A big step forward for Amerindians
Stabroek News
March 28, 2002

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Dear Editor,

If there was never a strong indication by the Government of its intentions to address Amerindians and their issues then it was done on Thursday, March 22nd 2002.

After a meeting with President Jagdeo, the Amerindian Touchous Area Council (ATAC) of Region 8 and legal adviser Melinda Janki a joint statement was issued.

According to a report in Sunday Stabroek March 24, 2002 captioned "Jagdeo and Touchous agree on principles to solve problems relating to Kaiteur National Park" the following principles were agreed:

1. Amerindian rights, traditions, privileges, customs and usages are to be protected.

2. Amerindians are to have meaningful participation in all processes and decision making in any National Park or Protected Area involving Amerindian traditional land.

3. Amerindians are to be given first priority for jobs and training, not just as cooks, wardens and rangers but also as scientists and managers.

4. Amerindians are to be given a fair share of all benefits from protected areas.

It is also heartening to understand that a Memorandum Of Understanding to the Principles was signed.

This certainly is a change for the better in the dialogue process and will pave the way for a better approach to and final resolution of problems experienced by Amerindians, provided the issues are properly addressed and an environment of satisfaction is developed between the two parties and their advisers.

A cautious word of advice is to ensure that all parties honor the "agreed to" principles and work towards a better understanding of the issues being addressed. That will help the resolution process.

The National Amerindian Environmental, Educational, Development Foundation (NADF) and The Amerindian Action Movement Of Guyana (TAAMOG) and their respective presidents, Mr. Ashton Simon and Mr. Peter Persaud hailed the development as a positive indicator for addressing Amerindian issues and solving them.

There is much to be done and it is hoped that other Amerindian Organisations will come out and support this new development.

To President Jagdeo and the ATAC of Region 8, congrats and keep the good work up.

Yours faithfully,

Ashton Simon

President, NADF