By Ewan Robertson, March 4, 2013. Source: venezuelanalysis.com
Indigenous Yupka chief and land rights activist Sabino Romero has been assassinated in an act which has generated public repudiation from social movements and the Venezuelan government alike. A high profile investigation into the killing has been launched.
Romero was a chief of the indigenous Yupka people of the Sierra de Perijá in western Venezuela. He was assassinated on Sunday night as he made his way to vote in an indigenous election, in circumstances which are still unknown.
Romero was a leader in the struggle for ancestral Yupka lands in the Sierra de Perijá, lands held by cattle ranchers, but many of which have been formally granted to the Yupka by the Chavez government.
Last November, Romero travelled to Caracas with some 60 Yupka to demand that the government act against violence on the part of cattle ranchers who were refusing to give up their lands, as well as to protest against government inaction and public media silence over the conflict.
By Kyle Carsen Wyatt, February 11, 2013. Source: The Walrus
Sometime this year, the federal government is expected to introduce legislation that will pave the way for fee-simple (read: private) land ownership on First Nations reserves. According to its champions—former Kamloops chief Manny Jules and on-again, off-again Harper adviser Tom Flanagan—the new law will generate business efficiencies, investment opportunities, and individual prosperity for the 300,000 Native people living on reserves in Canada.
Editorial boards and political affairs observers have commended the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative, a working proposal crafted by Jules and Flanagan, along with Christopher Alcantara and André Le Dressay, in their 2011 book, Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights. Proponents, who include a handful of First Nations, dismiss the alarms raised by most of the 600-plus Native communities in Canada, as well as Native studies scholars and the Assembly of First Nations. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson has summarized their objections thusly: “The first is that native land is traditionally communally owned. Private property is yet another assimilationist Western concept being imposed on native culture. The second is that once reserve members own their land, they can sell it to non-natives, eroding the land base.”
Ibbitson rejects these concerns out of hand, arguing that “the legislation will be strictly voluntary. Only those first nations that want to embrace the concept of private property will do so.” This line of reasoning presumes that communities and individuals driven to desperation can freely engage in decision making, when in fact many of them will succumb to a coercive land grab that has been 500 years in the making. He also contrasts the proposed legislation with the US General Allotment Act of 1887, better known as the Dawes Act, pointing out that it was involuntary. He is not alone in dismissing the nineteenth-century law. Backers of the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative regard its dismal legacy as a trivial aside, a laughable historical analogy: different time, different place. But as Cherokee novelist and 2003 Massey Lecturer Thomas King observes in his new book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, “When we look at Native–non-Native relations, there is no great difference between the past and the present.”
From Agence France-Presse, July 29, 2012. Source: Raw Story
SAO PAULO — Violent disputes over indigenous land have been growing across Brazil, sparking heightened militancy by native tribes angered by broken promises of compensation and slower government registrations.
A report by the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), cited by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper on Sunday, said the number of territorial conflicts jumped from 82 in in 2006 to 99 last year.
The indigenous peoples are fighting to protect their resource-rich lands from invasions or encroachment by huge cattle ranchers, industrial-scale farmers, illegal gold miners and loggers.
From Agence France-Presse, July 29, 2012. Source: Raw Story
LA PAZ — The Bolivian government of President Evo Morales Sunday met with indigenous Amazon basin lowland residents to discuss plans for a controversial highway that would run through their their homeland.
Angry protests last year by indigenous residents of the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (called TIPNIS), and the government’s clumsy efforts to put down protests, seriously eroded national support for the leftist Morales administration.
The event kicked off in the town of San Miguelito, in the TIPNIS, with the presence of Public Works Minister Vladimir Sanchez. Observers with the Organization of American States and the Union of South American were also present.
Cross-Posted from WW4 Report
A 16-year-old Chilean youth was seriously wounded with metal pellets on April 20 when agents from the carabineros militarized police raided the indigenous Mapuche community of Temucuicui in the southern region of Araucanía. The youth, Lautaro Naín, was rushed to the city of Victoria for emergency treatment. According to Mijael Carbone, the community’s werken (spokesperson), about 100 uniformed police burst into the village and began firing at houses. The Chilean Foundation in Support of Children and Their Rights (Anide) denounced “the violence exercised by the police forces against the Mapuche communities, a violence which once again has a child as its victim.” The organization called for an end to police raids against Mapuche communities in Araucanía and for negotiations to end “the conflict created by the Chilean state by dispossessing the Mapuche communities of their ancestral land.” The Mapuche Territorial Alliance (ATM) demanded the immediate removal of local prosecutor Luis Chamorro from investigations in the area, charging that he had an anti-Mapuche attitude and constituted “an obvious public danger.” (Prensa Latina, April 22)
In other news, both the government and student organizers seemed taken by surprise on April 25 when thousands of students and their supporters marched in Santiago for educational reforms. In contrast to the massive mobilizations of the 2011 school year, student actions had been small since the current school year started in March. But even the police estimated the turnout in Santiago on April 25 at 48,000, while organizers put the number at 70,000; there were also demonstrations in Valparaíso, Concepción, Temuco, La Serena and other cities.
Federation of University of Chile Students (FECH) president Gabriel Boric called the strong showing at the march “a very clear signal that the students aren’t going to back down from their conviction that education in Chile has be a right for all Chileans, and not by getting into debt.” Under pressure from the students’ popular demand for a return to a system of free public education, rightwing president Sebastián Piñera has proposed legislation raising corporate tax rates from 18.5% to 20% as part of a fiscal overhaul that will allow the government to provide student loans at 2%, replacing the current privately financed loans. However, student leaders consider these concessions inadequate. (Adital, Brazil, April 26; La Jornada, Mexico, April 26; Business Week, April 27)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 29.