Caribs of Baramita complaining of illegal mining on their lands

Dear Editor,

The Carib residents of the Bara-mita village, Matarkai Sub-region, Region 1 (Barima-Waini) have complained that the root cause of their current social ills is irresponsible mining activities taking place on their legally-titled village lands without the consent or permission of a village general meeting called by the Village Council. The village residents are claiming that the coastland miners are in total control of their village council, and already know who the next new Toshao and councillors will be. They know this through bribery and a padded voters list of non-residents. The residents have claimed that the Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, the Clerk of the Regional Democratic Council (returning officer), the elections clerk and deputy elections clerk have done nothing about rigged village elections in Baramita; they simply turn a blind eye.

Village elections in Baramita will be held in April, 2018 and residents are demanding that the National Toshao Council (NTC) strictly monitor and observe the entire elections process. The Baramita residents have also complained that the miners on their village lands are not paying the village tribute of at least seven per cent of the value of minerals obtained from small and medium-scale mining (Section 51 (1) of Amerindian Act 2006). The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) mines officers based at Eclipse Falls do absolutely nothing about this, neither it is alleged, do they go to Baramita to inspect the production book of the miners.  The Chief Mines Officer (CMO) and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commissioner need to quickly dispatch a special team to Baramita so as to conduct investigations and to take corrective action.

While Baramita’s rich resources are heavily extracted on a daily basis its residents, the Caribs are currently living in poverty and misery with absolutely no strategic interventions by the government through the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs to bring about positive and lasting changes for the poor Baramita residents. The residents are therefore claiming that in tackling Baramita’s never-ending problems the root causes will first have to be examined otherwise other intervention will be useless.

But this is not what the Vice-President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs Sydney Allicock is doing, and according to the villagers the Minister has neglected Baramita. The residents are also claiming that on the matter of suicides in the village, the police officers do not conduct investigations. Furthermore, the police at Baramita allow in any coastlander who enters the village by road without asking their reasons. The ‘F’ Division Commander should conduct investigations into the performance of his officers in Baramita.

Editor, the village needs total rehabilitation so as to eradicate its current social ills and Minister Allicock needs to urgently visit Baramita on a fact-finding mission, not for one day, but for fourteen days so as to solve the problems at Baramita with the residents and not with coastlanders.

 

Yours faithfully,

Peter Persaud

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