By Noelí Pocaterra
In Venezuela, to know the richness of our land, we must recognize that we have kept our origins hidden for many years. The Wayuu were called contemptuously, they made fun of our costume, telling us that we should civilize ourselves and in the schools, due to a false belief, they mistreated the boys and girls when they spoke their language.
Our Way of Struggle for the Historical Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In Venezuela, to know the richness of our land, we must recognize that we have kept our origins hidden for many years. They called the Wayuu contemptuously, they made fun of our costume, telling us that we should civilize ourselves and in the schools, due to a false belief, they mistreated the boys and girls when they spoke their language, they told them that this was not the language of Venezuela and that in the Constitution it was established that Spanish should be spoken. They had always told us, the Venezuelan people, that there were no indigenous people in Venezuela, that this is a mestizo country.
When we were going to get the identity card they did not want to give it to us, there were always obstacles because indigenous names were difficult to pronounce and therefore there was difficulty in obtaining birth certificates and even placing the indigenous name on it, even today many indigenous people do not have documents They do not appear existing in the national population, they exist truthfully, in fact and without papers, but this society punishes them for it. That is why I always say that I belong to the Wayuu indigenous people, that I am a Wayuu woman, it means that I belong to the Wayuu people, who historically have lived between Colombia and Venezuela, since before the creation of States, that is why our people travel between Venezuela and Colombia in a natural way, since that is our historical womb, we call it woumain, which means our land, our territory, our habitat, which today we know by the name of guajira.
The Wayuu call us guajiros, sometimes guajiritos or guajiritas in a derogatory way, or they call us comadres, or they call us Chinese, because of our factions, so we also have another task to make known racism in its different manifestations to prevent it from This is reproduced in such a ruthless way, the indigenous name, even today many indigenous people do not have documents, they do not appear existing in the national population, they exist truthfully, in fact and without papers, but this society punishes them for it. That is why I always say that I belong to the Wayuu indigenous people, that I am a Wayuu woman, it means that I belong to the Wayuu people, who historically have lived between Colombia and Venezuela, since before the creation of States, that is why our people travel between Venezuela and Colombia in a natural way, since that is our historical womb, we call it woumain, which means our land, our territory, our habitat, which today we know by the name of guajira.
The Wayuu call us guajiros, sometimes guajiritos or guajiritas in a derogatory way, or they call us comadres, or they call us Chinese, because of our factions, so we also have another task to make known racism in its different manifestations to prevent it from this is reproduced in such a ruthless way. That is why we speak of October 12 as the day of indigenous resistance, the Guaicaipuro project to the National Pantheon and the vindication of our peoples and self-recognition. These are things that perhaps today are not understood in their magnitude, but one day it will come. Friends, friends, this is a form of participation and political leadership. How to accept an order of recognition that bears the name of a man who killed the great indigenous leaders of our people?
IN VENEZUELA THERE ARE THIRTY-FOUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES Like us, the Wayuu, there are thirty-four indigenous peoples that are distributed in ten different states. Zulia, which is home to the Awa (Paraujano), Wayuu (Guajiro), Yukpa, Japreria, Mérida, where descendants of indigenous and Wayuu live, Trujillo: Wayuu indigenous people, Apure: Jivi (Guajivo), Amazonas: Baniva (bare), Cubeo, Jivi (guahibo), hoti, kurripaco, piapoco, puinave, sàliva, sanema, wotjuja (piaroa), yanomami, warekena, yabarana, yekuana, mako, ñengatu (geral) Anzoategui: kariña y cumanagoto, Bolívar, uruatan, aka (arwautanio) arawak, eñepá (panare), hoti, kariña, pemon, sape, wotjuja (piaroa), wanai (mapoyo), yekuana, sanema. Sucre: chaima, warao, kariña, Delta Amacuro: warao, arauco and Monagas: kariña, warao, chaima.
I tell you this because in each of our States we must seek that historical revelation and make it public in the names of the cities, it is important to read in life so that we go out to the countryside to read on the moon, so that of the places, their customs, their traditions. Find alternatives in conjunction with the indigenous people of the area. Hold meetings with our family members, to enhance our own indigenous origins and reduce our own exclusion, our shame, our daily expressions of racism. I'm talking about making everyday a collective, political act, because politics is not just what is done in Parliament, or in official meetings. That is why it is an honor for me to be here with you in Anzoátegui at the third meeting of solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. Inaugurating the table of political leadership of indigenous and Afro-descendants, as a grandmother, as a mother, as an indigenous woman, as a Bolivarian and Dip. Indigenous of the National Assembly and especially for my commitment to the process of change and transformation that has been advancing in the country. There are many questions that can serve as a guide for us to really make a change, so that we leave the classroom we can be sensitive to the drawings of the stones, and to people, animals and nature, following the different manifestations of the life, indigenous peoples have a lot to tell about that.
Who were the indigenous peoples and communities? All of them had a diversity of customs, languages, religiosity, they inhabited a territory, having their modes of production, they had their navigation mechanisms, and their ways of establishing kinship, likewise, they had their leaders and they had their ways of administering justice.
We must remember that one of the first leaders that we still recognize today is Guaicaipuro and that is why you saw that on December 8, 2001 the land of Suruapo was taken as a historical and symbolic gesture of recognition of our peoples and their struggles to the National Pantheon, place where the ashes of some heroes and heroines of independence rest.
Any of you has an origin, you have a history and I have mine, at what point these stories and these worlds intersect, perhaps, many of you will have somewhere in your history a grandfather, a grandmother, or a great-great-grandfather, or maybe your mother, or your father, indigenous, but I go further, most of you eat arepa, or use hammock, or eat corn, or eat papa, or you like freedom exaggeratedly, these are aspects that come from our peoples natives.
Why is it that when we speak of indigenous people, do we believe that they are on one side and we are on the other, we and them, as if we were strangers, as if we could not recognize each other in the eyes of the others, as if we could not realize that we have a common look, a meeting point where we can recognize the multicultural character of the Venezuelan nationality?
The International Struggle
It is necessary to take into account some background, we have to start from a date. We are not going to make an exhaustive history of the conquerors again, nor of the looting, vice or endless violations of the human rights of our peoples. The international struggle is very long and in each country there is an example of what the plundering of indigenous territories has been, and how some of their leaders, perhaps the most powerful, realized that they had to go to the international struggle to achieve a respect for their rights, turn to international legal tools, join together among the leaders of the different countries, and that is how an indigenous person from Canada went to Geneva to complain, to denounce that they wanted to take advantage of their lands. This leader returned but left the seed there. In 1977, a series of meetings were held and they gave the indigenous the opportunity to enter the NGOs who denounced that there was a lot of violation of human rights.
Alfonso Martínez was one of the Aalijuna who was in Geneva defending our rights and who is still part of the working group today and it was found that indigenous peoples were one of the sectors where there was more violation of human rights. At that time in Geneva a working group appointed by governments was formed. In 1982, on August 9, the international day of the world's indigenous peoples was approved. Indigenous people from all over the world will denounce the violation of human rights. It is possible to make a declaration for the States. Protect the rights of indigenous peoples and finally the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is created.
Our History of Struggle the Great Discussion in the National Assembly
The indigenous Venezuelans have fought our entire lives for our rights. In 1941, an intercultural organization made up of Wayuu and Alijuna began, and among other organizations the Guajiro defense committee emerged, later other organizations such as the Zuliana indigenous association and the indigenous federations appeared in the different states, until CONIVE was established in 1989. , our National Organization that is now 15 years old that protects and promotes the organization of the Venezuelan indigenous communities. Therefore, it was not a coincidence to reach the National Constituent Assembly. "For us Indigenous Peoples this is not a simple political struggle, our participation in the National Constituent Assembly was a life and death struggle, a life project and it still is."
We never imagined to what extent they saw us as strange beings, almost dangerous. It was nice to do this pedagogical fight, show ourselves and gain space in public opinion. Many sectors did not want to recognize our existence as Peoples, they wanted to call us populations, there is a population of iguanas, alligators, fish, but we are a People, we have history, customs, territory, language, culture and in this we could not compromise, because otherwise we would be like in the time of the conquest.
I spoke, explained everywhere, I say it without fear, I was carrying this message of the historical rights of indigenous peoples. We invited Rigoberta Menchú, the Guatemalan indigenous Nobel Peace Prize winner, who did not hesitate to support us and I remember some very simple words she said to us upon arrival: “on the planet, the great Mother has space for everyone, blacks, whites, Indians, mestizos, we all fit. "These words and those of the former Colombian indigenous parliamentarian Lorenzo Muelas, as well as the International Labor Organization and President Hugo Chávez himself, and Foreign Minister José Vicente Rangel, were very encouraging. It was publicly clarified that indigenous people do not We wanted to dismember the Venezuelan State and that the term People has for us a historical connotation of struggle and recognition.For the first time it was accepted that Venezuela is made up of a diversity of Peoples, but integrated into a single National State.
I think it is necessary to count because President Chávez was sensitized to these struggles. Chávez had already been in the Apure State stationed in Elorza and there he related to the indigenous people, they told us that Chávez carried his children that he had no difficulty in making them dirty or brainy and that he ate with them and invited them to hunt. When they didn't have food, Chávez would say to them, well, give me an arrow, let's all go hunting because I'm hungry and you are too, and then they would come and cook. He realized that in Apure they mistreated the Indians, they called them irrational and there they also cut off their ears and some were even killed. So he put himself at the command and took them to Elorza and told them that when they had a problem he could help them. For this reason, when the indigenous people were arrested, they came to Caracas and once here they looked for Saúl Rivas and CONIVE, and that is how our relationship with Chávez began.
When we saw that the electoral offer was the constituent one, we immediately agreed. But it was not easy at all, because in the first meeting we had with Chávez while he was still a candidate, those who were sitting next to him were the natural enemies, some indigenous people who had sold their peoples, but we managed to talk and convince them, and Chávez signed a commitment to us, that if he became President, he would guarantee us three positions in the National Constituent Assembly and without the need to sign up for political parties.
That is why we said the time had come. But since everything is written for the alijunas, we knew that we had to participate in the elaboration of the new Constitution. We were sure that the spirit of Guaicaipuro would guide us and it did.
In principle, I was dedicated to convincing the constituents about the need to create a special commission to defend our rights, and we succeeded. Then we held vigils, we were representatives of all indigenous peoples, but environmentalists, anthropologist friends, filmmakers, allies and allies who were always involved with us in the constitutional process also participated.
Finally, our rights were approved, our existence as Peoples, the right to collective property of the lands, the possibility that the use of natural resources be carried out with prior information and consultation without harming our Peoples, the right to maintain our identity and culture, an intercultural bilingual education, the recognition of our languages as official, the right to maintain and promote our own economic practices, the protection of intellectual and collective property, the express prohibition of patents on our knowledge and genetic resources, as well as the undeniable right to political participation with special characteristics. All this is explained in Chapter VIII on the rights of indigenous peoples and in the seventh transitory provision of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Today we have given constitutional status to our rights, we have already entered through the front door, we are not going to continue crouching in, we are as Venezuelan as the others and we have much to give to make this a great country.
And today we continue trying to define our own development model. I remember that when I was studying at the university, a professor explained the Asian production model to us and it was so difficult to travel so far, but I realized that it was very similar to us Wayuu, so when I had to explain it they congratulated me, I told them about our way of life for the Wayuu and they told me, but if you explain it well. I thought that if they had told me from the beginning to explain the wayuu production model it would have been easier. But the students were never told that here in our country there were indigenous people, for them we did not exist. We were invisible. Now we are in the moment to continue this fight.
So ... we could realize that we are not so distant from each other, that we are not so alien and that perhaps we are closer than we ever knew or thought we were and only then can we really find at some point the identity of the Venezuelan people, our own model of development, what we have called ethnodevelopment or endogenous development, which we have tried to define from the Bolivarian process.
What does the word endogenous mean? It means that from within, from within, from identity and from that recognition we will be able to build an economic and socio-political model more in line with our way of being and that is also the objective that is sought. When the missions are created, an own educational model that allows us to create more agile, more versatile educational curricula, which facilitate not only the possibility of paying off the historical debt by including those excluded from the educational system, but also training them so as not to continue generating more excluded, so that they recognize their own historical self-exclusion by hiding our origins, our common history which is precisely the genetic link with the indigenous peoples and of course with the colonizers who today through the process of miscegenation are already part of our subsequent cultural heritage , an inheritance that at first was painful due to the bloody process, but that today can be seen from another angle, but if we do not recognize it in its historical crudeness, we run the risk of repeating it in different ways.
These peoples are the essence of our historical struggles for the rights of indigenous peoples, which are the struggle for respect for cultural differentiality, and for the recognition of our indigenous peoples, their culture, their languages, their religiosity, their practices and forms of life, which are essentially the recognition of our history. So the political leadership of indigenous peoples is framed in the historical rights of our peoples, in what lawyers call indigenous law
Until now we have worked and fought a lot and this allowed us sufficient clarity to know that we should fight not only within our indigenous peoples, but also in the face of the population that did not consider itself, nor did it identify itself as indigenous, that we should fight for our rights to be recognized in the constitution. For this reason, in order to achieve greater visibility and a revolutionary project with identity, we must fight against discrimination, against racism, against self-exclusion and place great emphasis on humanistic and transformative education, as Pablo Freire said, an education as a transforming action and praxis of the freedom of our peoples.
It is necessary for you to know that during these years of participation in the National Assembly we have been able to approve different legislative tools, of course all of them are based on Chapter VIII of the rights of indigenous peoples, which will be, together with the Constitution, part of the theoretical essence of our indigenous public policies, once they are implemented. We have been working very hard on this, since it is a work of action and reflection, an experimental work, sometimes of mistakes, of successes, but of great hopes.
LAWS APPROVED: · Law of demarcation and guarantee of habitat and lands of indigenous peoples January 12, 2001.
· Law approving Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, October 17, 2001.
· Law approving the agreement establishing the fund for the development of indigenous peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, January 2002.
Laws in Which There Are Provisions Relating to Indigenous Peoples and Communities.
· 1.-Law of local public planning councils - June 12, 2002.
2.- Organic Law of the Ombudsman's Office- August 5, 2004
3.-National Youth Law- March 14, 2002
· 4.-Immigration and Migration Law- May 24, 2004
5.-Law of social responsibility in radio and television- December 7, 2004
· 6.-Law of seeds, material for animal reproduction and biological inputs.
7.-Housing and Habitat Law
8.-Organic law of municipal power
Agreements of the National Assembly
Agreement on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples-August 9, 2002
· Agreement requesting speed in the demarcation of the habitat and ancestral lands of indigenous peoples August 8, 2003.
· Agreement on the expression of solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Ecuador.
Decrees, Resolution of the National Executive
· 1.-Decree 1393 by means of which the presidential commission for the care of indigenous peoples is created- August 6, 2001.
· 2.-Decree 1392 by means of which the presidential commission called the national commission for the demarcation of the habitat and lands of indigenous peoples and communities is created. –August 9, 2001.
· 3.-Decree 1795 obligation of oral and written indigenous languages in the schools. - May 29, 2002.
· 4.-Decree 1796 by means of which the national council of education, culture and indigenous languages is created- May 29, 2002.
· 5.-Resolution by which the eponymous October 12 day of indigenous resistance is designated for promotions that graduate from secondary, diversified and professional schools in the 2002-2003 school year.
· 6.-Resolution by means of which the special defender with competence at the national level in the area of protection of the rights of the peoples is created - June 25, 2003.
· 7.-Decree 2686 through which the regulations of the organic law for the identification of indigenous people are issued - November 13, 2003.
8.-Resolution for which the guidelines are dictated to carry out pedagogical and curricular modifications in a progressive and experimental way in the pre-school, basic and secondary diversified and professional levels, as well as in the modalities of rural and bilingual intercultural indigenous education Special in official establishments of national dependency.- February 6, 2004.
· 9.-Decree 3040 by means of which the presidential commission "Guaicaipuro mission" is created on a permanent basis. - September 9, 2004.
All of these are legal instruments that speak to us about the protection of indigenous peoples, however, there is a long way to go that we must travel in favor of these peoples and you will wonder what ... continue with the international path and with the path of struggle in our country We must all help so that we can put into practice the legal tools, such as the demarcation of habitats and lands, but we can give a series of general recommendations that are simple and we can all put into practice:
GENERAL Use the term indigenous peoples instead of populations or communities so that states recognize their multiethnic and multicultural essence.
Carry out special activities to raise awareness of the multiethnic and multicultural reality of Venezuela and especially in the framework of October 12, day of indigenous resistance
Conduct educational campaigns to reaffirm our indigenous roots
Search for Awareness About Our Identity and Personal History:
1.-Explore in ourselves and in our families, so that we recognize our origins and we can be proud and proud of it
2.-Exchange of experiences between students
3.-Carrying out research and exchange work with indigenous people who can tell us about life in their communities.
4.-Include the ethnic and intercultural dimension in everything we do
5.-Be alert to the racist and discriminatory expressions of which we are the object or those that we ourselves do, so that we can become aware and change these behaviors that are so harmful to a balanced and peaceful coexistence between different cultures.
TO THE GOVERNMENTS Promote the participation of indigenous peoples and communities in public bodies related to indigenous peoples and communities
Demand compliance with respect for political rights
Include in the plans and policies of the state the development of public policies that include the intercultural and environmental dimension. That they respect the need to establish sufficiently broad consultation and negotiation mechanisms with indigenous peoples and communities
TO THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Promote indigenous participation in all areas and development programs. Include the terms life plans, self-development, or ethno-development with a gender perspective in the plans and programs for indigenous peoples and communities, promoting indigenous participation in the design, execution and evaluation and control.
These are some reasons that led us for many years to fight to be present and visible to the other culture, we would never have the right to anything and for this reason, we have been determined for more than twenty years to be constitutionally recognized. Every time we went to an institution to talk about our rights, they told us that this was not in the Constitution, we did not exist there.
So, I invite you in an exercise of meeting with yourself and with us indigenous people who still remain, as an example of indigenous resistance, to explore in your own family, in your own origins, in that of your neighbors, or the place where they live, to explore firsthand what multiculturalism is, finally I want to conclude by affirming that this process of change and transformation in the leadership of President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías has made us visible, has dignified us and therefore by defending this maximum leader, we Wayuu would say to our Wuekipuu, and to this revolution, it is because, it is about the defense of the life of the indigenous peoples and of all the people who have been excluded, therefore, the solidarity of the indigenous peoples with the Bolivarian revolution of Venezuela. www.EcoPortal.net
Shia ne tian
* Noelí Pocaterra, Indigenous Deputy President Permanent Commission of Indigenous Peoples, Venezuela