Amerindians are still marginalized

Dear Editor,

President Jagdeo believes the PPP’s ‘support’ for Amerindian communities will translate into votes. That belief is rooted in how the PPP views not just Amerindians but the entire Guyanese nation. Throwing some pittance in the general direction of the Amerindian communities is somehow akin to real progress and development. Amerindians remain the most economically, socially and culturally marginalised people in this nation.

Throwing money around is not progress and development. How many Amerindians benefited from the major projects in their forests, on their land and in their communities? How many Amerindian contractors obtained multi-billion dollar contracts to build roads, bridges, power plants, buildings, etc? If contractors with no proven road-building experience can build roads in the hinterland forests, why can’t Amerindians who live in that forest do so? How does a government that cares so much about Amerindians pass an Amerindian Act and never put it in force for some five years denying Amerindians millions of dollars in royalties? How does a government which cuts a deal with a foreign power that impacts the lives of hundreds of Amerindian miners and loggers really and truly care about Amerindians?

President Jagdeo promises to use the first set of Norway funds to give Amerindians a solar panel and US$25,000 to each village. The government will also hire surveyors to demarcate Amerindian land.  A solar panel, seriously? How about running water and proper electricity? Who gets the contracts to provide the solar panels and to install them?

Rice farmers got their wallets fattened at the expense of taxpayers with the Venezuela rice deal. Sugar workers got the highest levels of raises ever in a declining industry in the past 18 years. Were any such deals ever made for Amerindians, and in particular their miners and loggers? Amerindians are nothing more than a vote to the PPP. The greatest feat of the Jagdeo regime with respect to the Amerindian people has not been the token Amerindian appointments to political office, but the incredible increase in the marginalization of the Amerindian people many of whom have departed their ancestral lands in a migration to urban Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
M Maxwell