of the IISC, two delegates per region, were elected at a WSIS indigenous planning conference for Tunisia held in Ottawa, Canada from March 17-18 2005. The new Indigenous ICT Task Force will also include two additional indigenous members from each region. The seven international regions currently recognized in this process are North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Russia and Eastern Europe, the Arctic, the Pacific, Asia, and Africa.

As per the decision of the Latin American and Caribbean delegates present in Tunis, the regional focal points for the new Indigenous ICT Task Force include Eliane Potiguara (Brazil-Amazon), Tarcila Rivera (Peru-Andes) and Roberto Mucaro Borrero (Caribbean). An additional focal point position is reserved for an indigenous delegate from Central America or Mexico.

*Reporter: Roger Hernandez, Boriken Correspondent

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr.
and UCTP President Roberto Mucaro Borrero
working together in Tunisia


United Nations to Hold Information Summit

UCTP Taino News - The UN General Assembly Resolution 56/183 (21 December 2001) endorsed the holding of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in two phases. The first phase took place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003 and the second phase will take place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

Indigenous Peoples participated during the first phase of WSIS in Geneva and this participation was followed up with a thematic planning conference for Tunis held in Ottawa, Canada in March 2005. At the Conference in Ottawa a delegation of Indigenous Peoples was elected to participate in Tunis via WSIS International Indigenous Steering Committee (IISC). Marcos Terena of Brazil and Roberto Mucaro Borrero (Taíno) were elected as focal points for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Indigenous Peoples are recognized within the United Nations System as members of civil society. Civil society plays an active role in identifying the social and cultural consequences of current trends and in drawing attention to the need to introduce democratic accountability on the strategic options taken at all levels. According to the United Nations, diversity and, often, hands-on approach to issues, make civil society a key player in the renewed international partnership called for by the UN Secretary-General.

Conferences like WSIS have played a key role in guiding the work of the UN since its inception. In fact, the world body was born when delegates from 50 nations met in San Francisco in April 1945 for the United Nations Conference on International Organization. UN Summits provide the grounds for a free exchange of views. UN Conference venues are designated United Nations territory and governed by the rules and regulations of the international body. All delegates and accredited participants as well as the media must be provided access by the host government and enjoy all internationally recognized rights and freedoms wherever the conference may be held.

The WSIS Summit offers a unique opportunity for the global community to “reflect, discuss and give shape to a common destiny in an era when countries and peoples are interconnected as never before”. The UN serves as a catalyst for change by bringing together state governments, as well as the private sector, international institutions and civil society in pursuit of common goals.

Taino, Masaai and Maori Warriors take on the Information Society in Canada.


Book on Garifuna to be Published...

A Garifuna child participates in a cultural dance

by Tamikah Walker-Peters

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras: Honduras This Week writer Wendy Griffin has written a book about the Garifuna culture, ready for release this February.

Entitled Los Garifunas de Honduras: Su Cultura, Su Lucha y Sus Derechos Bajo Convenio 169 de la OIT (The Garifunas of Honduras: Their Culture, Their Struggle and Their Rights Under ILO Convention 169), the book explores a range of cultural characteristics of the Garifuna community including their agriculture, hunting, dances, medicines, religion, architectural environment, and crafts (including baskets and tools for the processing of the Cassava root to make bread).

One of the key areas Griffin focuses on is how the different elements of Garifuna culture are related to the environment, how ecological degradation has contributed to the loss of land and has been detrimental to the Garifuna people.

“The Garifunas need to know how to unite in the struggle and be successful in protecting their lands,” said Griffin on why she wrote the book.

To Griffin, the most important document regarding land rights is the International Labour Organization’s legal rights convention 169. ILO 169 demonstrates the Garifuna’s legal rights to lands.

OFRANEH, an ethnic federation that represents Garifunas through petitions, press releases and complaints, is also discussed in the book. By highlighting the organizations and laws dedicated to protecting Garifuna rights, Griffin hopes to strengthen isolated Garifuna communities by integrating them into a larger network.

The book discusses the Garifuna community not only from a cultural perspective but also through historical analysis. It outlines the 34 different Garifuna dances that have documented African origins, such as a Christmas dance with music that originates from the Songhai region of Ghana and the well-known Punta dance, which is still danced in the Congo region of Africa.

The Garifuna people can be classified as an Afro-indigenous group made up of a diverse cultural heritage, from the Arawak and Carib Indians to Africans who escaped slavery from the Island of St Vincent and were deported to Honduras in 1797.

Working with the Garifuna as a bilingual educator Griffin came to recognize this blend of cultures and the lack of cultural awareness between Garifunas across the northern coast of Honduras, creating a need for a written record.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Griffin came to Honduras in 1992. She has a masters degree in international development and was educated at the University of Pittsburgh. She currently works with the Garifuna Emergency Committee. They helped to write and fund the book’s publication.

More than 1,000 copies of the 310-page book will be published.

Copies of the books will be distributed to Garifuna schools in Colon, to support the Bilingual Intercultural Education Project, and to Garifuna leaders. The remaining copies will be sold in bookshops throughout Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Readers outside those cities wishing to obtain a copy of the book can go to www.garinet.com.

News Source: Caribbean Net News


Native Trinidadian Awarded Prestigious Icons in Science and Technology Award

Native Trinidadian, Dr. AD Cropper Ph.D, a Kalinago Carib receives the prestigious Icons in Science & Technology Award in Trinidad & Tobago from the Honorable Professor Max Richards, President of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.