Taino Recognize Their Own In NYC

Roberto Borrero and members of Iukaieke Guainia at the Taino Awards

New York, New York (UCTP Taino News) -
A diverse group of Taino community members gathered on Saturday, 24 April to support the second annual “Taino awards.” The event was held at the Nuyorican Poets Café and it was presented by the KuKarey Spiritual Circle and Yamocuno Tanama Yucayeke Taino organizations.

Hosted by Caridad "Kachianao" de la Luz, the awards celebrated individuals “who unselfishly give of themselves everyday to the Taino community.” The awards recognized educators, artists, humanitarians, youth, elders and other community members.

The 2010 award recipients included Vanessa Inarunikia Pastrana, Roman Perez, Carlos Rivera, Jose Munoz Vazquez, Mildred Cruz, Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague, Enrique Correa, Casa Atabex Ache, Edwin Cedeno, Taino Almestica, Francisco Baerga, Luis Ramos, Joe Kaonabo Garcia, Dalia Viera, and Roberto Mukaro Agueibana Borrero.

UCTPTN 04.27.2010


House to Consider “Puerto Rico Democracy Act”

Bill would Set up Vote on Potential 51st State

WASHINGTON D.C. - This week (26-30 April) , the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act. This bill would authorize a federally sanctioned plebiscite (vote) of the Puerto Rican people regarding their political future.

The bill mandates a two-step voting process. The first vote would allow the people of Puerto Rico to choose between selecting a “different political status” or maintaining their “present political status.” If the majority of the people vote in favor of a “different political status,” then a second vote would be held allowing people to choose between three options: independence, statehood, or a freely associated state. Puerto Rico is currently a territory of the United States and has “Commonwealth” status.

“There are some important factors that should be made clear and be carefully considered before Congress votes on this bill. While it is said that the outcome of the plebiscites are non-binding, the results could set the stage for future action as soon as next year – including a Congressional vote on statehood for Puerto Rico,” said House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings.

“Action towards potentially creating a 51st state is not a decision that Congress should make casually and has very serious implications for both the 50 existing states and the people of Puerto Rico. Congress needs to have an honest and forthright discussion of these issues. For example, under this bill, a majority vote is not required for statehood or independence to be declared the winner. There is also the question of a common language and Puerto Rico’s recognition of Spanish as an official language. In addition, if Puerto Rico were ever to became a state it could get six new members of the House of Representatives and cost billions of dollars per year in federal spending.

The people of Puerto Rico would also have to pay federal income tax on income earned on the island, which they currently don’t pay. As we approach this vote, I will be encouraging Members of Congress and the people of 50 states and Puerto Rico to educate themselves on the details of this bill and its potential implications.”

Source: US House of Representatives
Natural Resources Committee Republican Press Office


First Week of UN Indigenous Forum Ends

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice addresses the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at UN Headquarters this week

United Nations, NY (UCTP Taino News) – The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a UN body mandated to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights ended its first week of work today. Government representatives, UN agencies, and indigenous representatives from around the world presented reports and statements on key areas of concern.

One highlight of the week was the surprise proclamation by the Government of New Zealand stating that it would now support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice also surprised those in attendance by stating the Obama Administration would formally review its position on the Declaration. In 2007, the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States opposed the adoption of the landmark human rights legislation. Australia was the first of the four countries to reverse its position now leaving the U.S. and Canada as the only UN member States still opposed to the Declaration.

During the week the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) presented a statement to the Forum on the issue of Human Rights and Caribbean Indigenous Peoples. The Confederation recommended that the Forum facilitate a Special Regional Consultative Session to focus on the unique situation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples. The UCTP presentation also noted that because of Boriken’s (Puerto Rico) colonial status, indigenous representatives from the island are continuously discriminated against and or denied funding opportunities to participate in meetings, conferences, regional specific consultations, and capacity building sessions.

UCTP delegates also contributed to joint presentations along with other indigenous representatives participating in the Tribal Link Foundation sponsored Project Access Training and Capacity Building Project.

On Friday, the Confederation engaged the Convention on Biological Diversity with a call to increase Caribbean indigenous participation in related initiatives. The UCTP called on the Convention’s Secretariat to organize a Caribbean sub-regional capacity building session in collaboration with local and regional indigenous organizations.

The Permanent Forum will continue its session next week with a focus on future work, its report for this current session, and the development of an agenda for its 10th Session in 2011.

UCTPTN 04.23.2010


UN Indigenous Forum Opens in New York

Damon Corrie, Mildred Karaira Gandia and Pamela Kraft of the Tribal Link Foundation at the United Nations in New York (Tribal Link Photo)

United Nations, NY (UCTP Taino News) - The 9th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues began yesterday with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling on Member States to promote development while respecting the values and traditions of Indigenous Peoples.

"The loss of irreplaceable cultural practices and means of artistic expression makes us all poorer, wherever our roots may lie," Mr. Ban told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. This year's theme at the forum is "Development with Culture and Identity."

In a surprise proclamation, the government of New Zealand announced that it has decided to reverse its 2007 decision and support the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand was one of four countries - the others being Australia, Canada and the United States - that voted against the Declaration. Australia reversed its decision last year.

The Declaration outlines the rights of the world's estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlaws discrimination against them.

Approximately 2000 participants are expected to take part in the Forum over the next two-weeks, including indigenous representatives, Member States, UN agencies, academic institutions, and civil society groups. Among the many indigenous delegates are Mildred Karaira Gandia a representative for the United Confederation of Taino People and Damon Gerard Corrie of the Eagle Clan Arawaks of Barbados and Guyana.

"We are here to advocate for Caribbean Indigenous Peoples" stated Gandia. "Our communities are often ignored in the larger discussions".

Both Gandia and Corrie are taking part in a special training program organized by the Tribal Link Foundation and the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Indigenous peoples are estimated to make up five per cent of the world's population, but some 33 per cent of the world's poor, according to State of the World's Indigenous Peoples, released in January and the first UN report of its kind.

UCTPTN 04.20.2010


Taino Prepare for Sacred Run

The Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos host a meet for community leaders and youth in Trujillo Alto, Boriken to discuss plans for the Boriken 2010 Peace and Dignity Run.
(Photo: Courtesy of Bohio Attabei)

Boriken (UCTP Taino News) - For many ancient Indigenous cultures runners were an important way to send messages between communities. Taino People soon plan to highlight this tradition by organizing a “four directions” run this July on the island of Boriken (Puerto Rico). The Boriken 2010 Peace and Dignity Run is linked to the “Peace and Dignity Journeys”, spiritual runs that embody the indigenous prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor. This prophecy mandates the reunification of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas.

Vanessa Inarunikia Pastrana, one of the organizers of the Boriken Run sees the inclusion of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples as an essential but often overlooked element of the Eagle and Condor prophecy.

“Our people need to be a part of this healing process” states Pastrana. “The Caribbean is a part of the sacred hoop of Indigenous Nations.”

Since 1992, Peace and Dignity Journeys are undertaken every four years with runners starting out from Alaska and South America. Carrying sacred staffs, the participants run over six months stopping to visit various Native communities along the way. The runners finally meet in ceremony somewhere in the “center” of the continent. In 2008 the runners met in Panama City.

“The next Peace and Dignity Journey will take place in 2012 and the run in Boriken will connect Taino and other relatives to this important moment in our collective history” continued Pastrana. “This is not about politics but it is rather a spiritual way to raise awareness about our ancestral traditions and to remind ourselves of who we are as Indigenous People.”

Updates and information on the Boriken 2010 run can now be found at the website,
http://boriken2010peaceanddignityjourney.blogspot.com/. Volunteers and donations are being requested.

UCTPTN 04.15.2010


National Census Day and the 2010 Census

Photo: Taino community member Naniki Reyes Ocasio discusses the 2010 Census form with Census Bureau representative Jose Rios in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

UCTP Taino News - April 1st, 2010 is National Census Day, a part of the 2010 Census campaign. On this day community groups, national organizations, and Tribal representatives throughout the U.S mainland, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico continue to encourage census participation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the current national participation percentage of census forms mailed back by households is 52%. Puerto Rico’s census response participation rate is currently 39%.

Members of the Taino community in Boriken (Puerto Rico) and throughout the U.S. have voiced support for participation in the 2010 campaign. The United Confederation of Taino People's Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination for example is participating officially as a 2010 Census partner. On the 2010 census questionnaire the Confederation is urging Taino people to mark American Indian for ‘Race’ at question 9 and write in Taino as their ‘principle tribe’. Individuals can also choose their country of origin (Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban etc.) for ‘Ethnicity’ at question 8.

“Over 13,000 individuals identified themselves as American Indian in Boriken during the 2000 Census” stated Roberto Borrero, a Confederation representative. “The problem for our community however was accessing this data. The Census Bureau categorized Taino people as part of the Canadian and Latin American Indian data base with no way to extract Taino specific information.”

The U.S. Census Bureau defines American Indian as individuals of indigenous origin from throughout the Americas. Census officials have informed the Confederation that Taino data will now be registered separately for the 2010 campaign.

“Being able to access this data is important especially for those advocating for the recognition of human rights in our diverse communities." noted Borrero.

Participation response rates will assist planning for the door-to-door follow-up to the census questionnaire mailing. In May 2010 census representatives will begin to visit households that have not returned a census form by mail.

UCTPTN 04.01.2010