Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai says she is unaware of complaints regarding the government’s programme for the demarcation of Amerindian lands.
Over the past year, three communities were demarcated, namely Shulinab, Toka and Three Friends. Sukhai said that the process cost $40 million and that was all the money that was allocated for land demarcation in the last budget.
The Amerindian People’s Association (APA) has urged governments and international agencies to protect traditional practices and help resolve outstanding land issues. But Sukhai insisted that she knew of no complaints.
“I wish to clear the air that all the demarcation that the government has done thus far, 73, we have had no complaints,” she declared.
The Amerindian Act of 2006 gives Amerindian villages legal powers to manage and conserve their lands.
Some indigenous leaders have accused the government of taking over traditional lands through poor demarcation, and pointed out that in some areas communities were demarcated without their knowledge.
Sukhai argued that in the areas where demarcation has taken place, titles were issued, and these were accepted by the villages.
“So I am unaware that we have issues with respect to complaints.”
Sukhai said that Amerindian communities have the opportunity when the surveys are taking place to nominate from the village council level three monitors. In addition, she said that the team of surveyors who usually go to the village to conduct the survey exercise will usually employ people from the village.
“The more technical jobs are usually done by the survey teams which go in, and which sometimes only consist of four persons,” she stated. The surveys are done by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.
Earlier this year, John Adries, the leader of the Paruima Arekuna community claimed that some community lands are being “sliced by half, some by quarter, some by three-quarters.”
Citing poor planning, the APA had claimed that a hospital that serves indigenous people in the mountain village of Kato was left out of land demarcated by government.
Member of Parliament Dr. George Norton had said the problem has occurred in many villages.
President Bharrat Jagdeo has said that the government will be able to speed up the demarcation process with the first tranche of money the administration will collect from the forest-saving deal with Norway.
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