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SOME CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVE OBSERVATIONS AT THE SEVENTH SESSION OF THE OAS DRAFT DECLARATION IN BRASILIA, BRAZIL

Damon Gerard Corrie (Barbados) - on behalf of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks (Guyana), the United Confederation of Taino People (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico) & The Pan Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations (Worldwide), was the first Indigenous delegate to sign a petition circulated by Paul Joffe of the Grand Council of Crees in Quebec Canada - urging the United Nations to urgently adopt the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Miskito Nation of Nicaragua was the second to sign five minutes afterwards, other indigenous representatives followed in due course.
Opening ceremony at OAS in Brasilia opening ceremony

The US State Delegation led by Hugh Neighbor in public spoke to the 40 Indigenous delegates from all over the Hemisphere in warm tones - to quote his overt remarks "I look forward to working with my indigenous brothers and sisters at this seventh meeting", however the same night in a private meeting with the Legal expert retained by the Caucus and two indigenous Caucus heads as well as one of the OAS Ambassadors from a South American Republic - Mr Neighbor angrily said "We don't consider Indigenous Peoples to have the same rights as other peoples because that would mean they would have the right to Independence!". The reader should note that the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights contradicts this position adopted by the US government - yet the US government was a signatory to that very Charter. In contrast the lady representatives that comprised the US State delegation were more diplomatic and endearing and were genuinely liked by all.
Meeting with the president of Brazil at the presidential palace in Brasilia damon reading closing

The entire Indigenous Caucus was invited to attend a ceremony by President Lula Da Silva of Brazil - at the Presidential Palace in Brasilia, most delegates attended and were availed the opportunity to say a few words to the President, shake his hand - and receive a warm embrace from the President - which took everyone by suprise. The only Caribbean Indigenous Caucus representative who accepted the invitation was Damon Gerard Corrie of Barbados - who remarked "It is amusing that I can meet with the President of Brazil - the most powerful country in South America, and yet I cannot meet the Prime Minister of my own country Barbados." Rex Lee Jim of the Navajo Nation read an address to his Excellency President Lula Da Silva of Brazil on behalf of the Indigenous Caucus.

President Roberto Borrero of the United Confederation of Taino People through his official representative present - Damon Gerard Corrie (Barbados) - brought to the attention of the Indigenous Caucus and the OAS Ambassadors - the fact that Albert Deterville (St. Lucia) and Oswald Robinson (St. Vincent) represented St. Lucia and St. Vincent respectively - NOT the entire Caribbean region from Bahamas in the north - to Barbados in the East, Trinidad in the South and the islands off central America in the West - as Mr. Deterville claimed/inferred. This was already evident to all present as Mr. Corrie was the only other Caribbean Island representative present and yet not once did Mr. Deterville or Mr. Robinson consult with Mr. Corrie as to whether he agreed or disagreed with any of the positions they officialy took 'in the name of the entire Caribbean'.

Mr. Jaime Arias Arias (Colombia) - the Indigenous delegate from the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia brought to the attention of the Indigenous Caucus and the OAS Ambassadors - that the letter Mr. Deterville posessed signed by 17 Baptist Ministers of the San Andreas Islands off Colombia's northern Coast - individuals who claimed to be indigenous people and granted Mr. Deterville 'Plenipotentiary Powers' - "was fraudulent as there are no indigenous people on those islands". Mr. Deterville was seemingly oblivious to the fact that Church officials have no credibility as references in any Indigenous forum of this calibre, also - that NO Indigenous representative on the Earth is recognised officially as having 'plenipotentiary powers'.

Mrs. Margarita Eliana Manjarrez Herrera - State Representative of the Republic of Colombia to the OAS - addressed the open session and stated that "The Government of the Republic of Colombia will not tolerate anyone interfering with the internal affairs of Colombia.

The North America, Central America and South America Indigenous Caucus Heads offerred Mr. Deterville an easy way out of the embarrassing situation by asking him to merely step down from the official position he had hitherto enjoyed as the fourth highest ranking Indigenous co-chairperson - and become a 'backbencher' with the other 36 Indigenous representatives from around the Hemisphere. Mr. Deterville declined and responded that he preferred to break completely with the Indigenous Caucus and represent himself independently; though he never spoke again at the seventh session.

Damon reading closing statement at OAS damon reading closing

Damon Gerard Corrie was asked to read the 2 page Closing Statement on behalf of the Indigenous Caucus of the Americas - which he accepted & undertook on Saturday March 25th 2006.

The St. Vincent indigenous representative indicated he felt the 'Caribbean had been discriminated against at the Session'. The Barbados indigenous representative indicated that he did not feel that it was a matter of discrimination and that he had no personal animosity towards the St. Lucia Indigenous representative, but that the claims of the St. Lucia representative were too grandiose to be taken seriously - and suggested the St. Vincent and St. Lucia representatives work on a more credible and justifiable 'We speak on behalf of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) indigenous peoples" position instead.

The only CARICOM member state of the OAS to attend the seventh meeting was Suriname, once again the CARICOM states showed little genuine interest in Indigenous affairs. The State Representative of Suriname also made known the fact that the constitution of Suriname allows International Human Rights Laws to take precedence over the Suriname Constitution . In contrast many CARICOM member countries constitutions do not even officially recognise any presence of Indigenous people nor grant them any land title whatsoever, other CARICOM state constitutions that do - illegally subvert International Human rights laws under the guise of their 'national constitutions'.

The vast majority of Indigenous representatives were allowed the opportunity to attend the session through the tireless efforts of Mr. Jorge Sanin of the OAS; who worked hard to obtain sponsorships for those who could not afford it on their own.

The government of Brazil was the greatest supporter & a wonderful host to the Indigenous representatives from virtually every country in the Americas, and in conjuction with FUNAI and Mrs. Azelene Kaingang - collectively deserve all the praise and credit for a generally sucessful seventh meeeting of negotiations in the quest for points of consensus.

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