30 December 2007

Caribbean Artist Roy Lawaetz at the Florence Biennale: Taino Inspiration

Roy Lawaetz, whose Modular Trinagular System was featured in The CAC Review in 2002, recently exhibited his work at the Florence Biennale.

Featured in Florence, his “Global Warming Series” assimilates pre-Columbian tribal beliefs to highlight a modern day topic. As presented in his brochure for the exhibition, his work is inspired by the Taino zemi or “spirit stone” and in this series his works refer to indigenous Caribbean people who were not polluters but rather worshippers of nature. The Taino Indians practiced a belief model recognizing Nature Deities such as weather gods.

In his interactive piece “Atabey, Fertility Goddess”, this artwork dramatically presents global temperature shifts in innovative display. The melting phenomenon posed by climate crisis is shown in uncompromising terms with virtual dripping water from ice inside a cone. As in Eugene Ionesco’s absurd play where mushrooms spring up all over, it is as if global warming with a melting ice pack has drifted so far as to affect the artist’s own canvas. The artist technically demonstrates how the triangle motif of the zemi stone can be removed from its archaeological categories for re-emphasis on modern day environmental concerns. By focusing on the fertility beliefs of the Taino he reconstructs and re-invents to provide a pictorial modern day narrative that draws from their old cultural heritage practices. The Taino’s own belief that certain zemies could provide adequate water and the good things in life is combined in Atabey, Fertility Goddess. This interactive presentation succeeds in blending modern day technology and ancient tribal belief with the artist’s
own environmental irony.

For more, please see his lavishly beautiful brochure at:
See also:

New Book: Hans Staden's True History

Available June 2008 from Duke University Press
Hans Staden’s True History
An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil

Hans Staden
Edited with an introduction by Neil L. Whitehead
Newly translated by Michael Harbsmeier

In 1550, the German adventurer Hans Staden was serving as a gunner in a Portuguese fort on the Brazilian coast. While out hunting, he was captured by the Tupinambá, an indigenous people who had a reputation for engaging in ritual cannibalism, and who, as allies of the French, were hostile to the Portuguese. Staden’s True History, first published in Germany in 1557, tells the story of his nine-month captivity among the Tupi Indians. It is a dramatic first-person account of his capture, captivity, and eventual escape.

Staden’s narrative is a foundational text in the history and European “discovery” of Brazil, the earliest European account of the Tupi Indians, and a touchstone in the debate on cannibalism. Yet despite its importance, the last English-language edition of Staden’s True History was published in 1929. This new critical edition features a new translation from the sixteenth-century German along with annotations and an extensive introduction. It restores to the text the fifty-six woodcut illustrations of Staden’s adventures and final escape that appeared in the original 1557 edition.

In the introduction, Neil L. Whitehead discusses the circumstances surrounding the production of Staden’s narrative and its ethnological significance, paying particular attention to contemporary debates about cannibalism. Whitehead illuminates the value of Staden’s True History as an eye-witness account of Tupi society on the eve of its collapse, of ritual war and sacrifice among Native peoples, and of colonial rivalries in the region of Rio de Janeiro. He chronicles the history of the various editions of Staden’s narrative and their reception from 1557 until the present. Staden’s work continues to engage a wide range of readers, not least within Brazil, where it has recently been the subject of two films and a graphic novel.

Neil L. Whitehead is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of Dark Shamans: Kanaimà and the Poetics of Violent Death and the editor of Terror and Violence: Anthropological Approaches (with Andrew Strathern and Pamela Stewart); In Darkness and Secrecy: The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia (with Robin Wright); Histories and Historicities in Amazonia; and The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtiful Empire of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh. Dark Shamans and In Darkness and Secrecy are both also published by Duke University Press. He is also sits on the editorial board of KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology.

Michael Harbsmeier is Associate Professor of History in the Department of Culture and Identity at Roskilde University in Roskilde, Denmark. He is the author of two books in German.

Order form, and printed information available at:


The Lost Fort of Columbus...and the Tainos of Today

From an article appearing in the History & Archaeology section of The Smithsonian Magazine for January 2008, by France Maclean:

And then there's Clark Moore, a 65-year-old construction contractor from Washington State. Moore has spent the winter months of the past 27 years in Haiti and has located more than 980 former Indian sites. "Clark is the most important thing to have happened to Haitian archaeology in the last two decades," says [archaeologist Kathleen] Deagan. "He researches, publishes, goes places no one has ever been before. He's nothing short of miraculous."


In 1980, Moore showed some of his artifacts to the foremost archaeologist of the Caribbean, Irving Rouse, a professor at Yale. "It was clear Clark was very focused, and once he had an idea, he could follow through," Rouse recalled to me. "Plus he was able to do certain things, such as getting around Haiti, speaking Creole to the locals and dealing with the bureaucracy, better than anyone else." Moore became Rouse's man in Haiti, and Rouse became Moore's most distinguished mentor.


One night, when Moore was entertaining friends at his harborside cinder-block house in Cap-HaÔtien—he lives there with his wife, Pat, a nurse from Nebraska with 16 years' service in Haiti's rural clinics—the conversation turned to the fate of the Taino. "The Taino really weren't all wiped out," Moore said. "There are groups in New York, Puerto Rico and Cuba who call themselves the descendants. They're reviving the language and ceremonies and want the world to know 'Hey, we're still here.'"

"The descendants in Haiti are secretive," a visiting archaeologist chimed in.

28 December 2007


América Indígena. Artículos y documentos sobre los pueblos y culturas precolombinos:

New articles, mostly in Spanish, are available on this website which offers readers a very impressive variety of open access articles.

Please see:




It is rare that we have good news to offer readers, but this is potentially momentous, and we should all be vigilant that government authorities restrain themselves from using violence as a means of suppression as in the past. Also, it is to be hoped that as many indigenous organizations and nations as possible lend the weight of their recognition to Lakota nationhood. The news below is somewhat disjointed, cobbled together from a variety of sources.

We are a Sovereign Nation
A Declaration of Independence from the USA

Lakota Sioux Indian representatives declared sovereign nation status today in Washington D.C. following Monday's withdrawal from all previously signed treaties with the United States Government.

The withdrawal, hand delivered to Daniel Turner, Deputy Director of Public Liaison at the State Department, immediately and irrevocably ends all agreements between the Lakota Sioux Nation of Indians and the United States Government outlined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties at Fort Laramie Wyoming.

"This is an historic day for our Lakota people," declared Russell Means, Itacan of Lakota. "United States colonial rule is at its end!" "Today is a historic day and our forefathers speak through us. Our Forefathers made the treaties in good faith with the sacred Canupa and with the knowledge of the Great Spirit," shared Garry Rowland from Wounded Knee. "They never honored the treaties, that's the reason we are here today."

The four member Lakota delegation traveled to Washington D.C. culminating years of internal discussion among treaty representatives of the various Lakota communities. Delegation members included well known activist and actor Russell Means, Women of All Red Nations (WARN) founder Phyllis Young, Oglala Lakota Strong Heart Society leader Duane Martin Sr., and Garry Rowland, Leader Chief Big Foot Riders. Means, Rowland, Martin Sr. were all members of the 1973 Wounded Knee takeover.

"In order to stop the continuous taking of our resources ñ people, land, water and children- we have no choice but to claim our own destiny," said Phyllis Young, a former Indigenous representative to the United Nations and representative from Standing Rock. Property ownership in thefive state area of Lakota now takes center stage. Parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana have been illegally homesteaded for years despite knowledge of Lakota as predecessor sovereign [historic owner]. Lakota representatives say if the United States does not enter into immediate diplomatic negotiations, liens will be filed on real estate transactions in the five state region, clouding title over literally thousands of square miles of land and property. Young added, "The actions of Lakota are not intended to embarrass the United States but to simply save the lives of our people".

Following Monday's withdrawal at the State Department, the four Lakota Itacan representatives have been meeting with foreign embassy officials in order to hasten their official return to the Family of Nations. Lakota's efforts are gaining traction as Bolivia, home to Indigenous President Evo Morales, shared they are "very, very interested in the Lakota case" while Venezuela received the Lakota delegation with "respect and solidarity." "Our meetings have been fruitful and we hope to work with these countries for better relations," explained Garry Rowland. "As a nation, we have equal status within the national community."

Education, energy and justice now take top priority in emerging Lakota. "Cultural immersion education is crucial as a next step to protect our language, culture and sovereignty," said Means. "Energy independence using solar, wind, geothermal, and sugar beets enables Lakota to protect our freedom and provide electricity and heating to our people."

The Lakota reservations are among the most impoverished areas in North America, a shameful legacy of broken treaties and apartheid policies. Lakota has the highest death rate in the United States and Lakota men have the lowest life expectancy of any nation on earth, excluding AIDS, at approximately 44 years. Lakota infant mortality rate is five times the United States average and teen suicide rates 150% more than national average. 97% of Lakota people live below the poverty line and unemployment hovers near 85%.

"After 150 years of colonial enforcement, when you back people into a corner there is only one alternative," emphasized Duane Martin Sr. "The only alternative is to bring freedom into its existence by taking it back to the love of freedom, to our lifeway."

We are the freedom loving Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have traveled to Washington DC to withdraw from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law.

For more information, please visit our new website at
444 Crazy Horse Drive, P.O. Box 99;
Porcupine, SD 57772


We are the freedom loving Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have suffered from cultural and physical genocide in the colonial apartheid system we have been forced to live under.

We are continuing the work that we were asked to do by the traditional chiefs and treaty councils, and 98 Indian Nations at the first Indian Treaty Council meeting at Standing Rock Sioux Indian Country in 1974.

During the week of December 17-19, 2007, we traveled to Washington DC and withdrew from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law.

In the face of the colonial apartheid conditions imposed on Lakota people, the withdrawal from the U.S. Treaties is necessary. These conditions have been devastating:

--Lakota men have a life expectancy of less than 44 years, lowest of any country in the World (excluding AIDS) including Haiti.
--Lakota death rate is the highest in the United States.
--The Lakota infant mortality rate is 300% more than the U.S. Average.
--Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average for this group.

--More than half the Reservation's adults battle addiction and disease.
--Alcoholism affects 8 in 10 families.

--Indian children incarceration rate 40% higher than whites.
--In South Dakota, 21 percent of state prisoners were Native.
--Indians have the second largest state prison incarceration rate in the nation.

--The Tuberculosis rate on Lakota reservations is approx 800% higher than the U.S national average.
--Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S national average.
--The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average.
--Federal Commodity Food Program provides high sugar foods that kill Native people through diabetes and heart disease.

--Median income is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
--97% of our Lakota people live below the poverty line.
--Many families cannot afford heating oil, wood or propane and many residents use ovens to heat their homes.

--Elderly die each winter from hypothermia (freezing).
--1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricty.
--60% of Reservation families have no telephone.
--60% of housing is infected with potentially fatal black molds.
--There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (may only have two to three rooms). Some homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.

--Unemployment rates on our reservations is 85% or higher.

--Only 14% of the Lakota population can speak Lakota language.
--The language is not being shared inter-generationally, today, the average Lakota speaker is 65 years old.
--Our Lakota language is an Endangered Language, on the verge of extinction.

We do not represent those BIA or IRA governments beholden to the colonial apartheid system, or those "stay by the fort" Indians who are unwilling claim their freedom.



Tsilhqot'in Nation v. British Columbia, 2007

Many thanks to Dr. Roi Kwabena for forwarding this information.

Media release from Woodward and Company:

Decision Reached in Historical Land Claim Case:

Tsilhqot'in Nation v. British Columbia, 2007 BCSC 1700

Victoria, British Columbia, November 21, 2007 - After a courageous and epic struggle, a small Tsilhqot'in First Nation that took on the governments of Canada and British Columbia to protect their land and way of life has been victorious in Court. In a major precedent-setting decision, Justice David Vickers of the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled today that the Tsilhqot'in (Chilcotin) people have proven Aboriginal title to approximately 200,000 square hectares in and around the remote Nemiah Valley, south and west of Williams Lake, British Columbia. Although Justice Vickers declined to make a declaration of title based on technical issues, he found that the tests for evidence of title were met in almost half the area claimed.

The trial lasted 339 days during which 29 Tsilhqot'in witnesses gave evidence, many in their native language. 604 exhibits were entered with Exhibit 156 alone containing over 1,000 historical documents. The Judge received about 7,000 pages of written submissions from the lawyers on all sides.

"The court has given us greater control of our lands. From now on, nobody will come into our territory to log or mine or explore for oil and gas, without seeking our agreement," said the Plaintiff, Chief Roger William. "The court recognized that we have proven title in about half of the Claim Area - and from today we accept our renewed responsibility and powers of ownership of those lands."

Justice Vickers made a number of important findings that will impact future relations between the governments of Canada and British Columbia and First Nations, including:

1. The Tsilhqot'in people have aboriginal rights, including the right to trade furs to obtain a moderate livelihood, throughout the Claim Area.

2. British Columbia's Forest Act does not apply within Aboriginal title lands.

3. British Columbia has infringed the Aboriginal rights and title of the Tsilhqot'in people, and has no justification for doing so.

4. Canada's Parliament has unacceptably denied and avoided its constitutional responsibility to protect Aboriginal lands and Aboriginal rights, pursuant to s. 91(24) of the Constitution.

5. British Columbia has apparently been violating Aboriginal title in an unconstitutional and therefore illegal fashion ever since it joined Canada in 1871.

Throughout much of Canada and the United States, the colonial governments made treaties with First Nations to purchase their lands. This did not happen in most of British Columbia. The government has continued to deny that B.C.'s indigenous people inherited the land that their grandparents owned.

A longer version is available at:

2) A link to the decision itself is available at: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/sc/sc-jdbwk.asp

Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena

CARIFESTA X, 2008: Guyana

August 22 – 31, 2008
Guyana, South America

One Caribbean, One Purpose, Our Culture, Our Life

CARIFESTA, the premier cultural festival of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), will be held in Guyana from August 22 to 31, 2008, under the theme “One Caribbean, One Purpose, Our Culture, Our Life.”

Over the ten-day period, 100 events will be presented. These events will feature all aspects of Caribbean creative expression—the culinary arts, fashion, the literary arts, the performing arts, and the visual arts. In addition, there will be programs featuring the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, symposia focusing on the future of Caribbean culture and cultural industries, super concerts, as well as calypso, chutney, reggae, soca, and steel band festivals, and special events for Caribbean youth.

The first CARIFESTA, CARIFESTA 72, was held in Guyana in 1972 and brought together writers, artists, musicians, dancers, poets, and other creative people from more than 30 Caribbean and Latin American countries. The audiences were not only Guyanese but included visitors from other Caribbean countries, the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world. CARIFESTA 72 was a celebration and a showcase of the ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity that is the hallmark of the Caribbean. It was inspirational and left a legacy of education and community development. This orientation and spirit have marked the nine CARIFESTAs that have followed since 1972—Jamaica (1976), Cuba (1979), Barbados (1981), Trinidad and Tobago (1992), Trinidad and Tobago (1995), St. Kitts and Nevis (2000), Suriname (2003), and Trinidad and Tobago (2006),

One innovation in CARIFESTA X is a systematic effort to encourage the participation of the Caribbean Diaspora. To do this, a number of CARIFESTA Chapters are being established across the Caribbean Diaspora.

While declaring open the Family Fun Day of the Guyana Folk Festival on Sunday, September 1, 2007, His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo, President of the Republic of Guyana, invited the organizers, the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., to become engaged in CARIFESTA X.

Since then, the association has worked closely with Guyana’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and with members of the wider Caribbean community in New York and in other parts of the United States to develop a mechanism to support the participation of the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States in CARIFESTA X.

On December 7, 2007, the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., was designated the New York CARIFESTA 2008 Chapter by Guyana’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. The core tasks of the New York CARIFESTA 2008 Chapter will be to:

  • Promote CARIFESTA X among the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States of America, particularly in the New York area.
  • Mobilize volunteers to provide technical assistance in areas such as live sound, lighting, and related areas, through the means of pre-CARIFESTA X workshops.
  • Organize cultural performances, displays/exhibitions, etc., to showcase the cultural expressions of the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States of America.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports expressed confidence that the association “would also play a leading role in mobilizing support from other parts of the United States.”

The New York CARIFESTA 2008 Chapter has established a number of interdisciplinary task groups. These task groups are chaired by a number of experienced Caribbean professionals and cultural activists from the following organizations: The Blue Pan Project, Brooklyn Caribbean Youth Festival, Caribbean Cultural Theatre, Caribbean Literacy and Culture Center of the Brooklyn Public Library, Caribbean Media Enterprises, Caribbean Society for the Visual Arts, eCaroh Caribbean Emporium, Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., Guyana Day Committee, Guyana Tri-State Alliance, Impressions Dance Company, Meyer Levin High School for the Performing Arts, Nritya Kala Kendra International Academy for Indian Dance Art and Culture, and the Rajkumari Cultural Center.

Other cultural organizations in the United States that are interested in contributing to CARIFESTA X are encouraged to make contact with the New York CARIFESTA 2008 Chapter. Contact information is provided below.

The Task Groups will ensure that the Caribbean Diaspora will be able to participate in the following aspects of CARIFESTA X:
  • Information, Communication, and Marketing (Co-chairs: Dr. Vibert Cambridge, Claire Goring, Roy Singh, Claire Patterson-Monah, and Donna Flemming)
  • Visual Arts (Co-chairs: Jerry Barry and Ivor Thom)
  • Youth Program (Co-chairs: Maxine Alexander, Rudy Daley, and Ron Lammy)
  • Skills Transfers: (Co-chairs: Maurice Braithwaite and Malcolm Hall)
  • Film Festival: (Co-chairs: Shirvington Hannays and Claire Goring)
  • Performances (Co-chairs: Malcolm Hall, E. Wayne McDonald, and Pritha Singh)
  • Symposia (Co-chairs: Dr. Aubrey Bonnett, Dr. Vibert Cambridge, Dr. Juliet Emanuel, and Dr. Prem Misir)
All Caribbean persons, persons of Caribbean ancestry, and friends of the Caribbean in the United States are encouraged to participate in CARIFESTA X. Attractive travel packages are being developed. Visitors to CARIFESTA X will be able to enjoy a number of world class super concerts, art exhibitions, book exhibitions, and theatrical performances.

Participants from the Caribbean Diaspora in the United States of America can make positive contributions to the conversations that will take place during CARIFESTA X on the state of Caribbean culture and developing a road map for the future.

The members of the New York CARIFESTA 2008 Chapter are aware of the significant amount of work that still has to be done and look forward to your advice, guidance, and support.

For further information on CARIFESTA X, please contact the Secretariat of the Guyana Folk Festival, 1368 E. 89th Street, Suite #2, Brooklyn, NY 11236. Telephone: 718-209-5207 or e-mail Malcolm Hall, President, Guyana Cultural (Guyfolkpresident@aol.com); Claire Goring, Cultural Director, Guyana Cultural Association (ClaireAGoring@aol.com); or Dr. Vibert Cambridge, Diaspora Coordinator for Carifesta 2008 (cambridg@ohio.edu).

The Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., the organizers of the Guyana Folk Festival has launched a web site for Carifesta 2008. Please visit it at: http://www.guyfolkfest.org/carifestax2008.htm

Malcolm Hall, President
Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc.,
December 15, 2007

Release of new book on Puerto Rican archaeology and Caribbean paleoethnobotany

De antiguos pueblos y culturas botánicas en el Puerto Rico indígena has just been published by Archaeopress (BAR, Oxford , U.K), and was edited in the Université de Paris (Panthéon-Sorbonne) as Paris Monographs in American Archaeology, No. 18 (2007). The edition is in Spanish with abstracts in Spanish, French, Dutch and English. People interested in learning more about this publication (and who may wish to buy it) can go to the link provided below or to the author's personal blog (www.arqueologiaantillana.blogspot.com) where he posted the links of those booksellers offering the book.

Link to Paris Monographs in American Archaeology Series

Dr. Jaime R. Pagán-Jiménez
URL personal: http://www.arqueologiaantillana.blogspot.com
URL consultoría: http://www.ekconsultores.blogspot.com
Calle Azucena #19
Urb. Río Piedras Valley
San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00926
Tel. móvil: (787) 207-5898


Garifuna Coalition USA

Thanks again to Wellington Ramos for forwarding news of this new website.

The Garifuna Coalition Advocacy Center in the Bronx

The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. is seeking funding from various sources to establish a Garifuna Coalition Advocacy Center in The Bronx. The goal is that the Center will become a resource center in which constituents can comfortably place their trust to seek out a wide range of social service they need. The purpose of the center will be to identify the most common and pressing problems facing the Garifuna Immigrant Community in The Bronx and to design and implement methods to resolve those problems. These resolutions will include interventions as well as referrals. The Center will operate on an Open Door policy, by which Garifuna Immigrant Community members will be able to walk in without an appointment to seek help.



Jonkonnu and the Garifuna of Belize

Many thanks to Wellington Ramos for forwarding the article from which the passages below were extracted.

In Belize, a celebration of liberation
Jonkonnu is a masquerade party observed in parts of the English-speaking Caribbean during the Christmas season.

By Ericka Hamburg, Special to The Los Angeles Times
December 21, 2007

Welcome to Jonkonnu, a masquerade found in parts of the English-speaking Caribbean during the Christmas season. Unlike Carnival, this festival has secular roots; when Caribbean colonial masters loosened restrictions on slaves, the slaves then entertained and parodied them with costumed characters and musical processions.

Last winter, on a sultry Christmas morning, I found myself in Dangriga. This rough-and-tumble town is the cultural capital of the Garinagu, also known as Black Caribs.

In the 17th century, shipwrecked West Africans and aboriginal Arawaks found one another on St. Vincent and intermarried; thus began Garinagu society. Although Spain was the ruler of record, the British arrived with ambitions to farm cotton and sugar, with the unconsenting labor of island inhabitants.

The Garinagu (now known more commonly by their language, Garifuna) successfully fought off the British until 1797, when they were forced into exile, set adrift with a loss of thousands of lives. The survivors landed first on Becquia and Roatán and, in 1823, migrated to the mainland, settling in pockets of Honduras, Guatemala and the southern coast of Belize.

With a week to witness Jonkonnu and other seasonal traditions, I rented a beachfront room at Pal's Guesthouse and set out along Dangriga's main street, St. Vincent.

A crush of dancers, drummers, singers and wannabes had converged on a corner, and I fell right in. Flag bearers at the lead, we moved as one, like a many-legged organism, stopping in backyards, on driveways, under raised porches or drying laundry, to perform by request.

Jonkonnu participants are a multi-generation brotherhood of dancers, perfecting their routines over years. Some return from outside Belize to perform. Here, and in other Garifuna villages -- Hopkins, Seine Bight and Punta Gorda -- Jonkonnu brings both joy and catharsis: the formal black-and-white costumes, headdresses, European-featured masks and frenzied marching steps evoke and mock an old nemesis, the English military.

As we moved from house to house, some money and some rum were exchanged. The ritual would repeat on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), and Día del Rey (Jan. 6).

The fete continued into darkness, when I left the crowd and headed to Val's Laundry. Visitors gravitate here for Internet access, laundry service, fresh coffee and, my treat to myself, rum raisin ice cream.

The next day I drove about an hour south, through orange groves and rows of banana trees, to Hopkins and the Lebeha Drumming Center. Driving along a dirt road paralleling the beach, I slowed to accommodate homemade speed bumps fashioned from giant ropes.

At Lebeha ("the end"), under a handsome backyard hut, kids were putting crayons to cardboard masks and practicing drum routines for the holiday. Jabbar Lambey teaches the intricacies of Garifuna rhythms to locals, visitors from nearby resorts and serious percussion students. I chatted with Dorothy, his Canadian wife, as she cooked, orchestrated events and attended to a rescued canine.

Interview with Taino Almestica

On August 1, 2007 Taino Almestica and Derrick Mayoleth, circumnavigated the island of Boriken (Puerto Rico) in a kayak. They were the first to attempt such a feat since the days when the Classic Taino people traveled across all the islands of the Caribbean in canoes. Taino Almestica a descendant of the islands original inhabitants is the first Taino to not only attempt such a feat but to accomplish his aim as well. Below is an interview I conducted with Taino Almestica upon his return to New York City:

JE: What motivated you to circumnavigate the island of Boriken?

TA: Since my childhood I have been in and out of canoes. As I got older I was searching for that experience again but unfortunately there weren’t that many opportunities around Manhattan. I did eventually find a kayak group in Manhattan and I decided to explore this different but similar craft. The dream of being able to circumnavigate the island was set into motion. I looked for the connection to my ancestors and the personal challenge to me.

JE: How long did this trip last?

TA: It took us 18 days to circumnavigate the entire island but there where a few days, which we took off the water. The first time we took a few days to readjust gear and to plan some other exploring of the island. The second major layoff was when Hurricane Dean was approaching the island. We were off the water for five or six days, which I felt, was too long. I took advantage to visit some family in Aibonito.
a) Start point: We launched from the Toa Baja region of the island near the town of Levittown. We launched from Punta Salinas.
b) Middle: I would say when we arrived in Ponce.
c) End point: that of course would be our start point.

JE: What were the scariest moments for you?

TA: I would have to say two times when we were caught paddling with lighting near to us that for me was the scariest. Not to mention that my mind was always looking out for sharks. The first time I came upon to a pair of very large manatee. I have never seen them that large and from the perspective of paddling right up to them. Did I get knocked into the water or tipped in sure did three or four times. Got caught the first time looking one way and a wave caught me off guard. Then there was one on the North coast which I could hear rumbling behind me as it build in power and size. I tried to out run it or back paddle to let it pass under me but the wall just increase over my head and then collapsed on top of me. I just rolled up. Did a 360 spin under and back up on top of the water.

JE: How was the public support for what you were trying to accomplish on the island?

TA: The community was incredible to us. They provided us with water, food and coffee during the trip. In addition they provided safe places for us to sleep and the fishermen giving us local knowledge of the waters, which we would encounter. Of course they all thought we where crazy!

JE: What does the Kayak and the sea mean to you?

TA: This is my temple, church, I worship and remember to worship and give thanks for a great day and safe journeys. No days are ever alike each wave different from the one before.

JE: As a Taino, did you think about what our ancestors may or may not be thinking as they traversed around the islands of the Caribbean?

TA: I did think about that from several points. Arriving at a location that you don’t know and then having to find a safe place to land and find food and shelter. Another point would be from those who lived in this environment- the daily experience of searching for water, food, protection from the weather. I mean, I like camping, but I came as best prepared as possible and even then there were challenges. I live in an apartment and turn on my air conditioning and go shopping for food right outside my door.. It’s almost inconceivable how our ancestors traveled throughout the islands, long stretches at sea, landing on unfamiliar beaches and then survive the way they did. How could I ever compare myself to them or whine about what I don’t have? I carried all I needed in my kayak.

JE: What message do you want to leave the people of Boriken?

TA: To explore life. If you happen to identify with Taino ancestry whether in Boriken or the other islands, know that you don’t have to be just a warrior, medicine person or a chief. I mean, some one had to throw out the garbage right? I guess that’s my job. To my people I say they must go home to their islands and explore them in their entirety to get a clear view of what it means to be Taino. You will find out what you don’t know and what that means. Experience that and then let us sit down and discuss being Taino.

JE: Any plans for a Caribbean wide trip?

TA: Yes if I could walk away from work, were a whole lot younger and could build up the courage to take the abuse!

Taino with his Daughter Alexandria

JE: You used the symbol of Guabancex Wind and Rain Society, what does it mean to you?

TA: After having some experience with various groups I found the internal and external fighting was just a waste of time and mental resources. The jealousy and envy has fogged the fact that the Taino don’t exist- at least the Taino that some are trying to portray. We have lost so much and we continue to lose our youth every day to outside cultural pressures or pop culture. It was good to be invited into Guabancex since I feel I understand what their philosophy is about.

At first I thought, since the founding members all have academic degrees what could I bring to Guabancex? Of course not all are or claim to be Taino but we all work to research, disseminate and record information whether new or old or relearning what it was. I bring a little from my experience on the island and the things that I was shown by my family; mainly on the island and some here on the main land. Of course put me in a boat or in the mountains and I’m in my elements and I can share that with others and that is the key SHARING. Working on the material and not on how many titles I claim. The connection with the land and how our ancestors had that connection is what I’m learning and experiencing. There is a need for science and a need for what is left from the island people before it is all lost. Maybe if we are lucky someone will take up the mantle on some element of our culture, and run with it. I learned so much from this adventure. That experiencing it is so much more that saying I am it.

JE: I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. You have truly inspired me. Bo Matum Taino.

TA: Bo Matum

30 November 2007

Taíno Curricula: A World of Opportunity

To satisfy NYS core curriculum standards for Social Studies in The Western Hemisphere: Latin America, the 5th grade classes I am working with discuss Taíno culture as a way to chronologically kick off their year-long investigation of Hispaniola. But the cultures, geographies, and histories of the Taino people are so strong and varied that it's easy to imagine a Taíno investigation as part of a Global Communities curriculum, or a point of comparison for studying other indigenous "American" cultures in an early American history unit.

The more I talk with Taíno cultural experts around the city, the more I hear echoes of the same sentiment: it's awfully exciting to find out that Taíno culture is increasingly becoming a part of the curriculum in New York City public schools! The people I've worked with so far - from museum educators to performing artists - have all been warm and genuinely enthusiastic about introducing students to the richness of pre-Columbian Taíno culture. The Taíno Indians, before Columbus, inhabited much of the Caribbean including the Bahamas, present-day Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola. I get the sense that the community in New York is close-knit - people sharing similar interests and a passion for shining light on notoriously underrepresented indigenous peoples. Connecting with that community is an educator's dream. One person refers you to another, and soon enough a bevy of cultural resources seem to appear. The Voice of the Taino People blog is a vibrant living document that compiles news and cultural events relating to Taíno peoples in the Caribbean and the Diaspora.

And the Taíno legacy is so alive in New York City today! To so many students of Caribbean descent (and there are many in New York's schools), a Taíno artifact is not just a dusty museum relic but something with familial, personal significance. Maybe a student recognizes that wooden device from his grandmother's kitchen. Another realizes that the music she grew up listening to in 21st century Brooklyn actually pre-dates Columbus, and the instruments are, miraculously, the same. On a recent trip to the National Museum of the American Indian (also raved about by my co-blogger Margot), I was tickled to see so many students recognizing traditional Taíno artifacts as household goods. This surprising bridge, between contemporary life in Brooklyn and indigenous daily life on Hispaniola, would not have come nearly as alive without our full investigation of Taíno culture.

Posted by Evan O'Connell on November 28, 2007 at 08:24 PM
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26 November 2007

Indigenous Resistance/ Indigenous Reality: from The Fire This Time

We are thankful for receiving announcements from our friends at THE FIRE THIS TIME (TFTT), familiar to visitors of the CAC when we previously featured news and work by TFTT on Black Indians in the Americas. As some might recall, TFTT cherishes the personal anonymity of its members, and this concern seems to extend to geographical location as well.

The announcements presented news of two new sites, one,
presents TFTT's new music label, IR (Indigenous Reality).

The second site is at
and features some of the music, which can also be sampled on other sites, such as:

In the words found on the first site:
"I.R. is a new music label launched in 2003 by TFTT that explores the twin themes of Indigenous Resistance/Indigenous Reality. Issues and examples of indigenous resistance and Indigenous reality that normally dont receive attention will be highlighted through our releases. I.R also refers to homegrown insurrection and the fight against injustice everywhere. I.R is intimately connected to the TFTT freedub project. Hence there will be opportunities to recive vinyl, books, posters free of charge. An autonomous venture, I.R releases comes together with a minimum of resources but with a maximum of cooperation and care from those involved in the project; a family of loosely affilated folks who believe in the spirit and deed of resistance. We all have the capacity to fight the beast. We all have a part we can play."

According to one site, where the words appear to be from TFTT itself (with minor edits below):

Indigenous Resistance was created in 2003 on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by black and indigenous activists where they initiated their "freedub" series-vinyl records, given free of charge to the public.

IR releases have focussed on issues of social injustice. IR1 was recorded on location in the Brazilian jungle with the Krikati indians who were fighting for land demarcation rights. IR3 featured members of the indigenous resistance movement for a free West Papua. IR4 was a project of healing among reconcilliation among indigenous peoples of the Solomon islands. IR11 marked ten years since the tragic murder of the Pataxo Indian Galdino who was set on fire by the children of Brazil's elite as a "joke". [This story was also reported in Jonathan Warren's book, Racial Revolutions.] When Galdinos killers were back on the streets after recieving light sentences and preferential treatment, IR created posters and t shirts that said "these bastards killed Galdino" and listed their names. The resulting publicity drew attention back to the case.

IR is a completely autonomous, independent, self-sufficient entity who create their work using the motto of "minimum resources, maximum cooperation." When the topics of recording were too controversial for the Brazilian media and records stores to touch, IR created their own alternative distribution system with used vinyl record seller Zumbi distributing IR recordings through his hand drawn cart in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. IR through sheer necessity has pioneered ways to create music using email and filesharing as their tools to faciltate their work with indigenous people in remote scenarios. IR recordings have involved scenarios where participants have taken boats from remote islands to reach an internet provider where they can upload files. IR focus is on cooperative projects and a further example of this was how in 2007 IR collobrated with the Brazilian soundsystem Dubdem to release 3 freedub seven inch vinyl and to create a Dubdem soundsytem website (www.dubdem.com.br )which was completely interactive with the IR website(http://www.dubreality.com/).

IR has evolved into a self-described "worldwide conspiracy" involving indigenous activists and artists in various parts of the globe linking via internet with subversive minded producers, engineers and producers like Adrian Sherwood, Mad Mike (UR), Dr Das, Bobby Marshall, Sun J (Asian Dub Foundation).

IR10 Indigenous Dublands reflects this confluence. Producers like Steven Stanley(Black Uhuru, B52s, Talking Heads) Soy Sos (Soma Mestizo, 3 generations walking) ramjac (Herbie Hancock, Mark Stewart) Downsound (Jamaica) Tapedave (Mt Dublab)enconter musicians Dr Das (ex-Asian Dub Foundation), Sly n Robie, Saevo (Solomon Islands) with vocalists Tohununo (providing traditional singing from the Solomon islands), Jimmy Dick (Swampy Cree traditional singing from Turtle Island and Christiane D (Soma Mestizo) IR10 was recorded & mixed in the Solomon islands, Jamaica, UK, Brazil and Turtle Island.

The result is a mixture of funk, dub, traditonal indigenous singing spoken word, tablas and never before recorded instruments from the solomon islands. More details on individual tracks can be found on the IR website http://www.dubreality.com/ and if you search for the compound word indigenousresistance on http://www.youtube.com/ you can also find IR videos and documentaries (like the one below).

"NZ anti-terrorism laws branded incoherent after raid fiasco"

::Thanks to Tony Castanha for alerting us to this article::

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) at:

The future of New Zealand's controversial terrorism suppression laws is in doubt, after authorities ruled that none of those arrested in last month's raids on Maori communities will face terrorism charges.

Solicitor-General David Collins QC says the "overly complex and incoherent" legislation means the law cannot be used to prosecute in any of the 12 cases he was reviewing following the raids.

Meanwhile, there are calls for the Police Commissioner to resign over heavy-handed tactics meted out to Maori terrorism suspects.

October 15th 2007 will be remembered as the day the 'war on terror' reached Whakatane.

Heavily armed tactical response police wearing balaclavas set up roadblocks in the Bay of Plenty boondocks and searched vehicles and photographed their occupants.

The Tuhoe tribe have since called in Peter Williams QC, who believes they have a good case against police for breaching their civil rights.

"I may say that there has been terrorism, but the terrorism has emanated from the police, not from anybody else," he said.

Mr Collins agrees that the evidence was insufficient to justify this heavy-handed approach. He also says the anti-terrorism laws themselves are deficient and in urgent need of redrafting.

"I have advised the commissioner that I am unable to authorise the prosecutions that have been sought under the Terrorism Suppression Act," he said.

Mr Williams says that is just the start.

"I think the police position is that they have used the Terrorism Act excessively, particularly in opposing bail, and possibly leading the people of New Zealand to think that there was terrorism by these people," he said.

"That has now been belied by the Solicitor-General in a decision that I think is adroit, and I think is objective, and I think a very wise decision.

"What should happen now, as I understand it, is that these people should be released on bail and their particular cases should be dealt with according to law."

Toi Iti, the son of high-profile Maori sovereignty activist, Tame Iti - who is now applying for release on bail - says he is relieved at the dramatic turn of events.

"Because I think just having the association with the word 'terrorism' and all of the connotations that come with that, with the terrorist acts that happen globally around the world, to have that associated with your family and your name has a huge effect," he said.

Innocent people affected

But for police, it's a humiliating backdown from what they claim was an imminent threat to national security. Police Commissioner Howard Broad now concedes that a lot of innocent people got caught up in the dragnet.

"They're clearly hurt, they're clearly distressed," he said.

"The people of Tuhoe particularly feel like that this operation was directed at them.

"I've got some work to do to build bridges there and I acknowledge that.

"But in terms of this being a serious risk, I stand exactly behind what I did, and I expect the people of New Zealand would support me in that."

Maori political leaders like Hone Harawira say that is just not good enough.

"He announced on the first day, 'terrorism', and he has not been able to prove it," he said.

"He employs Kaitakawaenga, Maori police officers who work in places like Ruatoki.

"He had the opportunity 18 months ago to say, 'Guys, I think there's something going on in here. Get in there and find out.' It could have been all over and done with inside two or three weeks."

Instead, Mr Harawira says, the Police Commissioner did not inform the local Maori police officers.

"The boss of that operation, of that unit, the Maori Liaison Officers, wasn't even told until the operation had started," he said.

"[Commissioner Broad] said himself on day one, 'I stake my reputation on it'. He's blown it, he should go.

Slight on Tuhoe community

The Tuhoe tribe now thinks it is time for police to start listening to their own Maori Liaison Officers and apologise for the slight on their community.

Mr Williams says it was effectively branded a terrorist enclave.

"There's a lot of ill-feeling at the present moment, there's a lot of anger, their mana has been affected," he said.

Mana is a supernatural life force of power or authority.

Mr Williams says there has been a series of illegal acts by the police.

"It is time now, in my humble opinion, for a reconciliation, for the police to apologise and for the police to make recompense, so that this can be amended and the mana of the police as well, restored."

But others, like Mr Harawira, suggest the incident has put relations between police and Maoris back 100 years.

"How dare they arrest Tame Iti! What are the charges that he is leading a terrorist organisation? This is bullshit!" he said.


Editor's note: The fact that the "war on terror" is being regularly visited upon those least connected with anything to do with Sept. 11, 2001, and being deployed in countries that were not targeted by Al Qaida, it is not surprising that the national security state is shown to be the normal state of affairs. Immigrants, almost all Muslims, Indigenous Peoples, have been the more immediate targets of this new colonial war, and what their experience should be telling everyone else is quite important: that the Italian political philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, was right when he he argued that states of exception, emergency rule, surveillance, national security, all of these combined consistently shape and constitute rule by states everywhere. The real "terror" we have to be worried about has always been, and continues to be, state terror. Here in Canada the face of state terror is shown immediately and automatically whenever a crowd of indigenous protesters assemble--police forces almost instantaneously appear, as if the mere fact of protest, or an indigenous gathering, were somehow a public safety issue.

25 November 2007

On "Native Terrorism": A Reader Responds

::I am thankful for receiving the following message, which was posted in response to another post on this blog ("More Hysteria Over the 'Native Terrorist'")::

Hegemonic Post-Colonial Discourse (Contemporary Colonization)

What is terrorism? What does it mean to act in the name of peace, or to find arms in places where they don't exist? Are they copying hegemonic discourse? All of these questions are valid and apply to violations that many people of the world suffer, above all indigenous people.

In my opinion, when culture is managed irresponsibly, and we see others judged in an irresponsible way, with no evidence, with comments that are racist and which are placed in a context as if they were made by wise elders, claiming things such as "I decide if you are worthy of your culture or not", "you are violent and vengeful", these people are hypocrites, because they say they are working for our people and are offering "recognition to those men and women who iron our clothes, watch over us, wash our cars, and make our handicrafts".

They do not see that this is not the way, not the right path.

We as indigenous are not only those things. We are the ones who, through our ancestors, have kept society together to the present, we are the ones who have diverse ways of expressing ourselves as daily witnesses to the idea that it is possible to live in peace with others and with mother earth, we champion the responsible use of culture, which does away with preconceptions and ideas promoted by ignorance and lack of understanding by others. We are the ones as a people who have given up so much at such a high and unfortunate cost, such as our most valued legacy, the greatness of the past, our faith, our culture, our food. What kind of sin is it to have self-determination? What kind of sin is it to protest? What sin have we committed when we accept the new nationality of peoples living on our soil? What sin have indigenous committed when we recognise each other as human beings? Why do they mistreat us when we state that something does not look right to us?

In other words, people who practice what they criticise, who judge you in the name of democracy, who say they are offering tribute, are just like the colonisers, they keep exchanging gold for trinkets and want us to give away our wealth for shiny mirrors. Amparo Ochoa has a song that expresses this very well:

And we open our homes and call them friends
But if an Indian comes back tired from working in the highlands
We humiliate him and see him as a stranger throughout his land.

You hypocrite acting like a humble person in front of a foreigner
You become arrogant with your own poor brothers
Oh, Malinche's curse, illness of our age,
When will you leave my land….when will you free my people.

I dedicate this to all the indigenous peoples of the world, especially to my Maori brothers and sisters in Aotearoa New Zealand, my Wayuu people and to the Wichi people.

I want to share information about what is happening to our Maori brothers and sisters in Aotearoa. Please read this letter and send it on, for once make the voice heard of THOSE WHO HAVE NO VOICE.

David Hernández Palmar. Indígena Wayuu. Clan IIPUANA
0414 632 1312
0416 370 3539
+ 58 414 632 1312
+ 58 416 370 3539

"Tradition is like a wise elder, as she sits on the road of days, she tells future generations what she has lived." RAMON PAZ IIPUANA 1938

"La tradición es como una anciana que sentada en el camino de los días, cuenta a las generaciones venideras lo que ha vivido". RAMON PAZ IIPUANA 1938

La tradition, c'est comme une vieille dame qui, assise sur le chemin des jours qui passent, raconte aux générations à venir ce qui lui a été donné de
vivre. RAMON PAZ IIPUANA, 1938

24 November 2007

Defeated Howard Worries that Recolonization is Over

In a video posted by The Age of Melbourne, John Howard is shown conceding defeat, not just of his government, but even of his own seat of Bennelong. He concedes also that he will step down as leader of his Liberal Party.

What is interesting is that in two videos defeated Liberal candidates express deep worry that their recent recolonization ("intervention") in the Northern Territory will be scrapped by the new Labour government. This worry was expressed both by Howard himself, and by his Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mal Brough, who also lost his seat.

One can only wish Australia the best in its effort to crawl back out of the 19th century.




Goodbye and Good Riddance John Howard!

It is rare that we get to post such happy news on this blog: today, November 24, 2007, saw the defeat of the ruling Liberal Party in Australia and its infamous Prime Minister, John Howard. Howard had won four consecutive elections, and used his mandate for villainous ends as possibly the world's most extreme right wing political leader. From immediate support to the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, to atrocious abuses and hostility shown toward refugees, repeatedly condemned by UN agencies for his government's treatment of refugees and Aboriginals, to his anti-worker laws, Howard was a blight on the international political landscape and his humiliating defeat has not come too soon. One hopes that Australia will at least begin to alter its neo-colonial course.

Under Howard we have seen the effective re-colonization of the Northern Territory, the imposition of extreme surveillance and domination over Aboriginals who, were they to today form an independent nation-state of their own would most likely constitute the poorest country on earth. Under Howard Aboriginal misery swelled to unbelievable proportions, with staggering rates of unemployment, poor housing, and a life span that is on average 20 years less than that of white Australians. In the face of a history of abducting Aboriginal children, in what is clearly defined as genocide by the UN, Howard refused to so much as apologize, something that right wingers elsewhere have had little problem doing (with compensation added) as in the case of Howard's political friend, Stephen Harper, the Conservative Prime Minister of Canada. In response to the special misery suffered by Aboriginal Australians, Howard only worried about doing anything that could be perceived as "special treatment"...special treatment for the traditional owners of the land who remain ostracized and vilified as outsiders in their own homeland.

The new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd of the Labour Party, promised among other things to withdraw Australian combat troops from Iraq, to sign the Kyoto Protocol, and to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We hope that these will be done quickly.

Goodbye John Howard, and goodbye to another angry, old, white racist.

For a special collection of YouTube videos dealing with the politics of the Australian nation-state and Aboriginals, click on the image below:

16 November 2007

Taino Areyto 2007

Many thanks to Waxeri Waribonex for forwarding this news:

Taino Areyto 2007
Dia del Pueblo Taino

The Wanakan Cultural Center of the Taino Nation of the Antilles, will be hosting the 15th annual Taino Areyto on Saturday November 17th, 2007 at Hostos Community College on Grandconcourse and 149th Street in the Bronx, NY. The event will start from 12 to 6: PM and will feature Venders, Seminars, a special Children’s presentation from 1 to 2: PM and el Dia Del Pueblo Taino Areyto 2007 will be starting from 3 to 6: PM. Please join us on this family oriented celebration and enjoy our music and dance. For more information you can contact us at (917) 301-5934. Tickets available at Hostos Box office.

Waxeri Waribonex
Tomas Gonzalez
Please join our news group by clicking on the link provided below. You must sign up for a free Yahoo E-Mail acct, if you do not already have one, then you can change back to your own e-mail address if you'd like once you've joined in order to automatically receive our postings:



09 November 2007

The Countdown Begins: 10th Anniversary of the CAC

In just a little over a month, the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink will celebrate its 10th anniversary!

It's remarkable (troubling even) that these ten years have flown past. My personal thanks to my fantastic and inspiring co-editors/colleagues/friends, who have made the CAC such a unique success and who have stuck it out for this long:

Tracy Assing
Janette Bulkan
Gerard Collomb
Jorge Estevez
Pedro Ferbel-Azcarate
Lynne Guitar
Cheryl Noralez

The Open Anthropology Project (OAP)

Editor's note:

For those one or two individuals who may have been minimally curious as to how I could let more than a week pass without posting to this blog, I have to announce the following.

I have started a neighbouring blog which has consumed my energies. This is the OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY blog at:

The blog was partly motivated by two separate yet coincidental events: my teaching a graduate course in anthropology, focusing on the decolonization of anthropological knowledge, theory, and practice, and the now considerable volume of media and blog articles on the participation of anthropologists in counterinsurgency campaigns. My notion of an Open Anthropology is one that is free of the constraints of "discipline," "profession," and institutionalization, one that is open source and open access, collaborative and participatory, and directly engaged in the politics of liberation (by first beginning to understand that anthropology is an insider's knowledge system...the insider in this case being the colonizer).

So what does "Open Anthropology" look like in actual practice? Well, you could say that I am doing it in this very moment of writing, and the reader is doing it in the very same instance of reading this.

Andy Palacio: UNESCO Artist

Thanks to CAC editor, Cheryl Noralez, for the following news item from the Garifuna Heritage Foundation:

Belizean musician Andy Palacio designated UNESCO Artist for Peace

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has designated the celebrated Belizean musician and singer Andy Palacio a UNESCO Artist for Peace.

OCTOBER 1, 2007 - UNESCO Artists for Peace are internationally-renowned personalities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote UNESCO's message and programs. UNESCO works with these distinguished personalities in order to heighten public awareness regarding key development issues and to inform the public what our Organization's action is in these fields. Andy Palacio's designation makes him the 40th UNESCO Artist for Peace alongside prestigious international figures such as Manu Dibango, Celine Dion and Gilberto Gil.

Born in 1960 in the coastal village of Barranco, in Belize, Andy Palacio started to gain popularity in Belize and abroad in the late 1980s. He has since become his country's most popular musician and one of the most prominent defenders of the regional Garifuna culture and traditions.

With his band The Garifuna Collective, Andy Palacio has created a unique musical style known as Punta rock, an upbeat, popular dance form based on Garifuna rhythms. Palacio also sings in the Garifuna language, which blends many linguistic influences and which UNESCO declared in 2001 a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Andy Palacio is Cultural Ambassador for his country and holds the position of Deputy Administrator of the National Institute of Culture and History.


Disney Rears Its Cannibal Head Once Again: Cannibal Trinidad, 1900s

Hopefully, but doubtfully, a report such as this will finally dispel those optimists (opportunists?) who posted comments on this blog against some of our suggestions that Disney's renditions of cannibalism among indigenous peoples of the Caribbean would be learned and perpetuated as if it were fact (see our debates on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean). The argument raised by some of these commentators, schooled in the arts of dull acquiescence, was that children--yes, children--would have the intellectual acuity necessary to discern fact from fiction, myth from reality, propaganda from honesty, and pure "entertainment" from truth.

Thanks to Dr. Roi Kwabena for forwarding the following comment from another Trinidadian resident in the UK:

I am a Trinidadian living in the UK. Last night (Sunday 4th November 2007 ) I was horrified when my children drew to my attention a segment of a popular children's Disney TV-Series "Lizzie McGuire" where a young actor presents information from his script stating "do you know that less than a century ago there were cannibals in the country of Trinidad and Tobago" he goes further to insinuate that "back then there was lots of pirate activity in that region".

There you have it: cannibals and pirates in Trinidad, in the 1900s. With entertainment and education of this quality, who needs the brazen imperial propaganda of cable news?


Many thanks to Dr. Roi Kwabena for forwarding this press release to The CAC Review several days ago:

September 14, 2007:

Dozens of Indigenous Sovereign Nations throughout Canada and the United States have agreed to move forward with a Declaration of Sovereignty, by which these Indigenous Sovereign Nations will band together to re-assert their inherent sovereignty, inviting all Indigenous Sovereign Nations from all around the world to join. This newly con-federated Nation is appropriately named "The Turtle Island Confederacy." Those who know will understand that "Turtle Island" is another traditional name for "the World." This is truly a universal Declaration. The Hereditary Chiefs of these Indigenous Sovereign Nations will gather at a signing ceremony to take place at a central location in Michigan on November 24, 2007, at which time The Turtle Island Confederacy will be born.

Again, those who know will understand that the traditional governing systems and the traditional cultures of these Indigenous Sovereign Nations were and continue to be decimated by laws enacted by their "host" countries, including Canada and the United States, which laws, among other things, impose false (proxy)(foreign) governments on our people. This true Declaration of true Sovereignty has the blessing of the Creator and International Law.

The creation of The Turtle Island Confederacy on November 24 will immediately free the Indigenous Sovereign Nations to re-assert their sovereignty, an inherent sovereignty that was never surrendered and never could have been surrendered. It has taken the Indigenous Sovereign Nations over 200 years to regroup and arrive at this crucial point in history to re-commence performing their sacred duties to care for Mother Earth and, hence, all people. It is no accident and no coincidence that the Creator has chosen this time to arrange the rebirth of this ancient Nation. The air, the water, the land and all living things are in danger now as never before. The Turtle Island Confederacy is born from all things positive, not from anger for past oppression and atrocities undeniably committed. These things are forgiven. When the colonizers arrived, we welcomed them and cared for them when they could not care for themselves. They were like children sitting at our feet in need of sustenance, which we gladly provided. The children grew up steadily over the course of several hundred years, only to rebel against their caregivers, reacting with greed and forgetfulness of all we did for them and all we tried to teach them. For this they are also forgiven. The time has come, however, when these now young adults must realize and admit the innocent error of their youthful and frivolous ways and turn once again to the wisdom and care of those who raised them. Unwittingly, they developed along the way the technological and linguistic means for all Indigenous Sovereign Nations to now join together with one good mind and one pure heart for the good of all humans.

In conclusion, The Turtle Island Confederacy extends an open invitation to all Indigenous Sovereign Nations to join us on this historic and epic peaceful path into the future and also to convey this all-important message to all colonizing states: "The Turtle Island Confederacy extends, once again, its open hand in friendship and in good faith as our gesture of our desire to continue to coexist for the benefit and respect of all people and our one true Mother, "Turtle Island."

Contact Information:

tmnottawayratt@hotmail.com (Jacob Wawatie, Chief, Algonquin)

Chief_Capilano@hotmail.com (Jerry Capilano, Chief, Squamish)

Gmetallic@hotmail.com (Gary Metallic, Chief, Mi'kmaq)

Tonyplaw@optonline.net (Tony P., Attorney, Mohawk)


Online Audio Recordings of the Lokono Language

Many thanks from the CAC to David Campos for forwarding this news several days go:

David Campos was able to find Audio recordings of Lokono (proper) online, with over 22 minutes of spoken Lokono from Guyana. It is part of a Christian site called Global Recordings. They have recordings in hundreds of global Indigenous languages. The recordings are of New testament stories.

Those with a special interest in the Arawak and Carib languages will be particularly excited to hear these recordings.

The following are the sites hosting the audio files of the languages. They also have Carib (kalina).


The Kalina (Mainland Carib) language files can be downloaded from:

25 October 2007

More Hysteria over the "Native Terrorist"

Claims of Maori separatist plot begin to unravel
By Kathy Marks, Asia-Pacific Correspondent
Published by The Independent, 23 October 2007

A week after 17 people were arrested in anti-terrorist raids, New Zealanders are asking whether their security forces foiled an astonishing plot by militant Maori separatists – or whether they made a monumental error of judgement.

Extreme secrecy surrounds the affair, with only two of the 17 detainees being identified and the media excluded from court hearings. But those held in dawn raids across the nation are said to include a mixture of white anarchists and environmental activists as well as Maori radicals.

As well as swooping on homes in cities including Auckland and Wellington, police sealed off a hamlet in the Ureweras, a mountainous area of the North Island, which they claim was the site of terrorist training camps. The isolated, thickly forested region, home to the Tuhoe tribe, is now the focus of national attention.

New Zealand is not usually associated with terrorism. The only terrorist act carried out there was the bombing of the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, by French secret agents in Auckland harbour in 1985....



22 October 2007


TUESDAYS from 4-5pm (EST)

WESU (88.1 FM), Middletown, CT


On Tuesday, October 23rd, join your host, Dr. J. Kehaulani Kauanui for a look at the politics of Taino identity. The Tainos are the indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands. When Columbus landed at Hispaniola while trying to find an alternative route to India, he named the inhabitants "Indians." Today, many Taino-identified Caribbean people are challenging the official doctrine that has declared the Tainos extinct.

Listen to Dr. Marianela Medrano-Marra's lecture, "The Divine Feminine in the Taino Tradition," which was delivered at the Yale Peabody Museum on Indigenous Peoples Day, October 8, 2007. This program also features an interview with Jorge Estevez, Taino from Kiskeya (also known as the Dominican Republic), and Valerie Nana Ture Vargas, Taino from Boriken (also known as Puerto Rico) on the politics of Columbus Day and indigenous identities.

19 October 2007

AIM leader passes on

Vernon Bellecourt, who fought to restore land and dignity to Native Americans and against the use of Indian nicknames for sports teams as a longtime leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), died Oct. 13 of complications of pneumonia at a Minneapolis hospital. He was 75.

Since leaving behind careers as a hair stylist and real estate agent and joining his brother in AIM in the 1970s, Mr. Bellecourt had been in the forefront of the movement to ensure that treaties between Native American tribes and the U.S. government would be fulfilled. He was president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media and principal spokesman for AIM.

He was involved in numerous demonstrations to bring attention to his causes, including the 1972 occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington and the 1992 Super Bowl rally to protest the name of Washington's football team.


Guatemala: a good place to kill

Ivan Briscoe

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Each day brings an average of fifteen fresh corpses, scooped up from roadways and ditches after the work of death-squads and criminals has been done. And each day, or so it seems, the police force loses some more men, as the latest counter-narcotic cleansing shears through its dwindling ranks, and a fresh batch of guns goes underground.

Life without law and order makes for a restless public. The decisive round of voting approaches in the country’s
presidential elections on 4 November 2007, and many of the 13 million Guatemalans are darkly unexcited, sullenly vengeful. "What people want is protection", says Estuardo Zapeta, host of the popular radio talk-show Contravía in the capital, Guatemala City. "They no longer want the authorities to bother - they don’t believe in the police. What you hear now is a cry of despair. Out of 100 callers, ninety agree with social cleansing."

Zapeta is indigenous, an anthropologist and a devout Protestant. In almost any other part of modern-day Latin America, he would have become a progressive political leader. But Guatemala is different. Guatemala has death-squads, polo matches, mega-churches and four television channels, all belonging to one foreigner. Only Russia has a higher murder-rate for women, only China exports more children for adoption to the United States. And Zapeta’s favourite subject is that of his listeners: how to survive in a state of nature. Retired army general
Otto Pérez Molina stalks the campaign trail in luminous orange t-shirts, his smile frozen, roundly denying any involvement in the country’s genocides of the 1980s while proffering a mano dura (firm hand) against crime. His rival Álvaro Colom, the leader in the first round of voting, promises a rational, moderate government, yet no one can deny that his National Unity of Hope party is penetrated, as all major parties are, by torrents of drug money. For the moment, Pérez Molina narrowly leads in the polls.

On 9 September, in the first round of the poll,
these two came out top of a scattered field of fourteen candidates riding diverse parties, cobbled together by friends and financiers, in which representatives of the left - including Nobel peace prize-winner Rigoberta Menchú - scraped together under 6%. Without a doubt, this was the most miserable showing for radical change in the whole of Latin America.

The public mood is fear, but this
result is still a great mystery. A democracy with 51% poverty, wracked by the worst inequality in the continent, afflicted by crime and judicial decay, feels compelled to cure its wounds by scratching them harder and harder. Meanwhile, the killings and crimes are still faced with a monumental indifference from state institutions, or incompetence, or, worst of all, are the work of dark forces that watch jealously over Guatemala from some cold-war bunker.

"It’s widely known who the drug traffickers are. The names of politicians, judges, deputies and officials are known. The US embassy has a register of these people. So why aren’t they captured?" asks Edelberto Torres Rivas, the Guatemalan doyen of Latin American sociologists and author of dozens of books. "I have no reply."

Back to the colony
Guatemala, like much of central America in the era of globalisation, is in the thrall of political irrationality. For an outsider, its cultural riches and starved collective wisdom seem an impossible combination - as if a millenarian civilization were constantly imploding, which was indeed the condition of the ancient Mayan empire according to environmental historian Jared Diamond. Yet the place where explanations usually begin is the colony, formed by one of Spain’s most bloodthirsty conquistadors, Pedro de Alvarado, and perpetuated by a tiny elite that robbed land and lived off its Indian serfs with great self-satisfaction.

During the wanderings of his exile, the deposed Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz was often accused by the left, and Che Guevara in particular, of cowardice in face of the United Fruit Company coup that overthrew him in 1954. Arbenz’s defence was that he could not mount any decent riposte to Washington’s intervention when it was his own military and economic elite that willingly took the US bait, uprooting the country’s sole attempt to create an equitable capitalist society.

Imperial power, first Spanish and then north American, has consistently operated on Guatemala, that potential "communist beachhead in our hemisphere" whose spectre President Eisenhower raised. But the extent of its influence has hinged on the cooperation of a domestic elite whose application of colonial rule - from vagrancy laws to genocide - has made it an ideal agent of foreign strategy, powerful enough to repress but too illegitimate to live without help from abroad. This nexus has undoubtedly been the most stable feature of Guatemalan political history. "The greatest fundamental problems of contemporary Guatemala.... are colonial realities," wrote historian Severo Martínez Peláez in 1970.

This was clearly visible by the time the Guatemalan state, the army and the last guerrilla ranks signed the 1996 peace accords. Amongst its many provisions, the treaty had one ambition at its heart: draining the state of its military ethos, and giving it sufficient funds to provide basic social welfare. In a country where the progressive wing of the armed forces in the early 1980s planned only to kill 30% of inhabitants of rebel areas rather than all of them (President
Carlos Arana infamously declared in 1971 that "if it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so"), this marked an extraordinary change.

The decade since then has dispelled hopes of an orderly transition. Every step back from official power by traditional elites has been mirrored by a new presence in the shadows, reinforcing all the old vices: taxes are frozen at just over 10% of GDP, the military keeps its intelligence under wraps, and death- squads once again tour the Indian villages alongside Lake Atitlán, as if trapped in a Reaganite time-warp. The public, meanwhile, has proved strangely supportive of this inertia, failing to turn out for a referendum in 1999 on constitutional reform, and then voting repeatedly for the right. All that remains are the words of the accords, and the hollow promises of rulers.

"Everyone lives in their own world", argues Pedro Trujillo, professor of politics at
Francisco Marroquín University, intellectual bastion of the economic elite. "The government favours and protects business, and they’re happy. The leftwing groups live off international aid, generating projects which say this country is a disaster. No one wants to make space for anyone else."

In a time of sharply decreasing US interest, the blockage of reform points to a process more dynamic and obscure than brute colonial practice. If we want to understand the mystery of how nothing of significance has happened in a democracy of the oppressed, ripe for its own
Evo Morales, then three key issues unavoidably come to the fore: the panic over insecurity; the entrenchment of the elite; and the singular failure of the mass indigenous movement.

The enigmas of the crime wave
On many evenings, Guatemala’s main news broadcast, Noti7, opens with the snarling faces of tattooed gang members seized by the police with some small bags of drugs. A few instants later, an advertising break reveals a very similarly dressed hip-hop homeboy drinking a desirable beverage, and adored for it by surrounding women.

There is little more schizophrenic that gangland in central America. Borrowed straight from US culture, or rather deported from the suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1990s, the
mara gangs are now said by Washington to represent one of the gravest threats to peace in the region. "Homies", as they call themselves, have a different set of concerns. Many would like to retire from the crime game, but the problem is that they can’t: "Five years ago we started a programme that tried to get the gang members into jobs", explains one official in a major international development agency. "But the narco-traffickers came to tell them that they had to sell drugs. The police insisted on a certain amount of robberies, so they could take their share. In one month, nineteen young kids were killed, and that was that."

While the murder tally has soared to around 6,000 a year, no rigorous effort has been made to categorise the
deaths, be they criminal, narcotic, political, or the work of a parallel state structure. Common crime and gang violence are assumed to represent the lion’s share, but those who know the poor barrios of Guatemala City are not convinced: "there have been very few killings recently between gang members", observes the aid worker. "Most are now extra-judicial assassinations, and this year has been very violent."

The question of why so many people are being killed is rarely addressed in Guatemala. For a start, each homicide investigator has only seventy-two hours on average to wrap up a murder case; the result is that most are shuffled immediately into files, with only 2% ending in a court sentence. Politically sensitive cases, meanwhile, are subject to layers of pressure and manhandling. "I do the work, I hand the file over", explains one police investigator. "Then the bosses decide amongst themselves."

Yet the suspicion, voiced in numerous quarters and echoed in an outstanding United Nations report by legal professor
Philip Alston in February 2007, is that death-squads are prowling freely once again. Alston abstains from branding this official policy, even if Guatemala’s decrepit institutions certainly make it, in his words, a "good place to kill". But the direct participation of police officers points to at least tacit support from authorities: two bodyguards of the police chief were arrested in recent days for picking up five young men playing football in the capital and shooting then dead, all at midday on a Saturday. The obscure roles played by security advisers, retired military officers and off-duty police suggest the policy of "social cleansing" could even have been sanctioned by the highest levels of state.

Evidence here is thin on the ground, which is understandable. Figures such as Víctor Rivera, a former CIA operative in 1980s El Salvador, and now adviser to the interior ministry and proprietor of a twenty-four-hour drop-in centre for wealthy families of kidnapping victims, are shrouded in mystery, even when they deign to give newspaper interviews; he recently affirmed that "the families I advised knew that I wasn’t going to pay." The former police chief Erwin Sperisen, meanwhile, was an intimate colleague of Rivera, and has also been linked to death-squad activity. He
resigned in March 2007 in the wake of the gruesome murder of three El Salvadorian politicians, a narco-trafficking turf crime in which Rivera played a thoroughly obscure role, apprehending the culprits before they were taken to jail and liquidated. In his last official gesture, Sperisen declared on an evangelical television station that "we carried out illegal acts, but we did what was right."

The ties between retired military officers and Pérez Molina’s campaign team are likewise murky, and journalists prefer not to pry. Six former chiefs of military intelligence are nevertheless reported to be involved in the retired general’s campaign, and few doubt that they are themselves connected with the cliques of economic power and organised crime formed by veterans of the civil war. It should be noted that around 120 private-security firms operate in the country, almost all belonging to former army officers.

Grand conspiracy theories are not needed to observe a certain primitive logic here. Organised crime and corrupted police institutions appear to have substantial control over the country’s homicide rate and its levels of petty crime. An increase in the murder rate serves the economic interests of private security and racketeers, and is useful in dampening down crimes against the rich, particularly bank heists and kidnappings - the two types of crime that have fallen most sharply in the past four years. Lastly, and most speculatively, the murder rate fuels the political demand for tougher retribution, and an "iron fist."

For the general public, these causal connections are far removed from the visceral sensations of everyday insecurity. In rural areas, lynchings are commonplace solutions. But in urban centres, demands focus on the return of the one institution that has shown itself throughout Guatemalan history to be exceptionally brutal, but also effective and victorious - "the spinal column of the state, in comparison to the infantile and shameless political class", in the words of the country’s top political analyst and former guerrilla fighter, Gustavo Porras.

Since 2006, 3,000 soldiers have been deployed in joint street-patrols with the police. Pérez Molina’s plan is clear: "we need to use the army until we have a police force that is ready, and its use must not be limited to working alongside officers, it must have its own ability to act." His rival Colom’s plan, on the other hand, would see a merit-based professionalisation of the police force.

There are no prizes for guessing which plan strikes the popular chord. "People want a militarised police, a civil police with a military culture", declares Zapeta.

The eternal elite
Occasionally, the visitor to Guatemala can sight a member of a rare species. Sandwiched between bodyguards, darkened behind tinted glass, shuttered in villa ghettos, the economic elite is reclusive as never before. "They send their children to Houston for medical check-ups, they send them to university abroad, they have their bodyguards", explains
Juan Alberto Fuentes, a leading economist. "They don’t actually need the state."

It is curious, then, these reclusive oligarchs - experts estimate these may involve around 150 families, clustered into five major holding groups - exert a political and material dominance greater than central America has ever seen before. Every vice-presidential candidate on the tickets of the five main parties in September’s poll was a member of these wealthy clans. Unprecedented amounts of money are sprayed at far too many candidates, while the television tycoon from Mexico, Ángel González, favours the business-friendly with flattering news spots. Naturally, none of the leading hopefuls - not even Menchú - proposed any rise in taxes, or any increase in government spending beyond that made possible by cuts in telephone calls and other minor wastage.

"Saying you’ll raise taxes is political suicide", observes Manfredo Marroquín from the election monitoring group
Acción Ciudadana.

An essential reason for the mire of Guatemala is the elite’s fanatical conservatism. In many ways, this sits oddly with the radical transformation of business life since the region’s civil wars ended: interests have shifted from coffee and cotton to banks, assembly plants, transnational expansion and, inevitably, money-laundering. Intra-regional trade quintupled from 1990 to 2004.
Pollo Campero, Guatemala’s flagship fast-food giant, has lit the beacon for others to follow. Inside its innumerable drive-in foodcourts, nervy waiters with hi-tech headpieces instantaneously transmit the customer’s chicken predilections; one of the bosses, Dionisio Gutiérrez, has his own television show on Sunday night, in which he propagates the purest form of neo-liberalism.

The anomalies here are again extraordinary. At Guatemala’s stage of development - just over $2,000 per capita - it would surely make excellent economic sense to roll out better health and education, generating hardier workers, busier consumers and peaceful civil coexistence. But the logic simply does not hold. In a fundamental sense, the economic elite has lost interest in Guatemala, and scorns both the state and its military backbone. The opinion of one corporate executive, quoted by the researcher
Alexander Segovia in his work on new central American elites, is illuminating: "In my daily timetable, I can only dedicate thirty-five minutes to Guatemala."

Yet this exuberant pan-American expansionism is something of a smokescreen. Elites are richer and more diversified than ever before, yet their inflated status sits uneasily with the inequality, mass democracy and criminal peril that has dropped anchor at home. This homeland may certainly not matter to them or their children, but even so it remains a platform, full of pliable subalterns and dirt-cheap labour. It serves the rich materially, but its ever increasing distance has come to constitute a direct existential threat.

More than anything, it is this complex bind of financial strength and numerical fragility than accounts for an elite which steers political and media life, yet cannot bring itself to entertain any modest change to distribution or development. One disaffected member of the coffee-growing oligarchy summed it up: "This is a system that requires massive repression. The elite simply cannot see a way out of its own domination."

The manifest destiny?
Yet the numerical logic seems irrefutable. Guatemala’s twenty-two long-suffering indigenous peoples, who constitute around 50% of the population - the precise proportion is a matter of great historical controversy - should long ago have seized power. Indeed such is the force of the numbers that, according to the Mayan intellectual and activist Álvaro Pop, many indigenous people content themselves with their "manifest destiny" of eventual power, even as they continue live under the thumb of white, Spanish-speaking sons of Alvarado.

It was Bolivia’s
Evo Morales who proved instrumental in Menchú’s candidacy, reportedly commanding her to stand during his visit to the country in late 2006. Yet the eternal obstacles to indigenous empowerment had not receded. The recurrent indigenous political shipwreck, seen first under Arbenz, and repeated in the guerrilla disaster of the 1980s and the fragmentation of the late 1990s, played itself out all over again, with a paltry 3.09% for the Nobel laureate.

A strong indigenous political party would seem the ideal solution to many of Guatemala’s chronic problems, sweeping away the absurd fragmentation of the party system - the average lifetime of a party is 7.6 years - connecting people back to state power, and forcing the elite into acknowledgment of the need to reform. Intellectuals
scratch their heads in wonderment at this absence of what should necessarily have occurred, and diverse reasons are provided: inter-ethnic rivalries, a fixation with community life, and an unbridgeable gap between Mayan intellectuals and the popular base.

Most pertinently, the ideological dispersion of the Mayans has blocked
mobilisation. In the indigenous highlands of the Quiché, the indelibly corrupt party of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt still holds a strange attraction, based in large part on the networks of local militia patrols recruited to join the military’s murder spree of 1982-83. Ríos Montt killed many, but not everybody; for those he did not kill, there was food and security and presidential sermons on a Sunday night. It is the Stockholm syndrome on a massive scale.

Guatemala’s rulers, having doctored the political threat, have seen fit to induct the Indians into power. The largesse of the outgoing president,
Oscar Berger, ensured the incorporation of 300 indigenous officials into government posts. Over 38% of the country’s mayors are now indigenous, although one leading government official dismissively told me that "these mayors are so bad no voter trusts in them." For now, this is where the racial settlement stands: tiny shares of power in a state that doesn’t work.

"There are two fears in this country", argues Pop. "One is that of the whites, and their ancestral fear of us. The other is that of the indigenous community, which has internalised its marginal status and assumes that certain things cannot be done."

A last stand
A Guatemala paralysed into inertia runs the distinct risk of watching the state fold up and collapse, whoever wins the 4 November
poll. Far from lifting the country’s fortunes, global integration has only bolstered Guatemala’s economy of short-term, lesser evils, of practical reason in a social and institutional vacuum. Already the profits from drug-running - some 75% of cocaine consumed in the United States is estimated to pass through Guatemala - have turned huge chunks of territory into lawless zones. In turn, the trade aggravates the crime wave, reinforces the elite’s isolation, and corrupts new indigenous leaders; in simple words, it is poison for a sick country.

For the moment, the United States and Europe are giving their commitment to a new United Nations investigative body, the
International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig). The task is to find and prosecute the dark powers that people all the state’s institutions. It is, quite possibly, a last-gasp effort, and few would dare speculate as to how it might fare against a revitalised military seizing control of the nation’s police force.

But let there be no doubt: as the world forgets central America, a tragedy is forming, born out of cold-war beachheads and powdering northern noses.

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