Published on Venezela Analysis, by Kiraz Janicke, Oct 13, 2009.
Celebrating 517 years of indigenous resistance to invasion and colonisation Venezuela marked Indigenous Resistance Day on Monday with a street march through the capital, Caracas, the granting of title deeds to indigenous communities, and a special session of the National Assembly …
… Despite many unresolved issues, indigenous peoples have made significant advances in Venezuela over the last 10 years. The Bolivarian Constitution adopted in 1999, through Art. 8 specifically emphasises recognition and respect for indigenous land rights, culture, language, and customs. According to the constitution, the role of the Venezuelan state is to participate with indigenous people in the demarcation of traditional land, guaranteeing the right to collective ownership. The state is also expected to promote the cultural values of indigenous people.
Article 120 of the Constitution also states that exploitation of any natural resource is “subject to prior information and consultation with the native communities concerned.”
In 2003 the government also initiated the Guaicaipuro Mission, a social program aimed at the promotion and realization of indigenous rights as recognised in the constitution.
Venezuela’s indigenous people, who comprise approximately 1.6% of the population, also have three indigenous representatives in the National Assembly. (full text).