Permanent Mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations


Ancestral legacy: Indigenous people made their contribution to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues


The indigenous representative Noeli Pocaterra, representative of the Wayuu Indigenous Women’s Network of Maracaibo, shared her views, on behalf of the Wayuu ethnic group, on the importance of preserving the traditional knowledge, which is the legacy of our ancestors, for the cultural continuity of the peoples at the fifteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
“I have faith that the spirits of our ancestors reach out, touch and enlighten us so modernity and new ways of colonization do not make us disappear,” said Pocaterra.
In the framework of this forum, the representative of the Wayuu Indigenous Women’s Network of Maracaibo recommended to preserve indigenous languages and intercultural training of doctors in indigenous communities; as well as to support the promotion and strengthening of their own education, based on the principles and ethical values of indigenous communities.
The Venezuelan leader highlighted the progress of Venezuela, thanks to the political disposition of the Bolivarian Government in this regard, evidenced in benefits for different indigenous communities in Venezuela.
“We were neglected in the past; during the last 188 years, we were ignored by racists and exclusive constitutions, but President Hugo Chavez came into power with historical awareness and a clear spirit for justice of the original people” stated the representative.
Pocaterra described an initiative developed in Zulia state, with the support of the local government and led by Francisco Arias Cardenas; and the recent inclusion in UNICEF of a work methodology entitled “Learn by playing with indigenous people” where children and teenagers work as facilitators.
It is a program that tries to reproduce everyday events of indigenous communities, such as clothing, housing, education system, traditions, and socialization processes, among others to share with other generations the views of original peoples based on their collective experiences of peace, harmony with nature and cultural identity and pride.
New age for indigenous people in Venezuela
Since the coming to power of President Chavez, a new political era took place in Venezuela, bringing about the inclusion of different indigenous ethnic groups in the country.
The development of a constituent process in 1999 summoned different sectors of the society, which worked and participated from within their very own perspectives, with the purpose of drafting a constitution adapted to the national reality that allowed for the creation of a new inclusive State.
Noeli Pocaterra participated in this process as one of the main figures, being elected by indigenous organizations to make possible the inclusion of historical rights of the indigenous people in the Bolivarian Constitution, among which the preservation of traditional languages.
“We must understand that the mother tongue of a people reflects its history, the life of the original people that exist and will continue to exist. We are not willing to disappear; therefore, the native languages are fundamental”.
Noeli Pocaterra believes that the most important step is the organization of indigenous communities to form a bloc that allows them to raise their voices and fight and defend the rights of the original people.