THE collective and individual rights of my Amerindian brothers and sisters are protected, respected, and upheld under the Laws of Guyana by the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, now more than ever before.
Those rights were advanced greatly in 2020 under the current government, and there is no threat to the development or growth of our Amerindians.
Those who wish to invent, falsify and tell a different version of the truth about the experiences of Indigenous and Amerindian Peoples at home, regionally, or internationally will be challenged at every corner and turn.
It is rather unfortunate that Vincent Henry, an APNU+AFC Coalition Member of Parliament who should have known better would contribute to this false perception and negative propaganda of Guyana’s Amerindians at the opening ceremony of a seminar for parliamentarians of the 12th Parliament of Guyana, held on May 10 and 11, 2022 at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
It is even sadder that this Amerindian MP is being used by the Opposition to deliver the trumped-up and ludicrous allegations about Amerindian rights and development. This MP should be championing the rights and progress made by this administration; he should be glad and satisfied that Amerindians are treated like any other peoples in Guyana by the government, where land rights and development is concerned.
For those naysayers, distractions, and opposition delusional minds, the PPP/C administration has a strong record of advancing and protecting the rights of Amerindians.
First off, much has been done to support the rights of Amerindians in Guyana:
1. Legislation to protect our Amerindian people, the Amerindian Act.
2. The creation of a constitutional commission – the Indigenous Peoples Commission (IPC).
3. Land titling has moved from Amerindians having an absolute – meaning forever – ownership of six per cent of Guyana to about 14 per cent. And work is still ongoing in this area.
4. Guarantee of not only the right to land but sub-surface rights, meaning rights over the minerals in the ground.
5. Presidential Grants to all 215 Amerindian communities to support advancement as the communities see fit.
6. Agriculture support via vehicles, vessels, and equipment to increase production.
7. Re-injection of over $700 million into the village economies of Amerindian communities with the Community Service Officer (CSO) programme. And there is a planned expansion of this in 2022.
These are only some examples of the work that we see being done.
Amerindians across the country have opted for integration, and for preserving their heritage, both aspirations being supported at a national level with Amerindian Heritage Month, and the work of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
Every Indigenous or Amerindian person is entitled to get their share of the development that is gripping our country.
Inclusivity is a must that is guaranteed by the PPP/C Government, as opposed to the incompetent governance of the country by the then former APNU+AFC coalition government.
Again, nothing of substance or value was done by the then David Granger-led Coalition Government when it was in office for five long years. Now, as the Parliamentary Opposition, it would seem that the progress being made is being seen by the Coalition as a threat. The Coalition seems intent on blocking development, if only to ensure that the PPP/C Administration is not credited for the development and progress of our people.
Despite this, the fact is that the PPP/C Government understands what needs to be done to further develop and protect the rights of Amerindians.
We, the Amerindians, are focused on the prize, and are resolute in our conviction. We will not be distracted by voices in the wilderness that pander to false perceptions of Guyana’s First Peoples and their way of life. Our people are enjoying an even more prosperous and better life under the PPP/C Government.
There is always the danger of invented, falsified notions being peddled, but there will always be Indigenous Peoples like me who will always stand by the truth of telling the true story of ‘One Guyana’.
Hon. Alister Charlie
Member of Parliament, Region Nine