…uncertainty of political climate affects progress countrywide – former APA President
The uncertainty of the political atmosphere in Guyana is having direct adverse effects on the livelihoods of Guyana’s Indigenous people and has resulted in their rights being trampled upon and ignored.
As such, they are calling for elections to be held so as to address the problems that are affecting Indigenous communities throughout the length and breadth of Guyana.
This is according to Toshao of Kako Village, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Mario Hastings, who made the disclosure at the ceremonial launch for Indigenous Heritage Month on behalf of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) on Sunday afternoon.
He stated that although Indigenous peoples from all parts of the country have and continue to contribute to the sustainable development of the nation, the present legislative laws in relation to their rights were in dire need of amendment.
However, such changes are at a standstill because of the current political atmosphere, and as a result, there is much uneasiness among Indigenous peoples with regard to sustaining their livelihoods.
“There is yet a long way to go and much more to be done to curb the many disadvantages that we face on a daily basis. We need quality education and improved health services… our many roads need improvement; social and legal services are still missing, for most part, in our communities and hence access to justice is at a low end. We are uncertain of our political landscape, and call for elections to be held soonest so that we can return to normalcy,” Hastings declared.
According to the Toshao, many of the Indigenous communities are highly vulnerable to the “land grabs” and there is the pressing problem of some of their lands not yet being recognised and being without land titles.
“And official demarcation and our claims for land extension move at an unacceptably slow pace. We need our land – our land is our life. The Indigenous peoples of Guyana need to become more and fully engaged in all developmental projects, programmes, and policies that will affect us,” he said.
Hastings pointed out that although many Indigenous people enjoy the freedom of their land and other resources, this is in jeopardy, especially since pollution and despoiling of their waters continued unabated.
He further explained that the Administration needed to do much more to ensure that Indigenous communities were informed about development initiatives that would not only impact the country but directly affect their livelihoods.
He noted that to date, Indigenous peoples across Guyana are suffering from poverty and lack of opportunities in addition to bearing the brunt of discrimination and derogatory remarks.
Despite the challenges that Indigenous peoples presently face, they still are trying their best to promote their traditional knowledge, and promote the further development of Guyana.
This year’s Indigenous Heritage Month is being celebrated under the theme “Maintaining our traditional practices while promoting a green economy”.
Hastings added that this was another opportunity for Indigenous peoples to celebrate their rich heritage, practices, and reflect on significant contributions towards national development such as conservation and stewardship of the environment, the value in carbon stocks, biodiversity, and landscape.