Jun 23, 2013 - Interview with the General Cha-O-Ha, War Chief of the Amerindian Peoples Liberation Army of the Americas, By Chase Iron Eyes
On 20th June 2013, the eve of the Summer solstice & longest day of the year, in a hotel room in Minneapolis Minnesota (USA), I met a most extraordinary man….he is known as General Cha-O-Ha and he is the War Chief of the Amerindian Peoples Liberation Army of the Americas (if you recall Lastrealindians published a list of demands of the Amerindian Peoples Liberation Front Jan.16, 2013); and I am certain that those who meet him – will never forget him…he was accompanied by his top 3 Field Commanders from Guyana, Suriname and Belize. On this day, June 23 – the day of the Super Moon; we decided to publish this, Cha-O-ha’s story as told to me.
General Cha-O-Ha is 33 years old, stands 6 feet tall, with long flowing black hair like a horse’s tail which frames a serious but handsome face. He physically unites the land of the Eagle (North America) with the land of the Condor (South America), as his mother is from an Amazon rainforest tribe and his father is from a Great Plains tribe. He had his first vision at the age of 14 – and he has not stopped having dreams and visions since then, “To deceive him is impossible – because he is naturally suspicious-minded and he also sees danger before it occurs in his dreams and visions, the spirits of his ancestors are always protecting him and warning him of threats” – Field Commander ‘Chilam Balam’ (from Belize) who was with also him revealed to me.
Though he is not an academic, General Cha-O-Ha is very knowledgeable about Indigenous rights under International Human Rights Laws, he knows the ancient Chinese ‘Art of War’ book by ancient Chinese General Sun Tzu by heart, and has a keen understanding of Che Guevara’s book ‘The Art of Guerrilla Warfare’ – with an ability to explain where Che was mistaken – and he has modified these teachings to be relevant and applicable to 21st century revolutionaries.
He is convinced that he lived before and fought many battles in defense of native peoples in that previous incarnation, and that his present incarnation was meant to be “Because it is the time of the Seventh Generation and prophecy wills it to be so”.
He also told me: “Two things are going to happen when this interview is made public, first – the obedient children of the Creator who serve the light, and who have watched for – and noted the signs as they waited all their lives for this time of Prophecy, will recognize my spirit as being one of many who have come to serve the oppressed peoples of the Earth…and they will rejoice that the time has come…. and second – those who are the disobedient children who serve the negative entities of darkness that maintain the oppression through assimilation – will look for anything they can find to immediately begin to cast doubt or attack me, for in that manner they hope to drain the life-giving energy of hope that I and others come to this plane of existence to give to the living; by their sowing seeds of doubt and crafty lies….one need only watch and listen to the words and deeds to know who is serving the light, and who is serving the darkness in this life…the truth can never be hidden forever”.
He flew to the USA from South America for a meeting with people willing to supply the movement with the ‘tools’ they need, and to meet with Mr. Gurung from Nepal (the 5th person in the room as I did this interview) – a retired middle-aged but athletic-looking Gurkha Officer whom I witnessed sign a contract to train APLA warriors himself, and to hire young Gurkha tribesmen (who look just like Amerindians anyway) on behalf of the APLA – IF ‘Operation Thunderclap’ is ever activated by an attack from the Security Forces in any of these countries on Amerindian communities in their borders.
General Cha-O-Ha needs 90 Gurkha warriors to be able to put one into every 10 man unit in the 900 man Jaguar Battalion he is creating….he says having a fearless human fighting machine such as a Gurkha warrior (rated as the most feared fighting men on Earth by all the worlds Armies) imbedded in every one of his small and highly mobile units will ensure that morale remains at optimal levels…for the Gurkha motto is ‘Better to die than to be a coward’.
I asked how the APLA was going to be able to fund their build-up, and Field Commander ‘Imenari’ (from Suriname) replied “Any diamonds and gold we find in our territories belongs to us, and we have amassed enough to get us this far, now donations are flowing in from patriots from around the world who are deeply committed supporters of the Amerindian Liberation struggle in the Americas – and who are realizing that WE are the ONLY Amerindian Force in all of the Americas that has a real potential to create free pro-traditionalist autonomous Amerindian States in the weakest (militarily speaking) Neo-Colonial States of the Americas…for these are countries where the governments have NO heavy artillery or tanks, no combat aircraft, and no Navies…just pathetic little Armies of predominantly ‘city boys’ with nothing but small arms to use against us…and every weapon they have – we either have already – or can easily acquire and use against them….so do not worry, we have more powerful allies than our enemies can even begin to imagine” he added.
This is what makes the APLA an unprecedented and in my opinion THE most exciting revolutionary phenomenon in the history of indigenous Guerrilla Armies of the world, not only because the existence of it was born on social media – but they are not restricted to one country or geographical area, and they are actively building forces to project enough power to protect Amerindian Tribes in various places in the Americas simultaneously; from Governments that have been treating them like second class citizens ever since these states gained their Independence from their Colonial masters – but then became Neo-Colonial masters in their treatment of the true indigenous landlords of their own countries….and we are seeing evidence that the emergence of the APLA is empowering and emboldening indigenous peoples all over this Hemisphere and around the world to take increasingly stronger protest actions. The APLA is a growing disciplined force (no alcohol or drug abuse by volunteers is tolerated) – but it is committed to never undertaking offensive military action, only defensive actions are allowed in their code of conduct. So if they ever do fight – it will be because the National Government security forces attacked them first.
The only viable progressive and civilized option for the Governments of Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica is to FINALLY treat the Amerindians as equals – or “pay a price they cannot afford for their unwillingness to change their unjust ways….because the American, Canadian and British public are NOT going to allow their governments to send their troops to support the predominantly non-Amerindian army of any of these countries (which are developing states most of the world community does not consider to be high on their priority list anyway) to kill the poor indigenous Amerindians in those countries – who are only fighting for their rights as enshrined under international law – and who have the sympathy of the masses in North America and Europe on their side already”…..and Genera Cha-O-Ha knows this very well.
As the Charismatic Rebel General explained: “As our Plan A we want nothing less than to have autonomous Amerindian demilitarized states headed by Amerindian Governors – based on our perfected model of the Miskito Amerindian example in Eastern Nicaragua (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regi%C3%B3n_Aut%C3%B3noma_del_Atl%C3%A1ntico_Norte) which operates in HARMONY today- after years of armed conflict- with the National Government of Nicaragua) – but is actually much closer to the working present Navajo Nation Government model in the USA (http://www.navajo-nsn.gov/#), except that they want Amerindian State Governors instead of Tribal Presidents.
The APLA also think that the Rastafarian community should receive an autonomous territory of their own in the Caribbean region – because General Cha-O-Ha believes that although he may not see the world exactly the same way Rastas do – they too are an oppressed people who are only trying to rediscover the kind of traditional non-violent spirituality of their ancestors in their own way; and deserve an officially demarcated homeland of their own (Jamaica has the land space to do this with ease) – where they can live off the land as we do, free of the Babylon system of this world that persecutes them for no valid reason; even though they harm no-one.
“IF we are treated with equity and have ALL of our United Nations Declarations Rights of Indigenous Peoples ratified AND incorporated into the National Constitutions of Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica to replace the inferior by comparison colonial era national legislations, we will be content to live within their artificial borders that were imposed on our lands, but we do not want ANY military (neither theirs nor ours) presence in the demilitarized autonomous Amerindian States we seek to establish within these National States, and we want the Police Forces that WE permit to function in our areas to be solely comprised of OUR indigenous tribesmen and women answerable to OUR Governor, Chiefs and Village Councils – and trained by the Organization of American States and the United Nations, and we also want OAS monitors from the Inter-American Court and UN Peacekeepers as well; to be permanently stationed in outposts on the borders of our autonomous States and the National State – as we will never completely trust them to guarantee our peace and security once the eyes of the world are turned away.”
“This is not an unjust or unreasonable demand by the peoples who ARE after all – the TRUE landlords of this country – and who are still being ruled by other peoples who came after us…no-one in their right mind would be content to live like this forever…they did not want European foreigners to rule them in the same manner we do not want them – as foreigners to us in our lands – to rule us either. Once our demilitarised states within the Republic are established the APLA & APLF will disband and cease to exist.” said Field Commander Kukoi (from Guyana).
“These countries are big enough for ALL of us, we do not want Afro-descendants, Indo-descendants or Euro-descendants (or any others) to leave (they are our spiritual brothers and sisters – even if they do not all act like it) – just to leave us in peace in our tribal lands and territories! Let us govern ourselves in our own territories – and let the non-Amerindians govern themselves in the rest of these countries that they inhabit…this is a fair solution to everyone.” – the General added.
In response to their uneducated critics the APLA says their Plan A was inspired by the example of the United States of America – which is a National State Federal Republic comprised of 50 states ‘within the state’ – each led by a Governor – the APLA also noted that the inspiration for the USA was the 6 Nations Iroquois Confederacy of North Eastern North America – and the very militarily weak countries like Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica who vow never to accept ‘a state within a state’ are the same ones who consider the USA to be the most militarily powerful country on Earth, and can themselves see that their more militarily powerful regional neighboring countries of Brazil and Venezuela ALSO have several states within their National State Federal Republics – which are also governed by State Governors….so their excuse is one of sheer hypocrisy.
The APLA seeks to have 3 Amerindian States within the western half of Guyana – Rupununi State (in the south), Pakaraimas State (central), and North West State (north) – each administered by an Amerindian Governor that is elected by the democratic majority vote of each elected Amerindian Village Chief in those respective regions of Guyana – independent of any political interference by the President or any Political Party of Guyana, as the APLA believes these Amerindian Governors should work WITH the President of Guyana – not FOR him like the political appointee current Minister of Amerindian Affairs who is appointed by the President of Guyana, and who was never selected/elected by the 100+ Amerindian Chiefs of Guyana to be the representative that THEY wanted in that job; and so they view her as nothing more than a mascot of the government – like all the other political appointee ‘Amerindian Affairs Ministers’ before her since Independence from England was achieved. Suriname could have an Amerindian autonomous demilitarized state in the Sipaliwini district, in Belize in the Toledo, Orange Walk, Corozal and Cayo districts which are the territories of the Maya Amerindian Peoples, and the existing Kalinago Territory in Dominica can easily become one as well with only minor adjustments.
The APLA thinks that monitoring/oversight of these autonomous demilitarized Amerindian states by trusted neutral 3rd parties such as the OAS and the UN will be required to safeguard the good governance and non-interference by any National/Federal Government surrounding these entities….one thing is for sure, such a noble idea if ever successful – WOULD certainly become a progressive role model for ALL Nation States of the world and could easily be duplicated all over the world…all that is required is the political will to truly begin a new, just and harmonious chapter in the future relations between the oppressors and those they continue to oppress.
In this regard, the Navajo Nation of the USA is probably the closest currently existing indigenous entity in the Americas that could easily become the first such autonomous demilitarized indigenous state within the USA itself……it already has virtually all the infrastructure (Tribal Court, Tribal University, Tribal Police Force, Tribal Flag, Tribal Government, a Diplomatic Mission in the capital of Washington DC etc.) that General Cha-O-Ha seeks to help create in Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica.
In the Caribbean/CARICOM region the Government of Suriname does not even officially recognize it’s Amerindian Peoples as being the indigenous and rightful landlords of the country in their constitution and neither do they recognize ANY official lands as being exclusive Amerindian territories (in violation of International Laws), the Governments of Trinidad and Saint Vincent still give no land recognition to their indigenous peoples either, meanwhile the Government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow in Belize continues to deceive the Mayan people and refuses to recognize their land rights either.
However there was ONE good example in the Caribbean/CARICOM region – the government of the island of Dominica (which does recognise the Kalinago Territory officially) in the Caribbean had once issued a Diplomatic Passport to the Kalinago Chief (the only Amerindian Tribal Nation in that country) – which is an unprecedented positive & progressive act in ALL of the Americas, and Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica could easily turn this current sad state of affairs to their political advantage and react in a truly civilized manner and become the poster-countries for how TRULY PROGRESSIVE and civilized nations act in ‘best practices’ in the 21st century…instead of reacting with the expected ignorance and intransigence – and becoming the poster countries for how NOT to treat indigenous peoples….and going down in history in disgraceful infamy.
The Amerindian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA) is the Armed wing of the movement, and the Amerindian Peoples Liberation Front (APLF) is the Political Wing of the movement, the APLA will do any actual fighting with government forces that becomes necessary due to an attack by the security forces of these countries, and the APLF (which has a Facebook site in that name) will do any actual negotiating with these Governments – should these Governments realize before it is too late that it is in their best interest to open a civilized dialogue and negotiate now (before any blood needs to be shed and their economies destroyed); rather than get into what will be a long and destructive Guerrilla War that they have no chance whatsoever of ultimately winning….for no government in the history of the world has ever defeated indigenous guerrilla fighters who wage a war in their own mountain covered jungles against a force of non-indigenous urban soldiers….and even more-so when the Guerrilla force has neighboring countries (in at least 3 of these 4 cases) who will in the very least turn a blind eye and offer them an unofficial protected rear base of operations, or simply decide to cut a deal – and decide to arm and equip them and offer them the autonomy in their own territories that they are willing to settle for – in exchange for the rights to mineral resources in a fair trade deal that the Amerindians MIGHT (if they see no better alternative) happily accept.
Look at it this way, the Governments of Guyana, Suriname and Belize are ALREADY taking mineral wealth from Amerindian lands and giving them NOTHING for it, so who can blame them if a neighboring country decides one day to covertly arm them to enable them to secure their freedom – in exchange for the right to extract mineral resources (in an environmentally responsible way consented to by the tribes…capitalists call that ‘good business sense’) that the neighboring country is willing to PAY the Amerindians for? The Guyanese have a saying – “it takes two hands to clap”…and we all know the old expression: “the enemy of your enemy is your friend.”
As General Cha-O-Ha said “We do not care which Neo-Colonial State surrounds our lands, we only care about which one is willing to recognize our rights more and treat us with a higher degree of respect and equity, and whichever one that is – is the one we will welcome and live in harmony with. The regime with the most political foresight will be the one that opens a constructive and civilized dialogue with us and agrees to our demands…ALL that concerns us – is that the next generation of Amerindians lives better lives than we do now, no more police and soldiers who are not of our peoples raping, beating and murdering us – and getting away with it by being ‘transferred’ to another station or base instead of being fired and imprisoned as they deserve to be….because this ‘justice denied’ status quo has been occurring in Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica – and indeed all of the Americas – for all of my lifetime….and I am one of those who has come to put a stop to it in this lifetime – for we are Idle no more!”
For the record – “as any viewer of their 20 demands can see below, this movement is even calling for better lives for all the other peoples of Guyana – double the present wages for teachers, double the pensions for the elderly, ending the Wildlife Trade that is a national disgrace on Guyana and Suriname which portray themselves as being an Eco-lovers paradise yet export thousands of parrots and other birds ripped from their rainforest homes each year, and even increased wages for their enemies – with a doubling in the official wages of the Guyana Police Force and Military members – and these are the very ones who would be used by the Guyana Government to try to destroy the APLA! If that is not an example of forgiveness and fair-mindedness I do not know what is.”
This is not surprising though, for the General is a devoted traditionalist and his spirituality teaches him that violence is only to be used as a defensive last resort, mercy and forgiveness must be shown to captured enemies, and all human beings are children of the Creator of the Universe and so should be treated (and treat each other) the same as each would themselves want to be treated.
The General said as I left:
“We only want to live in peace and TRUE freedom – as our ancestors did before others began imposing their rule over us with their modern weapons, now – if we must use modern weapons to restore our rights and live under our own flags, and our own governments – with our own seat at the table of mankind at the United Nations – as brothers with EQUAL rights should both enjoy…our enemies will want to say that we are ‘terrorists’…they need to re-examine their hearts and minds, lose their Eurocentric ‘superiority complex’ …and accept that they too come from ancestors long ago on every continent who were once oppressed indigenous tribal nations as we still are…and see that we are only saying the truth…then come back to us as friends with open minds and a new attitude….for then they will find us here waiting to embrace them as brothers in mind and spirit – and this Earth will finally become the paradise it was always meant to be”.
Just for the record, here are the 20 Demands of the APLF & APLA for all the world to read:
We demand that in Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica – Locally Autonomous Demilitarized States (LADS) be established for Amerindian Peoples and be recognized in the National Constitutions of the National Governments of these countries, and that these LADS be nominally headed by Indigenous State Governors – who are themselves elected by the democratic majority of Amerindian persons in statewide plebiscites conducted in every Amerindian community existing in these regional LADS…to work as genuine representatives OF the Amerindian people and FOR the Amerindian People – WITH the National Governments.
We demand that in the interim (while the LADS are being created) a GENUINE Amerindian ‘Minister of Amerindian Affairs’ be established in Guyana, Suriname and Belize, and this person must be democratically elected by majority vote of the Amerindian Village Chiefs of the country and operate out of an office in a neutral 3rd entity such as the Organization of American States (OAS) or United Nations (UN) in each country…free of political interference by the Head of State of the National Government – with which he or she should work WITH (on behalf of Amerindians)… not FOR (and do the bidding of the head of state).
DEMAND # 3
We demand that ALL Policemen & women stationed on Amerindian lands or in Amerindian communities – be trained Amerindians themselves, non-Amerindian Police Forces are the major source of human rights violations on Amerindian Peoples by members of the security forces of the Political Nation State.
We demand the removal of all non-Amerindians who are neither currently cohabiting, married to, nor part descendant of any Amerindian person – yet who has taken up permanent residence in an Amerindian territory – for you have no legal right to live within our communities.
Persons of provable Amerindian descent or non-Amerindians who are married to Amerindians – should be allowed to reside in our territories – but should NEVER be allowed to possess any house or land in THEIR name, nor hold any position of authority within any Tribal Government or Village Council – except that of ‘Voluntary Advisor’. Only natural born residents of full or part Amerindian descent should be able to possess a house or parcel of land in our territories – that can only be transmitted to a fellow locally born Amerindian community member.
DEMAND # 5
We demand – in accordance with the UNDRIP and other International Indigenous Rights Laws & Conventions – that ALL mineral and natural resources found on, above, or below Amerindian Lands and territories – including water; belong to the Amerindians who occupy or traditionally use those lands and territories – NOT to the Colonial Political Nation States or their Neo-Colonial heirs or successors.
DEMAND # 6
We demand that the human sex trafficking of Amerindian children and women be made a crime punishable by life imprisonment by the judiciary of Guyana, Suriname, Belize and Dominica.
DEMAND # 7
We demand that ALL remaining Amerindian Lands and Territories be officially demarcated and be titled and recognized as irrevocable autonomous territories under the local administration of the Tribal/Village Councils of each, NO Government has any legal right under International Law to revoke the titled land of ANY Amerindian Tribal Nation or community ANYWHERE. Neither do any governments have any right to interfere with the electoral process in Amerindian communities – by bankrolling political pimps in these communities during community elections; so that you will have obedient ‘leaders’ who will only follow YOUR orders.
We demand that the Guyana Police Force and Defense Force cease with immediate effect – their illegal presence and patrols on Amerindian territories and in Amerindian communities UNLESS free prior and informed consent & permission has been granted to the Guyana Police and Defense Force by the Toshao (Chief) and Village Councils – to enter and transit their territories and communities.
We demand that no Amerindian shall be arrested or imprisoned for peacefully defending their International legally recognized rights as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – against violations of the same by any civilian or civil servant in any CARICOM country.
We demand that CARICOM ensure that demarcated land titles be provided to ALL the Indigenous Peoples & communities of Guyana, Suriname, Belize, Trinidad and Saint Vincent -in accordance with INTERNATIONAL human rights laws and conventions.
We Demand an END to the Wildlife Export Pet Trade in Guyana and Suriname, (zoological collections should only be permitted). Guyana and Suriname are PARADISE destinations for Nature Lovers – how can you allow tens of thousands of animals to be taken from their natural place in nature every year to be exported as ‘pets’ and be serious about wanting to ‘develop and expand a viable and model Eco-Tourism industry’ in OUR country? Letter writing campaigns have tried to politely persuade you to do the right thing for decades to no avail, we are not asking you to stop – we are TELLING you that you will stop this sacrilege of mother Earth!
We demand that Makushi Rebel General Taman Davis and ALL the other Amerindian combatants of the failed December 31st 1969 Rupununi Rebellion in Guyana be granted an official Amnesty so that they may return from exile in Brazil and Venezuela to their home villages in Guyana to die in peace – and be buried with their ancestors…they are ALL old men now and deserve to die in peace and freedom in their own lands.
We demand that a TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION headed by the United Nations and Organization of American States be established to look into the conduct of the Guyana Defence Force from January 1st to December 31st 1970. We demand that all the Guyanese soldiers be granted amnesty for their crimes for it is more important (at this point in history) that they ADMIT the crimes they committed against the innocent Amerindians of the Rupununi when Forbes Burnham sent them to ‘crush the rebellion’ and these include:
Rapes of Amerindian girls and women.
Beatings/tortures of Amerindian boys & men.
Executions of Amerindian men and the mass burial of their bodies on the North Rupununi savannas.
The slaughtering of Amerindian owned cattle and livestock.
The burning of Amerindian homes.
This Tribunal should be held in a neutral town such as Bonfim Brazil where witnesses can easily attend and speak the truth of what they suffered under the Guyana Defense Force – free from the customary Guyana Police, Government and Military intimidation that usually occurs INSIDE of Guyana.
We demand that ALL Government pensions be increased in Guyana, not only for Amerindian pensioners – but for ALL persons resident in the political Nation State of Guyana. You Government Ministers should feel ashamed that you expect other peoples parents and grandparents to survive on US$2.50 per day or less when you yourselves are earning salaries in the thousands each month – not counting the MILLIONS you receive in bribes and kick-backs from your corrupt dealing – and we are sure that YOUR parents and grandparents are living on much more than the average person’s pension. Where is your conscience? You live a comfortable life by spending the average taxpayers money on YOURSELVES (and high stakes bribery) yet you expect those same average taxpayers to live on bread, biscuits and sardines? Because THAT is all they can afford on US$2.50 per day. We understand economics and do not expect miracles overnight, but we KNOW you can afford to immediately DOUBLE this pension to US$5.00 per day…and without raising extra revenue either, just do as our AMERINDIAN brothers in Bolivia have done under President Evo Morales – who cut his own salary in half – as well as the salary of every Minister in the Bolivian Government (eliminate your ‘entertainment expenses’ as well and also channel THAT into the pension increase). Let no pensioner in Guyana receive less than GY$30,000 per month (US$150.00).
We demand that the monthly salaries of members of the Guyana Security Forces (Police and Army) be raised to US$500 per month (GY$100,000.00) – because the present woefully inadequate salaries do NOT allow these people to pay their house rents, food & utilities etc, and we suspect that is why so many of them resort to criminality and bribe taking to supplement their incomes, the Policemen who man the stations in Linden, along the Mabura road, the Iwokrama crossing, Lethem – and even the East Bank traffic cops & Soesdyke-Linden highway station – ALL take bribes – often in full view of the other passengers on the buses that ply this route, and the Brazilian citizens visiting Guyana especially are shaken down the most – and these folks know to place money INSIDE their passports as they hand them to the Police at these checkpoints. Often these Brazilians have done nothing wrong – but to be able to continue on their journey without undue harassment by Guyanese Police – they pay to NOT be bullied. …this is a national disgrace.
We demand that the salaries of teachers in Guyana (all races and in every part of the country) be raised to GY$100,000 (US$500) per month….equal to the raised salaries that Police Force and Defense Force members should have and we demanded previously. Our teachers mold the minds of our youth almost as much as our parents, how can we have disinterested/disgruntled/under-appreciated teachers – and expect our youth to be model citizens? We will never stop the exodus & ‘brain drain’ of our trained teachers if they know that they CANNOT live comfortably on the wages they earn in Guyana – but they CAN live comfortably AND be able to send money back home to their relatives in Guyana if they seek to use their training in another country! Do not use the ‘budget’ excuse argument, we are all well aware of the squandering of public funds due to nepotism, favoritism and outright THEFT that the current (and previous) governments of Guyana are world famous for. Put the PEOPLES money into things that will improve the lives and be beneficial to – THE PEOPLE! Our teachers are just as important – some might say MORE important – to the well being of a nation – than the Security Forces, the common denominator influencing the lives of EVERY citizen in every country – are TEACHERS.
DEMAND # 17
We demand that Amerindian AND Rastafarian children (BOTH male and female) in Guyana be allowed to maintain their long hair to attend school, the Police Force, and even the Military – if they so choose. Recognizing that having long hair is a cultural right to both – and has no detrimental effect whatsoever on the ability to learn or exhibit decorum and self discipline – is the FIRST step in the right direction….away from Colonial era prejudices and towards a greater understanding and respect for other cultures. In the Caribbean – in the island of Dominica, the government their recognized many years ago the right of our indigenous Kalinago-Carib cousins (BOTH Male and female) to maintain their long hair in school…it is a cultural right enshrined in the UNDRIP (which the Guyana government also signed at the UN in view of the world) and was spearheaded on the ground in Dominica at the time by Kalinago-Carib Jacob Frederick and his children – who all hail from a long line of Chiefs of the Kalinago-Carib Tribal Nation. As for the Police and military aspect, the late Revolutionary leader of Grenada – Maurice Bishop, had recognized the right of Rastafarians to serve in the Armed Forces of Grenada and maintain their long hair…and no other Caribbean Soldiers at the time were as combat trained or disciplined and the Grenadian Army under Bishop….so it is NOT an unprecedented scenario at all.
DEMAND # 18
We demand that ‘Indigenous Rights under INTERNATIONAL laws’ studies be included in Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) curriculum for Secondary level Institutions – so that members of dominant society (why by law must attend Secondary level schooling in most CARICOM countries) will be aware of the fact that the indigenous peoples in their countries DO have MORE rights when in their own countries than the descendants of settler populations currently resident there – and will be less ignorant of our rights and less quick to violate them as a result of this ignorance on the part of members of dominant society….and the foundation for a better future will be laid in their hearts and minds.
DEMAND # 19
We demand that the Ministries of Education in all CARICOM countries make it official policy to set clear instructional guidelines to the faculty of ALL the schools in their countries – that NO child should be denied an education just because he or she does not have shoes, or the complete school uniform. ESPECIALLY as this applies to poor Amerindian children attempting to attend school ON THEIR OWN TERRITORIES.
DEMAND # 20
We demand that the Governments of Guyana & Suriname – in order to be fair to Amerindians – since the mineral resources out of Guyana and Suriname belong to us as the first inhabitants of these countries (in accordance with International Human Rights Law) – that 11% (which is our percentage of the National Population) of the National revenues from Guyana’s natural resources should be paid into a fund administered by the United Nations (because we don’t trust thieves in the Guyana government to handle our money) for each of our over 100 Amerindian Village Councils to access for our own development projects in our communities; and in the case of Suriname = 4% of the mineral resources revenues (equal to the Amerindian population) must be paid to the 5 Amerindian Tribal Nations of that country.