Caribs of Baramita com­plain­ing of il­le­gal min­ing on their lands

Stabroek News - - REGIONAL NEWS -

Dear Edi­tor, The Carib res­i­dents of the Baramita vil­lage, Matarkai Sub-re­gion, Re­gion 1 (Barima-Waini) have com­plained that the root cause of their cur­rent so­cial ills is ir­re­spon­si­ble min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties tak­ing place on their legally-ti­tled vil­lage lands with­out the con­sent or per­mis­sion of a vil­lage gen­eral meet­ing called by the Vil­lage Coun­cil. The vil­lage res­i­dents are claim­ing that the coast­land min­ers are in to­tal con­trol of their vil­lage coun­cil, and al­ready know who the next new Toshao and coun­cil­lors will be. They know this through bribery and a padded vot­ers list of non-res­i­dents. The res­i­dents have claimed that the Min­is­ter of In­dige­nous Peo­ples Af­fairs, the Clerk of the Re­gional Demo­cratic Coun­cil (re­turn­ing of­fi­cer), the elec­tions clerk and deputy elec­tions clerk have done noth­ing about rigged vil­lage elec­tions in Baramita; they sim­ply turn a blind eye.

Vil­lage elec­tions in Baramita will be held in April, 2018 and res­i­dents are de­mand­ing that the Na­tional Toshao Coun­cil (NTC) strictly mon­i­tor and ob­serve the en­tire elec­tions process. The Baramita res­i­dents have also com­plained that the min­ers on their vil­lage lands are not pay­ing the vil­lage trib­ute of at least seven per cent of the value of min­er­als ob­tained from small and medium-scale min­ing (Sec­tion 51 (1) of Amerindian Act 2006). The Guyana Ge­ol­ogy and Mines Com­mis­sion (GGMC) mines of­fi­cers based at Eclipse Falls do ab­so­lutely noth­ing about this, nei­ther it is al­leged, do they go to Baramita to in­spect the pro­duc­tion book of the min­ers. The Chief Mines Of­fi­cer (CMO) and the Guyana Ge­ol­ogy and Mines Com­mis­sioner need to quickly dispatch a spe­cial team to Baramita so as to con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions and to take cor­rec­tive ac­tion.

While Baramita’s rich re­sources are heav­ily ex­tracted on a daily ba­sis its res­i­dents, the Caribs are cur­rently liv­ing in poverty and mis­ery with ab­so­lutely no strate­gic in­ter­ven­tions by the govern­ment through the Min­istry of In­dige­nous Peo­ples Af­fairs to bring about pos­i­tive and last­ing changes for the poor Baramita res­i­dents. The res­i­dents are there­fore claim­ing that in tack­ling Baramita’s never-end­ing problems the root causes will first have to be ex­am­ined oth­er­wise other in­ter­ven­tion will be use­less.

But this is not what the Vi­cePres­i­dent and Min­is­ter of In­dige­nous Peo­ples Af­fairs Syd­ney Al­lic­ock is do­ing, and ac­cord­ing to the vil­lagers the Min­is­ter has ne­glected Baramita. The res­i­dents are also claim­ing that on the mat­ter of sui­cides in the vil­lage, the po­lice of­fi­cers do not con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Fur­ther­more, the po­lice at Baramita al­low in any coast­lander who en­ters the vil­lage by road with­out ask­ing their rea­sons. The ‘F’ Di­vi­sion Com­man­der should con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the per­for­mance of his of­fi­cers in Baramita.

Edi­tor, the vil­lage needs to­tal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion so as to erad­i­cate its cur­rent so­cial ills and Min­is­ter Al­lic­ock needs to ur­gently visit Baramita on a fact-find­ing mis­sion, not for one day, but for four­teen days so as to solve the problems at Baramita with the res­i­dents and not with coast­landers.

Yours faith­fully, Peter Per­saud

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