Venezuela: Indigenous day marked with land titles hand over, new programs

October 19, 2014
President Maduro with representatives of indigenous communities in the Miraflores presidential palace on October 13. Photo from

In celebration of the nationally acclaimed Day of Indigenous Resistance on October 13, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro handed over collective land titles to 14 original communities.

Maduro also established a presidential council for indigenous peoples, lowered the threshold age for indigenous pensioners, and announced the creation of an institute to protect the country’s 44 native languages.

Maduro also pledged 5000 new homes for indigenous communities for next year through the national housing mission Mision Vivienda. He announced the investment of 575 million bolivars (about $100 million) to address extreme poverty in 396 of those communities.

Indigenous peoples’ minister Aloha Nunez noted that the presidential council was formed as a result of elections held in 2194 indigenous communities. The idea was first discussed in 1589 countrywide assemblies.

Delia Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the Wayuu community of Zulia state, said that the debates leading up to the creation of the council were conducted with respect, tolerance and spirituality to enable diverse indigenous peoples to make significant contributions to the transition towards socialism.

Nunez said the language institute was the product of many years’ collective efforts. Of the 44 different original peoples that exist in Venezuela, Nunez said, 34 speak their language and 10 have lost theirs through lack of use.

“We should immediately found and motivate a team systematically [that can] permanently, scientifically, register, rescue and revive all indigenous languages that exist in Venezuelan territory,” said Maduro during the ceremony.

Shortly after, the Venezuelan president announced the incorporation of all indigenous above the age of 50 into the Amor Mayor mission for special elderly pensions. Nationwide, the mission applies to women over 55 and men over 60 who live in family homes maintained by minimum wage workers.

Land titles that encompass six ethnic groups and 14 communities of Anzoategui state were presented to community representatives; 1891 hectares to the Guatacarito people, 438 to the Cumanagoto, 983 to the Capachal, 3,294 to the Pedregal, 657 to the Guayabal and 1119 hectares to the Karinas of Mapiricurito.

From 2011 to last year, the Committee for the Demarcation of Land and Habitat of the indigenous ministry has signed 40 property titles for collective lands, including more than 1.8 million hectares of land.

In a similar ceremony in July, Nunez declared: “Today, the Bolivarian government recognizes the lands that ancestrally belonged to us and have been our home for many years.”

[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis.]

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