Recognizing indigenous ownership

Venezuela Hosts Indigenous Congress, Gives Land Titles to Indigenous
Wednesday, Aug 08, 2007

By: Kiraz Janicke

Caracas, August 8, 2007 - Coinciding with the launch of the First International Congress of the Anti-imperialist Indigenous Peoples of Latin America (Abya Yala), yesterday, in San Tomé, Anzoátegui state, Venezuelan vice-president Jorge Rodriguez, together with Nicia Maldonado, the Minister of Popular Power for Indigenous Peoples, handed over eleven housing and land titles recognizing indigenous ownership of various indigenous groups throughout the country.

Minister Nicia Maldonado assured that along with the recognition of land titles, the government will provide financial support for projects of integral development and housing for the indigenous communities of Pumé, Yaruro, Kariña and Warao, the first peoples of the states of Apure, Anzoátegui, and Bolívar.

She also said that during the past eight years the Venezuelan government has handed over nine-hundred thousand hectares of land titles to the indigenous peoples of various regions of Venezuela.

The minister said that 2,205 indigenous communities representing more than forty different groups had been identified at a national level, including 26 communities in urban zones and that the delivery of resources for the development of projects would come through financing plans presented by the Indigenous Communal Councils throughout the country.

The minister confirmed that the National Registrar of Indigenous Communal Councils had reached 800 and of these, 520 had so far received financing from the national government for various development projects. She added that financial resources would be made available for the other 280 Communal Councils.

She explained that the Chavez government has encouraged a process of “dignification of the original peoples of the country,” through incorporating them into the education missions, Robinson, Ribas and Sucre, as well as programs of social production such as Mission Vuelvan Caras, now called Mission Ché Guevara, among others.

Maldonado also emphasized that the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela “rescued the dignity and rights of the original peoples,” through the Organic Law of the Indigenous Peoples.

Anti-Imperialist Indigenous Congress Opens

The First International Congress of the Anti-imperialist Indigenous Peoples of Latin America (Abya Yala), also opened yesterday in San Tomé. Minister Maldonado said the conference, while promoting cultural diversity, had an “integrationist and unifying character” with the aim of creating a front against the political hegemony of the US imperialism.

More than a thousand delegates of first peoples from 22 different countries participated, including Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, El Salvador, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, Paraguay, San Vicente and the Grenadines, Brazil, Honduras, United States, Uruguay, Panama, and Venezuela.

The Venezuelan delegation included representatives of forty different indigenous groups, first peoples form the states of Anzoátegui, Amazonas, Apure, Bolívar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas, Sucre, and Zulia, as well as members of Indigenous Communal Councils from diverse regions throughout the country.

The first day of the congress covered issues of empowerment of indigenous people, through the articulation of their demands at a national level and expressions of communal power such as the Communal Councils in Venezuela, as well as the importance of promoting and strengthening cultural diversity and preserving indigenous languages, and the Bolivarian Alternative for the peoples of the Americas (ALBA).

The indigenous peoples of the Americas will also share their experiences of US imperialism, privatization of land and resources and struggles against privatization and for the recognition of land rights. Also to be discussed at the conference is the concept of 'Indo-American socialism', the discourse of Socialism of the 21st Century, and more specifically the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, including the “five constituent motors” for pushing the revolution forward, and the role of indigenous peoples within the revolution.

The conference also provided space to discuss strategies and articulate anti-imperialist proposals to create a better world, including the proposal to form a Continental Anti-imperialist Indigenous Council and a proposal to create an Indo-American Indigenous Network of Alternative Communication.

“We are going to celebrate this congress with the aim of going towards the formation of a Continental Anti-imperialist Indigenous Council, constructing 'Indo-American' socialism and the Bolivarian Alternative of the peoples of the Americas,” declared Maria Caicuto, the vice-minister for the communal indigenous territory of the Deltas, Mountains, Coasts and Mangroves.

The closing of the conference coincides with the International Day of Indigenous Peoples on Aug 9--(

Freedom for Shawn Brant, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

CVEC calls for freedom for Shawn Brant, spokesperson for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
Below is a resolution passed by the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition (CVEC) at its monthly planning meeting held today, August 12, 2007, followed by an explanatory statement of the Tyendinaga Solidarity Committee.

Venezuela We Are With You Coalition (CVEC) meeting, August 12, 2007,

We of the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition support the civil rights and civil liberties of Shawn Brant, who was again denied bail August 10 on charges stemming from the June 29, 2007, Aboriginal Day of Action.

Shawn Brant and other indigenous peoples were invited to the First International Conference of Indigenous Peoples taking place this week in Venezuela. The Canadian government has unjustly and cruelly prevented him from responding to this invitation by penalizing him for his participation in the just cause for reclamation of indigenous lands.

We demand Shawn’s immediate release from jail, so that he may rejoin his family and his people’s struggle for their rights.

We stand in solidarity with Shawn's family and the community at Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory who have appealed to people for support of Shawn's bid for release.

The Venezuela We Are With You Coalition stands firm with the demands of the indigenous peoples here in Canada and the U.S. (Turtle Island) and pledge our support for their courageous struggle.

Shawn Brant, a prominent activist among Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory), was denied bail for the second time earlier this month. Shawn is currently imprisoned in Quinte Detention Centre, Napanee.

Shawn Brant is the only person facing charges for his role in two major blockades carried out by members of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte during the past four months, as part of the struggle for their land.

Clearly, Brant's real "crime" has been to take a firm stand against the theft of the land, the denial of sovereignty, and the impoverishment and abuse of his People.

The Mohawks of Tyendinaga, and Shawn Brant as a prominent activist for the community, have carved out a national platform to expose Canada's complicity in the suffering of First Nations peoples. Given Brant's refusal to live as a victim of the Canadian state's systemic violence, he poses too great a threat to a country built on the backs of First Nations peoples. That is why he is still in jail, and why, if convicted, he will face federal penitentiary time. The government of Canada is trying to send a brutal message to First Nations people committed to resisting centuries of genocide and colonialism.

As supporters, allies, and people who live on and profit from stolen land -- even through our mere existence -- we bear a serious responsibility to understand the struggle in Tyendinaga, to support the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and to participate in the fight for Shawn Brant's freedom. If we sit back and allow this act of criminalization to imprison Shawn at length, if we allow Shawn Brant's family to be torn apart, we too are participating in the on-going war against the original people of this land.

The Canadian government is determined to continue its colonial project ruthlessly and at age-old high cost. It is vital that we shift the balance of forces by building a movement of solidarity around Shawn Brant and, by extension, First Nations' struggle for justice, respect, and the land.

For more information contact: