Amerindian land demarcation slowed last year - Rodrigues
Stabroek News
January 13, 2002

The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs has reported that the demarcation of Amerindian land went "very slowly" last year which Minister Carolyn Rodrigues attributed to the late presentation of the national budget and the inclement weather.

Rodrigues was of the opinion that there were some community leaders who were responsible for the failure to complete the exercise, and might have been influenced by others to take that position.

"Sometimes I feel that the people really do not want this land issue to be resolved," the minister was quoted by the Government Information Agency (GINA) as saying.

The demarcation of Amerindian lands commenced in 1976 but it was not until 1997 that serious work started. There are over 100 communities in which Amerindians live. However, only 75 communities are legally recognised.

GINA reported that last year seven communities had agreed for government to move ahead with the demarcation of their land, but problems arose when some communities, mainly in Region One (Barima/Waini), seemed uncertain about what they wanted.

This problem occurred at Assakata, Kwebanna, and Santa Cruz.

"We had those communities agreeing; then there were four identical letters from the communities saying that they don't want the demarcation exercise to be carried out, then they agreed again that they want to have it after some information was shared with them, and then subsequent to that there was disagreement again," the minister said.

GINA reported that the demarcation process ran smoothly in Massara and Yupukari in Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo) and it was still ongoing at Karasabai in the same region.

Rodrigues asserted that government was committed to the process but pointed out that there must be further consultation and common agreement with communities.

According to GINA, government was willing to undertake the extension of Amerindian land, but this could only proceed after the boundaries were identified.