Tag Archives: Indigenous Peoples

Racial Hatred In Sucre Province Bolivia – An Article By Damon Gerard Corrie

Editor’s Comment: Barbados Free Press publishes this article exactly as received from the author, with the exception of a few spelling corrections. We were concerned about two references in the article, the first being the statement that the current version of Coca Cola beverage uses coca leaves in its formula and that leaves are imported into the USA for the purpose. We thought this had long ago stopped, but a little research shows that Mr. Corrie’s references are accurate.

The second point is that Mr. Corrie’s article seems to declare that all Bolivians of Spanish descent are racists and involved in the abusive activities documented in the article. When we communicate that “all” people of a certain race or ethnic background act this way or that, we are actually adopting a racist perspective ourselves.

Nonetheless we will publish this article as it stands, but we would like to hear more from Mr. Corrie about what makes a “real” Bolivan. If, in this day and age, Mr. Corrie’s position in fact is that what constitutes a “real” Bolivian is based upon race, rather than shared commitment to country and national cultural values, then Mr. Corrie’s position is essentially racist – just a different flavour.

Over to you, Mr. Corrie…

Racial Hatred In Sucre Province Bolivia

I had intended to write about my roommate Esteban Urquizu Cuellar of Bolivia tonight, some kind of insightful look into his soul, but Esteban speaks very little English, and my Spanish is quite rusty.

I know he came here to the United Nations Permanent Forum thanks to Tribal Link as I have, but not too much else about the man, nevertheless I heard him talk at length (albeit in Spanish) about the plight of Indigenous Bolivians in Sucre Province, the only part of Bolivia that cringed at the thought of an ‘Indian’ becoming the President when Evo Morales Ayma won office.

In the west – the media (mostly American) leads viewers – especially those who have never travelled to Bolivia – to believe that what is going on in Sucre Province is nothing more than a ‘Socialist Coca promoting President trying to usurp the rights of the decent hardworking Spaniard descendant business community there’.

For clarity I will refer to the Oligarchy and Plantocracy in Bolivia as being ‘Ethnic Spaniards’, let’s call a spade a spade, they maintain homes and bank accounts back in the ‘old country’ (ie Spain) and are quite proud of their Conquistador ancestors, lastly they still look every bit the Spaniard biologically speaking, and as I am fond of saying “If I take an Indian Elephant to England and it gives birth – does the offspring then become an English Elephant?”
The answer is no – it does not, it becomes merely an Indian Elephant that was born in England. A word to the wise is good enough.

Ladies and gentlemen, no better a deception could have been engineered by the CIA themselves!  I have been to Bolivia twice, I have traveled around the country, and I was the ONLY person from the Caribbean region invited to be in the audience at the Presidential Palace when President Morales Nationalised the Natural Gas Companies in Bolivia in 2007; in any fair-minded person’s opinion it was quite justified, it is obscene for a company to extract the natural resources of a poor country and pay the host nation mere cents on every dollar they earn in the process.

Concerning Coca, I chewed Coca leaves and trust me – there is nothing more ‘sinister’ gained from it than the abation of hunger pangs, it saved me some money as I did not need to eat as often, also I was one of the few members of the OAS Indigenous Caucus invited to Bolivia who did NOT suffer altitude sickness during my stay over 9,000 feet above sea level there….I attribute this to the Coca leaves I chewed daily. Continue reading

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Indigenous Peoples Cry For Justice As Caribbean Nations Conveniently Submit To USA’s Will

Grand Chief Ed John in Panama

Grand Chief Ed John in Panama

“This ‘Human Prosperity’ theme of the OAS Heads of State Summit to follow us immediately in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago CANNOT be implemented for the benefit of the non-indigenous citizens of the OAS states at the expense of OUR Indigenous peoples – because for far too long that is EXACTLY what has been happening!”.

…Grand Chief Edward John – political executive of the First Nations Assembly (of Canada) Task Group

My Controversial Report On The 3rd Indigenous Leaders Summit – by Damon Corrie

The 1st Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas was held in 2001 in Ottawa, Canada, North America, the second was in 2005 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; South America, and the 3rd was just concluded on April 15th 2009 in Panama City, Panama; Central America.

Controversy tends to follow anything that seeks to advance the long denied rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas – a Hemisphere that with the sole exception of Bolivia (which FINALLY has an Indigenous President and government) – STILL suffers to varying degrees under Colonialism & Neo-colonialism – 517 years AFTER the arrival of Columbus and the ensuing Genocide, Ethnocide and Ecocide he (and subsequent Eurocentric plunderers) unleashed in the ‘New World’.

At the opening ceremony held in a conference room at the Hotel Riande Continental in Panama City on April 14th 2009 the pre-session prayer was said by a respected elder of the local Kuna Tribal Nation.

“The Indigenous Caucus of the Americas is only being permitted one brief address to the OAS Heads of State – then like dutiful servants we must leave the room, not even being permitted to sit as official observers as we were granted in previous OAS Summits.”

The influential leader Mrs. Beverly Jacobs of the Native Womens’ Association of Canada, was the first speaker to address the 100+ Indigenous Leaders from North, South, Central America and the Caribbean gathered.

This was followed by a video address by his Excellency Jose Miguel Insulza – Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), and this was presented on his behalf by her Excellency Abigail Castro de Perez – Ambassador and representative of the OAS in Panama.

The Third speaker was her Excellency Patricia Lagan-Torrel – Ambassador of Canada to the the Republic of Panama; the governments of Canada, the USA, and Spain provided funds to make the 3rd ILSA possible and the OAS provided logistical support in no small part by tireless workers such as Mr. Luis Toro and Ms. Jessica Grebeldinger – both great friends to the cause of Indigenous rights.

Fourth to speak was the well known indigenous Lawyer Hector Huertas of the Kuna Tribal Nation of Panama, and one of the key points he raised was the fact that “Everyone must realize that the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a ‘minimum standard’ – not a be-all and end-all for the inherent and undeniable rights of Indigenous Peoples of the world; so the American declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (still being created) CANNOT fall below the rights enshrined in the UN declaration – which is global in scope.

* Readers should note that the UN declaration being referred to was passed by a vote of support of every UN member state EXCEPT the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – but soon thereafter the Australian government changed and the new administration quickly adopted the Declaration leaving 3 isolated ‘Democratic hypocrisies’ still in opposition.

Fifth and last to speak was the veteran respected Grand Chief Edward John – political executive of the First Nations Assembly (of Canada) Task Group, and he provided a wealth of information to the appreciative audience gathered, but his most memorable statement – and one that reverberated around the room to enthusiastic support was when he thundered: “This ‘Human Prosperity’ theme of the OAS Heads of State Summit to follow us immediately in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago CANNOT be implemented for the benefit of the non-indigenous citizens of the OAS states at the expense of OUR Indigenous peoples – because for far too long that is EXACTLY what has been happening!”.

The Grand chief went on to state “We have taken 40 cases against the government of Canada to the Supreme Court of Canada and we have won ALL of them, yet the government of Canada still refuses to comply with the rulings of their own Supreme Court!”

As I sat in the audience, as a Barbadian by birth of Guyanese Lokono-Arawak descent, and cognizant of the fact that I was part of the planning committee for this 3rd indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas and head of the communications sub-committee (my tenure expired as of 6.30pm on April 15th 2009 when the Summit officially ended), I was saddened to hear that the Governments of Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil – were still frustrating the efforts of the Indigenous Caucus in the draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s process, when I had attended the last OAS session in Washington DC a few months ago the USA and Canada had dropped out of the process entirely – which is an act guaranteed to sabotage any progress we hope to make on that front due to the ‘Consensus’ requirement within the OAS.

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A First In The History Of The Americas: Dominica Issues Diplomatic Passport To Indigenous Kalinago-Carib Leader

In a move that was widely hailed as a stunning breakthrough in the equitable treatment of Indigenous peoples – and being of great historical significance, the small Independent Caribbean State of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) – has accorded the democratically elected leader of it’s indigenous Kalinago-Carib community, Chief Charles Williams, with a Diplomatic passport.

“This is the first time in the history of the Americas that ANY State has EVER recognized a leader of its indigenous peoples in such an official capacity.”

Whereas it may not be either feasible or financially practical for other States with multiple Indigenous leaders of multiple Indigenous communities to follow Dominica’s noble example, there are at least two other Caribbean States that immediately come to mind such as Trinidad and Tobago – and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (both with singular Indigenous ethnic groups and leadership structures) that can very easily afford to do likewise; it only requires the political will to do so by the honorable Prime Ministers’ Patrick Manning (of Trinidad and Tobago) and Ralph Gonzalves (of St. Vincent and the Grenadines).

At today’s session Colombia’s OAS Ambassador mentioned the fact that his country was the ONLY member state of the OAS that allows the leaders of  indigenous peoples to participate directly in their parliament, other countries only allow indigenous peoples to participate through a recognized political party.

The Ambassador of Colombia also glanced around the table where State representatives are seated and highlighted the sad fact that “There are many Caribbean States in the OAS, over one third of membership to be precise, but NONE are attending these sessions on the Draft American Declaration – and this is having a negative impact on the efforts to achieve consensus.”

For the record, the delegation of the Republic of Guyana was again the ONLY OAS member state representative from CARICOM that is making an effort to be in attendance and constructively participate in the current 11th session.

As a Barbadian by birth of Guyanese Arawak descent I feel proud to see the Guyana Mission at the table, but deeply embarrassed by the COMPLETE ABSENCE of every other Caribbean island state (not to mention Belize and Suriname with sizeable Indigenous populations) at these sessions.
Every day my fellow indigenous representatives ask me why the Caribbean countries are so indifferent and unconcerned about Indigenous rights – and I can only shrug my shoulders and say “I have no idea myself.”

I am hereby beseeching the Guyana Mission, Grenada’s former Ambassador Denneth Modeste, and Dominica’s United Nations Ambassador Crispin Gregoire – to invite their fellow CARICOM colleagues based here at the OAs Missions to make an effort to attend the final day of this session (from 10am-4pm with a 1-2pm lunch break) on Friday December 12th 2008 – so that we can end this 11th session on a truly positive note.

Damon Corrie
Reporting to Barbados Free Press from OAS Headquarters
Washington DC, United States of America.

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