Sunday, October 14, 2007

Indigenous Peoples Mark Historical Victory, Next Steps Begin

BOLIVIA (digitalwarriormedia) The three-day indigenous summit convened from October 10-12, took delegates from the capital city of La Paz, to the ruins of Tiwanaku and then to Chimoré as attendees hammered out a 14-point declaration and celebrated the 515th anniversary of indigenous resistance to European colonization.

Hosted by Bolivia’s social organizations, the “Gathering for the Historical Victory of the World’s Indigenous People” received more than 130 indigenous delegates - mainly representing countries from the Americas and New Zealand.

The purpose of the gathering was to commence a movement that will work to realize the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It serves as a starting point for the indigenous campaign that will seek to incorporate the UN Declaration into the national legislation of member states.

Speaking during the first day of the conference, President Morales stated that there is a need for the world’s indigenous people to build a joint agenda on the right to land, territory and natural resources.

"Here begins a new struggle for the Declaration to be ratified by (national) Congresses and implemented by all states," said Morales. He recommended that an Indigenous Parliament commence traveling to other nations in order to accomplish this task.

Morales called on Latin American parliamentarians to approve and ratify the declaration and he stated that this request has already been submitted to Bolivia’s National Congress. Morales anticipates Bolivia will be the first nation to incorporate the UN declaration into its national legislation.

On the second day, attendees traveled to the ruins of Tiwanaku, located about 40 northwest of La Paz. It was at these very ruins that Morales received spiritual blessings from the world’s indigenous community on January 21, 2006 – one day before he officially assumed the Presidency of Bolivia.

Mayan activist Rigoberta Menchú addressed the gathering at Tiwanaku and publicly criticized the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand for failing to pass the UN declaration.

Menchú noted that indigenous people continued to suffer as these countries tried to derail the declaration by objecting to the concepts of “indigenous peoples” and “self-determination”. She stressed the need for indigenous people to recover their natural resources and demand that public services like water to be recognized as human rights.

Menchú called Morales the president of all the world’s indigenous people and stated that "we must harness our struggles of self-esteem”. With a collective identity, language can be strengthened so that the universal declaration can be put into practice.

Menchú, also expressed a willingness to carry out a new international campaign that would support President Morales' candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize next year. The Guatemalan national was awarded the prize in 1992 and she hopes Evo will be the second indigenous person to receive the prestigious award.

On Friday, delegates convened in Chimoré - located in the Chapare region of the Department of Cochabamba. Here delegates convened for the closing ceremony and the signing of a declaration of principles. They were joined by thousands of coca growers, who were present to celebrate more than 500 years of indigenous resistance. Indigenous leaders presented a 14-point declaration that calls for the preservation of nature and peace, among other issues.

Ecuadorian representative, Blanca Chancoso,
read the declaration of principles at the closing ceremony that called for a “culture of life” and demanded significant steps to end the capitalism that is destroying Mother Earth and abusing natural resources. Declarations also touched upon agribusiness, the use of biofuels, women’s rights, immigration rights, national sovereignty and the plight of indigenous political prisoners.

Lastly, leaders declared October 12th "the day we begin our fight to save Mother Nature", before vowing to continue on the long struggle to return the planet to balance and save humanity.



Blogger Frank Partisan said...

I found this blog surfing a friend's links. It plays a necessary role, telling about the changes in Bolivia in English.

Good luck in struggle.

October 15, 2007 1:56 AM  

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