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Our partner in Guyana, The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) held its 9th General Assembly on May 10 – 12, 2016 in  the village of Pakuri, Guyana. The Assembly tackled land rights, climate change, and the various social and environmental issues affecting indigenous communities throughout the  Guyana.
As Guyana celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence, the communities are engaged in a variety projects to build a stronger, greener, and more just Guyana. Delegates from 68 villages from across the country joined together to strategize on  protecting our rainforests and securing their land rights.
“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 real forests on our planet, and as such, recognition of indigenous lands and territories is critical. 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.for indigenous peoples in Guyana today, in recognition of the decades-long struggle to have their lands recognized .

“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 educational opportunities – particularly in technical skills, information technology and law – for youth, 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 our 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.