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Issue #1560      15 August 2012

CP Venezuela visitor receives Aboriginal passport

Dr Carolus Wimmer, a leading Venezuelan member of the Latin American Parliament and its Committee on Indigenous Peoples, has been honoured by receiving one of the first Aboriginal passports issued internationally. Comrade Carolus is the International Relations Secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV). He is visiting Australia from August 9-23 as a guest of the Communist Party of Australia.

The presentation to the visiting revolutionary was made in recognition of the advances for Indigenous people in Venezuela brought in by the Chávez government with the strong support of the PCV whose members are working with Indigenous communities.

In a meeting with Indigenous activists in Redfern, Comrade Carolus explained that the 46 Indigenous peoples in Venezuela have received new rights under the 1999 Constitution and other laws introduced by the Chávez government.

A new Ministry of Indigenous Affairs has been established which is, for the first time, managed by the Indigenous peoples themselves.

Indigenous groups, who are now officially recognised as the first peoples, now have communal ownership of their land. Exploitation of Indigenous land for ventures such as mining or hotels is forbidden unless the Indigenous community agrees.

These rights are being fought against by large landowners and mining interests who are using illegal methods, including murder, to defy land rights and continue ripping profits out of Indigenous lands, often sacred lands.

Chávez has responded fiercely, even closing down some mining operations completely.

Indigenous groups have three representatives in the 165 member Venezuelan Parliament. They are chosen directly by their communities, using culturally accepted methods, such as selection by elders.

Since 2010, one of the 12 Venezuelan deputies in the Latin American Parliament is a directly chosen Indian representative.

In Indigenous areas all documents, discussions, etc must be in both the local Indigenous language and Spanish. Spanish is used by the Indigenous groups to communicate with each other and with the wider society.

To protect and promote Indigenous culture, Indigenous teachers, who are not required to have formal qualifications, are teaching Indigenous history and cultures in Venezuelan schools and universities.

Comrade Carolus reported that the Indigenous-PCV-Chávez alliance is very strong. The great majority of the Indigenous peoples support the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, recognising that this is the source of their new rights and opportunities. With a move to the right, under the impact of US interference and even intervention, the Indigenous people would lose everything.  

Next article – TWU pledges commitment to securing Australia’s aviation

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