Reporting from the Organisation of American States, Washington DC, USA., 17th January 2011
A Synopsis of the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas preview meetings of January 15th-17th 2011 at the Padilha Vidal Room of the Organization of American States building at 1889 F. Street N.W. Washington DC; USA.
The highly respected Mr. Luis Toro of the Department of International Law at the Organization of American States (OAS) delivered the opening address made mention of a great many details, one of which was his personal observation that over the last 3 years "More high ranking OAS diplomats have been attending the sessions to negotiate for points of consensus with members of the Indigenous Caucus on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas". The Caucus was reminded that work began on the Draft Declaration in 1999, and that 37 Indigenous leaders/representatives from throughout the Hemisphere who collectively form the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas core membership were directly funded by the OAS to attend this 13th session.It was also noted by Mr. Luis Toro that of these 37 only 3 were singularly recommended/suggested - and all 3 were delegates from the Caribbean Islands.
At the 13th Session the Caribbean region had 8 of the 37 OAS sponsored Indigenous representations, and is represented by delegates from Barbados, Dominica (who unfortunately could not attend at the last minute due to illness) Dominican Republic, Guyana, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent, Suriname and Trinidad.
RAPANUI SURPRISE APPEAL
On Sunday 16th January 2011 a two-man delegation of Rapanui made a surprise appeal for support from the d Indigenous Caucus of the Americas to assist them in their plight with a rogue element in the Executive branch of the Government of Chile headed by none other than the President of Chile himself and his cohorts in commerce - the Schiess family of Germany who illegally own Rapanui ancient sites for private commercial profit via their tourism enterprises. The true landlords - namely the Rapanui people themselves had peacefully reoccupied their ancestral lands which were illegally sold to the Schiess family by the government of Chile (who themselves stole the island from the Rapanui through brute force in 1888).
The President of Chile ordered police commandos to forcibly remove the Rapanui activists and they did so with brutality, Rapanui Santi Hitorangi was forced to flee his homeland to save his own life when he was earmarked for assassination by the Police Commando forces occupying his island.
In Santi's address he eloquently explained the plight of the Rapanui People, and the Indigenous Caucus was deeply shocked and saddened to know that despite the Judiciary of Chile being on the side of the Rapanui - the President of an allegedly democratic country (such as Chile purports to be) - the President of Chile is behaving like a criminal thug of the ignoble Pinocht era more suited to head a Mafia crime family than a respected member country of the Organization of American States.
We were informed by a high level OAS official that the indigenous representative for Honduras who was selected by the OAS to attend this 13th session was unable to attend because of persecution from rogue elements of the Government of Honduras (an OAS member State) which forced the representative to go into hiding for reasons of personal safety.
Bogota Colombia was selected to be the location for the proposed (not confirmed by funding yet) 14th session of the OAS - tentatively slated for March 2011, and April 14th-15th 2012 is the date earmarked for the 4th Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas - also slated to be held in Colombia.
The fact that now every single country in the world is supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was revealed. The Draft American Declaration will be tailored (based on the UN Declaration and using it is a minimum standard) to the specific situation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
CANADA & THE USA
Whilst both recently seemingly having a change of heart (for public consumption) and now 'supporting' the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (they were until recently the ONLY two countries opposing it).
Indigenous Lawyers from both countries who sit on the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas revealed to the body the numerous covert ways that both countries have domestically watered-down the legal usefulness of the UN Declaration they publicly profess to support, by making it 'subject to interpretation through their neo-colonialist National Judicial apparatus (a common ploy by many OAS member states); and they both are wont to point to the 'hundreds of millions of dollars they earmark for Indigenous use annually in their National Budgets... as if trying to say "Sure we are illegally denying AND cheating you of your internationally recognized rights - BUT we ARE spending lots of money in your name on cosmetic solutions for you - so you guys should shut-up and be happy!".
The Indigenous representative from Peru informed the Caucus that generally speaking the non-Indigenous Peruvian Government and citizenry are very fond of using the great achievements of ancient Indigenous Peruvians as a source of National Pride (and tourism revenue), but when ACTUAL modern day Indigenous Peruvians stand up for their long denied rights in Peru - they are reviled as 'damned Indian Dogs' by the SAME non-Indigenous Peruvians.
The Indigenous representatives from Ecuador selected by the OAS to attend this 13th session were accused by persons in the left-leaning Government of Ecuador (an OAS member State) of being 'CIA operatives' because the OAS headquarters are in Washington DC - and because the OAS had paid all the traveling and accommodation expenses of these representatives (which is something the OAS does for ALL 37 Indigenous representatives they sponsor on the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas).
EL SALVADOR, SURINAME, TRINIDAD & BELIZE
All four of these OAS member states who 'support' the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (of the World) have still curiously not seen fit to re-write their own National Constitutions which still ILLEGALLY deny the very existence of Indigenous Peoples (and therefore their territories as well) in their own countries!
4 REGIONAL CO-CHAIRS GENDER BALANCED AT 13th SESSION
Of the 4 co-chairs of the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas at the 13th Session in the quest for points of consensus 2 are men and 2 are women. Representing the South America region as Co-Chair is Mr. Jaime Arias Arias - a respected National Indigenous Leader in Colombia. Representing the Central America region as Co-Chair is Mr. Hector Huertas - a prominent Indigenous Kuna Lawyer from Panama. Both men are bi-lingual in their own native languages as well as Spanish. Representing the North America region is Mrs.Tonya Frischner - a respected Onondaga Indigenous rights activist and former member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from the USA, Mrs. Frischner is bi-lingual in her native language as well as English.
Representing the Caribbean Region is Mrs. Zoyla Ellis Brown - a respected Garifuna Indigenous Lawyer from St. Vincent, Mrs. Ellis-Brown is the only tri-lingual Co-Chair - being a fluent speaker of her own native language, English and Spanish.
DONOR COUNTRIES THAT MADE THE 13th SESSION POSSIBLE
Mexico and Nicaragua were the only OAS member states that financially contributed to make the present 13th round of negotiations for the points of consensus on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas possible. The only other financial contributors were the governments of two non-OAS countries that only have Official Observer status at the OAS - namely the Governments of Spain and France.
Grand Chief Ed John of the Assembly of First Nations of Canada - and now a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, spoke last at the close of the 3 day Indigenous Caucus preview meeting on 17th January 2011. The Grand Chief's delivered what was considered by many to be the most moving address of all the Indigenous Caucus members who opted to speak over the 3 days. He reminded the gathered Indigenous leaders and representatives that "We are gathered here to inject our heart and soul into our words, not hide behind diplomatic language to please Bureaucrats! All of us gathered here have a responsibility not only to the present generation of our peoples - but untold future generations yet to come!"