Coro, 9th August 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Over 400 delegates from 18 different countries attended the fourth Indian American Youth Congress which concluded Tuesday in Caracas.
As part of the celebrations for international indigenous day, indigenous groups from all over the Latin American region met in the Venezuelan capital to discuss issues surrounding food security, human rights, the safeguarding of indigenous culture and how to strengthen the current political processes taking place in Latin America.
Dalia Yánez, Coordinator of the Indigenous Commission of the Latin American Parliament, highlighted the importance of the Congress since indigenous peoples were still subject to racism on the continent, despite political progress.
“The struggle and resistance continues...there have been some political advances, but there is still discrimination, we still have yet to reach our goal” said Yanez.
Many representatives emphasised that the current political processes taking place in Latin America had opened up the political arena to the region’s indigenous groups like never before, and that these groups now had a say in national political debate for the first time in the continent’s history.
“The struggle at a global level that the states recognise, which the Venezuelan state has recognised, are the rights of the indigenous populations, the right to land and its preservation in the face of the foreign companies that invade the natural spaces of the world” said Estaben Perez, Representative of the Venezuelan Indigenous American Parliament.
“In Venezuela there is a process that is conscious of this...in these 12 years there have been advances within the sphere of public life” continued Perez.
Similarly, Jorge Alvarado, Embassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in Venezuela, spoke positively about the government of Bolivia’s indigenous president Evo Morales, but also highlighted that the same oligarchy that traditionally subjugated Bolivia’s indigenous population “continues to make the job difficult”.
In the closing ceremony the delegates declared themselves to be “against capitalism and for socialism” and vowed to construct an alternative development model. The statement, read by Bolivian delegate Maya Yapú, also guaranteed social inclusion, as well as respect for economic, environmental, social and political rights. Declaring the movements’ solidarity with the Chilean Mapuches, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and regional initiatives such as the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), the statement also denounced U.S. and European imperialist aggression against Libya and Afghanistan.
In more concrete initiatives, Yapú also announced the creation of the Bolivarian Indigenous Youth movement, to serve as a space for participation, unity, integration and cultural exchanges amongst the region’s national indigenous movements.
Bringing the conference to an end, the Venezuelan government presented communities from the Amazon with over 22 million Bolivars (US$5.1 million) through Mission AgroVenezuela. The funds will be used for agricultural production and the implementation of socio-productive projects within the community. The Venezuelan Environmental Minister also gave communities in the Venezuelan town of Pemón over 1,600,000 (US$370,000) for the reconstruction of the Caroni river basin in the state of Bolivar.
In other celebrations, indigenous groups took to Parque Central in Caracas in order to stage a series of indigenous cultural activities that are set to last till Wednesday. As well as being dressed in traditional indigenous clothing and staging cultural shows, groups are also selling traditional indigenous crafts, including belts, dolls, and blankets.