Government will continue to respect rights of the indigenous
-- PM Hinds

Guyana Chronicle
May 15, 2000

THE Government of Guyana will continue to respect the rights and privileges of the indigenous peoples, Prime Minister Sam Hinds and Amerindian Affairs Minister Vibert De Souza assured residents at a meeting held at Chenapau, Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) recently.

A release earlier this month from the Office of the President said Mr. Hinds explained that the Government's policy regarding development was not only restricted to the coastland, but also targeted hinterland communities where the indigenous people reside.

The Prime Minister noted that there has been ongoing consultations with Village Captains and Councillors on a wide range of issues, and this trend will continue.

"We respect your views, your contributions," Mr. Hinds told the gathering, which included five Councillors. He added that had it not been for their contributions, there would have been serious shortfalls in the work programme in the various communities.

The meeting, which was held at the Chenapau Primary School was in keeping with a mandate given Amerindian Affairs Minister Vibert De Souza by Cabinet to update the residents on the amendment to the extension of the Kaieteur National Park.

Minister De Souza assured the residents that they would continue their activities of hunting, fishing and foraging, with the extension of the Park.

The Amerindian Affairs Minister promised that Government will continue to work closely with indigenous community leaders to ensure that there are improvements in community life.

Alluding to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Amazon Phase 11 programme, Minister De Souza pointed out that such a programme would greatly enhance the living standards of Amerindians.

He also outlined the benefits to be derived from the programme, already on stream in Regions One (Barima/Waini) and Nine (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu) noting that Regions Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) and Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) will benefit this year, the release stated.

Under the Amazon programme for the period 2001-2005, some $65M will be spent for improvements in education, child development, water, sanitation, nutrition and capacity building.

Referring to the land demarcation exercise, Minister De Souza said surveys are done in accordance with the law, hence it is time-consuming.

Noting that 22 villages have been surveyed and 11 have received land titles, the Minister expressed optimism that the Lands and Surveys Department would be able to achieve this year's target.

The village was presented with a chainsaw and was promised by the Minister additional farming implements, once production is increased.

Touching on the issue of community development strategies, the Amerindian Affairs Minister urged the villagers to diversify their economic base with a view to generating funds for expansion.

In the absence of the Captain Anthony Melville, Councillors Ben Carter and Stanley Mc Garrell explained the community participation for the development of the Chenapau village.