May 18, 2016 - Indigenous Updates from the Organization of American States Sessions by Damon Corrie
As the head of the Caribbean Caucus delegation to this current session of the Organization of American States working on the draft Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas I had to make this position of OURS absolutely clear, we are here to negotiate in good faith – not to deceive or be deceived, and definitely NOT to agree to ANYTHING that would diminish the rights of ANY Indigenous Tribal Nations of the Americas by accepting text that would DIMINISH our rights – just for the sake of saying ‘we achieved a document’…it will be NO DAMN USE to achieve something that WEAKENS our position, better to just hold on to the UN Declaration for now – for it is already the International MINIMUM STANDARD for the rights of the WORLD’S Indigenous Peoples.
We are not here to win a ‘popularity’ contest with the powers that be….we are here to secure the rights for generations yet to come! At the end of the day myself and Roberto have to answer to the Lokono-Arawak, Kalinago and Taino people – not to forget to mention ALL the Tribal Nations of Guyana, Suriname and Belize – about what positions we took and HELD here for our collective highest good, and we have to live with ourselves when this session is over….and it shall be with a clear conscience…I can assure you that much…..neither we nor our rights are for sale, yesterday, today, or tomorrow….and anyone who knows us – knows that to be an indisputable fact.
OAS UPDATE – DAY 1, WASHINGTON DC, USA
* US delegation said the UN Declaration should be the focus of the states of the Americas, NOT the OAS Draft Declaration, and claimed the USA will support the United Nations Declaration but NOT support the OAS declaration IF it proves to be weaker than the UN Declaration in any way (we were surprised in the Indigenous Caucus to see the USA being on the same side as many of us on this one, as normally they are in opposition to what we want).
* Canada delegation says it has publicly pledged to Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ‘in accordance with the Canadian constitution’…which is diplomatic language that will only impress a novice in the Indigenous Rights arena – because it legally means ‘we will narrow down the UN declaration to suit OUR national legal parameters – NOT widen our national legal parameters to RAISE it to the International legal standard (so same old crap just sprayed with a new cheap perfume). ANY state that GENUINELY adopts the UN declaration is supposed to incorporate it into their national constitutions UN-ALTERED.
* Panama delegation urging the fast adoption of this draft American Declaration….which we think is an unwise rush to agree at all costs – which the Caribbean Caucus will refuse to do.
* Mexico delegation spoke on the ‘essential need for Indigenous Peoples to approve this declaration for it to ever be morally VALID (and we agree).
OAS UPDATE – DAY 2, WASHINGTON DC, USA
INDIGENOUS CAUCUS DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND – WE WILL NOT ACCEPT A DECLARATION THAT DENIES US OUR SUB-SURFACE MINERAL RIGHTS …WHICH INCIDENTALLY ARE RECOGNISED BY THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT AND BY INTERNATIONAL LAWS AND CONVENTIONS ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES….DESPITE WHATEVER COLONIALIST FANTASIES THE STATES OF THE AMERICAS STILL ENTERTAIN IN THEIR MINDS
Colombia and Brazil are proving to be the main states trying to put semantic obstacles in our way – AND stubbornly maintaining that even though WE were here first and for thousands of years before THEM – the Neo-Colonial heirs and descendants of invaders and immigrants into OUR lands – still feel that THEY OWN our resources and not us (how racist and arrogant can these European descendants – and their imported imitation cultural clones be?) and thus impeding progress in these negotiations. Mexico has been leading the way in trying to rally states to our cause – not the states that we expected to be champions in defense of indigenous rights when we entered the room at this session yesterday.
OAS UPDATE – DAY 2, WASHINGTON DC, USA The States of the Americas proposed a language that the indigenous peoples of the Americas have fought AGAINST for over 500 years – ever since our lands were INVADED and Colonial & Neo-Colonial States were ILLEGALLY ERECTED ON OUR LANDS AND ON OUR BACKS and OUR resources were STOLEN – which is this: “Subsurface resources shall be governed by the domestic laws in force in each state” Mr Armstrong Wiggins of the Miskito Tribal Nation of Nicaragua & founder/head of the Indian Law Resource Center said BLUNTLY and I quote “I would go back to jail 12 more times as a political prisoner and die before I accept that!” The Caribbean Caucus said TWICE (myself and Roberto on two separate responses) “The Caribbean Caucus will NEVER accept that!” Hector Huertas of the Guna Tribal Nation of Panama said “We are NOT going to accept that, if I have to go home without a declaration then so be it, but I REFUSE to sell my peoples rights out to please the States,,the problem is not US – it is the States of the Americas who continue to try to cheat us out of our Internationally recognized rights. We shall see tomorrow if we will achieve an EQUITABLE resolution – or we walk out of this charade in protest!” Many other Indigenous delegations here echoed the same…this issue is NON-NEGOTIABLE for ALL of us!