Saturday, May 3, 2008

Indigenous Peoples of Central America Oppose Free Trade Agreement

Last month indigenous grassroots organizations making up Via Campesina Central (the Central American component of the International Peasant Movement) met in Guatemala to discuss the intention of the Central American governments and the European Union to negotiate and sign an Association Agreement. Via Campesina Central, as a result of this meeting, issued the following statement:

The conquest and colony meant for our peoples the breakdown of a political process, organizational, economic and cultural development on the basis of our own reality and vision of the world. Our land and its natural resources were seized, looted and expropriated, and made available to the interests of the international market and not to meet the needs of its own.

From its negative effects realize statistics widely known.

The event was a formal act independently determined by the interests Creoles who were in conflict with the Spanish crown. Nothing to do with freedom, equality and socio-economic development of our peoples. The theft and plunder of our lands depending on the production of coffee in the world market, was again the factor that determined the institutions, laws, infrastructure and the whole economic model exploitative and predatory, which has caused so much pain our peasant and indigenous communities.

The FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) have become an instrument of new colonialism, pillaging and looting economic, social, cultural and political development. At present us transgenic seeds, agrofuels, blatant theft of our natural resources - mining, water, forests, air, land -. Everything that is related to nature is regarded as a commodity to service national and transnational capital. The Association Agreement is nothing more than the continuation of free trade, as reflected farce and demagoguery since its inception. As the DR-CAFTA, FTAA, NAFTA, all are tools of big business to expand and deepen poverty, misery and exploitation of those who produce wealth through our work. As the effects of DR-CAFTA that two years of its operation, has had the effect of increased imports of products in our countries, higher prices for products, lower income tax by the tariff reduction, which affects less social investment . Central American agricultural products, alleging false phytosanitary reasons. It also has increased the inhumane deportation of our compatriots.

The implementation of the NAFTA and the neoliberal model is based on the criminalization and repression of peasant and indigenous movement covered in anti-terrorism laws which punish social strife, primarily the struggle for Mother Earth.

For the foregoing say NO to the negotiation and signing of the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union for being contrary to the interests of our peoples.

To help mitigate this pending agreement, the Via Campesina Central also issued this statement of action and solidarity:

We reaffirm our commitment to fight for the unity and integration of our peoples on the basis of unity, justice, equality between men and women, equality, solidarity, democracy and full protection and rational use of our resources.

We want a trade and exchange fair, sustainable, the benefit of the people and not the corporations. We demand respect for the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples and communities and peasant food sovereignty, integral agrarian reform, respect, access to and control of our territories: the right to land, water, forests and seeds. We demand the right to decent work and a model of integrated rural development according to our identity.

We agree to develop and/or strengthen broad alliances with other social movements in Central America and other regions of the world, aim to increase mobilization against AdA and any other instrument of domination and exploitation of peoples.

Our history is of struggle and rebellion against exploitation, looting and pillaging.

The agreement was signed by the Guatemalan organizations National Coordinator of Peasant Organizations (Cnoc); National Indigenous and Peasant Coordinator (CONIC); the Committee of Peasant Unity (CUC) and the National Coordinator of Widows of Guatemala (Conavigua).

Representatives of the Coordinator Council of Peasant Organizations of Honduras (COCOCH); the National Council of Countryside Workers of El Salvador (CNTC); The National Peasant Board and the National Farmers’ Union of Costa Rica (UNAG); and the Association of Rural Workers and the Farmers’ National Board of Nicaragua, also attended the meeting.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Help Combate Racism Against Indigenous Peoples

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation began a new campaign last week against racism. Below I've highlighted some of the major points of this campaign, but I would also like to point out that many of these arguments can be applied to indigenous peoples in other parts of the world. Please, if you want to make a difference, go to the ANTaR website and sign the petition. If you are not Australian, then you can still make a difference by just following some of these actions in your own local community. Racism is a common problem for indigenous peoples around the world.

A new national campaign calling on all Australians to take action against racism and tackle the Indigenous health crisis was launched by ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) in collaboration with The Body Shop.

The Body Shop stores nationally will promote the Racism Makes Me Sick campaign from 21 April 2008 – 12 May 2008 as part of their commitment to defending human rights and promoting Reconciliation in Australia.

Racism, as a direct and negative influence on health, helps explain in part the Australian Indigenous health crisis. Appallingly, three out of four Indigenous Australians experience racism in their everyday lives.

ANTaR is asking individual Australians to combat racism by:

1. Getting the facts about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,
2. Challenging and speaking up to racist stereotypes and misinformed comments,
3. Taking positive action in support of Indigenous people.

All Australians are encouraged to sign a Personal Pledge to show their commitment, challenge their own assumptions, and speak up to racist or misinformed comments using hints and fact sheets available from ANTAR.

Help end racism towards Indigenous Peoples around the world.

1. Get The Facts
There are many misconceptions, stereotypes and biases towards Indigenous Peoples that are racist. You will be able to recognize and challenge them if you know the facts. Learn the facts so you feel confident about challenging racist comments.

2. Speak Up Against Racism
If you don’t speak up, your silence may be interpreted as implied approval of discrimination. You have the right, as well as the responsibility, to speak up. Read our helpful hints about speaking up against racism.

3. Do Something Positive
Many people feel disconnected from Indigenous Peoples and uncertain about what they can do to help. But there are many positive things that can be done. Small steps can make a big difference! Your actions at home, at school, in your local community, and especially with your consumer habits can all make a difference.

Have an idea? Leave a comment and help make a difference.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

April 15 - 21, 2008: Five Key Indigenous People's Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of April 15 - April 21, 2008

United Nations Indigenous Peoples Forum Opens

Bolivian President Evo Morales, ministers from that country, Ecuador, Nepal, and some 30 parliamentarians are attending Monday the opening ceremony of the Seventh Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The meeting, to be run until May 2, is the first one since the creation in September of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which had been negotiated for 20 years. The main issue this time is the impact of the climate change in native peoples. Read the rest of the story here....

Attacks on Indigenous Jumma Peoples of Bangladesh

On 20th April 2008 as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues gathered in New York to hold its seventh session, hundreds of illegal plain settlers attacked seven indigenous Jumma villages in the Chittagtong Hill Tracts (CHTs) of Bangladesh. These villages - Nursery Para, Baibachara, Purba Para, Nangal Mura, Retkaba, Simana para and Gangaram Mukh of Sajek union under Baghaichari upazila (sub-district) in Rangamati district were attacked for 4 hours from 9.30 pm to 1.30 am on 20 April 2008.

According to the reports of four journalists from Khagrachari who visited the area on 21 April 2008 with local government officials, at least 500 houses in the 4 kilometer stretch from Baghaihat to Gangaram were burnt down. Several indigenous Jummas were wounded and an unknown number of women were raped by the perpetrators. Reports of the mayhem are still coming. Read the rest of the story here....

Sediq Indigenous People Officially Recognized as 14th Indigenous Tribe in Taiwan

The Cabinet officially recognized the Sediq yesterday, the 14th indigenous tribe in Taiwan to gain formal status. Commenting on the issue during a weekly Cabinet meeting in which the recognition was granted, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung noted that the Sediq had been previously grouped by the government as a member of the Atayal, although the Sediq considers itself a different tribe from the Atayal.

"The recognition of the Sediq as an individual tribe is a show of respect for the will of the ethnic group and is consistent with the principle of fairness underlying our ethnic policy," Chang said. To honor the self-identities of indigenous peoples,the government has since 2001 recognized four other indigenous tribes, namely the Thao, Kavalan, Truku and Sakizaya, in addition to the Sediq, the premier pointed out. According to data from the Council of Indigenous Peoples, the Sediq population totals 6,000 to 7,000 people and is mainly distributed in areas along the border separating Nantou and Hualien counties. Read the rest of the story here....

Land Reform Agents Try to Free Indians from Servitude in Bolivia:
Interview with INRA Secretary General Juan de Dios Fernández

Alto Parapetí, a rural area in the eastern Bolivian province of Santa Cruz, is caught up in a dispute between large landowners and the government, which is trying to free more than 2,700 Guaraní Indians from a state of servitude.

Forty inspectors from the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) are attempting to draw up a land registry in the area and restore the land rights of 19 indigenous communities in the area.

Alto Parapetí, in the province of Cordillera, is located 1,200 km southeast of the administrative capital, La Paz.

The inspectors’ access to the disputed land, where Guaraní families are living in a state of servitude and forced labour on remote estates, according to the ombudsman’s office and human rights groups, has been blocked by local landowners.

The medium and large landholders have the backing of the local government and the pro-business Santa Cruz Civic Committee, who are staunch opponents of the leftwing government of indigenous President Evo Morales. Read the rest of the story here....

Higher Cancer Mortality in Maori, Hawaiian, and Pacific Indigenous People

Indigenous people from New Zealand and Hawaii have higher mortality rates for many cancers than Europeans in those countries according to a publication from the University of Otago, Christchurch. Culturally appropriate education on screening programmes, diet, and smoking might help reduce these mortality rates.

The findings are detailed in the first of a series of literature reviews on worldwide cancer disparities in the latest issue of the prestigious British medical journal ‘The Lancet Oncology’. University of Otago Christchurch researcher, Dr Gabi Dachs and colleagues reviewed studies of cancer incidence and mortality, as well as cancer management and risk factors, across Polynesian island populations. Read the rest of the story here....

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

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