Santa Rosa leaders demand Gov’t fix incorrect demarcation
By Devina Samaroo
A number of families have been living in uncertainty for years following a contentious demarcation of the Santa Rosa Village in 2006.
Village leaders on Monday met with the Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock where they made demands to regain control of lands which were excluded during the demarcation process.
Former Toshao, Basil Cornelius told reporters at a news conference hosted by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) that the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GLSC) had wrongfully established boundaries of Santa Rosa and expelled at least six traditional communities from the largest Amerindian settlement in the country.
“Several of our communities have been directly affected by the demarcation,” he said, pointing to a map which shows how many villages are excluded from the boundaries set by the GLSC.
He explained that residents are uncertain whether to participate in village councils or whether the leadership has any authority to represent them on issues they are facing.
Some of the villages that are beyond the Santa Rosa boundary are Kabora, Wallaba, Karaburi, Kumaka and the Santa Rosa islands.
Two of the excluded villages, Kamwatta and Parakese, subsequently became part of the protected areas established by the government, making it difficult for families living there to advance their livelihood by turning to commercial activities.
Village Councillor, Paul Atkinson told the news conference that residents who are excluded are uncertain of their land rights and as a result, are hesitant to make investments to improve their quality of life.
“If you go to Santa Rosa now, people are always improving so these persons [living outside the boundaries] don’t know whether they should save their monies to make improvements to their homes, to change their roof to zinc. So it is having an impact on self-development,” he explained.
The leaders said they will give the Minister several months to uphold his commitment to resolving the issue in an amicable manner before they resort to taking legal actions – a course which Atkinson assured the village is prepared to take.
The village leaders lamented that since the boundaries were drawn by the GLCS, it has been opposed at various forums including the National Toshaos Conference (NTC), but the governing administration only made empty promises to address the matter.
According to the leaders, the boundaries of Santa Rosa are clearly defined in the Amerindian Act 1976.