Monday, March 17, 2014
Wihta Tara and the Council of Elders, Bilwi
We begin all things with a song and prayer. The song is one that Susan Lagos knows. Welcome to our office.
(Background info from Charley): Hector Padilla is the current Wihta Tara, which was re-created 5 years ago as a political liaison with Managua. Sadie Miller is his cousin and lives in Florida. She is an Ambassador of the Moskito people to other organizations, possibly to the UN as well.
Jimmy Webster is our advisor, Salomon is the Vice Whita Tara, Martinez Ocampo Enrique is ?, Enrique Espinoza is secretary. Lopercio Moralez is President of the Senate of Moskitia. Introduced members of Congress of Moskitia, including Delia Coleman, whom is a member of the Council of Elders. We also met Hitler, who is on the Youth Cabinet and a guerilla fighter.
We believe the problems of a lack of unity were caused by the Nicaragua government to get access to our resources, but they don’t, with laws 22 and 445, and we have moved ahead. There are 22 indigenous territories demarcated into 31,000 sq. km. We should have about 69,000 sq. km. During the last five years, we’re trying to have traditional laws. The number of ethnic groups has reduced from eleven to six. Our principle mission is unity of all 11 (or 6) in groups in Moskitia. United, we can defend against the colonizers. Traditional Moskitia laws say we elect a Wihta Tara and Council of Elders, and Senators. However, Enrique Espinoza has ben organizing the Congress for all of the six to elect representatives, 50 in the South and 50 in the North to pass laws based on traditional laws of our peoples. Then this group and laws will tell us how to confront the invaders.
Article 180 of the Constitution of Nicaragua says indigenous people have the right to resources and make laws and elect leaders. Our customs have not yet been translated into laws. Now Congress and Senators are going to write these laws and take them to Managua and ask that they be respected.
We (NicaNet) are invited to the start of this Congress, April 20 – 23, in Bilwi. This is the 5th year of the Wihta Tara. We will introduce elected Senators and Congress. We will publish legislation.
We were not part of Nicaragua, but were given autonomy. In original agreements this land was not given to Nicaragua. But we have this opportunity under Article 180 of the Constitution, to not challenge the state, but take Covenant 160 and Article 180 to get our rights respected in Nicaragua.
There are Nicaraguan laws that appear to give rights to indigenous, however, they pretend – they were passed in Managua without our input and consent. They are just babbling, not really doing what they say they will. The Wihta Tara and Congress will resolve the status with Nicaragua.
The invasion of the colonizers is a way to take more of our land and was organized by the Nicaragua government. We must take things into our own hand. There are threats to our land and culture and a lack of intervention from the Nicaragua state – our own parliament will do. We’ve lost from once traditional land the size of Costa Rica. We will never renounce the rights to this land and we have to establish them.
Participation – whomever wants can – women, men, all peoples.
Mestizos have made their laws without taking us into account. Congress will represent us to Nicaragua and the International community.
The political parties tried to bring us in, but since Yatama lost, they asked us to join them – this is not our way, no, we don’t participate – you sold out and now you don’t accept your defeat. They come to Wihta Tara and say to join them. The Council of Elders is now a foundation, allied with Yatama and works with them. We will continue with the laws that the Council of Elders started but left behind. We are proceeding with election of the Senate and Congress. We are asking Yatama to leave the National Government and join US for this legislature. Congress will come to Bilwi and we are trying to raise money to feed them for the inauguration in April - it will cost about $45,000 and we don’t have that. There will be 178 Congress people here from all over Miskitia. Nobody finances us – we must pay for our own travel, but we need to feed and lodge them. Up to now we’ve been able to go without funding, and it is a lot so far. We need help.
Charley - We have sent documents to the Nicaragua central government and sent a package with Mary Brook – we asked if they got it – yes, and supposedly was sent to Geneva and the UN – in a package from Sadie Miller. We did not get replies from the UN because it’s a different system – we did not even get replies regarding Abanaki matters.
Hitler – We started the war when I was 13 years old. We weren’t part of Nicaragua – we had our own King. We are a Wihta Tara Moskitia government. We are not in accord with the political parties that are found here. Brooklyn Rivera is a National deputy of Sandanistas.
There are 13,700 people in Bilwi. In RAAN and RAAS are 390 communities. We are jealous of our rights because we have shed blood for them. We have our fighters that fought against the Sandanista front. When Brooklyn Rivera founded Yatama, the Moskito people didn’t vote because they don’t want political parties here. Brooklyn said, “Join us”. He’s a person, not the people. Wihta Tara is the father of this region. They should be part of us. On 20 April we will have a Moskitia King in the form of the Wihta Tara. We will not change our ways and we will have our Miskitia King and inauguration on April 20.
I, as Hitler and the Youth Representative ask you to call for a conference of youth of indigenous around the world.
They gave a letter to Charley from the Wihta Tara, that was sent to the National government – do they support our initiative process? We are 65% done on building the Congress. We hope to have two congress meetings each year of 2014 and 15 to create our laws. They asked Charley – can we get some funding for this work? Another document – about Moskitia set up – had to do with Austria-Hungary, a treaty that recognized Moskitia as a nation.
Charley Delaney, on behalf of his chief, his King, and his Abanaki tribe, read a message of solidarity with the Moskito people and gave them the document. He has been here before and 3 of the elders are friends of his.
The Elders thanked all of us who came and those who didn’t come.
The President of the Elders spoke:
I want to speak about our territory. We have been fighting for our territory for many years. In the beginning we didn’t have good leaders or good international relations. We sent a representative to the UN. We don’t have a relationship with our government – they do not recognize us! We have been exploited for gold and fish. No one supports us.
The main problem is that the Mestizo colonizers come and chop down our trees, especially in the BOSAWA preserve. Help us get the word out and take our claims to the world outside. We don’t have funds to travel abroad ourselves. We have treaties within reach and are trying to figure out which is best. We have titles from the time of our kings. The land belongs to us.
Before Central American independence, Miskitia was recognized as a nation, but it is not recognized by the nation of Nicaragua. We as a peaceful nation are not in accord with the land demarcation.
The eldest senior (age 94) of the Council of Elders:
Thank you for coming. I already knew Charley. For us to move forward and achieve our goals we need help from outside.
Reforestation – planting is needed to leave inheritance for our children. We need precious hardwoods and fruit trees for our future. We need to be able to sell our products in the international market in order to have a true economy.
We have progressed culturally; you can see that I speak in my native tongue. We have many riches within our territory. We have petroleum and gold, but we cannot sell them ourselves because of the government monopoly – that is why we are poor.
No one can take our land because we occupy it and know its limits.
We have relationships with indigenous groups in Guatemala and Canada and a voice in Geneva but no money to travel. We are in touch with other people, too, for example Ethiopia but can’t travel or do much with them.
Our ancestors gave us this land over 200 years ago and we cannot leave it, so for these 200 years we have lived marginalized. We’ve been invaded by Mestizo people and this is serious because our children will not have peace. I am 94 years old and have much sadness.
3rd man: Thank you. We greet you in the name of over 300 communities. ?Libro Cox Bonnito? I am a writer and historian. We have these problems: losing land, war between the Miskitu and Mestizos, and Law 445, but things aren’t clear. We also have border problems with Honduros. Rio Coco is ?driving? – it gives life to two republics – this can only be faced by countries – regional authorities aren’t doing anything. We also have drug trafficking problems, especially on the Honduran border. The two nations aren’t doing anything, so we must get international help.
The youth are losing themselves as consumers of drugs and this destabilizes families. We are losiing our culture rapidly. We need support, but not from the Nicaraguan government.
Many families are losing their land and have no place to plant. We have never begged for food, but now we must; we used to have enough to plant and eat.
More than 56% of Nicaraguan territory is Indian Territory.
We are lovers of nature, but others come to take the land, resulting in historical and cultural chaos. We need to get our proposals to the UN forum, possibly by means of you.
I’ve been to Geneva and know this UN process, but our people don’t. We mean tomorrow, not the day after.
We have bad education, health, communication and infrastructure.
Drug traffickers put fear into people and they leave.
In Honduras, their army is less powerful than the drug traffickers. The army of Honduras has many drug traffickers and the Honduran government can’t do anything.
Ursell Anthony Endoxar Mendosa
Ursell gave Charley a document today and intends to give him another one tomorrow. The Miskitu need a government that is honest, not corrupt, based 100% in this culture. The UN gives us support; ancestors left us treaties. We are restoring the system. We have been betrayed from within, by those who have tried to change the direction away from the Elders, politics that are foreign to the indigenous model. Our culture is strong but we are poor. Our work is done through methods of our culture. The Council of Elders has called for a Congress of all of the Miskitu peoples of Central America.
We have traitors. David Watada is tryng to hold a Congress before the Council’s Congress, with permission of the government, administrative and legal structure, but no money slows us down. We need help from professionals from outside to help our professionals.
Tomorrow’s document is to denounce State genocide. People can channel resources to us – we have a way.
Benjamin Kristy Knat: I am an elder. I cannot write, but my ancestors gave me knowledge about where the Miskitu people come from – it is registered in my mind. When they spoke of the government, they KNOW. As Don Antonio talked about the treaties. The Council of Elders is the Miskitu people. We should go to the Hague. Antonio and ? should write up documents and get them to The Hague.
Question: Who has helped you?
Answer: No one. We meet on Tuesdays and Fridays without help. There is a UN meeting in the US in September in Washington, DC. We would like to be there.
Working through Ambassadors is not the same – the people need to be there. The Ambassador of Nicaragua will not represent us, just Nicaragua.
In 1958, 12,000 km of the Rio Coco were given to Honduras. High military officers of Honduras were drug traffickers. So are some of the US Military. They plant marijuana – the owners are from the army. We have lost thousands of ha with them.
Police in RAAN/RAAS want to come and serve in our area, like there’s a competition to do those jobs, and there is a big difference in their homes between when they come and when they leave. There’s no reason why there should be drugs here, but police have low salaries – even on low salaries, their situation improves. They have motorcycles and other things that they can’t afford on their salaries. We believe they want to keep the people asleep.
In May 2013, I (Charley) was at a ½ day forum on Nicaragua at the UN. There was no response from James Anaya. One document to your Council of Elders President concerned that. I was able to speak with the Nicaragua Embassador to the UN and asked about participation of Moskito in the government, drug trafficking, and land demarcation. Most of the time, he just smiled, nodded, and didn’t answer. I also saw Brooklyn Rivera, head of Yatama. I believe he associates the Moskito with Yatama, which is incorrect. Yatama gets 0 – 20% of the indigenous vote in RAAN and RAAS. They pretend that Moskito don’t exist, our talk falls on deaf ears. They understand your rights to your own resources.
In Nov 2013 I was accredited by the Honduran government to take human rights testimony and be an election observer. They are treating indigenous the same as here. I went to Rio Blanco when two tribal leaders went missing. We try to help them, too, through AfGJ. Drug traffickers prevented polls from opening. Senator Leahy of Vermont withheld 33% of the US money, $144 million, from the Honduran military. But the US government knows that $144 million is small to drug traffickers. The US DEA has made a deal with the largest cartel to police the smaller cartels. The US is now a drug broker.
Question – can we solve issues, and work together? The governments let the Indians fight each other. We must have an objective – the cause is Moskitia, not people – we must organize morally and with great guarantees from the people. We cannot be under orders from political parties – we have our own.
Constant observation – the history Miskia is 1000s of years, but the Nicaragua nation is young, 400 years. They have tried to destroy us.
In the war with Zalaya, they sent ships to our land.
We are lacking in technology and education, which hurts our chances for employment.
A $400 billion project – they went to the Wihta Tara, and convinced him that he could be head of RAAN/RAAS – but the law of 2000 said they can only rule us partly. We have limited sovereignty, the Nicaragua government can have over these territories.
Ortega is letting the Russians come in and have businesses here.
We need other countries to know about the problems, but our youth believe in getting info from the government rather than from our own culture.
The Wihta Tara is the executive of our Councils (?) David Webster advises – he has betrayed Misurasata – he wants to arrange a different authority, like a King, changing the agreement between the Moskito Nation and Nicaragua. Webster is spreading lies.
We could have an indigenous stock market – they have one in the US, but Ortega blocked having one in Nicaragua.
Mark Rivas is a 26 year old lawyer, and an advisor to the Council of Elders. He talked about other problems – malnutrition, lack of health care, occupied lands, and the need for education based on indigenous culture. The history taught in schools is about Nicaragua colonization, not our own history. That’s why we’re losing our culture.
Some groups are trying to make themselves representatives of our people, including the Yatama political party and the Wihta Tara, which was created by the Council of Elders to watch over our resources and guide us to our independence. But the Wihta Tara put aside the Council of Elders because our objective is our land. The Wihta Tara has gotten money to against our community. The Council of Elders had an advisor who took advantage of us. This creates division and poverty. We don’t have a true leader with a love for indigenous people – all of those that we placed as leaders have betrayed us. We have re-organized ourselves to fight for our rights, culture, and land.
The UN thinks that we have good rights, but we don’t see it. That’s why we’re trying to join all indigenous of the Caribbean – to fight for our rights, but the Council of Elders doesn’t have (financial?) support.
Our people are not familiar with international rights or how to take advantage of them. Oscar Hodson, a Sandinista, used the Council of Elders for self benefit and betrayal. I present to you this plea for the rescue of indigenous people.
Delia Coleman, 40 years old, came to the Council of Elders in 1994. The problem is individualism. There are three political groups: Political party Yatama, the Council of Elders, the Wihta Tara. If we can write, the nation can change. Let’s unite the three – we are all indigenous people. Political parties are taking over and selling the land, even though they come from here, not Managua. We need to try again, and have an assembly. It is not true that the Wihta Tara has taken money. Arcano is a commission that investigates and that is where the accusations come from.
Isabel Herman We have a problem of lack of education. Our eyes and ears are closed. Help us with education for adults, youth, and children. See how they are taking the precious hardwoods from the BOSAWAS. Who is taking it? ALBA Forestry, Petroleum interests, Mining Companies. For me, we cannot work with other indigenous organizations – we must work with the Council of Elders.
I want peace, tranquility, and understanding. The Wihta Tara was created by the Council of Elders in 1998 and the Council of Elders number was increased from 12 to 24 people and made a lifetime appointment. The Wihta Tara is elected every two years. But we have had no assembly, so the same one is still in office. He needs to be more organized. The problem is not with the Wihta Tara but with his advisor who doesn’t want to recognize the Council of Elders.
Charlie – proposed an international petition to support our struggleSomeone - we need scholarships for youth to study international agreements.