With reference to the letter published by Eric Phillips on March 12 in the Stabroek News, captioned “The Government should immediately freeze the granting of land leases to anyone until the reparatory land issue is addressed”, I would like to state the following: We were present in South American for thousands of years before the Europeans set foot on this continent. We were present before the Europeans brought slaves and indentured immigrants and other people to this continent.
The Wai Wais like all indigenous peoples have been nomadic peoples before settling in the land which is now known as Guyana. As such, the entire South America belongs to us, and the national boundaries which created Guyana has not stopped us even now from engaging in cross-border activities with our brothers and sisters in Brazil.
Phillips needs to understand that while he bases his arguments in relation to national boundaries, this does not concern the Wai Wais as we have been present in these lands, we have hunted, fished and gathered in these South American lands long before countries were created and the ancestors of Phillips arrived.
We find it dangerous for Phillips to use such language as he has, because he implicitly questions the very basis of Amerindian land titling. According to Phillips’ argument, everyone in Guyana needs land reparation. However, the indigenous peoples of South America, North American and Central America had their lands stolen from them long before the beginning of African slavery.
We advise Phillips to proceed cautiously with his arguments in future so as to avoid offending the indigenous peoples of the country any further.