Santa Rosa and its ten satellite communities will be meeting shortly to discuss a proposed “Team” which will address land issues affecting residents in the Moruca sub-district, Barima-Waini, Region 1 area.
Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock who led a twelve member team to the Region proposed a land “Team” during a public meeting hosted at the Santa Rosa Secondary School on Sunday, after hearing several concerns relating to village lands raised by residents.
The council has promised to meet with residents in two weeks for discussions and should there be disagreement on the proposed Team, then alternative solutions must be made.
Should there be agreement on the proposal, they will also have to discuss its composition so that the investigations can commence and closures on these matters can be realized.
Minister Allicock said he believes that the proposed “Team”, once duly balanced will see immediate action to resolving these issues which are causing tension, distress and bringing division among residents.
“We need a team, persons within the community who has history and would be able to bring a balance some situations might be extra serious, and you have to make some serious decisions to get the answer to fix things here. I would like to see that team also look at all previous issues, look at the previous agreement with previous Toshao’s revisit them, after all the council is the authority of the village…. and as you see things have been agreed upon and documents have been submitted… so we need to find the best possible way of managing our land”.
A section of the gathering during discussions in Santa Rosa, Region 1.
The Minister said it is his desire for Village Councils to address issues within the village but should this prove futile, he must then resort to Section 45 (7) of the Amerindian Act which states that “if a village general meeting is unable to reach a decision, the dispute shall be referred to the Minister who shall make a decision one month following the submission of the dispute for resolution to the Minister whose decision shall be final”.
Santa Rosa has a population of more than ten thousand residents and among the concerns raised were several relatives in dispute over communal lands, boundaries not properly identified and persons occupying lands that were known to be reserved for village/public use.
The Minister assured that “we would be happy to be a part of it and as we move on we can seek technical support…most of all we need to have the buy-in of everyone in the community to fix this problem, you out there will have to give that support”.
He said it can be challenging since the ability to make provision for the construction of houses and acquiring lands for agricultural purposes are being hindered due to these issues.
“It is painful to know that you want to do something and you’re being held back, it’s painful to know that you can do something and you are not given the opportunity because of these red tapes, it is painful to know that you worked to get the council in place and then when you come for rescue you feel rejected, you feel that you are not important so it is everyone’s part to look for solutions”, the Minister shared.
The Minister said it is clear that the current council has inherited a number of “baggage, missing links and disrespectful situations” but called on residents to support the council so that together development can continue.
Resident John Torres in committing to supporting the council said “Minister I endorsed what you have said and will support that idea and I am prepared to work closely with the council so long as they call on me”.
Santa Rosa has the largest indigenous population in Guyana and with two major projects on the way in this sub-district, (Santa Rosa Ground Coffee and the Kwebanna Cassava Flour projects) these issues will have to be addressed in a timely manner.