The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) Strategizes to Protect Rainforests

Our partner in Guyana, the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) held its 9th General Assembly on May 10 through 12 in the village of Pakuri. The Assembly tackled land rights, climate change, and the various social and environmental issues affecting indigenous communities throughout Guyana.
 
As Guyana celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence, the communities are engaged in a variety of projects to build a stronger, greener, and more just nation. Delegates from 68 villages from across the country joined together to envision a way to  protect their rainforests and secure 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 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.

Click here to read the resolution, quoted above.

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Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala
gro.y1669762734nffr@1669762734sreve1669762734dd1669762734

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.