Hats off to Mr Mascio Hastings, Toshao of Kako and the villagers who are valiantly asserting their rights by defending their communal lands from the ravages of indiscriminate mining.
When I first visited Kako in 1959 the Mazaruni and the Kako which is a left bank tributary of the Mazaruni were both pristine. The water was dark brown which we called black water. In those days we drank the water from the river.
In those days the Amerindians existed by farming, hunting, fishing and to some extent by craft work. Today because of greed the Amerindian is forced to change his lifestyle, although he can find an alternative livelihood.
Government wants the proceeds from a growing mining industry, which is destroying our forests, and yet expects to draw down billions through the LCDS which requires that we do not destroy our forests. Miners think that God created the earth especially for them to exploit and get rich.
It is heartening to see Amerindians finally realising that as a people they are not second-class citizens and need to stand up for their rights because no one is standing up for them. This case should bring home the fact that the Minister of Amerindian Affairs is supportive of the miners. In fact, she should be called Minister of Mining.
The GGMC also is not sympathetic to the Amerindian cause. They continue to give out mining blocks without doing any research or having a clear-cut mining policy.
It is time that Amerindians countrywide realise that to a great extent their destiny rests in their own hands. They must realise that they are not second-class people.
Although I have only a little Amerindian blood, yet I have always identified with Amerindians. I call on all people in Guyana who have Amerindian blood in their veins (and here I include President Ramotar and second lady Yvonne Hinds) to come out in support of the people of Kako and Amerindians as a whole.
E C Lobert