Please permit me to respond to a letter written in the Guyana Chronicle (June 17) by one Mary Charlie.
I am forced to now publicly respond to some of the blatant lies that have been peddled by some people who do not have the guts to supply their correct names when writing letters to the press. My family is being used so that attention can be diverted from bigger issues regarding the Marudi Mountains, a new company, and ongoing bad decisions by officials.
The issue at the centre of the blocking of the excavator is that the people of Aishalton Village were never informed about this new company now operating on the Romanex concession at the Marudi mines. We do not know the background of this company or what it is going to do. Concerned residents, including the some of the women who stopped the excavator, asked for the company to come and hold a meeting with the village.
The manager, Mr Vern, promised to come where he was to give a detailed account of the operations of the company. This promise was made since mid-March, 2013. It is now three months since that initial request and we in Aishalton are still awaiting a meeting with the company. There are copies of several requests made by letter to have such a meeting. Past companies who worked on the Marudi Mountains, developed a working relationship with the villages of the South Rupununi where issues were worked out. Our village, including those affected (Shea, Maruranawa, Awarewanawa, Karaudarnawa and Achawib) have a right to be consulted, and this is recognised in the Amerindian Act. A letter written to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs by Mr Vern stated that he consulted our villages, but this is not so. I would like to challenge the company to produce the minute of such a meeting that took place in Aishalton.
A representative of the company also on 11th ‒ last Tuesday evening ‒ travelled to Lethem to have our Toshao, who was attending a meeting, sign a permission letter for the excavator to pass through. From reports this representative dictated what the Toshao should write. On Wednesday, without the knowledge of the majority of the Village Council, this letter was lodged with the police.
This is why the few villagers, numbering 25 people, stood in front of the excavator. This number could have been the majority of villagers if we had all known that the excavator was passing through on that day.
At a brief meeting in mid-March the company informed the Village Council that employees are coming from outside of the villages of the South Rupununi and that there is not a plan as yet of its operation. Shortly after, equipment and other company transportation were passing through the village. On many occasions, these were passing at night. ATVs with a certain representative of the company can only be seen in the village at night at a particular house.
I fully support the request to have the police come to get to the bottom of this so-called Amerindian Liberation Front that is being propagated in the national news. I would like to go on record that there are a few people in Aishalton who have inside information about this movement. They seem to be the ones pushing the agenda of this movement.
It seems that the Mary Charlie knows about many Aishalton issues better than the villagers themselves. I am therefore, openly inviting, Mary Charlie and others to our public meeting on the 24th June 2013. These people hide behind fictitious names and write baseless articles in the papers, to distract from the real issues of our villages.
All that has been written about my family is baseless and a bad attempt to divert attention away from real issues. They are trying to do that so they can continue to exploit us Amerindians and take advantage of our leaders. It is not ‘business as usual’ any more for them where they can continue to gag our voices. Thank God for the few who have the guts to stand for what is right.