Declaration of Indigenous Leaders Regarding the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and Nations of Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast Region
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DOCUMENT: NIC_DEC.TXT


                   DECLARATION OF INDIGENOUS LEADERS
                      REGARDING THE RIGHTS OF THE
                    INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND NATIONS
                 OF NICARAGUA'S ATLANTIC COAST REGION

     WHEREAS:  

          1. the Miskito, Sumo, and Rama are indigenous peoples 
     and nations of the Atlantic Coast region of Nicaragua;  
     
          2. the Miskito, Sumo and Rama are currently engaged in 
     a struggle to protect their rights to self-determination, 
     their aboriginal lands, and their traditional ways of life;  
     
          3. MISURASATA, the Coalition of Miskito, Sumo and Rama 
     nations, has initiated a process of negotiations with the 
     government of Nicaragua in order to achieve peace in the 
     Atlantic Coast region and recognition of the basic rights of 
     the indigenous peoples and nations;  
     
          4. MISURASATA in the negotiations is asserting the land 
     rights of the indigenous peoples of the Atlantic Coast and 
     their right to self-determination through political and 
     administrative autonomy claims which are fundamental to the 
     survival of indigenous peoples and nations throughout the 
     Americas;  
     
          5. governments throughout the Americas have failed 
     repeatedly to accord indigenous peoples and nations their 
     rights to their aboriginal lands and self determination 
     which arise from their status as pre-existing sovereigns;  
     
          6. the Nicaraguan government has professed its 
     commitment to advance the interests of indigenous people 
     within its revolutionary process, and therefore interested 
     observers are focusing on the Nicaraguan government to see 
     whether it will incorporate within its ideology full 
     recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and nations, 
     or whether it will follow the path of other governments 
     which have pursued ethnocidal policies against indigenous 
     peoples and nations;  
     
     
     BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT WE THE UNDERSIGNED: 
     
          1. support MISURASATA's position that the Miskito, Sumo 
     and Rama, as with all indigenous nations and peoples, are 
     sovereign indigenous nations who possess natural rights of 
     self-determination and the right to determine their 
     economic, social and cultural development in accordance with 
     their own values and traditions;  
     
          2. Support MISURASATA's position that the Miskito, Sumo 
     and Rama, as with all indigenous nations and peoples, 
     possess the right to their lands and waters, including all 
     natural resources within the territories where they 
     traditionally have lived and worked, and which they have not 
     ceded freely by treaty or other manner, and that these 
     rights preclude the Nicaraguan state from claiming or 
     retaining any part of the unceded territories of the 
     Atlantic Coast indigenous peoples and nations;  
     
          3. support MISURASATA's position that the Miskito, 
     Sumo, and Rama, as with all indigenous nations and peoples, 
     have the right to be free from external jurisdictional 
     control, unless pursuant to valid treaty or other agreement 
     voluntarily made by the legitimate representatives of these 
     indigenous peoples and nations;  
     
          4. urge the government of Nicaragua to end all military 
     activity and repression against the indigenous people of the 
     Atlantic Coast region;  
     
          5. urge the government of Nicaragua to make a 
     commitment to return to their traditional villages and 
     chosen way of life the indigenous people who have been 
     relocated against their will to government camps and 
     settlements or who otherwise have been forced to abandon 
     their chosen ways;  
     
          6. urge the government of Nicaragua to accept the 
     proposal of MISURASATA to guarantee self-determination for 
     the Miskito, Sumo, and Rama peoples through an autonomous 
     regional government;  
     
          7. urge the government of Nicaragua to negotiate in 
     good faith with MISURASATA, recognizing that the form of 
     autonomy by which the indigenous peoples of the Atlantic 
     Coast will realize self-determination cannot be achieved by 
     unilateral action of the Nicaraguan state, but rather must 
     arise from joint efforts and dialogue with the indigenous 
     peoples exercising the powers and responsibilities of 
     sovereigns;  
     
          8. urge all interested parties to support the efforts 
     of MISURASATA to negotiate peacefully with the government of 
     Nicaragua in order to achieve recognition of the rights of 
     the indigenous peoples and nations of the Atlantic Coast 
     region, as described herein. 
     
     This declaration, signed by Indian leaders from nine North 
     and South American Nations, is now being circulated for 
     additional signatures. 


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