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Public communique from the APG IG on the arbitrary decisions of the Departmental Government of Tarija

In light of the events now known to the public concerning the attempted election of an "alternative" authority to that which lawfully presides over our organisation in accordance with uses and customs, the Assembly of the Guarani People of Itika Guasu deems it necessary to clarify the following matters:

1) The APG IG is subject to a statute approved unanimously by all the historic communities that make up our organization in an Extraordinary General Assembly which took place on 9th September 2013 and which approved the same article by article. The statute addresses the form of organisation and the control of the assets which belong to the organization as applicable in the indigenous jurisdiction of the Original Community Territory of Itika Guasu.

The APG IG is the sole and exclusive legal representative of the Guarani people who inhabit the Original Community Territory of Itika Guasu (TCO IG) with respect to municipal, provincial, Departmental, State, international and any other organization of whatever type and this representation is exercised and will continue to be exercised by the Directorio (Board of Directors) as the executive organ of the organization pursuant to the current statute.

2) The term "Regional Assembly" appears neither in the former nor in the current statute. Reference to such an Assembly appears only in a statute which was neither used nor applied as a matter of uses and customs. In fact it is a legal fiction designed to consolidate the partition of the TCO IG in 3 zones and it has never had any form of support. It is therefore utterly false to claim that it is the maximum authority as this is and has always been the "General Assembly of Mburuvichas of the APG IG"

3) An Extraordinary General Assembly of Mburuvichas which took place on 27 and 28 February 2014 resolved by a unanimous vote of all the communities present to apply sanctions which included the expulsion and other penalties according to uses and customs of those persons who as community members act contrary to the interests of the APG IG. These measures were applied to Eloy Novillo, Juan Arevayo, Felipe Maire Zosa, Guillermo Arce Segundo and Santos Arevayo, and similar sanctions were implemented on 5th October 2012 with respect to the Head of the Unit for Indigenous Affairs of the Sub-Government of O'Connor Rene Arevayo Corimango and the technical expert of the said Sub-Governmental Unit, Anastacio Arevayo.

4) On the 28th, 29th and 30th May of 2014, during a meeting in the community of Zapaterambia, more than 650 community members and the Mburuvichas representing 29 communities, in other words, more than 80% of the communities forming part of the APG IG, expressed their unanimous rejection of the actions carried out by the employees and agents of Walter Ferrufino.

Given the foregoing:

5) The "assembly" where an "alternative management" was elected is completely null and void according to the customary law in force in our indigenous jurisdiction, to our Statute and to the domestic law of the Plurinational State.

6) The appointments of those "elected" are similarly null and void and subvert the legitimate representation of those we have nominated in accordance with our uses and customs and our statutes, as well as the decisions we adopt in the framework of our original indigenous jurisdiction, given that the appointed persons are subject to sanctions and do not constitute community members under the provisions of the statutes currently in effect.

7) They are further null and void because in application of the mandate of the Assembly of 27th and 28th February 2014, ratified by the Extraordinary General Assembly of 19th May 2014, a complaint was filed at the Office of the Prosecutor of Tarija against the Sectional Executive of the Province of O'Connor, Walter Ferrufino Gaite, and the majority of those "elected" for crimes of racism, discrimination, threats and criminal association. This complaint was formally filed on 29th April 2014.

8) The said complaint was processed by the Prosecutor's Office in Tarija and is currently under investigation. The individuals have been notified that they are the accused parties in the complaint and are therefore criminally implicated in serious offences.

9) With respect to the facts set out in the complaint, they include a prior notice "to the inhabitants of TCO-ITIKA GUASU to attend a regional Meeting scheduled to take place on 26 and 27 April 2014", a meeting that was organised by the advisers of the Sub-Government (or Sectional Executive of the Province of O'Connor) and at which there was only a minimal community attendance. As we set out in the complaint "outside the terms of the statute and the uses and customs in effect in the original indigenous jurisdiction of our TCO Itika Guasu, the said Sectional Executive and its salaried staff called for and held a meeting based on a legal fiction concerning zones and seeking to replace the legitimate authorities of the APG IG in a clear act of usurpation of functions and intervention in our indigenous jurisdiction". We also denounced the object of this conduct as being "the break-up and subversion of the organizational and representative structure legitimately and lawfully adopted by the APG IG and its replacement with the structure elected by the Sectional Executive using employees to replace the legitimate indigenous representatives in a patent act of usurpation of indigenous authority".

10) Faced with this inflammatory attempt to create a false indigenous representative body, we are obliged to reiterate here that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, enacted into a law of the Republic of Bolivia by Law Nš 3760 of 7th November 2007, provides as follows:

    Article 18
    Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.

    Article 20
    1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.

    Article 32
    1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.

    Article 34
    Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards.

11) Faced with this inflammatory attempt to create a false indigenous representative body, we are obliged to reiterate here that the ILO Convention 169 concerning indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries, enacted into a Law of the Republic by Law Nš 1257 on 11th July 1991, in its article 6, similarly emphasises the obligation to recognise and respect the representative institutions of indigenous peoples.

12) Faced with this inflammatory attempt to create a false indigenous representative body, we are obliged to reiterate here that the New Political Constitution of the State (Nueva Constitución Política del Estado ("NCPE")) in its articles 190 et seq. (Fourth Chapter - Original Indigenous and Campesino Jurisdiction) recognises that the original indigenous and campesino nations and peoples shall carry out the functions within their jurisdiction and competence through their authorities and will apply their own principles, cultural values, norms and proceedings" and, further, that "The original indigenous and campesino jurisdiction is founded on a specific connection between the persons who are members of a respective original indigenous and campesino nation or people" and that "This jurisdiction is competent for all those issues pertaining to original indigenous and campesino peoples in accordance with the provisions of a [future] Law of Jurisdictional Demarcation" |1|.

13) This form of conduct against our organization is sadly a common occurrence against indigenous peoples which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has itself condemned in various judgements such as that known as the Caso Pueblo Indígena Kichwa de Sarayaku vs. Ecuador, of 27th June 2012. In that case the Court highlighted the strategy consisting of "dividing the communities, manipulating the leaders, and carrying out defamation campaigns to discredit the leaders and organizations", including the establishment of "a so-called 'Community of Independents of Sarayaku'..."

14) Furthermore, the appointments of those elected are null and void, because the resolutions adopted by the APG IG in the context of its original indigenous jurisdiction are not subect to review, as provided in article 12 of the Law of Jurisdictional Demarcation which expressly states:

    I. The decisions of the authorities pursuant to their original indigenous and campesino jurisdiction are of mandatory application and will be respected by all persons and authorities.

    II. The decisions of the authorities pursuant to their original indigenous and campesino jurisdiction are not subject to review in ordinary, environmental or any other legally recognised jurisdiction.

15) In conclusion, we reject the threats, the intimidation and the creation of a programme of terror by the Sub-Government of O'Connor and the Government of Tarija itself and we hold them responsible as public officials for the damages caused to our oganization as well as for the manifest violation of their obligation to comply and ensure compliance with the law.

Guaye (Entre Ríos), 3rd June 2014

Assembly of the Guarani People of Itika Guasu


1. Law No. 073, of Jurisdictional Demarcation, of 29 December 2010 (Ley Nš 073, de Deslinde Jurisdiccional, de 29 de diciembre de 2010). Full text available at: [ESL] [Back]

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