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Urgent Action – Venezuela:
For the Demarcation of Indigenous Territories,
the cessation of violence against indigenous peoples and
the release of the leader, Yukpa Sabino Romero, and the other leaders
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Cmdte. Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías,
President of the National Assembly, Dr. Cilia Flores,
President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Luisa Estela Morales,
We have been closely following all of the events stemming from October 18, 2010, when Br. Korta, an 81 year-old Jesuit, together with two other people, began a hunger strike as an extreme measure to denounce the non-enforcement of Constitutional principles regarding indigenous matters. On October 25, the hunger strike ended when a serious negotiation was initiated with the Vice President of the Republic, Mr. Elías Jaua, to respond to the just demands.
We are concerned that 11 years after the new Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (CRBV-1999) has come into effect, and after the the current government’s ratification of Convention 169 of the ILO in 2001 and of the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, despite an enormous advance in the recognition of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the effective implementation of the Demarcation of Indigenous Territories and the enforcement of their distinct rights have nevertheless not yet come about.
We are equally concerned with the increasing violence suffered by the indigenous peoples due to the interference and interests of (non-indigenous) third parties who invade and occupy their traditional territories. This violence is the consequence of not having demarcated the indigenous territories yet. The case of the leader, Yukpa Sabino Romero, and of the indigenous families who have lost their children, are a dramatic and painful example of the violence provoked by (non-indigenous) third parties who occupy these territories.
Until the country’s indigenous territories are demarcated continuously (not in “islands”, and without third parties), we will continue to have more Sabinos and more assassinated indigenous people. Therefore, it is urgent to solve the following issues:
- The Continuous Demarcation (not in “islands” and without third parties) of the indigenous territories;
- The release of the leader, Yukpa Sabino Romero, and other leaders, respecting their distinct legal system.
These just demands of the indigenous peoples of Venezuela are in consonance with the growing voice of all the indigenous peoples of the continent. We trust that the Venezuelan Government will rise to the occasion as have other Latin American countries, which have bravely responded to the challenges and proposals made by indigenous peoples in the new configuration of multi-ethnic and pluri-cultural states (Preamble of the CRBV).
We support the initiative and good will of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to search for solutions and urgent responses to the just demands of the indigenous peoples and their social movement allies. We encourage the Government, together and in productive collaboration with the Indigenous Movement and its allies, to move forward with the full implementation of the Political Project established in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (1999) and ratified by the Bolivarian government when it signed the Convention 169 of the ILO (2001) and the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
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