Indigenous Leaders from Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil Convene Summit to Strategize on Globalizing Indigenous Rights

Consejo Nacional do Indio Venezuela Venezuela) o Conselho Indigena De Roraima (Brasíl) oFederación Indigena del Estado Bolívar (Venezuela) o Organizacion Indigena de la Cuenca del Caura (Venezuela) o Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana)

For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at +1.510.473.7542 or ada@amazonwatch.org


Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela - Starting today, Tuesday, July 20 through Friday, July 24, over seventy-five Amazonian indigenous leaders from Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana will convene in a historic summit at the Centro Comercial Continental Plaza in Ciudad Bolivar to discuss land rights and their cultural survival. Although separated by national boundaries, the region's indigenous peoples face common threats from a wave of huge international resource extraction and infrastructure projects - power lines, roads, mining and logging concessions, etc. planned by their governments to increase the flow of trade and investments in the region.

Faced with imminent threats from environmental destruction, contamination, poverty, and cultural demise, the indigenous groups are seeking stronger legal guarantees for the protection of their ancestral lands, their culture and way of life.

This is the second such summit in this region - the first was held in 1997 - and it is part of an effective trend of globalization among social movements involving increased international communication, cooperation, and alliance-building.

Among the topics on the agenda of the Summit is a comparative look at the constitutional guarantees of indigenous peoples in each of the three countries and how reforms have been won in Brazil, which offers the strongest legal protections to its indigenous populations. Both Guyana and Venezuela's indigenous peoples are currently going through constitutional reform processes and looking to other countries such as Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia for lessons.

"Our government's pursuit of economic integration and globalization cannot advance without first evening the playing fields in terms of the environmental and indigenous rights laws of our different countries," said Yaritza Aray of the Indigenous Federation of Bolivar State which is hosting the meeting. "We want to see the globalization of our rights because even today, our governments do not legally recognize our rights to cultural survival and self-determination."

The state of Bolivar where the summit will take place is home to the ecologically rich Imataca Forest Reserve and Canaima National Park, both threatened by controversial development projects such as the Guri power-line between Venezuela and Brazil for which construction has been suspended due to growing indigenous protests.

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