Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2022. 1:29 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Ministry of Rural Transformation
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Oscar Requena, Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government, is leading a Belize delegation to Guyana “to learn from their experiences in promoting the rights and development of indigenous people through the implementation of legal mechanisms and community development policies,” said a press release by the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour, and Local Government.
“Guyana’s longstanding engagement of its indigenous peoples provides a beneficial opportunity given our similarities of history and people,” said the release.
Minister Requena said Belize can learn a lot from Guyana highlighting that the two countries share many things in common. Requena also noted that this is the first time in Belize’s history that its indigenous people are being given priority.
Minister Requena is accompanied by Valentino Shal, the CEO in his Ministry; Tanya Santos, CEO in the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs; and Gregory Ch’oc, Commissioner of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.
While in Guyana, the delegation is meeting with government ministries and remote community leaders in interactive sessions to discuss successes, challenges and opportunities experienced since the adoption of the Amerindian Act.
So far, the Belize delegation has met with Pauline Sukhai, Minister of Amerindian Affairs; Collin Croal, Minister of Housing and Water; Nigel Dharamlall, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development; Joseph Hamilton, Minister of Labour; and Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, to discuss development programmes and policies that the Government of Guyana has implemented in rural indigenous communities.
In their meeting, Minister Sukhai pointed out Guyana government’s robust drive that is giving Amerindians titles to land and highlighted their work on sustainable environmentally friendly development under the country’s low carbon development initiative. She said that development includes priority areas such as healthcare, climate-friendly agriculture, access to potable water, electricity, and other infrastructural development that seek to promote interconnectivity and economic activities in rural areas.
But not all their meetings are with government officials. Minister Requena has also been leading the delegation in interactive discussions with villagers of the remote communities such as St. Ignatius and Mainstay. The Belize delegation has learned how the villagers manage their indigenous lands, run their village councils, and engage their communities in development activities.
The Ministry of Rural Transformation also said the Belize delegation is attending the National Toshoas Conference. This conference provides Amerindian leaders direct access to the country’s president and government ministers to discuss development and rights issues.
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