Nov 26, 2023 Letters
The claim by the National Toshaos Council (NTC ) that it is the ‘sole, legal and legitimate’ body that represents the interests of Amerindians in Guyana (Department of Public Affairs, ‘NTC affirms its position as legitimate representative body of Amerindians’, 24 November 2023) has no legal basis.
This claim is an unreasonable/erroneous extrapolation of the functions of the NTC which are prescribed in Section 41 of the Amerindian Act (cap. 29:01, 2006). Section 38 says that the NTC ‘is a body corporate comprising all Toshaos’. Nowhere in the 10 sub-sections of Section 38 are any of the words – ‘sole’, ‘legal’ or ‘legitimate’.
The nearest to the claim are sub-section (h) – to coordinate and integrate the activities of Villages in a national basis – and sub-section (i) – to share, document and record the experiences of Villages. It is not clear that the NTC even performs these two prescribed functions.
Two Ministers (Amerindian Affairs, and Housing and Water) were present in Kurukabaru when the chairman of the NTC made this erroneous and misleading claim on 20 November, and neither Minister pointed out that this claim was legally baseless and incorrect.
What is clear is the total failure of the NTC to defend the Amerindian Villages which have had the control of their 2.299 million hectares of forest on their titled Village Lands stolen by the Government, and the carbon credits attributed to those forests sold in December 2022 to the oil company, Hess Corporation of the USA. No Amerindian Village was asked to surrender their control of forests using the procedures in sections 14, 15 and 34 of the Amerindian Act, and none did so.
What is also worrying is the Stalinist tenor of the NTC Chair’s declaration – appearing to contradict Article 147 of Guyana’s Constitution which protects freedom of assembly, association, and demonstration. The constitutional protection of assembly, association and demonstration applies to all Guyanese citizens, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Editor, I suggest that the official delegation from Guyana to the CoP28 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai at the end of this month should be sure to make truthful statements about Guyana’s massive contribution to global climate heating through the licensing of extraction of oil from deep-water offshore fields, and from the State’s enabling of greater losses of forest carbon from government-incentivised gold mining and timber logging.
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
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