UCTP Letter to the President of the General Assembly John William Ashe


To: H.E. Ambassador John William Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda, 
President, United Nations General Assembly 

Via email & hand-delivered 

Re: World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) 

Takahi (Greetings) Excellency: On behalf of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP), I am writing to you with great concern regarding the preparations for the High Level Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. The UCTP is an indigenous Caribbean regional organization extending through the Major and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Diaspora. The UCTP is a member of the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples (COIP) and an affiliate of the International Indian Treaty Council, an ECOSOC accredited indigenous, non-governmental organization representing indigenous peoples of North, South, and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. 

The UCTP is particularly concerned with your hesitancy to reconfirm the appointment of Mr. John Henriksen (Sami) as the Indigenous co-coordinator (or co-facilitator) on an equal basis with a State representative in that role. The appointment of an indigenous co-coordinator in this process finds its precedent set by the President of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly H.E. Nassir AbdulazizAl‐Nasser (Qatar) in early 2012. With this in mind, we respectfully call upon you to reconfirm Mr. Henriksen in this role, which is a decision consistent with the standards articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

Please note that after consultation with our regional leadership and allies, the UCTP can only support the WCIP process if there is equal representation of Indigenous Peoples. In addition, please also note that should the WCIP move forward without equal representation, Indigenous Peoples who form part of the UCTP will call for the WCIP to be canceled. 

In closing, Caribbean Governments are an historic ally to Indigenous Peoples since at least the UN International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on through the process to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We trust that we can continue to count on the region to move progressively toward fulfilling the goal of “Partnership in Action” as promoted by the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. 

Oma bahari (With respect), 
Roger Hernandez-Moyet, Board Secretary & Borikén Liaison 

CC: UCTP Board & membership; Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples; Caribbean Amerindian Development Organization; International Indian Treaty Council; Global Coordinating Committee of the WCIP; Latin American and Caribbean Regional Caucus to the WCIP


In Memory of a Life Well Lived...

By Roberto Mukaro Borrero

Father Paul Michael Mayer 1931-2013
Life is indeed a wonder… When we are young, new, and experiencing the world around us for the first time, we are amazed with everything... This amazement fades for many of us as we grow, hopefully to renew itself, as we get older and begin to see more family and friends make their final journey. It is at these times that many people start to once again see how amazing and sacred our own earthly journeys are… It is at these times we begin to understand how little time we really have... Like the flash of a firefly in the night…

So, here I sit contemplating what an amazing journey life is, having just returned from the incredible memorial service of an extraordinary man I had the honor to call friend, comrade, spiritual brother, and mentor, Father Paul Michael Mayer

I cannot help but to smile as I think about Father Paul…  He certainly knew how blessed we all are to be here on Earth and share this sacred moment in time together.

Father Paul Mayer was a young Jewish boy who lived in Germany during the rise of Nazism. Most of his family was killed in the Holocaust. In 1938, he along with his mother, father, and brother were able to escape this horror and come to the U.S. As a teen he converted to Christianity; Paul then became a Benedictine monk and an ordained Priest in the Roman Catholic faith. He always considered himself a Jew, however, often stating Jesus was also a Jew. Paul was relieved of his commitment to the Church by the Vatican when he fell in love with and married a nun, Naomi, he met while traveling to Mexico. He always considered himself a Priest, continuing his spiritual service as an ordained Inter-Faith Minister. During his days as a monk, much to the dismay of the Church hierarchy, he traveled to Selma, Alabama to meet with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1965 voting rights campaign.  

Father Paul also had an immense respect for the World’s Indigenous Peoples. He considered “Black Elk Speaks” a holy book. He worked with indigenous Spiritual leaders around the U.S. and beyond.
Father Paul was also a fierce advocate for children, social justice issues, and the environment, especially climate change. He considered himself an Earth Guardian. 

My dear friend Pamela Kraft introduced me to Father Paul in the early 1990s. We became close friends and served together on the board of the organization Pamela founded, Tribal Link Foundation. On a personal level, he offered me much support and council during turbulent times. He helped me to see the connection between political and spiritual understandings, and the importance of teaching and activism. Paul seemed to always have a smile on, except of course when speaking about injustice. Then his face would change, become very serious, and warrior-like.  

During his memorial this evening, his audacity was mentioned. Many of us were very amused with this truth. It was Father Paul, for example, who arranged for me to meet and speak with Fidel Castro during one of his last visits to the U.S.  Paul met Fidel after he and others were arrested for defying the U.S. embargo to bring bibles and humanitarian aid to Cuba.  Fidel was impressed with his passion and commitment.  Father Paul’s commitment to social justice spanned half a century, as he was even active recently climbing a fence and then being arrested with a new generation of youth activists at Occupy Wall Street. As one can imagine, there are so many tales to tell about his life.

Father Paul succumbed to a battle with brain cancer in November 2013 at 82. He is survived by his son Peter, daughter Maria, and his grandchildren. Thank you Peter and family for blessing me with the opportunity to open tonight’s incredible memorial service and share some words and a Taino song for Father Paul.

Father Paul, my friend and spiritual brother, I miss your physical presence, but I know you are with all of us in Spirit. You have touched many lives on your incredible life journey, and I for one am a better human being for knowing you.  Yours was indeed a life well lived.