“We call on the Government of Guyana, as well as cooperating agencies, to recognize and secure the full extent of our traditional lands, according to our internationally recognized rights.”
Today, we recognize that indigenous lands hold some of the last old-growth forests on the planet, and as such, recognition of indigenous lands and territories is critical to their survival. As newly-elected President of the APA, Mario Hastings noted that securing and respecting indigenous lands will continue to be the main priority of the organization moving forward.
“As indigenous peoples, we want our country and our communities to develop in a way that is based on real needs and a positive, constructive, and collective vision of the future. Free, Prior, and Informed Consent procedures that meet international standards must be established and respected with regard to any legislation, policy, or development initiative that affects us.”
The Assembly committed itself to empowering indigenous women, to pursuing youth educational opportunities—particularly in technical skills, information technology, and law—and to reaching out to communities and the general public. Finally, the Assembly commended the government’s recent public commitment to ratifying ILO Convention 169 and the American Convention on Human Rights, and called on it to do so as soon as possible.
The three-day Assembly was held in the village of Pakuri, a two-hour drive from Guyana’s capital, Georgetown. Village residents housed over 100 visitors, including Rainforest Foundation US’s Program Director, Christine Halvorson. While it was an intense few days of discussion, there were also light-hearted moments, with chats late into the night and swims in the nearby creek. The Assembly ended with a closing party, featuring traditional music and dances, the village rock band, home-brewed cassava drink, and parakari from communities across Guyana.