Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
…lawmen demolish village gate; council pursuing legal action
By Alva Solomon
The controversial mining issue at the remote village of Chinese Landing in the North West District has once more ignited after two policemen stationed at Santa Rosa, Moruca led a group of persons connected to a miner and demolished the village gate while gaining entry to the area recently.
The incident, which occurred on February 26th , 2021 and which was shared on social media by the villagers sent a chills through the village as the armed policemen, both of whom are attached to the Aquero Police Station at Moruca, spoke on the behalf of the miner as they entered the village and assisted a group of men as they demarcated boundary lines. The men told the villagers that they were follow the miner’s orders.
Reports are that the village, which is located in the Moruca sub-region, has since engaged the attention of a prominent city attorney to assist them in their fight to rid the area of the issue.
The issue is an old one and it dates back to 1995 when miner, Wayne Vieira, was granted prospecting rights and later in 1998, mining permits, to mine on the village lands of the Carib community, by the authorities.
The village has been seeking for a solution to the issue as it claims the miner and his workmen operate on the its village lands at their whims and fancy. The village council has been seeking the intervention of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the government to revoke the permit of the miner, citing its devastating impact on their village economy.
In December 2017, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) overturned a ruling of the Guyana Court of Appeal and ruled that the GGMC had no authority to order Vieira, in November 2010, to cease all work at his Chinese Landing operation in spite of having a mining permit to do so.
According to the ruling, the CCJ’s decision rests on the fact that Vieira had no agreement with the Chinese Landing-Tassawini Village Council at the time the Cease Work Order (CWO) was issued by the GGMC. As such, what the CCJ’s ruling did, was effectively restore the High Court’s decision and awarded Vieira costs to this effect.
In 2019 , village captain Orin Fernandes said at a press conference in the city that the ruling of the CCJ did not give Vieira the authority to continue mining within the village lands. It was pointed out too, that at no time, was the village council a party to the CCJ’s deliberations and as such, the village is reiterating that the ruling does not give rights to the miner to operate within their titled lands.
While giving a background into the history of the issue, it was noted by the village that in 1976, Chinese Landing received its land title from the government and in 1991, the village received an absolute grant over its lands.
Vieira entered the fray in 1995 when the mining sector, which fell under the purview of former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, granted permission to the miner to prospect and later mine at the village without the village’s consent. GGMC converted those prospecting permits to mining permits, again without any notice to the community and violating the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) mechanism.
The village council said that since 1998, it has been trying to solve the problem and even came to an agreement with Vieira, but it was noted that the miner managed to manipulate and coerce the village council to his benefit. In 2004 , the village council decided to cut ties with the miner and since then it has been nightmarish gaining the attention of the then PPP-Administration to address their concerns.
The APNU+AFC administration was also engaged on the matter by the village council but no clear decision was ever made by that government to assist the village.The villagers are hoping that the courts will now rule in its favour.