Gains and Challenges of Our Amerindian Community
greatly and is grinding to a halt. Much of the gains made are being threatened and reversed.
The signal on the land issue is most troubling. This regime seems to be of the opinion that the Amerindian people should not have the lands they occupied for centuries. They have already changed the nature of the approach from being specifically for Amerindians to something more general. In fact, the use of the word ‘indigenous’ by this regime would give them room to manoeuvre and can eventually, once more, deny the people their lands.
For those who are surprised of their actions, the doubting Thomases, I say they should not be.
If there was one good thing that came out of the one-seat majority that the opposition had in Parliament during 2012 to 2015 Parliament, it was the fact that it clearly showed the anti-developmental and even racist orientation of the APNU regime.
This was particularly pronounced at budget time. At every budget, 2012, 2013 and 2014, the APNU and AFC tried to stifle Amerindian development.
In 2014, for instance, Capital Budget for Amerindian Development, Programme number 161, which included money for the Amerindian Hostel in Region 4, the Amerindian Development Fund; Water and Land Transportation and the furnishing of offices were all voted down. This amounted to more than one billion dollars to enhance the people’s welfare.
They voted down the almost $200M that was supposed to go towards building, repairing and enhancing airstrips in the hinterland.
They voted down almost $1B that was going to the Amerindian Development Fund and funds for land titling.
They also voted against the following projects:
1. The Amerindian Youth Apprenticeship Programme 2. The Secure Livelihood Programme
3. The Subvention to Bina Hill Institute
4. The Amerindian Language Revival Programme 5. The Eco-Tourism and Cultural projects in villages 6. The Cultural Expo (North Pakaraimas-Patamona)
7. The distribution of tractors and supplies to villages 8. The distribution of sports gears and musical equipment
9. The construction of village offices and multi-purposes buildings
10. The solar panel distribution project
11. The land demarcation for Amerindian communities
12. The construction of airstrips in the hinterland.
These are just a small sample of the projects that they tried to and sometimes stopped.
Now in power, we see them disrespecting the Amerindian leaders. Just recall the outbursts by Ministers Scott and Allicock. Recall, too, how they tried hard to prevent the Toshaos and Councillors from meeting with the Opposition Leader. Finally, remember that they were sending Ministers to meet those leaders in the night while they had the whole day to do so.
This is demonstrably disrespecting and partisan.
Clearly, this regime is not moved by developmental objectives, but by vindictiveness, spite and great prejudice.
However, they should know that the Amerindian people will fight to defend their gains. They would struggle alongside all democratic and peaceful forces to halt the decline and ensure the gains madeby the PPP/C administration will be protected and advanced.