Thursday, 9 August 2007

Venezuela Hosts Indigenous Congress, Gives Land Titles to Indigenous

As decades of indigenous struggle get majicked into thin air with the flick of a pen and the spineless political opportunism of the federal "opposition", the Wombats would like to remind readers that the world does not end at the Australian coastline.

The struggles of other peoples, especially in Latin America, still serve as an inspiration to everyone that dreams of a better world, especially today, August 9, which is World Indigenous Day.

The irony of the date is not lost in Australia, but the promise of what might be is a lot stronger...

Here's one glimpse of that:

Venezuela Hosts Indigenous Congress, Gives Land Titles to Indigenous

Wednesday, Aug 08, 2007

By: Kiraz Janicke -

Caracas, August 8, 2007 (— Coinciding with the launch of the First International Congress of the Anti-imperialist Indigenous Peoples of Latin America (Abya Yala), yesterday, in San Tomé, Anzoátegui state, Venezuelan vice-president Jorge Rodriguez, together with Nicia Maldonado, the Minister of Popular Power for Indigenous Peoples, handed over eleven housing and land titles recognizing indigenous ownership of various indigenous groups throughout the country.

Minister Nicia Maldonado assured that along with the recognition of land titles, the government will provide financial support for projects of integral development and housing for the indigenous communities of Pumé, Yaruro, Kariña and Warao, the first peoples of the states of Apure, Anzoátegui, and Bolívar.

She also said that during the past eight years the Venezuelan government has handed over nine-hundred thousand hectares of land titles to the indigenous peoples of various regions of Venezuela.

The minister said that 2,205 indigenous communities representing more than forty different groups had been identified at a national level, including 26 communities in urban zones and that the delivery of resources for the development of projects would come through financing plans presented by the Indigenous Communal Councils throughout the country.

The minister confirmed that the National Registrar of Indigenous Communal Councils had reached 800 and of these, 520 had so far received financing from the national government for various development projects. She added that financial resources would be made available for the other 280 Communal Councils.

She explained that the Chavez government has encouraged a process of “dignification of the original peoples of the country,” through incorporating them into the education missions, Robinson, Ribas and Sucre, as well as programs of social production such as Mission Vuelvan Caras, now called Mission Ché Guevara, among others.

Maldonado also emphasized that the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela “rescued the dignity and rights of the original peoples,” through the Organic Law of the Indigenous Peoples.

Anti-Imperialist Indigenous Congress Opens

The First International Congress of the Anti-imperialist Indigenous Peoples of Latin America (Abya Yala), also opened yesterday in San Tomé. Minister Maldonado said the conference, while promoting cultural diversity, had an “integrationist and unifying character” with the aim of creating a front against the political hegemony of the US imperialism.

More than a thousand delegates of first peoples from 22 different countries participated, including Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, El Salvador, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, Paraguay, San Vicente and the Grenadines, Brazil, Honduras, United States, Uruguay, Panama, and Venezuela.

The Venezuelan delegation included representatives of forty different indigenous groups, first peoples form the states of Anzoátegui, Amazonas, Apure, Bolívar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas, Sucre, and Zulia, as well as members of Indigenous Communal Councils from diverse regions throughout the country.

The first day of the congress covered issues of empowerment of indigenous people, through the articulation of their demands at a national level and expressions of communal power such as the Communal Councils in Venezuela, as well as the importance of promoting and strengthening cultural diversity and preserving indigenous languages, and the Bolivarian Alternative for the peoples of the Americas (ALBA).

The indigenous peoples of the Americas will also share their experiences of US imperialism, privatization of land and resources and struggles against privatization and for the recognition of land rights. Also to be discussed at the conference is the concept of 'Indo-American socialism', the discourse of Socialism of the 21st Century, and more specifically the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, including the “five constituent motors” for pushing the revolution forward, and the role of indigenous peoples within the revolution.

The conference also provided space to discuss strategies and articulate anti-imperialist proposals to create a better world, including the proposal to form a Continental Anti-imperialist Indigenous Council and a proposal to create an Indo-American Indigenous Network of Alternative Communication.

“We are going to celebrate this congress with the aim of going towards the formation of a Continental Anti-imperialist Indigenous Council, constructing 'Indo-American' socialism and the Bolivarian Alternative of the peoples of the Americas,” declared Maria Caicuto, the vice-minister for the communal indigenous territory of the Deltas, Mountains, Coasts and Mangroves.

The closing of the conference coincides with the International Day of Indigenous Peoples on Aug 9.

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