29 September 2012

Chairman of Curacao Parliament announces parliamentary inquiry


WILLEMSTAD — The interim-cabinet can expect a motion of no-confidence on November 2nd. A proposal for a parliamentary inquiry into the bribing of several parliamentarians and the governor’s role with the formation of the interim-cabinet will be introduced. Chairman of the Parliament Ivar Asjes (PS) announced this during a 2½-hour press conference yesterday.

The chairman of the Parliament said the group of 12 has the governor as godfather, According to Asjes, who is convinced that the current coalition will secure a majority on October 19th, Governor Frits Goedgedrag entered the political arena by appointing Mendes de Gouveia to form the interim-cabinet. For that reason he wants to employ the strongest means available to the parliament to scrutinize the governor’s actions. Asjes: “Just like the queen he can do no wrong owing to his role as head of the government, but he is not above the law.”

The chairman of the Parliament has a different opinion on the parliamentary impasse than the governor. Asjes regrets that Goedgedrag had ignored all of his arguments. In a document of 50 pages the chairman of the Parliament explained the past events in detail, but Goedgedrag chose not to respond. That the governor now states the esteem of the Parliament took a severe blow because public meetings of the Parliament had been cancelled, is nonsense said Asjes.

“The argument that Asjes closed the doors of the Parliament is not true”, said Asjes, referring to the closing and opening of the parliamentary year. The group of 12 had refused to show up. There was no quorum for the meetings of the central committees because these meetings were boycotted, said Asjes.

28 September 2012

Curacao Prime Minister will not yield to Interim Cabinet

Schotte is not stepping down

Daily Herald

~ Constitutional crisis worsens ~

WILLEMSTAD--Outgoing Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte (MFK) will not respond to a call to make way for an interim cabinet. He made his decision known in a letter to Governor Frits Goedgedrag dated September 25.
In the letter Schotte argued that the decision to replace his already-resigned cabinet after earlier agreeing to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections on October 19 was insufficiently motivated. In the young prime minister's opinion, the governor is only allowing the current majority to retaliate by having the caretaker government sent home under the guise of a lack of confidence.

According to him, this goes against the constitutional norms that create the possibility that Parliament sends government home, but also that government may dissolve Parliament and call new elections.

Schotte accused Goedgedrag of having an apparent political preference for 12 Parliament members. "It surprised me that as a good Governor of Curaçao you chose to form an interim cabinet rather than calling on the Members of Parliament to fulfil their duties."

Furthermore, according to the prime minister, Goedgedrag did not have jurisdiction in this case. Schotte referred to the position the governor took in his letter to government and Parliament, in which he indicated that the correct course of action in this case was not to follow the political preferences of the incumbent ministers, because it involved another parliamentary majority.

Schotte said he found it incomprehensible that it was now all about a majority in Parliament and that importance no longer was given to the caretaker status of government and the underlying act of dissolving Parliament.

Schotte also denied that acting correctly entailed starting a formation process independent of the incumbent government.

"The current Constitution leaves no room for the governor to act without the approval of the cabinet. I think your statement follows the existing political division in our country, while your performance ought to be directed only at promoting unity," he said.

Schotte further stated that he would not cooperate with "any outcome whatsoever in the implementation of your decision to form an interim government" and called on Goedgedrag to cease the formation of an interim cabinet.

Young Saharawis are fed up with the futile peace process


Peter Kenworthy


 Issue 598


A recent survey carried out by Polisario’s youth wing found                           that over 85 per cent of the young Saharawis polled were in favour of ending the current ceasefire with Morocco and returning to war.

Young Saharawis are fed up with the United Nations-led peace process between the leaders of the Western Saharan liberation movement, Polisario, and the Moroccans who have colonized most of their country since 1975.

The peace process has lasted for over 20 years, but has yet to produce any significant breakthroughs for the Saharawis, who simply demand the referendum that is to determine the status of Western Sahara that they have been promised by the United Nations.

‘But the United Nations has not been able to assume its responsibilities. The current negotiations are worthless, since they have been used by Morocco to prolong the suffering of our people in the refugee camps and the occupied territories,’ says 24 year old Saharawi journalist, Salama Mohamed.

Salama Mohamed is a member of the Saharawi student union, UESARIO’s, office for human rights. He presently uses his degree in English literature as a translator journalist at the Sahara Press Service.

As is the case with many other Saharawi youths, Salama believes that a return to war against Morocco might be the better of two evils. A recent survey carried out by Polisario’s youth wing, Ujsario, found that over 85 per cent of the young Saharawis polled were in favour of ending the current ceasefire with Morocco and returning to war.

‘Young people here are well aware of the devastating consequences of war but they have nothing to lose,’ says Salama. ‘They are frustrated by the damning situation of ‘no peace, no war’, the human tragedy in the camps, the ongoing repression carried out by Moroccan security and military apparatus in the occupied territories.’

Simply waiting for Morocco and her allies to end Moroccan colonialism is no longer an option, Salama says in his capacity as a member of Saharawi union, UESARIO’s, executive office. ‘We call for reinforcing the peaceful Intifada in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, urgent measures should be taken to strengthen the capability of the Saharawi People’s Liberation Army.’

Like most Saharawis living in the inhospitable refugee camps in a dessert area near Tindouf in South Western Algeria, where around 165.000 Saharawi refugees survive on aid from the UN and the EU, Salama’s family fled the advancing Moroccan forces that colonized Western Sahara in 1975.

‘My mother was seven years old when she fled from her homeland with her family. But she still remembers the brutal bombing that targeted the defenseless refugees on their way to the Algerian desert,’ says Salama. ‘And like all Saharawi men at the time my father fought in the Saharawi Peoples’ Liberation Army, ELPS. I lost two uncles during the war.’

Salama was born and raised in the camps until he was 11 years old where he left to finish his education in Algeria. Like most Saharawis, he dare not return home to Moroccan occupied Western Sahara. ‘We feel homesick. I have never met a large part of my family who live in the occupied territories.’

The rate of literacy and educational level of the Saharawis in well above the regional average, but due to a lack of job opportunities in the Tindouf refugee camps and Moroccan discrimination in the occupied territories, most Saharawi students either have to find jobs abroad or work in the ministerial departments or other institutions of the Saharawi government in exile, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which is based in one of the refugee camps.

‘Saharawi students have been subject to assaults, assassinations, harassment and discrimination by Moroccan authorities in the occupied territories,’ says Salama Mohamed. ‘Presently, six Saharawi students have been at Sale prison in Morocco since Novemebr 2011 for participating in a peaceful demonstration. We are extremely concerned about their deteriorating condition of health after they have been on hunger strikes.’

But regardless of these hardships, young Saharawis and students in particular are playing an increasingly important role in the fight against Moroccan colonialism and for a referendum.

‘Students are playing a leading role in the long-standing struggle of our people - also in making the voice of the Saharawi students heard in the [SADR] government and with the Polisario,’ Salama Mohamed says. And Internationally, UESARIO petitions the EU and other countries, participates in international forums such as the World Social Forum, have established ties with other students’ unions around the world, and organizes demonstrations in front of e.g. the French Embassy.

WRITER’s NOTE: The views expressed in this article are in accordance with those of the executive of UESARIO, with whom Salama has discussed the issues raised in this article beforehand, as well as with Saharawi students in general, as Salama has also raised these issues with many of them.

27 September 2012

Discours du Président Oscar Manutahi Temaru - Ouverture session budgétaire à L'assemblée de Polynésie française

En avril 2011, le bon sens politicien, l’opportunisme calculateur aurait voulu que nous laissions un gouvernement à la dérive s’enfoncer, soutenu du bout des lèvres par une « majorité » réduite à neuf représentants.
Ce bon sens politicien, cet opportunisme calculateur, d’autres ont en fait preuve, s’associant au nécessaire renversement du gouvernement de M. Tong Sang, mais s’abstenant de retrousser les manches et de participer à l’action gouvernementale.

Pendant que ce gouvernement était sur le front, en première ligne à affronter les obstacles des vraies difficultés de nos concitoyens, ces autres en spectateurs cyniques étaient déjà en campagne pour les élections à venir. Reprenant à l’envi les vieux refrains démagogues, et promettant à tous des lendemains qui chantent.

En opportunistes politiciens, ils ont observé avec délice l’UMP entraver les actions de notre gouvernement, chaque obstacle constituant pour eux un atout électoraliste de plus.
Alors oui, disons-le franchement, nous avons manqué de sens du calcul politicien opportuniste…Pourquoi ?

Parce qu’au contraire du « politicard », l’homme Politique prend ses responsabilités. Et il le fait avec d’autant plus de courage et d’ardeur que la situation est difficile.


26 September 2012

Curacao Prime Minister displeased with Dutch Governor's decision to bring down government of the 'autonomous' country

Schotte Will Not Cooperate With The Formation Of An Interim Government


Demissionary Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte opposes Governor Frits Goedgedrag and expressed his displeasure about the decision to form an interim government. According to the Prime Minister is the decision of the Governor ‘inadequately reasoned’. Schotte therefore will not cooperate.

Schotte stressed that the problem lies with the Parliament and that there is no break in the incumbent demissionary government. Therefore there would be no reason for an interim government to be formed according to the Prime Minister.

In addition, Schotte said that Goedgedrag chooses sides with his decision. “I think you stand firm in the existing political divisions in our country, while your performance must be directed to promote unity. I ask you urgently to cease your involvement in the formation of an interim government. ”

Governor Frits Goedgedrag appointed ‘Dito’ Mendes de Gouveia as formateur to form an interim government. Today, all of the names that will take place in the interim government were announced.

Candidates Interim Cabinet Ministers are:

  1. Mr. Stanley Betrian (Justice)
  2. Dr. Jose Jardim (Finance)
  3. Gregory Damoen, MSc, Ing (Finance)
  4. Henry Jourdain, RA (Finance)
  5. Stanley Bodok, MHA (Education/Public Health)
  6. Carel de Haseth (Kingdom Relations)

Governor Informs Prime Minister

WILLEMSTAD - The impasse in the Curaçao Parliament, whereby the president of parliament did not give the political parties enough space to discuss the situation is against the spirit of parliamentary democracy.
This is what Governor Frits Goedgedrag has noted in his letter to Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte in which he send Schotte’s cabinet home immediately.
Based on the basic principles of democracy and good governance the Governor has appointed a formateur to form an interim government. The interim government will have a few important assignments namely:

  • Prepare for upcoming Parliament elections

  • Restore democracy back in Parliament and restore relations in the Kingdom

  • Attend to the financial situation of the island

  • Prepare measures to screen each candidate minister after elections
According to reports, demissionary Prime Minister is refusing to step down. He announces that on Wednesday they will have a Council of Ministers meeting to assess the situation and see what will happen next.

 Formateur Interim Government Appointed

WILLEMSTAD – Governor Frits Goedgedrag has designated Dito Mendes de Gouveia as formateur for an interim government. Goedgedrag accepts the motion that has been delivered by Vice President Anthony Godett from the divisional parliament. A majority of the Parliament wants an interim cabinet.

The Governor responded to the Godett’s request by holding exploratory talks with the Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Board, Carl Grüning, Ivar Asjes, Dean Rozier, the leaders of the political parties in Parliament, Premier Gerrit Schotte. The orientation phase was completed yesterday.


Based on the outcome of the talks and advices given to him, the Governor asked Dito Mendes de Gouveia to consider what opportunities exist to form a cabinet that can count on a majority in Parliament. The emphasis is on the preservation of political calmness in Curaçao and the relationship of Curaçao with the other countries of the Kingdom.


In addition, the formateur must take into consideration the preparations for the parliamentary elections on October 19, initiate measures leading to a restoration of the democratic system and the financial and economic confidence in Curacao. Also, Mendes de Gouveia must take measures, that ensures an orderly development of the process of ‘screening’ of candidate ministers after elections. Mendes de Gouveia is requested to report his findings by Friday to the Governor.

The 'Black Count' Cuts A Fascinating Figure - A book review

by Drew Toa  

The novelist Alexandre Dumas — the one known for penning The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers — is often referred to as "Alexandre Dumas, pere." This is to distinguish him from his son, also a writer, who is identified as "Alexandre Dumas, fils." The thing is, there is an even older Alex Dumas who, while not a professional writer, made quite a name for himself in Revolutionary France. For the father of Alexandre Dumas, pere, the sword was mightier than the pen, and this larger-than-life figure's story heavily influenced the fiction of his literary offspring.

Read the full book review at:

25 September 2012

Conference on Sustainability on Statia

Regional and Local presenters at Statia Conference on Sustainability

~Inaugural sustainable conference and exhibition scheduled for 25 – 27 September at the Mike Van Putten Youth Centre ~

ORANJESTAD, St. Eustatius (August, 24th, 2012) – The St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation (STDF) is preparing to host a major sustainable conference from September 25th – 27th 2012, during which delegates will discuss critical issues relating to the island’s sustainability.
The conference which promises to be very interesting, will be cheered by local, regional and international presenters preaching and bolstering the importance of sustainable development. Learn from leading experts who are familiar with the importance of sustainable practices. These professional are well prepared to share their knowledge, exchange experience and answer any questions during their different panel discussions.
It is very important to be involved in such a knowledgeable and cultural conference “Powering Sustainable Development. “I am proud to be a part of the sustainable circle, a circle that is designed to make the environment a better environment for all of us. I have learned to be more conscious and I appreciate my beautiful island even more. The entire island is in my opinion should prosper from this conference”, said Public Relations Officer Teena Lopes.
The conference is designed to challenge tourism planners, policymakers, stakeholders and the general public to develop and implement strategies and practices that can sustain Statia’s limited resources.
The STDF has confirmed a number of industry experts who are more familiar with Sustainable Development. It is the expectation of the organizers that all participants will acknowledge the golden opportunities that this conference will provide and to network and share ideas with these industry experts.
Hannah Madden: Hannah has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental studies. Before coming to St. Eustatius, she worked for International Humanitarian NGOs Amnesty International and Child Helpline International. She has been employed by local nature conservation foundation, STENAPA, as National Park Ranger/Education Officer. She spends her days in the Quill maintaining trails, giving guided hikes and conducting research on terrestrial species.
Earlston McPhee, representative of the Bahamas on the International Task Force for Sustainable Tourism Development will be a presenter at the conference. Mr. McPhee is responsible for Sustainable Tourism development and related Projects at The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. He has over twenty years experience in the tourism industry. He holds a BSC in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University with a focus in Marketing Management and Finance and a Masters in Economics from West Virginia University. He is currently the Chairman of the National Coastal Awareness Committee He also represents The Bahamas on the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Committee on Sustainable Tourism Development.
Diana Pearl Hendrickson-Fleming, a local presenter at the conference. Diana has a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) as well as a Master in Business Administration from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Ms. Hendrickson started out her career as an Information and Export Promotion officer with the Central Government department of Trade, Industry and Employment. Ms. Hendrickson is currently contracted as the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Adviser to the island Government of St. Eustatius. The SME project falls under the Social Initiative Program of Government and is funded by the Dutch funding agency, USONA.
Glenn Faires, owner of Golden rock Dive Center. Glenn has worked in the tourism industry for over 32 years in 4 different countries. Over the past 18 years he has been actively involved in the promotion of his business and the island St. Eustatius. Golden Rock Dive Center is recognized as a PADI 5 Star dive center with satisfied customers from around the world. After years in upper level sales and marketing he decided to make a change of life and to spend more time outdoors and with a passion for scuba diving he started looking for a place to establish himself. After several years of looking, on a weekend trip he found what he was looking for, a small quiet island with friendly people and world class diving.
Mr. José Juan Terrasa-Soler out of Puerto Ricois a landscape architect, ecologist, development consultant, university professor, manager, and business owner with over 18 years of professional experience. Mr. Terrasa-Soler is currently Director of Planning and Development at the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, and Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, in San Juan. He has held executive positions in both private and public corporations. His work as a designer has been published and exhibited in Spain, Puerto Rico, and the United States.Mr. Terrasa-Soler was Manager of the Environmental Business Unit of CSA Architects & Engineers, the largest consulting firm in the Caribbean, where he led a team of 30 scientists and engineers, and offered the full spectrum of services related to environment and development.
Ingrid Walther owner and operator of Scubaqua Dive Center is a Swiss national. Graduate of The Hotel Management School in Switzerland and is specialized in tourism marketing, has worked for many years in the tourism sector in Switzerland and became a specialist of congress, sport events and incentives organization. She discovered diving in the cold Swiss lakes 15 years ago and became a PADI and CMAS dive instructor. She decided to leave Switzerland with her husband and enjoy her hobby as daily life. They both moved to Statia in 2006 and took over “Scubaqua Dive Center”. Ingrid is now in charge of the administration and promotion of the dive center and of course continues to dive, especially with her repeaters guests.”
 For more information on the Statia Sustainable Conference, including how to register, visitwww.statiatourism.com
 The St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation is the agency responsible for promoting and developing tourism on St. Eustatius. The mission is to get the island Government to lend greater priority to tourism by providing adequate funding to effectively and efficiently promote tourism in key markets; ensuring a quality tourism product by introducing and controlling the minimum standard requirements; preparing future generations to take on greater responsibilities within this sector by means of teaching tourism as a subject on levels of the education system.
The STDF office is located at Fort Oranje, Oranjestad, St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean. Tel +599 318 2433, Fax +599 318 2433, Email
For more information: 

24 September 2012

Turks & Caicos political parties unveil full electoral lists

Turks and Caicos Islands Sun

By Hayden Boyce


Four former Chief Ministers, 16 first-timers, six women and 14 men, five lawyers, two taxi drivers, a doctor, a certified accountant and several business persons, are among those who have officially been chosen to contest what is expected to be a keenly-contested and extremely close general elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands on November 9th 2012.

The two main political parties, the Progressive National Party (PNP) and the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) have both finalised their lists of candidates who have been actively campaigning to mixed responses from the general public.

The four former Chief Ministers current PDM leader Oswald Skippings and Derek Taylor who also served that party, and Washington Misick and Norman Saunders who were both PNP Chief Ministers.

The PNP has eight first-timers including its leader Dr. Rufus Ewing (who is running At-Large), two former general secretaries Donhue Gardiner who is running in the newly-created North and Middle Caicos constituency, and attorney-at-law Akeirra Misick who is contesting the new Leeward seat.

The other PNP new comers are mini-mart owner George Lightbourne who is running in Grand Turk North, businessman Rex Swann in Grand Turk South and Salt Cay, former bank manger and engineer Portia Stubbs-Smith in The Bight, taxi driver Adrian Williams in Blue Hills, rental car owner Clay Ewing in Five Cays.

The eight PDM first-timers are At-large candidate, businesswoman Josephine Connolly, construction worker Derek Rolle who is running in Grand Turk North, Government worker Edwin Astwood in Grand Turk South, chartered accountant Edith Cox in South Caicos, customs officer Ezra Taylor in Leeward, taxi diver Sonny Forbes in The Bight, businessman Oral Selver in Cheshire Hall/Richmond and oil company executive Goldray Ewing (the brother of PNP leader Dr. Rufus Ewing) in Blue Hills.

The total voter population in the Turks and Caicos Islands of 6,690 has been divided into ten Electoral Districts.

Providenciales has more than half of the voter population of 4280 voters, while Grad Turk has 1620, Salt Cay 37, South Caicos 318, Middle Caicos 56, and North Caicos 146.

Since the last election in February 2007, there have been several shifts in population.

Blue Hills represents the largest area of population growth in Providenciales, with the voter population there growing from 882 in 2007 to 1,393 in 2012. This figure is less than the total Grand Turk voter population by only 227.

General elections in Turks and Caicos Islands tend to be very close.
In 2007, when they were 6,987 registered voters, of which 5,937 voted, the PNP won 13 seats and the PDM two, but an analysis of the results reveal that it was an exceptionally close race in many constituencies.

The breakdown is as follows (2007 election results):

• West Road – Samuel Been (PNP) 165 votes, William Harvey (PDM) 133 votes; nine rejected;

• Overback – Floyd Hall (PNP) 283 votes, Robert D’Arcuiel (PDM) 123 votes; eight rejected;

• North Backsalina– Arthur Robinson (PDM) 228 votes, Arthur Lightbourne (PNP) 214 votes; five rejected;

• South Backsalina – Floyd Seymour (PDM) 244 votes, Deveraux Malcolm (PNP) 207 votes; five rejected;

• South Caicos North – McAllister Hanchell (PNP) 197 votes, Noel Skippings (PDM) 84 votes; five rejected;

• South Caicos South – Norman Saunders (PNP) 156 votes, Carl Gardiner (PDM) 43 votes, one rejected;

• Middle Caicos – Jeffrey Hall (PNP) 126 votes, Wendy Been (PDM) 45 votes; two rejected;

• North Caicos East – Mike Misick (PNP) 271 votes, Ashwood Forbes (PDM) 82 votes; three rejected;

• North Caicos West – Royal Robinson (PNP) 162 votes, Clarence Selver (PDM) 85 votes, Prince Selver (Independent) 4 votes; one rejected;

• The Bight – Karen Delancey (PNP) 333 votes, Jestina Delancey (PDM) 237 votes, five rejected;

• Blue Hills – Greg Lightbourne (PNP) 373 votes, Delroy Williams (PDM) 342 votes; two rejected

• Five Cays – Lillian Boyce (PNP) 337 votes, Sean Astwood (PDM) 266 votes; 12 rejected;

• Cheshire Hall – Amanda Misick (PNP) 304 votes, Dwayne Taylor (PDM) 208 votes; 13 rejected;

• Richmond Hill – Wayne Garland (PNP) 230 votes, Glynes Robison (PDM) 132 votes; four rejected;

• Long Bay Hills – Galmo Williams (PNP) 200 votes, Finbar Grant (PDM) 119 votes; two rejected.

In the 1999 Elections, which the PDM won, the results were as follows:

• South Backsalina - Derek Taylor 231, Oswald Williams 154;

• North Backsalina – Oswald Skippings 272, Sean Malcolm 113, Robert Adams 8;

• West Road – Larry Coalbrooke202, Arabella Smith 134, Earl Fulford 3;

• Overback –Washington Misick 185, Deon Wilson 143, Lloyd Rodney 9;

• South Caicos North –Noel Skippings 144, Emily Saunders 134;

• South Caicos South – Norman Saunders 117, Dorothy Malcolm, 67, Alden Durham 78, Royalton Harvey 2;

• Middle Caicos – Jeffrey Hall 100, Sam Garvey 96, Hormel Harvey 10, Royal Robinson 9;

• North Caicos East – Ashwood Forbes 159, Mike Misick 155, Richard Missick 71, Prince Selver 3;

• North Caicos West – Clarence Selver 163, Royal Robinson 99;

• The Bight – Felix Delancey 153, Karen Delancey 124, Shirleen Stubbs 77;
• Blue Hills – Hilly Ewing 308, Albert Grant 196;
• Five Cays – Lillian Been 196, Carl Jolly 188 and Staven Rigby 6;
• Cheshire Hall – Cheryl Astwood Tull 263, Rhynie Williams 142 and Clifford Hamilton 36.

23 September 2012

U.N. Report Chastises U.S. for Status of Native Population

By Carey L. Biron

WASHINGTON, Sep 20 2012 (IPS) - A top United Nations official has presented the first ever international investigation into the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States, urging the adoption of new policies and mechanisms to “address persistent deep-seeded problems related to historical wrongs, failed policies of the past and continuing systemic barriers”.

Based on research in the United States this past spring, James Anaya, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, presented his final report to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Tuesday. The process marks the first time that the United States has allowed an external body to formally investigate and comment on the situation of its indigenous communities, a notably sensitive issue.

Speaking before the council, Anaya stated that indigenous communities in the United States (also referred to as American Indians) continue to “face significant challenges that are related to widespread historical wrongs, including broken treaties and acts of oppression, and misguided government policies, that today manifest themselves in various indicators of disadvantage and impediments to the exercise of their individual and collective rights.”

The U.S. mission to the UNHRC has offered a formal response to the concerns raised, highlighting several new and recent government initiatives and policy changes.

These include a three-percent increase – to 19.4 billion dollars – in President Barack Obama’s budget request for 2013 in funding earmarked for indigenous communities, as well as changes under the country’s newly expanded health insurance legislation that would include a 29-percent increase to the budget of the Indian Health Service over 2009 figures.

(By deadline, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs did not respond to requests for comment on the report.)

Yet the special rapporteur cautioned that “existing federal programmes need to be improved upon and their execution made more effective.”

Indeed, the 310 tribal-overseen “reservations” in the United States, on which about half of the 4.5 million-strong Native American population lives today, are sites of some of the country’s most grinding poverty. Some reservations see 66-percent unemployment figures, while rates of alcoholism are five times that of the rest of the U.S. population.

According to the most recent U.S. census statistics, a quarter of all Native Americans live in poverty and nearly a third lack health insurance, suffering from several health problems at far higher rates than the rest of the country. According to 2003 data, fewer than half of Native American youths were expected to graduate from high school.

Such marginalisation has led to rights abuses that advocates say have yet to be addressed by either the U.S. government – or, some suggest, by Anaya’s report.

“Although the special rapporteur failed to recognise the growing problem of human and civil rights violations among the indigenous people of the United States, I am not surprised,” John Gomez, with the American Indian Rights and Resource Organization, told IPS. “To acknowledge that the problem exists, and that the United States has taken no action to protect the rights of the individuals being persecuted, would expose the hypocrisy of the U.S. government and the current administration.”

Gomez says that U.S. policies in addressing rights violations abroad versus within its own borders are contradictory. “The indigenous people of the United States,” he says, “deserve the same type of action taken by the United States government to deter or quash cruel and unusual punishment … on foreign soil.”

Centrality of land

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the U.N.’s adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognises a spectrum of indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination and governments’ concurrent responsibilities. When it was passed, in mid-September 2007, the United States was one of only four countries, out of 143, to refuse to vote for its adoption.

In 2010, however, President Obama announced that the U.S. would reverse its position. At the time, the president stated that “few have been more marginalised and ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans … While we cannot erase the scourges or broken promises of our past, we will move ahead together in writing a new, brighter chapter in our joint history.”

Anaya’s report underscores the continued relevance of the declaration, and calls on the United States to use it as “an important impetus and guide for improving on existing measures”.

Further, the special rapporteur appears to take some issue with President Obama’s suggestion that little can be done to address the past. In particular, he calls on the U.S. government to take a new look at how it deals with the issue of traditional lands.

In May, at the end of his research trip to the United States, Anaya create a brief public furore by calling for the U.S. government to hand back traditional lands that now include Mount Rushmore, an iconic national memorial comprised of the faces of four notable U.S. presidents carved out of a massive cliff face.

Anaya revisits the issue in his official report, calling the Black Hills an “emblematic case”. While the federal government has initiated some projects to restore control by indigenous peoples over their traditional lands, “My central recommendation … will be for there to be more of these kind of initiatives,” Anaya said in a short videoreleased last week.

The land issue has been fingered as one of the main reasons behind the U.S. government’s initial reluctance to back the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognises indigenous peoples’ rights to traditional lands and resources and urges states to give indigenous communities “legal recognition and protection to these lands”.

Public’s responsibility

While much of Anaya’s report focuses on U.S. government actions, there has also been a significant cultural marginalisation of indigenous communities within U.S. society as well, a lesser-discussed factor that nonetheless has broad impact.

“Two of the biggest obstacles to change are the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist about history and why things are the way they are today,” Helen Oliff, with National Relief Charities, a group that focuses on poverty among U.S. indigenous communities, told IPS.

“The people are simply looking for a level playing field – they’re not looking for an easy life but for equitable opportunity. Importantly, the report echoes the voice of the American Indian people, and is representative of what we hear and see through our work in Indian country.”

Anaya, too, highlights the need for a broader understanding in the U.S. of the realities, both positive and negative, of its indigenous communities.

“What really is needed is greater awareness by the broader American public of the vibrancy and continuity of these peoples within the American social political fabric, and the contribution that indigenous peoples make,” he says. “The larger public, from what I’m seeing, is by and large ignorant about the presence of indigenous peoples … (and that) they face severe challenges.”

He continues: “With that awareness, people can take actions that are appropriate to their local circumstances.”

21 September 2012

French Polynesia Environment Minister discusses consequences of nuclear testing with French defence officials

Jacky Bryant reçu aux ministères de la Défense et des Outre-mer

Jacky Bryant reçu aux ministères de la Défense et des Outre-mer

Le ministre de l’Environnement, Jacky Bryant a été reçu mercredi soir au ministère de la Défense. 

La rencontre a permis de faire un point sur les dossiers polynésiens relatifs notamment au suivi des conséquences des essais nucléaires. 

Jacky Bryant est revenu sur le caractère inique de la loi Morin, rappelant que sur près de 600 dossiers déposés, une seule personne avait été indemnisée en Polynésie jusqu’à présent. 

« Cette loi est un échec complet » a-t-il jugé. Le ministre a ainsi émis le souhait de voir le projet de loi préparé en 2007 par Christiane Taubira se substituer au texte actuel, estimant qu’il répondait bien plus justement à la situation. 

Jacky Bryant a par ailleurs abordé le sujet du remboursement par l’Etat des dépenses engagées par la Caisse de prévoyance sociale (CPS) pour les maladies radio induites. 

L’informatisation récente de la CPS conjuguée à la période règlementaire de conservation des archives papier, limitée à cinq ans, ne permettent pas, dans certains cas, de rassembler l’ensemble des pièces demandées par le comité d’indemnisation.

Read full article here.

20 September 2012

University of Hawaii mounts website for Hawaiian land research

Press Release

            UH MĀNOA

            EMAIL: lilikala77@gmail.com
            CELL: 753-5826

We are proud to announce that the AVAKONOHIKI.ORG website is being published today in order to serve as a Hoʻokupu no Ka Lāhui, or gift to the Hawaiian Nation, from the students of the UHM Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies [KCHS].

Working on the AVA Konohiki project, funded by a federal grant from the Administration of Native Americans [ANA], and through the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation [EKF], our Hawaiian students have created a web site to provide free and easy access to all 8,500 of the Hawaiian Kingdom Land Commission Awards [LCAs] and LCA Testimonies, as well as LCA maps for the 81 Ahupuaʻa of Oʻahu. They even have video webinars to walk you through LCA land and map research!

The AVA acronym stands for Ancestral Visions of ʻĀina, or Kamakakūokaʻāina, where young Hawaiians study ancestral Konohiki understandings of land and water management with a view to sustainable and efficient food production; hence the term AVA Konohiki! They believe that the first step in their training is to serve the Lāhui by making Hawaiian land documents available through the web; modern Hawaiian students!

Dr. Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa of UHM KCHS serves as Principal Investigator, Professor Kekuhi Keliikanakaoleohaililani of EKF and HCC is Director of the grant, and Dr. Pualani Kanahele of EKF is cultural leader.

For the past 2 years, the team of 15 AVA Konohiki have been harvesting, transcribing, and proofreading these 8,500 land records, and now are wanting to share them with the world at http://www.avakonohiki.org/ava-home>.

The website begins with the 932 pages of LCAs in Volume 4, and the first 40 pages of Foreign Testimonies, both the handwritten original pdfs, as well as the typewritten transcriptions.

Over the next few weeks, handwritten pdfs and their transcriptions of all 10 LCA volumes will be uploaded.  Eventually, transcriptions for all 24 volumes of Foreign and Native Testimonies will be uploaded along with the handwritten original pdfs too.  By the end of Year 3 of the grant, there will be 12,400 land documents available. This will make genealogy and land researching available at our fingertips! If you want monthly updates about new materials being loaded on the website, you can ask to be put on the mailing list at avakonohiki@gmail.com.

For the more sophisticated researchers, they can access this material through the Hawaiʻinuiākea Knowledge Well that will allow searching in 5 different fields at once. Dr. Maenette Benham, Dean of Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, has established the HSHK Knowledge Well as permanent repository for all records having to do with the Hawaiian people.  Our AVAKONOHIKI.org website will be the first portal to access that knowledge.

In order to better serve our Lāhui, on September 18, 2012, our students will hold an AVA Konohiki Website Launch Party to train students and community on how to use our website to search for Land Commission Awards, testimonies and maps.  This event will be held in Hālau o Haumea, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, 2645 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi from 5-7 pm, so mark your calendars!

Our students follow the motto of Hawaiʻinuiākea: 100 Generations of Ancestral Knowledge to Share with the World!

AVA Konohiki gratefully acknowledges and thanks it supporters:

Administration for Native Americans [ANA]
Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation [EKF]
Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge [HSHK]
Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies [KCHS]
Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language [KCHL]
Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
Hamilton Library
Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law
Kamehameha Schools
ʻŌiwi TV
ʻŌlelo Television
Paepae o Heʻeʻia
UHM Aquaculture Hub
UHM Geography Department