… A publication by Survival International

It has been long debated whether or not development, in other words progress, can negatively impact indigenous peoples. While this is widely the case for indigenous peoples world wide,it is our belief at GEPAN that the Amerindians of Guyana have over the years learnt to merge development with their cultural ways of life.

However, it is the development of the wider Guyanese society which impacts the lives of our Amerindians. Such is the case of mining in proximity of or on Amerindian lands, or deforestation. What determines the perennity of Amerindian communities, their cultures and ways of life however, is the distance that the Government of Guyana is willing to go in its commitment to respecting, protecting and preserving indigenous rights. This also means land rights.

So far however, we have witnessed extreme levels of laxity and complacency from the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry as well as the Natural Resources Ministry, in addressing the land rights of those communities which have been waiting for legal ownership for years.

Should this continue, some of Guyana’s indigenous nations will slip into further poverty, augmenting their risk of loosing their culture forever. Culture once lost can be hardly resuscitated.

In this sense, the Amerindians of Guyana share much in common with their indigenous brothers and sisters across the world, although some may unfortunately not even be protected by legislations which guarantee their access to permanent land ownership.

The following is a recent publication by Survival International on the issue of how progress can hamper indigenous peoples’ well-being. PROGRESS CAN KILL SHORT REPORT



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