Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Guyana: Wrong to Ask Barama to Cease Logging?

A letter to the editor of the Stabroek News, by Peter Persaud, President of The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOC), was forwarded today, strongly contradicting a previous post on this blog about calls for a cessation of logging by the Barama company.

This is the text of the letter:

May 28, 2007
I wish to refer to your newspaper article under the caption "Amerindian groups call on Barama to cease Akawini logging" in your issue of Thursday May 24th 2007.

I am disappointed with both the APA and GOIP for allowing themselves to fall prey to a known anti-Barama critic. But whether deliberately or not both of these organizations instead of finding solutions for the development of indigenous peoples are now carrying out the wishes of Barama's detractors and critics.

These so called indigenous groups not knowing the truth about the Akawini situation call on the Barama Company to cease its harvesting operations in the Akawini village lands. But it must be known to the Guyanese public and the international community that the root cause of Akawini's squabble with the IWPI is as a result of competing logging interests wanting to do business with the village council. Nevertheless the truth has to be revealed and it is unfortunate that the Toshao of Akawini while he was in Switzerland did not tell the society of Threatened peoples and the Bruno Manser Fords the truth surrounding the Akawini - IWPI fall out. Why didn't the Akawini Toshau tell these two Swiss NGOs and the international forum which he attended that the Akawini village had prior knowledge which was told at the Community Consul-tations that the Barama Company would have engaged in sustainable forest harvesting in Akawini. Why now this big cry about 'sub contract documents' when the Akawini people knew about Barama's involvement in the harvesting of commercial forests. For the Akawini village council to say that they knew nothing about Barama's role in Akawini is lying to the Guyanese public as well as lying to the international community.

But what is contradictory about both the APA and GOIP is that while they target Barama, they allowed the pillage and plunder of the commercial forests of Kwebanna, Bethany, Orealla, Cabacaburi, Manawarin and Wakapau Amerindian communities by their continued silence over this forest crime. Why didn't these two organizations stand up for the rights of their constituencies amidst the plundering of their forest by indiscriminate coastland loggers? Is this the policy position of both the APA and GOIP that forest destruction by coastland loggers is acceptable to them, while sustainable forest management by the Barama company is not allowed?

What do APA and GOIP have to offer the Akawini people should Barama decide to leave Akawini? This is what the village council should think about and stop being used by the APA and GOIP as their political football. Since Barama's operations in Akawini the village has earned millions which should be used for their community development as well as to provide small grants to grass-roots organisations of the village to fund their projects.

Both the APA and GOIP are aspirants to serve on the Indigenous Peoples Commission (IPC) and I am now concerned with the level of their maturity to effectively discharge the IPC's functions which in the final analysis will enhance the well being of Guyana's indigenous peoples.

I am appealing to the Akawini village council to let good sense prevail for an amicable solution to their concerns with the Barama Company.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Persaud


The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOC)

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