Tuesday, November 4, 2008

October 29-November 4, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of October 29 - November 4, 2008

Australia: Cheap Houses "A Hindrance" To Aborigines

A MEMBER of the federal Government's indigenous housing commission has written to Kevin Rudd warning that the building of low-cost homes in remote areas creates a disincentive for indigenous people to leave and get jobs elsewhere.

Sydney lawyer Danny Gilbert says that before investing in remote communities the Government should consider if they are viable in the long term.

The Australian understands Mr Gilbert and several other commission members are concerned the Government is not taking the commission seriously.

The Prime Minister, who set up the commission when he apologized to the Stolen Generations, did not make a scheduled appearance at an October 17 meeting at which the letter was discussed. Mr Rudd had to cancel because he was in Sydney attending a crisis meeting with business leaders organized by the Australian Industry Group.

In the letter, Mr Gilbert calls for more meetings and a stronger reform agenda. "I am concerned we will not meet the ambitious targets set for us if we only meet four times a year," he says. "Could I suggest bi-monthly?"

Mr Gilbert says the commission does not have enough information about indigenous housing stocks, and the Government needs to be more proactive in creating private home ownership on Aboriginal land. Read more about aboriginal housing here....

Bolivia: Unprecedented Alliance Defeats Right-Wing Assault

After three months of intense class struggle, there can be no doubt that the U.S.-backed right-wing opposition to the government of President Evo Morales has suffered three important defeats. The right's offensive to topple Morales, which climaxed with the September 11-12 “civic coup” attempt, has been decisively rolled back by the combined action of the government and social movements.

The government secured a historic vote in its favour with more than 67% endorsing Morales' mandate in a referendum in August that also revoked the mandate of two opposition prefects. Another opposition prefect was arrested for his role in the coup. And now Morales has secured a referendum for the new draft Constitution to “refound Bolivia” on the basis of justice for the indigenous majority.

More importantly, a strengthened Morales government now counts on an unprecedented alliance of indigenous, peasants' and workers' organizations determined to defend their government and the Morales-led “democratic and cultural revolution.”

With the turn of the century, Bolivia's social movements – united behind Bolivia's powerful indigenous peasant movement – began to rise up in opposition to neoliberalism and indigenous oppression, overthrowing two presidents and paving the way for the victory of the Morales-led Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) in early general elections in 2005.

On assuming the presidency, Morales moved to nationalize Bolivia's gas reserves and convoke a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution – the two central demands of the mass movement.

A concerted campaign led by reactionary forces grouped around the prefects of the “half moon” – the eastern departments of Pando, Beni, Santa Cruz and Tarija – to wear down government support in order to pave the way for Morales' downfall, succeeded in stopping the advance of this process for most of 2007. Read more about the Bolivian struggle here....

Costa Rica: Indigenous People Still Largely Invisible

In Costa Rica, the most advanced country in Central America in terms of human development, indigenous people tend to be neglected and forgotten.

The country’s native peoples have the highest poverty rates and lowest levels of human development, and their views and interests receive little attention from the government.

The single-chamber parliament modified a clause in the Biodiversity Law and approved the amended legislation in the first reading on Oct. 16, without having consulted the country’s indigenous people, despite a constitutional court ruling that they had to be consulted about the change.

Under International Labour Convention (ILO) 169, the "Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries", to which Costa Rica is a signatory, governments must consult indigenous communities prior to undertaking any activity or passing any law that directly affects them or their land.

On Oct. 20, lawmakers from the Citizen Action Party (PAC), the Broad Front, and the Accessibility without Exclusion Party (PASE) questioned the constitutionality of the amended law, an aspect on which the courts must now rule.

"The state has made indigenous people invisible," EliĆ©cer Velas, a representative of the Maloku people, one of Costa Rica’s eight distinct native groups, told IPS.

The country’s 24 indigenous reservations cover a total of 400,000 hectares, approximately seven percent of the national territory, and the nearly 64,000 members of the different groups make up just under 1.5 percent of the population of 4.3 million. (The vast majority of the population is of mixed blood -- generally Spanish and Native American -- or European heritage). Read more about indigenous people in Costa Rica here....

Canada: Mohawk Nation Outcries- Canada’s Politicians Turn Aboriginal Peoples Against Themselves

Nathan Wright of the Assembly of First Nations AFN is the liaison with the Ontario Provincial Police OPP. He was told about the unarmed peaceful opposition to this jail being built in Tyendinaga. The OPP were waiting nearby to be called in. “That’s news to me”, he said. He didn’t know the OPP had ”made themselves visible”. What did he mean by this? Who called in the invading “aboriginal” police from Moraviantown, Walpole Island, Akwesasne and elsewhere?

Tyendinaga Band Council Chief, R. Don Maracle, was at the demonstration until noon and then left for lunch, leaving the truckers behind. The multi-million dollar portable modular mega-prison was still on the trucks. Who needs a prison when many Mohawks have been waiting years for decent housing and clean water? They built a huge fire at the entrance to the site, cooked and served everybody some food, including the truckers. Then the truckers left.

Canada sent in what looked like a colonial invading army? If you blinked your eyes, you would have thought you were in the Middle East. The U.S. set up governments in Iraq similar to the “band” and “tribal” councils on Turtle Island whose goal is to “municipalize” and assimilate us. In Iraq they created local armies to protect these U.S. puppets. People were recruited and trained to terrorize their own communities. This is common totalitarian practice.

The RCMP and OPP have both indicated they do not have jurisdiction in at least two Mohawk communities, Akwesasne and Kahnawake. They operate behind a “smoke screen”. They use “aboriginal police” to do their dirty work. The aboriginal police have managed to sow seeds of suspicion and conflict in Ongwehonwe communities. Read more about the Mohawk nation here....

Australia: Indigenous Patients "Confused" About Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is 30 times more common among Indigenous than non-Indigenous Australians, but a new study has shown few patients understand their illness enough to make sound decisions on treatment.

Among the researchers for the study was Professor Alan Cass, who is the director of the Renal Division of the George Institute at Sydney University.

Professor Cass says the study showed patients were frustrated because they did not understand their illnesses.

"There were again and again stories where people felt they literally did not know what had caused their illness," he said.

"Now that's important because they would say things like, 'They just told me my kidneys have failed', or 'I still don't know what's wrong'.

"So people expressed frustration. They expressed considerable anxiety about what might have caused their illness and what they could have done or should have done and need now to do to keep themselves healthy." Read more about aboriginal disease here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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