Land rights should be dealt with holistically

Dear Editor,

I have noted that Alister Charlie, a constituency MP for Region 9 has taken me to task, in the letter columns, for responding to him at the recently held constitutional reform symposium. At the symposium he demanded that Amerindian land rights should be dealt with separately.

At the very beginning of his letter he misrepresents my response by stating that I posited that “there should not be a separate commission to examine the issue of Amerindian land rights, as opposed to merging the inquiry into Amerindian land rights and African land rights together”. He further seeks to associate me with others who have commented on this issue. Without prejudicing the others who would have commented, I reiterate my position: Land rights should be dealt with holistically and integratedly. The resolution of the land rights of any one group is related to the land rights  of all other groups and should not be seen as being related to that group in isolation from the rest of the society. I did not juxtapose Amerindian land rights to African land rights as Mr Charlie seeks to portray that I did. In fact, my example was about the resolution of the lands rights of Amerindians being equally a decision about land rights of coastlanders who may wish to be engaged in mining in the hinterland. Please don’t drag me into an Amerindian-African juxtapositioning when I am alluding to an intra-Guyanese issue. In fact, by quoting what I said: “We have to have a holistic and integrated approach to the resolution of sectoral or communal problems. I don’t think the nation could have a discussion about Amerindian land outside a discussion about land period”, Mr Charlie quite ironically confirms my contention and contradicts what he is contending that I said.

I would further wish to pose to Mr Charlie the following question: In what way will his cooperation with the commission compromise Amerindian land rights that have already been established? This contention seems to suggest that Mr Charlie knows of some basis for the reversal of the rights that have already been granted.

The dreadful and fearful thing is that Mr Charlie demonstrates utter contempt and disrespect for other Guyanese who have also inhabited this country and contributed immensely to its overall development, including the establishment of the Amerindian Lands Commission and the two Amerindian Acts that have been legislated, so far. Such persons he refers to as “current-day land-grabbers”.

Mr Charlie shows no respect for the other Guyanese who have, and continue to, put their lives on the line for the survival of Guyana as an indivisible state.

Yours faithfully,

Vincent Alexander

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