By Aaron Humes: Belize’s indigenous population – the Garifuna, Kekchi, Mopan and Yucatec Maya – marked their special day this past Sunday, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, of which there are approximately 476 million in 90 countries worldwide.
The groups are represented in various national and regional groupings including Belize National Indigenous Council (BENIC), Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC), Central America Black Organization (ONECA/CABO), and Central American Indigenous Council (CICA).
The annual theme focused on COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience, and showcased the strength of indigenous peoples, along the wealth of traditional knowledge and practices that must be safeguarded. The United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues hosted a virtual event on August 10 aimed at bringing together indigenous peoples and relevant stakeholders.
A statement from the National Garifuna Council (NGC) says: “Even in the face of this pandemic, indigenous people still encounter other numerous challenges including access to education and health care, self-determination, preservation of language and customs, and respect for indigenous land and territories.”
The NGC also mentioned its activism over the recent incidents against indigenous community leaders of the Garinagu in Honduras, where at least one murder and a multiple kidnapping have recently been reported.