Taino Re-Elected Chair of UN NGO Decade Committee

United Nations (UCTP Taino News) – Taino community activist Roberto Borrero was re-elected Chairperson of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples this past December. The Committee is a Special Committee of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative status with the United Nations (CONGO).

The NGO Committee on the United Nations International
Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples is currently comprised of 25 non-governmental and community-based organizations. A part of the Committee's mission is to support the UN General Assembly Resolution, A/RES/59/174, calling for the establishment of a Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People and promote the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Committee also assists, wherever possible, in the education of the international community about the concerns and issues facing Indigenous Peoples.

The Committee was formed in 1991 as the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Year of the World's Indigenous People in support of UN General Assembly Resolution 45/164 proclaiming the year 1993 as the International Year for the World's Indigenous People. The
Committee operated as such until December 31, 1993, when it became the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, in accordance with the adoption of GA Resolution 48/163 proclaiming the International Decade.

Borrero, who represents the United Confederation of Taino People and the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources, has actively participated within the Committee since its establishment.

Photo: At the United Nations, Yoanny Lora and Roberto Borrero of the United Confederation of Taino People are members of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples. (Photo credit: Miguel Ibanez, Habitat Pro)

UCTPTN 01.22.2009


New Summit Blog Launched from Trinidad

UCTP Taino News – A new blog focusing on "the upcoming Fourth Summit of the Peoples, the alternative to the fifth installment of the Organization of American States "Summit of the Americas" conferences has been launched from Trinidad. Entitled "Small World" the blog hopes to be an online forum where "voices from the Caribbean — farmers and fisherfolk, anti-smelter and gender activists etc. — can connect with each other and others across the globe".

The Fourth Summit of the Peoples is scheduled to be held April 16-18 while the OAS Summit of the Americas is schedule to take from April 17 – 19, 2009 in Port of Spain,Trinidad. The theme of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, "Securing Our Citizens' Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability" was developed in close consultation with member countries and partner institutions of the Summit Process.

Small World is located on the world-wide web at http://sctheodore.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/hello-world/.

UCTPTN 01.22.2009


Obama vows to solve Puerto Rico's status

It's a 110-year-old dilemma that Congress has never committed to solve: Puerto Rico's ambiguous political relationship with the U.S.

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to turn this around.

In a letter sent earlier this month to newly elected Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno, Obama pledged to "enable the question of Puerto Rico's status to be resolved" during his first term.

"We have set out an ambitious agenda for Puerto Rico over the next four years," Obama wrote. "It will not be easy to accomplish. But we cannot sit back and wait for someone else, at some other time, to do something about it."

Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898, when it was invaded by American ships during the Spanish-American war. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship, but the relationship between Washington and San Juan was rooted in colonialism. In 1952, Congress authorized Puerto Rico to develop its own constitution, but the U.S. federal government can overrule it.

Puerto Ricans have voted in three different referendums on their political status, but these have amounted to little more than opinion surveys because Congress wasn't bound by them.

Obama's pledge was well-received in Puerto Rico, where his letter was read by an envoy during Fortuno's Jan. 2 inauguration.

"That [letter] prompted a standing ovation," said Orange County commissioner Mildred Fernandez, who attended the inauguration. "The place exploded. A commitment like this is long overdue."

Some are taking Obama's four-year deadline with a grain of salt, given a political landscape in which the economy and two wars are likely to get priority.

"In terms of starting the process, it is viable and it is necessary [within the four-year term]," said Dr. Hernan Padilla, a political analyst and former mayor of San Juan. "But the things that need to be done will take some time. The fact is that the priority of the nation right now -- and that of Puerto Rico -- is to pull out of a recession."

A bill that would commit Congress to implement the results of a voter referendum would have to be hammered out first. The choices could be statehood, independence and even the current commonwealth status or some modification of it.

Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's nonvoting representative in Congress, thinks Obama's self-imposed four-year deadline is achievable.

"I'm giving myself and the Democratic leadership in Congress two years to come up with a law enabling the referendum," Pierluisi said. ". . . We could have a referendum as soon as the year 2010. Congress will be bound by its results, and we would have solved the problem."

Author: | Sentinel Staff Writer
Article Source: Orlando Sentinel


Puerto Rico expands coastal reserve

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico: On the 15th anniversary of a million-gallon oil spill that damaged the coastline of Puerto Rico, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and various other organizations are celebrating the purchase of 152 acres to expand a coastal reserve near one of the areas hardest areas hit by the spill on the north eastern part of the island.

NOAA, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Trust for Public Land announced Wednesday that 152 acres east of San Juan have been added to the San Miguel Natural Reserve to help compensate the public for lost recreational beach use and injured natural resources for an extended period after the Berman Oil Spill on Jan. 7, 1994.

The 422 acre San Miguel Natural Reserve protects beachfront habitat for fish, turtles and birds on 15th anniversary of a major oil spill which occurred near San Juan in 1994
The purchase of this land expands the San Miguel Natural Reserve to 422 acres, an area the size of 317 football fields, and contributes to a multi-year effort to create the Northeast Ecological Corridor, one of the Caribbean’s last great unprotected areas.

"Expanding this coastal treasure of beach, mangroves, wetlands and forests protects the health of our coasts and provides the people of Puerto Rico with a wonderful place to swim, fish, hike and enjoy the beauty of the ocean,” said NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation Director Patricia Montanio said in a written statement.

The San Miguel Natural Reserve is a mosaic of coastal habitats including near shore coral reefs, more than a mile of beachfront, intertidal areas, wetlands, coastal dry forests, mangroves, the confluence of two rivers, and the remnants of a 19th century hacienda used for sugar cane farming. The reserve is home to 16 federally listed threatened and endangered species, including the endangered leatherback turtle which nests here.

"Preserving this site provides a continuous stretch of protected coastal shoreline, preventing the fragmentation of critical habitat,” Trust for Public Land's Puerto Rico Project Manager Mildred Ramos Majoros said. “It also ensures that publicly accessible coastal lands and waters are not privately developed and will continue to provide recreational areas to boat, swim, and fish."

Beach at San Miguel Natural Reserve
The expansion of San Miguel Natural Reserve completes a project begun in 2007 when the Trust for Public Land purchased the first 270 acres to create the reserve. The reserve is one of a series of projects by NOAA, the National Park Service and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Funding for these projects comes in part from a $9.7 million court settlement with the parties responsible for the spill.

The 1994 spill occurred when the Morris J. Berman, a 302-foot-long, 90-foot-wide barge, carrying 1.5 million gallons of number six fuel oil, ran aground near San Juan, releasing nearly a million gallons of oil into coastal waters.

Other projects including creation of a coral reef trail and restoration of several historic forts in San Juan that were damaged in the spill are also pending.

"NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources," Ramos Majoros said.

Author: María Miranda Sierra
Source: Caribbean Net News