PPP/C vows to ensure land titles, extension coverage for all Amerindian villages - at meeting in Paramakatoi
Thursday, 10 November 2011 02:16
Source - Guyana Chronicle
President Bharrat Jagdeo, Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar and Presidential Adviser on Governance, Gail Teixeira greeting Paramakatoi residents on their way to a village meeting
THE ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has vowed to work diligently to ensure all Amerindian villages are titled and extensions are granted, though acknowledging that the venture is costly. This was the assurance given when the ruling party, led by President Bharrat Jagdeo and Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar visited Paramakatoi, Region 8 for a public meeting with residents.
Among those present were Presidential Adviser on Governance Gail Teixeira and Harripersaud Nokta.
“This is a commitment that the PPP has made,” President Jagdeo said, debunking rumours of a plot to confiscate lands from Amerindians.
“We have been in office for more than 15 years now, and you ask a single community in Guyana if we have ever taken away land from them… the answer will be no,” President Jagdeo said.
Speaking to residents in the Paramakatoi primary school, the Head of State implored residents to ignore rumours that are maliciously spread in this regard, pointing a finger at the Amerindian People’s Association (APA).
Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar speaking to Paramakatoi residents during a village meeting
“They receive a lot of money from abroad… they sit in Georgetown and they come to these communities and spread rumours that the Toshaos want to sell out their land and that the government will take away their land,” President Jagdeo said.
The few that have refused the land demarcation exercise are those which President Jagdeo said have followed the advice of the APA, and are at present stalled, while other villages that have heeded have advanced developmentally.
He made reference to an injunction filed by some communities in the Upper Mazaruni, Region 7, that has prohibited any action by the government to fast track the land demarcation exercise for those villages.
“Most of the Toshaos in Region 9, Region 1, Region 10 and the other areas… those villages have their titles, their extension, because they have rejected the APA,” President Jagdeo said.
Amerindians were also cautioned about buying into rumours which he believes quickly become fact in hinterland communities, and said that the effort pursued by Government in the area of land demarcation is unprecedented.
“Under the PNC, there was no land tenure. Although the areas were identified, there was no land demarcation of the territories so people couldn’t have a title where they could defend their lands, and that’s why coastlanders and miners and forestry people encroached on Amerindian lands,” President Jagdeo said.
The Amerindian Act of 2006 has enshrined the right of indigenous people to their land and obligates government to respond to any request for land demarcation within a stipulated time period.
Amerindians also have veto power to any request for mining; and if a request is granted, a royalty of seven percent must be paid. Additionally, villages have been given the power and autonomy to craft their own rules.
Ramotar, in his remarks, reflected on the living standards in Amerindian communities under the PNC, and the limitations.
“In the Amerindian communities, they (PNC) never built a secondary school and the primary schools themselves were in awful condition.
Many times they did not even have chalk to give to teachers. Many of the teachers were coming from the coastland,” Ramotar.
Ramotar said that it was under the PPP/C administration that this “unfortunate” situation was redressed, with the construction of secondary schools in Amerindian communities, the provision of hot meals, distribution of uniforms, text books, scholarships to tertiary and technical education and overseas.
The investment, according to Ramotar, is paying off, pointing to the students from Waramadong who are passing with flying colours and topping the country at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) level.
Access to primary education for hinterland students is today 100 percent, and secondary education is increasing with schools in Santa Rosa, Waramadong, Three Mile, Aishalton, Annai, Kwakwani, St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Port Kaituma, North West and the Sand Creek secondary schools.
The scholarship programme over the years has improved under the current administration, and has led to 450 students acquiring scholarships.
They have been complemented by others who access technical and tertiary education at the Guyana School of Agriculture, The Government Technical Institute, and the Carnegie School of Home Economics.(GINA)