Representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean have made a decision to establish a regional mechanism to address issues affecting their nations which can make arguments on their behalf at the regional and international levels.
According to a press release from the Department of Public Information (DPI), the agreement was reached yesterday, at the close of a three-day seminar held at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel, at Providence, East Bank Demerara. The meeting was facilitated by the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice), a five-year Regional Justice Sector Reform Project funded by the Government of Canada.
The discussions at the forum had centred on what type of mechanism should be formed, its ownership and sustainability, according to the DPI release. The representatives had posited the need for consultation with Indigenous peoples of the different localities before the body is formally established and representatives elected. Delegates from Guyana, Suriname and Belize agreed that Suriname will be the focal point for a network of representatives from each jurisdiction to comprise a functioning working group which will be tasked with creating such an organization.
“Latin America, because of the number of countries and because of the large populations as opposed to Caribbean countries, often receives the attention and dominates. We are hoping that [by] forming a separate caucus we can have more visibility for the Caribbean Indigenous Peoples,” Jean La Rose, Executive Director of the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, was quoted in the DPI release, as saying, while expressing her hopes for a stronger unified voice for the Carib-bean indigenous peoples.
“For us, this linkage is a powerful opportunity to share and to learn and to be strengthened,” Cynthia Ellis Topsey, President of the National Garifuna Council of Belize, was quoted in the press release, as saying.