Indigenous Peoples Will Have A Role in Writing a New Venezuelan Constitution The Constitutional Assembly Inaugurated Today

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Ada Recinos at +1.510.473.7542 or ada@amazonwatch.org


Caracas, Venezuela – Indigenous peoples of Venezuela celebrated a historic moment today as three prominent indigenous leaders took their seat in the opening day of the National Constitutional Assembly. Outside the Assembly, nearly 75 indigenous leaders danced and sang in their traditional attire in support of their elected representatives. The Assembly which is made up of a total of 131 elected representatives is being convened for the next six months as part of a historic process to write a new Venezuelan Constitution and represents a major win for indigenous participation in the political process.

Indigenous leaders expressed their hopes that that the new constitution would include legal guarantees for the protection of the indigenous cultures and lands. "The indigenous peoples of Venezuela will now make their voice heard for achieving their dreams and aspirations and for advancing the rights of more than half million indigenous peoples who live in Venezuela," said NoeliPocaterra, a Wayu indigenous leader and one of the three elected to the Constitutional Assembly. "We will invoke the wisdom of the indigenous peoples so that it may guide us and the Assembly in drafting a new constitution, one that reflects the pluri-cultural and multilingual nature of our society, one that is just, democratic, and one that includes the participation of those traditionally excluded from the political process and not just indigenous groups, but also women, children, ecologists, human rights advocates, rural populations, poets, and artists."

The other elected indigenous leaders are Jose Luis Gonzalez, a leader of Pemon people of Bolivar State and Guillermo Guevara, a Jivi leader from the Amazon State. All three were initially elected in the Extraordinary Congress of Indigenous Peoples held in Bolivar State in March 23-25 convened by the National Indigenous Council of Venezuela (CONIVE). However, the National Electoral Council required the indigenous peoples to reconvene another Assembly last month according to its established rules. The results of both indigenous elections were the same. The road to the Assembly has not been easy for the indigenous delegates. In addition to holding two elections, the Council held up the accreditation of Guillermo Guevara until yesterday for questions surrounding his exact place of birth – on the border with Colombia.


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