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Caribbean Updates: Suriname Indigenous groups protest for rights (May 15, 2023)

Just Caribbean Updates:Suriname Indigenous groups protest for rights
Just Caribbean Updates

Several hundred members of Suriname’s Indigenous community carried out a “silent walk” protest, last weekend, against what they have called their marginalisation, deprivation and non-respect and recognition of their collective rights by the government and other parts of society. Leaders promised further protest actions in coming weeks. (Caribbean Media Corporation)

The demonstration followed the killing by the police of two Indigenous men two weeks ago, after a group of Indigenous men set fire to a number of logging trucks and a police station in the Pikin Saron area. (Loop News)

Government officials have since held talks with Indigenous leaders who have been complaining for years that their land rights are not protected by law and successive governments, despite repeated commitments, have never rectified this issue.

“Suriname is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that does not have legislation to recognize and protect the internationally recognized rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples”, noted Nacla last year. (See also IWGIA.)

A draft law to regulate the land rights issue has been before parliament, presented in 2021 and up for consideration since last year includes the right to free, prior and informed consent. If enforced, it would make it illegal to open mining concessions on Indigenous land without their consent. A few weeks ago, indigenous people, during a protest demonstration, presented petitions to the Speaker of Parliament to speed up the passage of the bill. (Caribbean Media CorporationMongabay)

Indigenous communities are in a race against time to protect their traditional values and norms, according to leaders who report an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters in relation to climate change. (Global Voices)

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs estimates the Indigenous Peoples of Suriname account for approximately 20,344 people (3.8 percent) of the country’s total population of 541,638.

The Caribbean and the World

  • Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness met with United Nations-Secretary General António Guterres in Kingston this week. The topics on the agenda included the impact of the climate crisis in the Caribbean region, the global framework for disaster risk reduction and development financing, reports the Miami Herald.

  • The two leaders called for greater support from the international community in addressing the worsening crisis in Haiti, reports the Jamaica Observer. Holness noted that while the Caribbean Community was doing its part to assist, more support was needed.

  • Guterres warned that Haiti’s “tragic situation” is threatening the security of the Caribbean region and beyond as he pressed the international community for a response. “We are kind of in a stalemate right now,” he said, adding that it’s been difficult to mobilize the will of countries who could best lead an international rapid action force requested by Haiti’s interim government. (Associated Press)

  • Guterres expressed his “deep solidarity” with Jamaica and all other Small Island Developing States, outlining what he termed the “moral, power and practical problems” that are preventing the current dysfunctional international financial system from supporting fair and sustainable development. (United Nations)

  • Guyana’s oil and gas sector was a major topic of discussion during the U.S. congressional hearing held for the newly nominated ambassador, to Guyana, Nicole D. Theriot, reports Kaieteur News.


  • Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have sought refuge in Aruba and Curaçao, where “a lack of legal pathways to residence and resources is compounded by the presence of criminal networks, putting a strain on human rights and further endangering an already vulnerable population,” reports the Center for Strategic International Studies.

Climate Justice, Environment and Energy

  • Trinidad and Tobago’s economy depends on oil and natural gas and — despite declining production and the growing impact of climate change, the government remains committed to fossil fuels, reports the New York Times.

  • “Trinidad and Tobago is facing a familiar challenge. Its leaders believe that oil and gas production are vital to the economy, but exploitation of those resources is causing climate change, which is taking an especially hard toll on the people and environment,” reports the New York Times.

  • The Transparency Institute of Guyana filed a cross appeal against the government’s appeal of a recent Guyana High Court decision requiring Exxon Mobil subsidiary’s Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited provide its parent company guarantee in the event of an oil spill, reports Kaieteur News. (See last week’s Just Caribbean Updates post.)

Decolonisation and Reparations

  • Research in British historical archives brings new evidence to a highly charged debate over the monarchy’s ties to slavery — what they knew about the practice, how they felt about participating in it and their level of enthusiasm for it, reports CBC.


  • A group of diaspora and home-based Liberians are preparing a historic “Sankofa Pilgrimage to Barbados”, nearly 160 years after hundreds of Barbadians travelled and settled in Liberia. (Barbados Today)

LGBTQ Rights

  • Jamaica’s government does not intend to support marriage equality, according to Justice Minister Delroy Chuck. (Loop News)

  • Haiti’s “LGBT+ organizations are founded on opportunism, with the help of poverty,” argues Edmide, an activist in the Haitian advocacy group for LBT women, “Femme en Action Contre la Stigmatisation et La Discrimination Sexuelle” (FACSDIS), pointing to a growing number of groups “without any substantial improvements for the communities, while the “historical” organizations that already exist would benefit from being strengthened”. (76 Crimes)

Economics, Finance and Transparency

  • The leaders of Barbados, France, Spain, and Sierra Leone were among those to back a new coalition created in April, aiming to accelerate the flow of climate-related finance to the world’s poorest countries. (Reuters)The “Power Our Planet: Act Today. Save Tomorrow” campaign led by non-profit group Global Citizen, said it was seeking to mobilize ordinary citizens to pressure leaders for a “seismic shift” in the way the world’s financial system works, to help developing countries fight climate change and poverty.

  • A new dashboard created by the Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative quantifies finance flows to Small Island Developing States over a seven-year period (2013-2020). (ODI)

Public Security

  • Mining accounts for nearly half of Suriname’s public sector revenue and gold represents more than 80 percent of its total exports. Transnational criminal activities “benefit from relatively porous borders, stretched government resources (related to a lengthy economic crisis) and corruption. As part of the effort to deal with these issues the government of Suriname cooperated with the Organization of American States’ Department against Transnational Organized Crime to produce a long-awaited report, On the Trail of Illicit Gold Proceeds: Strengthening the Fight Against Illegal Finances: Suriname’s Case”. (Global Americans)

  • Caribbean countries have seized record amounts of cocaine in recent months, but the roots of the region’s persistence as a key corridor for the drug stretch back. InSight Crime examines the legacies of some of the most influential Caribbean kingpins.


  • One Hand Don’t Clap, a documentary about the finals of the 1986 Trinidad Calypso Monarch contest, features legendary calypso giants Lord Kitchener and his protege Calypso Rose — Guardian

  • El Vocero reports on the trajectory of artist Noemí Ruiz a pioneer of abstract art in Puerto Rico, who passed away last week. (Via Repeating Islands)


  • Participate — Caribbean Youth Climate Justice Coalition Poster Competition for the Southern Caribbean 2023 — Youth Climate Justice Coalition

  • Join — Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance: a regional coalition and grassroots movement to transform policy and practice and catalyse action for climate justice and a just transition. It will bring together leading civil society organisations (CSOs), academia, creatives and other non-state actors and their networks working across different sectors and aspects of climate justice – economic, environmental and social justice – to spark greater awareness, engagement, collaboration to influence policy and deliver and concrete change on the ground.

Just Caribbean Updates

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