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President Chávez promotes indigenous policies

19.04.2012  |  19:51

Hugo Chávez, of indigenous origin himself, has a big heart for Venezuela’s indigenous population. As soon as he became president in 1999, the national constitution was changed and the Organic Law on Indigenous Peoples and Communities (LOPCI) was introduced, giving indigenous citizens special rights.

President Chávez promotes indigenous policies in VenezuelaBy Olivia KrothSources: Blog Hugo Chávez, Correo del Orinoco, Patria Grande, Radio Nacional de Venezuela, VenezuelanalysisHugo Chávez, of indigenous origin himself, has a big heart for Venezuela's indigenous population. As soon as he became president in 1999, the national constitution was changed and the Organic Law on Indigenous Peoples and Communities (LOPCI) was introduced, giving indigenous citizens special rights.Thus they received the right to demarcate and inhabit their ancestral lands, send their children to bilingual schools, elect indigenous members of parliament, practice traditional medicine and adhere to their ancestral religions.The law also explicitly acknowledges the systematic persecution which indigenous people suffered under previous regimes. It gives them back their dignity by protecting their genetic material.Some conflicts arose with landowners when the Yupka tribes in western Venezuela, especially in the state of Zulia, claimed and occupied their ancestral territory. Previously, they had lived as landless peasants on the huge ranches of the landowners. Under the new law, they took the opportunity of recuperating what they see as their own.The Yupka people brought historical documents, topographical surveys and anthropological testimonies to prove their rights.

In 2008, they occupied private estates, while the police cordoned the area off, trying to prevent the Yupka from entering.In his TV show, "Hello President" (Aló Presidente), Hugo Chávez said, "Nobody should have any doubts: Between the large estate owners and the Indians, this Government is with the Indians."Meanwhile, the large estates have been expropriated. The National Land Demarcation Commission, a branch of the Environment Ministry, demarcated the recuperated territory with the help and participation of indigenous councils.Indigenous cooperatives have been established to work on these lands,

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reviving the ancestral spirit of Indo-American socialism. The indigenous population does not know private property, but has traditionally been living in tribal communes.    In October 2009, about 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) of land were given back to the Yupka people by the Chávez Government for communal use. The Yupka territory stretches from the Sierra de Perijá to Maracaibo Lake.The disowned elite repeatedly tried destabilization tactics, vehemently opposing Hugo Chávez's socialist administration. They even went as far as murdering some Indians.Another indigenous policy in Venezuela is the creation of socialist Missions.

A variety of Missions provide the indigenous population with free education, health care and housing.The indigenous communities have their own housing constructions, using the traditional local materials of adobe and wood. They sell communal products in their commercial cooperatives. Furthermore, they have built bilingual schools.The Law about Indigenous Languages of Venezuela promotes the revitalization of ancestral culture, languages and Indo-American thinking.

This law has been translated into the tribal languages of Akawayo, Baré, Barí, Curripaco, Inga, Jivi, Ökuana, Pemón, Piapoco, Piaroa, Puinave, Pumé, Warao, Warekena, Wayuunaiki, Yanomami and Yeral.Revitalizing and protecting indigenous culture in Venezuela is of great importance to Hugo Chávez, who calls it the "heart of the nation."  The country has a Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nicia Maldonado, and celebrates several indigenous holidays.The 18th of March is the Day of the Indigenous Child, as recognition and inclusion of indigenous children, highlighting their cultural, historical, linguistic and social prominence.The 8th of October is the Day of Indigenous Resistance. It marks the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the continent in 1492. The Spaniards thought they had discovered a "new continent." In fact the natives had been living there for thousands of years already. The Spanish colonialists wanted to eliminate these peoples and their cultures, but they met strong resistance.           One of the main local Chiefs resisting Spanish colonialism was Guaicaipuro, of the Caracas tribe.

Venezuela's capital is named after him and the Guaicaipuro Mission was introduced in 2004.Each year, thousands of indigenous citizens travel to Caracas on the 12th of October to commemorate the Day of Indigenous Resistance. At the National Pantheon, Hugo Chávez presents a floral arrangement in honor of Chief Guaicaipuro.All indigenous tribes of Venezuela are encouraged to participate in the Patriotic Pole (Polo Patriotico), a new grassroots movement created by PSUV, the Socialist Party, which is preparing the national presidential election of Hugo Chávez this coming October.   Nohelí Pocaterra, an indigenous Member of Parliament, pointed out that many Indians are interested in defending the revolutionary process of President Hugo Chávez. "We have our mechanisms, we are organized. We are relying on our national, regional, municipal, local and community organizations.

The children, youngsters, adolescents, women, all are organized," the deputy said.José Gonzáles, President of the National Indio Council of Venezuela (CONIVE), also supports the initiative.The Venezuelan indigenous citizens are thankful to President Hugo Chávez for giving them back their dignity and defending their rights. Therefore they wish to play an active role in the presidential election campaign 2012."Amor con amor se paga." - "Love is repaid with love."        Prepared for publication by: Lisa KarpovaPravda.Ru.



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