Taino Wins Photo Competition in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) - Roger Atihuibancex Hernandez Moyet has won the Walgreen's sponsored "Fotomarathon 2006 Nuestras Raices Indigenas" photo contest in Adult Category prize for the “Fideicomiso de Conservacion de Puerto Rico”.

On April 28th Hernandez along with the prize winners in other categories will have their photos presented an exhibition held at the prestigious Jardines de Casa Blanca in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Hernandez is the editor for UCTP’s news journal “The Voice of the Taino People” as well as the co-director of Presencia Taina. You can review other his projects at http://www.presenciataina.tv/ and http://www.presenciataina1.org/ . To see more of his photos check out http://www.presenciataina.tv/Fotomaroton.html .


Editorial: Crises in Guyana - The Exploitation of Amerindian Children

The exploitation of our Children by Barama's employees or by others is a national disgrace that further tarnishes the international image of Guyana.

In a recent letter in Kaieteur News (13th Jan, 2007, Titled: `Protect the children of Guyana from Predators'), I had written: "The children of any nation are its most prized possessions/assets. It is therefore every citizen/parent's responsibility to do everything possible to protect our children from danger." That letter was written in the hope that Guyana would take precautions to avoid one of the most undesirable evils of the tourist traffic, that is, the sexual exploitation of our children. Little did I realize that my warning was already too late for some of our most vulnerable children in Guyana.

Dr Gail Whiteman in her Chapter ((11, pages 180 to 204)titled: "Forestry, Gold Mining and Amerindians: The Troubling Example of Samling in Guyana" (in "International businesses and the challenges of poverty in the developing world." Edited by Bird, Frederick B., and Herman, Stewart W. Published by Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hamshire (England); New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2004. ISBN 1403921288)) wrote (page 190):

"Direct impacts of Barama (Samling is the parent Company of Barama).

Interviews indicate that the economic benefits for local Amerindians from large-scale forestry were not significant…Moreover, despite community expectations of improved health care, as reported in the Edinburgh Centre for Tropical Forests (ECTF) study, the health situation for Amerindians in Region 1 has remained problematic.

Amerindians also continue to lack proper education facilities. While Port Kaituma did have a school and Amerindian teachers, they were poorly paid and under-utilized. Social problems related to the alleged sexual exploitation of young Amerindian girls by Barama employees also were reported in interviews: `It happened in this community, not with mining but with the Barama Company. They take the young girls and stay over night and bring them back to school.' `I heard that they take rude pictures…'`It's true. It's the Malaysians [from Barama] that do these things… The young girls are kicked out of school… These Malaysians take these young Amerindian girls and leave them pregnant.'"

These actions make a bad situation even worse: Dr. G. Whiteman wrote: - "Extreme poverty follows ethnic heritage, Amerindians being by far the poorest; 88 per cent of Guyana's Amerindians live below the poverty line. In Region 1, the focus of this study, 95 per cent of local Amerindians live in extreme poverty (IMF, 2000). The majority of the Amerindians is illiterate and has limited access to higher education (Government of Guyana, 1996). Amerindian women are particularly susceptible to the impacts of poverty. A report commissioned by the National Commission on Women in Guyana identified Amerindian women as one of the most economically, socially, politically and culturally marginalized groups in Guyana (National Commission on Women, 2001)."

In addition, The Guyana Human Rights Association's (GHRA) reports called "Without Conviction," and its most recent study titled: "Getting Serious: Detecting and Protecting Against crimes of sexual violence in Guyana" revealed that sexual violence against girls is most prevalent among girls under 16 years, and that young Amerindian girls between ages 12 and 16 years are the most vulnerable in the country, especially in Region 1 (with the most reported cases). (That is, sexual violence highest against girls 12 to 16 years - GHRA study finds – is about 3-fold higher in Amerindian Girls of Region 1. Thursday, March 8th 2007, SN)

In the Western hemisphere, if an employee is sexually harassed at the work place, the employer can be held legally responsible. How can Barama not know that children were being exploited by its imported foreign workers? If the company's executives do not know that their employees are breaking the laws of Guyana, then is it not fair to ask what other illegalities they do not know about in their business operations? If they do know what are going on their company's premises, then why were/are these legal, ethical, and internationally abhorrent and illegal practices not stopped? Why are the Barama Company and its executives not being held responsible for violations by their employees of Guyanese law? Why are Barama's employees allowed to violate the most sacred laws of any modern country - the sexual and physical abuse of its children?

In addition, these are clear violations of the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) principles: For example - Principle #1: Compliance with Laws and FSC principles: Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is a signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria. (Guyana is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), and therefore, Guyana also has an international obligation to take preventative action in regard to preventing the abuse and exploitation of its children.)

Secondly, FSC Principle #4: Community relations and workers' rights. Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well being of forest workers and local communities. How do the abuse and sexual exploitation of local Guyanese children, build community relations? Is this not the beginning of a most destructive cycle of our children?

From the abovementioned research of Dr Gail Whiteman and recent revelations in the local press, not only does Barama Company Ltd exploit the forests, but its employees exploit our children for their gratification and entertainment – leaving the devastating social and health consequences, personal tragedies, etc. for this impoverished nation to correct. What kind of a nation is Guyana that allows this to happen in this day and age? Have we sunk so low that we cannot even protect our children from predators?

I remember reading (during my childhood days) some work of Dr. C. Jagan, where he mentioned that the "Indian women/indentured servants" were good enough to be used to warm the beds/bodies of the plantation overseers, but were not good enough to be made wives or given legal standings. The situation is worse here, these are children being used, abused, and discarded. How can this be right? I cannot see how the late Dr. C. Jagan, Hon Ms. Janet Jagan, and the PPP of yesteryear would condone these current violations of our children, especially when they stood up so valiantly on the side of the victims of abuse in the aftermath of the Rupununi Uprising. In my humble opinion, that was one of their finest hours of the PPP of yesteryear. They always stood up for the underprivileged and the downtrodden. Where is the PPP of today, and why does it fail to address these issues? The allowing of this disgraceful exploitation of children will probably be recorded as one of the current PPP Govt.'s most shameful acts.

Similarly, previously the female slaves were called in to gratify the sexual lusts and pleasures of their owners, and then discarded. Today, we rightly condemned these heinous acts of yesteryear, why are our voices silent now on the current acts of evil? Should our voices not be raised in protest? We proudly claim our ancestry to those who fought the battles of yesteryear, but are silent and/or ignore the battles against the injustices of our own time. Where are the voices of protest by the current PNC? Where are the young vibrant voices of the GYSM? Are the exploited children (Amerindian) not youths and students? Or is that they are now being viewed as Children of a lesser god like our own ancestral mothers?

Dr Gail Whiteman's work continues to document the abuse, exploitation, degradation, and impoverishment of Guyanese women and children with impunity (by foresters and miners) in their own country. Her work supports and extends the findings of Dr Marcus Colchester. It is a must read for all Guyanese who should know what is going on in their home country. I can quote more of this work, but the readings are so depressing that it may not be suitable for a family newspaper. We might be too embarrassed to hear the questions of our children – e.g. Daddy/Mommy, how can we allow this to happen here?

If we cannot find common ground and speak up for vulnerable children, then we are not worthy of being a nation and deserve the disrespect we get from our own Caricom community brethren and also from the International Community. I expect that all the various groups that speak for children to take up this challenge and speak out. We can no longer be silent. I also expect all those (local and foreign) organizations and individuals who support SN in its struggles to also do the same for even more vulnerable victims - children. Our leaders are busy fighting for power, and in the mean time our resources and children are being plundered and ravaged!

This is a human rights issue - the abuse and exploitation of Children. Our religious groups (Churches, Mosques, Temples), Civil Rights groups, Human Rights groups, Lawyers, Judiciary, Parents, Students, Labour leaders, Citizens, etc., should all protest against the exploitation of our children in our own country. These perpetrators should feel the full force of the law. The officials who should be aware of this and have done nothing should also be charged with negligence or dereliction of duty. The sign must be up that no one is allowed to exploit any of our children anywhere in this country!

Dr. Bertrand Ramcharran (Chancellor of the University of Guyana) is a distinguished Human Rights scholar on the world stage (United Nations). We hope that Dr B Ramcharran tells the Guyana Govt. that Guyana must respect the human rights conventions that were signed – in this case, the Rights of the Child (ROC). We hope that the Foreign Embassies and Consulates, and UN agencies also remind the Guyana Govt. of its international obligations. The care of our children (and all the children of the world) is a sacred responsibility of any society and all humanity.

Seelochan Beharry
7th March, 2007


Taino Naming Ceremony and Spring Equinox Ceremony

Bronx, New York (UCTP Taino News) - Over a hundred Taino and other community members gathered for the “Taino Naming Ceremony and Spring Equinox Celebration” held on Saturday, March 25th 2007. The event was organized by the Kukarey Spiritual Circle and Yukayeke Tanama Taino and took place at Brook Park in the Bronx.

Photo: Taino singers at 2007 Spring Equinox Ceremony held at Brook Park. From left to right: Ferdinand Uaian Bruno, Roberto Mucaro Borrero, Jorge Morales, and Roman Guaraguaorix Perez.


Remembering Puerto Rico's Ponce Massacre

Still struggling after 70 years
Remembering Puerto Rico's Ponce Massacre

By Yénica Cortés

March 21 marks the 70th anniversary of the Ponce Massacre in the southern city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. The anniversary serves as a reminder to the Puerto Rican people of the true nature of the island's relationship with their colonial oppressor, and of the continued struggle for independence.

The 1937 Ponce Massacre

Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since U.S. troops invaded the island in 1898. Before then, the island was a colony of Spain. Spanish invaders brutally conquered the indigenous Taíno population beginning in 1493.

Spain was forced to give up Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines and Guam to the United States in the Treaty of Paris after losing the Spanish-American War.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the conditions of workers throughout the capitalist world were declining. Unemployment, poverty and starvation were spreading.

Like the rest of the colonized world, these effects were sharply felt in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was a mainly agrarian country at the time, relying heavily on the export of sugar, coffee and tobacco.

In 1934, U.S. corporations attempted to impose wage cuts on sugar workers. In response, workers organized a nationwide strike that paralyzed the industry.

Leaders of the growing movement for independence played an important support role in that historic general strike.

The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party had been formed in 1922. But it was after 1930, under the leadership of Pedro Albizu Campos, that the party became a truly mass movement for independence. Albizu Campos, who became the attorney for the sugarcane workers, was able
to give leadership to the radicalized working class, linking the struggle for independence to the demands of the workers.

The period following the sugarcane workers strike was marked by growing clashes between pro-independence groups and colonial troops and police. In 1935, police opened fire on Nationalist Party supporters at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras.

In 1936, two Nationalists—Hiram Rosado and Elias Beauchamp— assassinated Col. E. Francis Riggs, who had commanded the police who carried out the Rio Piedras massacre. Cops arrested the two and executed them on the spot in the police station. No officers were ever convicted of their deaths.

For his leadership during this period, Albizu Campos, like many Puerto Rican independence fighters, became a target for imprisonment. In 1937, he was sentenced to federal prison in Atlanta for "seditious conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government in Puerto Rico."

On March 21, 1937, the Nationalist Party in Ponce planned to demonstrate against the incarceration of Albizu Campos and to demand independence. For the days leading up to the demonstration, colonial police prepared for slaughter.

Juan Antonio Corretjer, a former Nationalist Party leader and contemporary of Albizu Campos who became a leading voice of Puerto Rican socialism, described the buildup in his pamphlet "Albizu Campos and the Ponce Massacre": "On March 21st, and for some days before, a significant concentration of police was taking place in Ponce. They were well-armed: rifles, carbines, Thompson sub-machine guns, tear gas bombs, plus the usual police clubs, etc.; a force of 200 men in addition to the routine Ponce police garrison."

Corretjer described the opening of the march: "At about 3:15, the Cadets lined up for the march in columns of three abreast. Behind them was the Nurses' Corps in white uniforms. Trailing the Nurses was the band, which consisted of only four musicians. The band played the National Anthem, La Borinqueña, and Cadets and Nurses stood at attention."

But what began as a peaceful demonstration quickly turned hostile when colonial governor-general Blanton Winship revoked the organizers' permits shortly before the march was scheduled to begin.

When protesters insisted on exercising their right to march in spite of having their permits withdrawn, the huge police force positioned themselves on all four sides of the march. As protesters began to walk, they were fired on from all directions for over 15 minutes by
the police.

Twenty-one demonstrators and passers-by were killed that day, including a seven-year-old girl. Another 200 were wounded. Witnesses recalled people being chased and beaten by the police in front of their homes. Others were taken from hiding and killed. Physicians assisting the wounded testified that many were shot in the back while trying to run away. None of the wounded or dead was found with weapons.

Word of the day's events reached every town and city throughout the island.

The message that the colonial forces meant to send to every Puerto Rican was that if they dared to stand against the colonial masters to fight for independence, violent repression would await them.

A few months later, Nationalist Party youth were arrested and convicted for the attempted shooting of Governor Winship during a military parade.

Continued struggle

To this day, Puerto Rico remains a colony of U.S. imperialism. Puerto Rico's location in the Caribbean has served the Pentagon as a base for military intervention against revolutionary struggles in the region, particularly against Cuba.

Since the end of World War II, the U.S. military has directly controlled 14 percent of Puerto Rican territory. Sixty percent of Vieques—Puerto Rico's sister island—and the coastal shore around the Bay of Lajas were also seized to carry out weapons and intelligence experimentation.

All economic, social and political decisions for the island are still made in the Oval Office. Periodic sham referendums give the appearance of consultation, but they are carried out in a political
climate of economic blackmail and threats against independence activists—like the 2005 assassination of Boricua Popular Army (EPB) leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios in his home. They never have a binding character on U.S. imperialism. For that reason, national liberation
in Puerto Rico has been impossible to attain through the electoral process.

The illusion of a kind and gentle colonial relationship was exposed as a fallacy during the 2006 fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. The colonial government, backed by Washington, attempted to remedy the crisis by imposing steep taxes on the people and cutting services.

And every year, some $26 billion is drained out of the island by U.S. corporations.

But the spirit of the Nationalists who stood up against colonial repression on March 21, 1937 is still felt today. It was felt in the 1998 People's Strike against the pro-statehood governor's plan to privatize Puerto Rico's telephone company. It was felt during the same year's massive protests against the 100th anniversary of the U.S. invasion. It was present in the mass struggle to evict the U.S. Navy from Vieques, led by pro-independence and socialist forces. Eviction was finally achieved on May 1, 2003.

The example of Albizu Campos and the later Puerto Rican revolutionary socialists and nationalists points the way to the future of a free and socialist Puerto Rico.

*Articles may be reprinted with credit to Socialism and Liberation magazine. http://socialismandliberation.org/mag/index.php?aid=773

Even the Government Devestates DR's Protected Areas

SANTO DOMINGO - In recent days heavy equipment of the Government’s Public Works Ministry has caused considerable ecological damage in the National Park of the East, to build a vehicular access of some two kilometers, where environmentalists denounced the destruction of forest areas.

According to the newspaper Hoy, a trail is being blazed in the forest in order clear a swath until the zone known as La Palmilla, in that National Park and it is fact not the first assault on that natural area located the island’s southeastern tip, some 165 kilometers from this capital, reports Hoy.

The first of those attempted invasions disguised as legal took place in the 1990s, when a French designer firm tried to “lease” Isla Saona from the Dominican Government, to build a resort which would have included several hotels in one of the Park’s most coveted zones.

The second assault took place in 1998, when a large portion of Catalinita Island –in the middle of the straits of Catuano- was occupied and a trail of some 600 meters was opened in the islet which is less than one kilometer in length.

The one recently is the 3rd occurrence of devastation against the National Park of the East, and each one of them destroys a part of the ecological reserve’s natural and cultural heritage.
The first incursion ravaged a lagoon, inhabited by an important variety of aquatic birds and various types of mangroves. It also destroyed a large Taino Indian settlement, where thousands of pieces of earthenware were visible.

The incursion into Catalinita Island eliminated from 15 to 20 percent of its vegetation, considered a bonsai forest given the aspect and age of its plants. The damage to the fauna has never been tallied.

This third invasion threatens to be of most destructive, because to reach La Palmilla it will be necessary to destroy several square kilometers of forest, whereas the archaeological damage could still not be estimated because of the lack of studies of that zone.

But it is known that the area of La Palmilla was a point of entry to the sea of a native establishment near the coast, the experts say.


Lokono Arawak Model in Barbados

Barbados (UCTP Taino News) - “Natural Beauty, Natural Talent” - those are the four words one can most fittingly use to describe Barbados born Ellen Victoria St. John; with no formal training and no previous experience - she wowed a coterie of professional photographers during various photo-shoots across Barbados. Photographs of the 16 year-old beauty and current 5th form student of the prestigious Queen's college Secondary School in Barbados were recently published on pages 22-24 in the MACO Destinations Magazine, Volume 2 Issue 3 of 2006.

Ellen is of diverse ancestry and is a fifth generation maternal descendant of Princess Marian of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks of Guyana, and at age 15 participated (along with her brother Seth) in the 2006 Arawak and Carib joint reclamation of Culpepper Island off Barbados; pride in their Arawak roots is strong in the family. Ellen’s mother Lisa Elena St. John (nee Corrie) was the first Barbadian to be professionally trained as a high fashion model in Italy in the 1970's - at the Koesia School of High Fashion Modeling in Rome. Ellen recently registered with a well known American Modeling Agency, in the near future do not be surprised if this young lady becomes the 'new look' sensation on the catwalks of North America and Europe!



UCTP Taino News - The United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) in collaboration with El Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos, Fundacion Luz Cosmica Taina and Caney Quinto Mundo is honored to announce the First Annual Caribbean International Batu Games in Borikén (Puerto Rico) scheduled for July 2007. Batu is an ancient Taino ceremonial ball game, which has been regaining popularity in Puerto Rico and other islands over recent years. Opposing teams use a rubber ball in ways reminiscent of volley ball but without a net or the use of their “hands.” 15th century European colonizers marveled at the agility of Taino ball players and the game’s main piece of equipment - a rubber ball. Europeans had never before seen this Taino invention.

Players participating in this historic event will be representing Kiskeya (Dominican Republic), Borikén, and other Caribbean indigenous island homelands.

The First Annual Caribbean International Batu Games 2007 seeks to return the game's focus to its original intention as a unifying ceremonial force, which will promote our culture in a meaningful and respectful way. "The United Confederation of Taino People is proud to co-sponsor this event and wishes to extend a special thanks to all of its supporters and financial contributors" stated Roberto Mucaro Borrero, UCTP President and Chairman.


Does Trinidad Recognize Its Indigenous People?

The following is a recent Editorial from the CAC Review:

What Recognition?
Along with the leadership of the Santa Rosa Carib Community, I have been one of those who has frequently written that the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has formally recognized the same Carib Community, a formally registered organization based in the Borough of Arima. The reasons for stating this can be explained as follows:

(i) According to News Release No. 360, issued by the Information Division, Office of the Prime Minister, on May 8, 1990, "Cabinet has decided that the Santa Rosa Carib Community be recognized as representative of the indigenous Amerindians of Trinidad and Tobago, and that an annual subvention of $30,000 be granted to them from 1990. Cabinet also agreed that an Amerindian Project Committee be appointed to advise government on the development of the Community....as the oldest sector of this country's multi-cultural society, the Amerindians have, for some time, been recognized as having unique needs for their cultural and economic viability. Such needs come into higher relief and sharper focus as the country prepares to celebrate, Columbus' Quincentennial in October 1992."

The juxtaposition of ideas here is significant, because the news release highlights the context in which the decision became important: a commemorative event, held in conjunction with the Caribbean Festival of the Arts (CARIFESTA) hosted by Trinidad in 1992, where the Government sought to showcase indigenous peoples, including its own.

In the presentation of the National Trust Bill, in the parliament on Friday, March 15, 1991, the then Minister of Food Production and Marine Exploitation, Dr. Brinsley Samaroo stated the following:

"The third project that is being undertaken by this Government has to do with the way in which we have duly recognized the presence of, and importance of, the descendants of the indigenous peoples of our lands. That is another area that the Member for Naparima mentioned and I do hope he now believes that he is not being disregarded in the contributions that he has been making as we are addressing some of the issues that he raised. No one can deny that those who laid the first foundations of our civilization were the Caribs and the Awaraks [sic] the two largest nations of our early history and the smaller tribes such as the Tianos [sic] and Lucayos [sic] who also inhabited this country. These were our ancestors who taught us to use our hammocks and to boucanour [sic] fish and meat. These were the people who showed us how to live in harmony with nature and gave us our first lessons in the protection of the environment. From them we obtained such names as 'Mucarapo' from the Amerindian word Cumo Mucurabo, a place of great silk cotton trees; 'Arima', the place of water [sic]; 'Naparima', no water [sic]; and 'Tacarigua' being the name of an Amerindian chief from the Caura Valley. For many years, their local descendants, these descendants of early and first members of this country, were vainly clamouring for recognition from the past administration, as the representatives of the indigenous Amerindians of Trinidadand Tobago and for Government to help in preserving that part of the national heritage. It was this Government which gave such recognition by Cabinet decision of April, 1990. We agreed, among other things, to recognize the Santa Rosa Carib community as the representative of the indigenous Amerindians of this nation; we agreed to an annual subvention of $30,000 towards their upkeep and preservation of the national heritage; we agreed to make the contribution of the indigenous peoples, an essential part of our observation of the 500 years ofour achievements which will coincide with the quincentennial of Columbus arrival here 500 years ago. The year of course for that is 1992. At the present time, the Government is talking to these persons whom we have recognized about giving them a piece of land as a permanent site for the establishment of a village to commemorate their ancestry" (see page 27 of the House of Representatives report for that date).

(ii) As a result of that decision in 1990, the Santa Rosa Carib Community has received an annual subvention from the Government of $30,000 TT per annum, along with $5,000 TT per annum from a local government body, the Arima Borough Council, still attached to the central government. (For confirmation of the first amount, see page 56 of
the House Debates for 1992.)

(iii) Frequently, for many national events, the Government has highlighted the presence of the Santa Rosa Carib Community. This occurred on three occasions that CARIFESTA was hosted by Trinidad and Tobago, as well as several public speeches of commitment to provide the Caribs with land, and multiple visits by government ministers to a government-funded Carib Community Centre in Arima. (Where CARIFESTA is concerned, see an example of the festival-related "recognition" at: http://www.carifesta.net/art7.php.)

(iv) The Government also created a formally named "Day of Recognition," presumably to be "observed" every October 14 (see the Hansard for July 18, 2000.)

Recognizing What?
In other words, yes, in multiple ways the Government has formally and effectively recognized...what?

The fact of the matter is that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has no legal definition of the term "indigenous peoples," and frequently appropriates the term for referring to all people born in the country, in contradiction to established international conventions. Secondly, the Government has only recognized only one specific organization, and worse yet, it has recognized it in a manner that suggests it is the only possible representative of Trinidad's "Amerindians," rendering any other claimants to an indigenous identity as fakes. Thirdly, while claiming to recognize the Caribs, the Government has not signed any international conventions or agreements that pertain specifically to the rights of indigenous peoples.

And Now Comes the UN
The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), in a report on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean issued in June of 2006, found fault with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago specifically on the issue of its lack of legal recognition of the indigenous people of the nation. On page 534 in that report, CERD states:

"351. The Committee expresses its concern at the absence...of specific information on the indigenous population as well as other relatively small ethnic groups of the State party in the report, and particularly the absence of a specific categorization of the indigenous population as a separate ethnic group in official statistics on the population. The Committee encourages the Government to include the indigenous population in any statistical data as a separate ethnic group, and actively to seek consultations with them as to how they prefer to be identified, as well as on policies and programmes affecting them."

In a supplement, on page 536, CERD reveals with specific reference to the Caribs:

"34. Members of the Committee asked why the Caribs had all but disappeared, exactly how many were left, why they were not treated as a separate racial group and whether measures were being taken to help them, particularly in the economic and educational fields, so as to compensate them for the injustices they had suffered."

In other words, CERD had been told by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago that the Caribs were virtually extinct, and as is typical of government statements on this matter, "the only remaining descendants are to be found in Arima." What is especially remarkable is that CERD has been making such observations, and asking such questions of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, regularly and as far back as 1980, as the supplements to the report reveal.

It is a fact that there is no population census in Trinidad that admits the category of either indigenous, Amerindian, Carib, or anything remotely related, as a choice for self-identification. This renders extraordinary the incredible statement recently made by the Minister for Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Joan Yuille Williams who proclaimed on Saturday, September 23, 2006, in the Carib Community Centre itself, that people of Amerindian and "mixed Amerindian" descent in Trinidad are "a very small minority," as I myself heard her say this. In the absence of a census that allows for such identification, there is nothing to substantiate her assertion.

So why make such an assertion?

As a politician in a race-based political party, the People's National Movement, Minister Williams knows how many votes have been won by her party over the decades by appealing to Afro-Trinidadians. Likewise, the other major political bloc in the country, formerly the United National Congress, seized considerable political power by appealing to Trinidadians of East Indian descent. These two major ethnic blocs have dominated national politics. Any third identification would radically upset the established way of calculating rewards and patronage, of dividing spoils in what is in effect a long standing Cold War that has rendered the country bipolar (perhaps in more than the political sense alone).

Secondly, the assertion is convenient when the main aim of the Government has not been to take the Caribs seriously. Instead, the Caribs are trotted out as mere showpieces for festivals and commemorative events, like a colourful little museum piece, but certainly nothing of any social or political import. The Santa Rosa Carib Community, in practice, is treated as a tokenistic, folkloric troupe--mild, smiling, doing its part to add a little more colour to the multicultural fabric waved by the nation to greet tourists.

Thirdly, the leadership of the Santa Rosa Carib Community has not vocally and directly challenged the government on these questions. This is in part due to strong political ties between the leadership and the PNM, the dependency on government funding, and the lack of any ambition to become involved in a national movement for the recuperation of indigenous identity. Such sentiments, in my experience, have been heard most loudly from expatriate Trinidadians who wish to recoup their indigenous identity, and who understand that if not a majority, at least an extremely large minority of Trinidadians could claim indigenous ancestry. Many more are in fact claiming this ancestry.

So when asking the Government of Trinidad and Tobago if it recognizes the indigenous people of the country, and it answers, "the Santa Rosa Carib Community has been recognized," it is important to understand the evasiveness of the answer. The answer, in any legal and political sense, is that no, there is no such recognition.

Editorial by
Dr. Maximilian C. Forte, Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal

*Article Source:



by William Loren Katz

As President Bill Clinton and others arrived for the 42nd anniversary of Selma's "bloody Sunday" that assured Congressional passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Cherokee Nation took a different road. It voted overwhelmingly to revoke citizenship rights for 2800 members because their ancestors included people of Africa descent.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, has long fought racism from both governmental officials and Indigenous figures. In this instance, she claims, Cherokee leaders misled voters by insisting "freedmen don't have Indian blood", "the freedmen were forced on the tribe", "the freedmen do not have a treaty right to citizenship", "the people have never voted on citizenship provisions in the history of the tribe", and "the amendment will create an all Indian tribe." Cherokee voters were also influenced by the racist charge "that the freedmen if not ejected, would use up all of the tribal service monies."

The design of the constitutional amendment, Vann points out, is patently discriminatory. It removes membership from descendants of enrolled freedmen members whose documentation of Indian ancestry was affirmed by the Dawes Commission more than a century ago as well as those without documentation of Indian ancestry. On the other hand it accepts Cherokee members with white blood or even people whose ancestors are listed as "adopted whites."

This development comes at a moment of intense examination of the African and Indian alliances that began after 1492. Governor Nicolas de Ovando of Hispaniola arrived in the Americas in 1502 with a Spanish armada that carried the first enslaved Africans. Within a year Ovando wrote to King Ferdinand that the Africans "fled to the [Taino] Indians and never could be captured." To the fury of Europeans, Native Americans, the first people enslaved in the New World, accepted African runaways. Obviously, Indians saw no reason to face the invasion

In maroon colonies beyond the European coastline settlements, each group contributed invaluable gifts. As victims of the triangular trade, Africans brought a unique view of European goals, weapons, and diplomacy. Native American villages offered runaways a safe haven for families and a base for operations, and the two peoples of color forged their maroon settlements into the "first rainbow coalition." So ubiquitous were maroons that a French scholar called them
"the gangrene of colonial society." And so threatening were they to white hegemony, that Europeans repeatedly dispatched search and destroy armies.

British colonial officials in what is now the United States required Indian Nations to sign treaties promising the return of Black runaways. (There is no record of any fugitives being returned!) To keep Native American villages from becoming an escape hatch, officials offered Indians staggering rewards for runaways. And finally, British traders introduced African slavery to the Five Nations -- the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Seminoles. Once these Nations adopted European-style dress, Christianity and African bondage, they were called "The Five Civilized Tribes." But in the age of Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831, southern planters, still frantic about leaks in their labor system, demanded removal of the Five Nations. Presidents Jackson and Van Buren authorized the Army to conduct a Trail of Tears that pushed 60,000 Indians, including black members, to barren lands in Oklahoma. Black and red Cherokees
comforted one other as thousands perished on the painful march.

By then African bondage dominated the social, political and economic life of the Five Nations, and created class and racial divisions that persist today. A minority of Cherokees with white blood owned slaves and claimed a superior status. The majority "pure Indian blood" Cherokees became "inferior." Africans were kept on the lowest rung. However in the 1850s, Heinrich Mollhausen, a noted German artist visited the Indian Territory and described a form of bondage
unlike that practiced on southern plantations:

"These slaves receive from the Indian masters more Christian treatment than among the Christian whites. The traveler may seek in vain for any other difference between master and servant than such as nature had made in the physical characteristics of the races; and the Negro is regarded as a companion and helper, to whom thanks and kindness are due when he exerts himself for the welfare of the household."

In 1860 Cherokees in Oklahoma owned 2511 slaves, and at the outset of the Civil War the Five Nations with 8,000 slaves, pressured by pro-slavery Indian Agents and surrounded on three sides by Confederate forces, agreed to support the Confederacy. However, Opothle Yahola, a wealthy Creek Chief, was able to lead 7,600 people -- including half of the Seminole Nation, Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and others, to federal lines in Kansas. By April 1862 the young men of the multicultural exodus had joined the Union Army, fought early
battles and helped free slaves in Missouri.

The Union victory in the Civil War allowed U.S. officials to scrap its Indian treaties. Whites, who forced African slavery on Indians, suddenly demanded they accept freedom. The Seminoles quickly embraced equality, and elected African members to high office, and the other nations were slower. However, in a few years Black Cherokees ran barbershops, blacksmith shops,
general stores and restaurants, and some became ferryboat operators, cotton-gin managers, teachers and postmasters. O.S. Fox, editor of the Cherokee Afro-American was enthusiastic about the Indian Territory:

"The opportunities for our people in that country far surpassed any of the kind possessed by our people in the U.S. . . . It is nonsense for any Afro-American to emigrate to Africa or anywhere else if he can make a living in the Indian Territory."

In 1879 Cherokees of African descent in petitioning for their rights recalled their legacy in these words:

"The Cherokee nation is our country; there we were born and reared; there are our homes made by the sweat or our brows; there are our wives and children, whom we love as dearly as though we were born with red, instead of black skins. There we intend to live and defend our natural rights, as guaranteed by the treaties and laws of the United States, by every legitimate and lawful means."

In 2007 Cherokees of African lineage still have to fight for their natural rights and against the racial bigotry carried across the Atlantic by the invaders.


William Loren Katz is the author of BLACK INDIANS: A HIDDEN HERITAGE and forty other books. His webwsite is WWW.WILLIAMLKATZ.COM


Tree frogs that Puerto Ricans like are fiends in Hawaii


While the Hawaiian government continues its coqui cleansing, some voices are being raised on those islands urging residents to adopt a live-and-let- live policy toward the little tree frog, whose night song soothes Puerto Ricans and maddens the Aloha State.

Both the state and federal governments have joined forces to try to rid the Pacific paradise of the Caribbean intruders. But efforts also have begun, with the recent opening on the Big Island of the Hawaiian Coqui Frog Sanctuary and Nature Preserve, to have Hawaiians take the
little chirpers to their hearts, as Puerto Ricans have done.

The local environmentalists behind the project want visitors to "experience coquis and listen to their sunset serenades."

The sanctuary founders medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer also play up the tourism potential of the coqui.

"There are millions of frog lovers throughout the world," said Singer in a recent interview. "Instead of spending millions each year to burn frogs to death by spraying acid into the forests, Hawaii can be making millions each year by promoting our coquis."

Still, as this 67-acre nature preserve hopes to attract tourists to the song of the little frog there will be a few "coqui cottages" for overnight stays the state government is gearing up to spend for the second year another $2 million in efforts to make the state coqui-free.

The preferred method of killing is through chemical spraying, but residents are also urged to capture the critters so they could be cooked to death in pots or iced in freezers, presumably with no cryonics procedure in mind. The U.S. Department of Agriculture' s Wildlife Services also is involved in the coqui elimination plan.

The state has officially declared the little guys with the big voices agricultural pests, an invasive species that officials say is "drastically changing the food web for birds and native insects" by gobbling up mosquitoes, termites, spiders, ants and, seemingly most damaging, upsetting the nighttime tranquility of the resident humans.

"The species' shrill, incessant mating calls, compounded by the animal's high population densities, shatter the peace and quiet of residents and visitors alike," said Bill Kenoi, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim of Hawaii's Big Island. "It is clear that coqui infestations present a serious threat to the quality of life for our island residents," Kenoi said in an Hawaii County Newsletter.

Mindy Wilkinson, the state's invasive species coordinator, noted that while the coqui population of Puerto Rico appears in decline, as island scientists have noted, the number has exploded in Hawaii. There are up to three times higher density of coquis in Hawaii than in Puerto Rico, according to the experts.

The 70-decibal song of the coqui is just something that Hawaii residents can't get used to, Wilkinson said. "We don't have that level of sound," she said.

Utah State professor and ecologist Karen Beard, who did coqui studies in both Hawaii and Puerto Rico, noted that there aren't as many coqui predators (other than human) in Hawaii as on the island, where presumably enough rats and mongooses keep the population in control.

Some folks, she noted, move to Hawaii specifically to "get away from noises" and find the sound of the coqui, or thousands of coquis, distressing. "It's just what you're used to," she said.

*Source: Scripps Howard News Service


See also:

Coqui of Puerto Rico http://www.vineland.org/history/pr_festival/coqui.htm

Endangered Species of Puerto Rico


International Women's Day and Month

Takahi Guaitiao (Greetings relatives):

On the 30th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD) and International Women’s Month, the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) pauses to recognize, commend, and celebrate the endeavors and achievements of women around the world.

The UCTP is aware that women’s rights activists, especially indigenous women, continue to face exclusion, harassment, abuse, sexual assault, and gender-based violence often on a daily basis. At times, in their critique of human rights violations, women may also inadvertently challenge local customs, culture and religion, risking not only physical abuse but being ostracized by their own communities.

With that in mind, the UCTP welcomes the theme of the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2007, “Ending Impunity for Violence against Women”, as this focus will assist in highlighting the fact that to fully enjoy human rights for all and to achieve a universal culture of peace, active and equal participation of women must be assured in all aspects of life on the local, national, and international levels.

In the Spirit of Kasike Anakaona,
Roberto Mucaro Borrero
President and Chairman,
UCTP Regional Coordinating Office


Florida's Earliest Residents...

Our first citizens: Florida's earliest residents developed their own societies to match their environments

Source: http://www.tcpalm.com/tcp/local_news/article/0,,TCP_16736_5397248,00.html

The first people in Florida and the Treasure Coast were hunter-gatherers, existing on what they could kill or pick from trees and bushes. But their society evolved into a complex system of chiefdoms much like the European feudal system. People began to live in wooden-walled towns, engage in rudimentary agriculture, create mound complexes for political and religious purposes and trade inside and outside Florida.

The first people's ancestors had come from Asia more than 12,000 years ago, over the land bridge that is now the Aleutian Islands and across North America. The Florida and Treasure Coast those people found were much different from the ones in which we live.

Ais Indians as illustrated in Jonathan Dickinson's Journal.

Historian Jerald T. Milanich notes in his book, "Florida's Indians from Ancient Times to the Present" that the Pleistocene or Great Ice Age was ending, and Florida was cooler and drier. It was also about twice its present size because the sea level was lower, as water was sealed up in huge glaciers. The land we now know as the Treasure Coast was 10 miles inland.

Here is a look at the tribes and their history.


The Calusa: Evolving from an earlier people, who lived on shell mounds in the swampy areas around Fort Myers, the Calusa took advantage of relatively plentiful food supplies. They built towns and large ceremonial mound complexes, some of which can be seen at Fort Center west of Lake Okeechobee. They dominated the east coast tribes.

The Tequesta: The Tequesta had much the same culture as the Calusa. There is evidence around their dwelling sites in Dade and Broward County that they engaged in trade by canoe with the Bahamas and Cuba. Their territory apparently extended into what is now Palm Beach County.

The Jeagas: The Jeagas were a more primitive tribe of hunters, fishermen and warriors, if the Quaker writer Jonathan Dickinson's description after his shipwreck among them in 1696, is correct. They inhabited the east coast from what is now mid-Palm Beach County to the Jupiter Inlet. They left an extensive collection of mounds including some for burial, but most for refuse such as shells and animal bones.

The Hobe and the Ais: The Hobe and the Ais or Ays, which may be different Spanish names for the same tribe, lived from the Jupiter Inlet north to the Cape Canaveral area. They lived on hunting and fishing. The Ays had a village on Hutchinson Island just north of the present House of Refuge plus other sites near present day Fort Pierce, Vero Beach and Sebastian. A large village once stood on the south side of what is now the St. Lucie Inlet, but erosion washed it into the sea. They built burial mounds and shell middens, one of the largest forms the base for the old Leach Mansion in Indian RiverSide Park, another supports the Jupiter Lighthouse, but the largest once stood in Sebastian. The latter was mined for shell for roads in the 1920s.

The Caribes and Taino: The Caribes and Taino were two tribes from the Caribbean Islands, who made long voyages between the islands in their long canoes. They were skillful navigators, tradesmen and warriors. They were the first of the native peoples met by Columbus in 1492. Some historians believe they settled in South Florida around the Miami River. They traded and raided along the Treasure Coast. In the late 1940s, a Caribe burial of about a dozen individuals was found on Hutchinson Island between Jensen Beach and Fort Pierce.

Timeline of Ancient Floridians

10,000 B.C. to 8,000 B.C.

These people lived in a temperate climate hunting mastodons, bison and other large animals. They had no fixed dwellings. Historians be'lieve some of them came north through the Caribbean and Bahamas to settle in Florida.
8,000 B.C. to 750 B.C.

The Ice Age has ended and the glaciers are melting, causing the sea level to rise, changing Florida's environment. The discovery of an 8,000 year old cemetery at Windover Farms in Titusville in Brevard County, changed archaeologists views of the early people of our area. The burials revealed advanced skills in weaving, medical care, tool making, agriculture and social skills.

750 B.C. to 1500 A.D.

This is the period when native cultures developed. In the north, the St. Johns Culture eventually created the Timucuan and the Deptford Culture created the Apalachee. In south Florida it produced the Glad'es Culture, centered on the southwest coast among the Calusa Indians, but stretching east to include the tribes of our region. The native peoples of this period traded shells, fish bones and freshwater pearls for copper, iron ore and corn seeds from the people of the northern part of the continent.

Until the 1500s, the people of Florida had no contact with Europeans. They traveled among their tribes for purposes of trade and warfare, often venturing to sea either on purpose or by accident to make long canoe trips. Evidence, in the form of burials and trade items, of visits from people of the Caribe and Taino cultures has been found on Hutchinson Island.

But in 1513, their world changed forever when Europeans landed in Florida.


Total Lunar Eclipse

NASA Science News

On March 3, 2007, the Moon will turn red during a total lunar eclipse visible from parts of all seven continents, including the eastern half of the United States...

In the USA, the eclipse will already be underway when the moon rises on Saturday evening. Observing tip: Find a place with a clear view of the eastern horizon and station yourself there at sunset. As the sun goes down behind you, a red moon will rise before your eyes.


Check out the RSS feed at http://science.nasa.gov/rss.xml

* On the moon, the ground turns red during a lunar eclipse. The photo above was taken by Doug Murray of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, during the total lunar eclipse of Oct. 27, 2004.

CLIMATE CHANGE:Latin America Failing to Adapt

By Diego Cavallos

MEXICO CITY (IPS) - Latin America and the Caribbean are not prepared to confront the problem of global warming, to which the region is contributing with growing emissions of greenhouses gases, says a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

According to the report, "Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean 2006", there is a "Lack of informationàregarding how to approach adaptation" to the phenomenon, "Uncertainty regarding the interaction between climate change and other pressures," a "Short-term planning horizon," and a "Lack of mechanisms for public participation."

"The region has made great progress in terms of civil defence measures to deal with the disasters arising from climate change, but it has not done so in the area of adaptation," Ricardo Sánchez, UNEP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, told IPS.

Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases, which are mainly produced by the burning of fossil fuels.

In this region, the impact of climate change is seen in the growing intensity and frequency of hurricanes in the Caribbean, changes in rainfall patterns, increased water levels in rivers in Argentina and Brazil, and the shrinking of glaciers in the extreme southern region of Patagonia and the Andes mountains.

The report, drawn up by UNEP and Mexico's ministry of the environment and natural resources, warns that in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean there is "Limited non-technical knowledge (economic, legal, institutional) for adaptation" and "Limited knowledge of tools and procedures for evaluating adaptation performance."

In the future, "climate change will increasingly be a development problem" in the region, which is already suffering economic and human losses as a result of the phenomenon, the study warns.

"Climate change is no longer science fiction, it is already hitting us, and for now it is inevitable," said Sánchez.

In October 2005, Hurricane Stan tore through several Central American countries, hitting Guatemala and El Salvador especially hard, and causing at least 1,620 deaths. Just two months earlier, Hurricane Katrina caused severe damages in the southern United States, becoming one of the most devastating hurricanes in recent U.S. history.

And in 1998, Hurricane Mitch left a death toll of around 1.2 million and material losses of 8.5 billion dollars -- more than the combined gross domestic product of Honduras and Nicaragua, the countries that bore the brunt of the storm's fury.

Other disasters were Hurricane George, which slammed into the Dominican Republic in 1998, claiming 235 lives, and Hurricane Ivan which left over 100 dead in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Jamaica, Cuba and the United States in 2004.

Although emergency measures to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of hurricanes have improved, global adaptation mechanisms are also needed, including long-term plans, funding, development of alternative energy sources, and a concerted effort to fight poverty and deforestation, said Sánchez.

While the report points out that compared to industrialised countries, this region contributes relatively little to the phenomenon of climate change, it warns that its share of global greenhouse gases is growing, from seven percent in 2000 to a projected nine percent in 2050.

The study also expresses concern that CO2 emissions in the region were 75 percent higher in 2004 than in 1980.

Just over 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina, it adds.

UNEP says these emissions are barely counteracted by investments and renewable energy projects, while poverty and deforestation continue to increase vulnerability to climate change.

The highest deforestation rates in the region are seen in small Caribbean nations like St. Lucia and Haiti. In Central America, meanwhile, deforestation rates range from 4.6 percent in El Salvador to 0.8 percent in Costa Rica.

In South America, the highest deforestation rates are seen in Ecuador, "which faces strong population pressure," and Argentina, where the expanding agricultural frontier continues to encroach on the country's forests.

Although Brazil, which accounts for 56 percent of the region's forests, no longer has the worst deforestation problem, the report notes that logging activity in the Brazilian Amazon jungle region increased 32 percent in the last decade, from 14,000 to more than 18,000 square kilometres a year.

The report also mentions the region's "very serious social problems in relation to inequality and poverty," and says "many difficulties stand in the way of finding development patterns that will lead to sustainability capable of meeting the social and environmental challenges for present and future generations."

In the region, the richest 10 percent of the population has 35 percent of the income, while the poorest 40 percent has just 10 percent.

"These indicators have remained stable in most of the countries despite the improvements in economic performance and, except for a few cases, in spite of the predominant social development policies," the study says.

"The failures in adaptation and vulnerability increased as a result of poverty, the degradation of natural resources, the lack of land-use planning and the lack of a significant plan prepared to counteract the damage cause by climate-related disasters," it adds. (END)

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