71 UNGA: Cuba at the Third Committee on Agenda item: “Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Madam Chair,

My delegation endorses the declaration made by the Dominican Republic on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Indigenous peoples have historically been subject to serious violations of their rights, to brutal discrimination practices, plundering of resources and genocide. In the case of Cuba alone, in slightly more than 30 years after colonization started, the population of 120,000 inhabitants was totally exterminated

The adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was a historic victory in the struggle of these peoples to gain recognition of their ancestral rights

Although positive progress has been made in the establishment of human rights standards for indigenous peoples, who represent more than 5 percent of the world population, they continue to face serious violations of their rights every day. Violence, marginalization, dispossession of land, expulsion or forced relocation, denial of land rights among others constitute the unfortunate reality of indigenous communities in many areas of the world.

It is imperative that the international community effectively recognizes equality and the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples worldwide, as well as their right to maintain their own institutions, cultures and spiritual traditions, without suffering because of racism and discrimination

Additionally, policies should be implemented to promote the conservation of protected areas, respecting the ancestral values of indigenous peoples. In like manner, it has to be acknowledged that studies conducted have shown that the territories of indigenous peoples that have gained land rights are substantially better preserved than adjacent lands.

Madam Chair,

Cuba reaffirms that all cultures, same as all peoples, have the right to preserve the traditional practices inherent to their identity. In this regard, we restate the right of Andean indigenous peoples to fully enjoy their traditional and ancient rights, including the coca leaf chewing. We reaffirm our support for the right of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to defend and protect this tradition of its people

Madam Chair,

Cuba supported the adoption of resolution 65/198, whereby the General Assembly decided to convene a high-level meeting: the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Accordingly, we support and welcome the outcome document of the Conference, which along with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, should be instrumental in defending the right of these peoples to self-determination, in freely choosing their political status and pursuing their economic, social and cultural development.

Measures should be taken to protect the rights to the traditional and ancestral knowledge of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities, as well as to prevent this knowledge from being sullied by others through registrations failing to recognize their ownership. We advocate the promotion of fair and equitable participation of indigenous peoples in the benefits arising from the use of their knowledge.

As always, Cuba will continue to support the just claims of indigenous peoples for the effective realization of their rights and the free exercise thereof.

Thank you very much.