UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Eighth Session
May 19-29, 2009
Presented by Margo Támez, Co-Founder, Lipan Apache Women’s Defense,
Nádasi’né’ nde’ isdzáné begoz’aahi’ shimaa shini’ gokal
Gową goshjaa ha’áná’idiłí texas-nakaiyé godesdzog
[El Calaboz Ranchería, U.S.-Mexico Border;
subregion: Texas, U.S.-Tamaulipas, MX]
Agenda Item 4:
Follow Up on the Recommendations of the Permanent Forum
“Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, Militarization and the Texas-Mexico Border Wall”
(a) Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Women and Children
(b) Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and other special rapporteurs
Thank you Madame Chair, Permanent Forum Members, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People, Member States, UN Agencies and Our Indigenous Delegates, brothers and sisters all:
Dagotee’. My name is Margo Tamez, and I am the Co-Founder, with my mother, Eloisa García Tamez, of Lipan Apache Women Defense, located in El Calaboz Ranchería.
I speak today with the consent and consultation of my mother and lineal clans of Lipan Apache ranchería peoples of El Calaboz Ranchería, those of the Jumano-Apache, all traditional Ndé communities along the Texas-Mexico border whose customary lands are on both sides of the border.
In 2006 under the Bush Administration, the U.S. government implemented the Secure Fence Act, providing for the construction of the border wall and security, surveillance, infrastructural and technological barriers across hundreds of miles of indigenous lands. The U.S. waived 37 Federal laws in order to construct the border wall across tribal, municipal, National Park lands, and binationally revered sites. The U.S. obstructed numerous civil, constitutional, treaty, and international human rights of indigenous peoples spanning the 2000 miles of the border.
Our organization has been diligent to research and document the devastation and indigenous peoples’ responses to the travesty and injustice of the U.S.’ Border Wall Construction Mega-Security Project. I am deeply grieved to report to the Permanent Forum, that at the sub-regional level— our elders and our families are in severe mental, psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical crisis. We connect this pandemic human response to the crisis unfolding as a direct negative consequence of the corporate-driven. Lipan Apaches, and Lipan Apache women and children, are disproportionately impacted by the U.S.’ unilateral waiver of thirty-seven (37) U.S. Federal laws obstructing Civil and Constitutional protections for impacted communities.
Documentation and research necessary to launch intensive litigations, and in that regard, is costly and strenuous, depleting the already impoverished resources of indigenous communities. Our organization emerged to answer this need in the Lower Rio Grande region, of South Texas, in Cameron County. Please take note, that Cameron County is, per the U.S. Census, the poorest county in the entire United States on several important international social-economic indicators.
We mobilized a federal law case in the U.S. 5th District, and 5th Circuit; our International effort at the Inter-American Commission/OAS has been welcomed by the IAS. The Lipan Apache impacted lands are now divided by the 18th foot high steel and concrete wall, leaving cemeteries, sacred sites, biological resources, and subsistence grazing lands sealed off from bi-national access to community members who depend upon their grazing lands to the south of the wall, now a permanent barrier.
The Law Working Group of the University of Texas, in collaboration with the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, analyzed and documented, in 5 briefing papers, a series of human rights violations taking place against Indigenous peoples of the Texas-Mexico border section, specifically. The briefing papers address issues relative to human rights violations which constitute breaches of the United States’ obligations under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, interpreted in the American Convention on Human Rights. These are documented and available on our website.
On October 31, 2008, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, stated in a press release:
“During another hearing, the Commission received troubling information about the impact that the construction of a wall in Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border, has on the human rights of area residents, in particular its discriminatory effects. The information received indicates that its construction would disproportionately affect people who are poor, with a low level of education, […] as well as indigenous communities on both sides of the border.”
Madame Chairwoman and Special Rapporteur Anaya,
We denounce the United States’ untenable position of deploying “the war on terrorism”, “war on drugs”, and the “war on illegal immigration” because they are, from an indigenous standpoint, extensions of the global corporation’s use of militarization to further enslave Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth— globally, and locally. States’ militarization historically accompanies the overthrow of indigenous law systems and governing systems.
We denounce the United States’ border wall contracts with the Secure Border Initiative Network, and its use of U.S. taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars in the harshest economic financial crash in U.S. History, and the deepened indebting of U.S. citizens to private corporations to construct the border wall. We denounce the following corporations whose boards, CEO’s, and stockholders, increased their personal and private financial wealth on the border wall construction. These include, though are not limited to Lockheed Martin, Texas Divisions of Raytheon, L-C Communications, Northrup Grummen, BAE Systems, America’s Border Security Group-Erriccson, Inc., NASDAQ, Fluor Corporations, MTC Technologies, Boeing, and Kellog Brown & Root-Halliburton.
We urgently recommend that the PF request S. James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, in coordination with the Permanent Forum’s members, and in coordination with local indigenous leaders, work decisively to schedule site visits to the impacted indigenous communities of El Calaboz and El Polvo on the Texas-Mexico border.
We earnestly recommend that the Rapporteur establish local community meetings in which local elders, families and Indigenous organizations can participate to the fullest extent to begin the process of a border-wide investigation into the border wall and its impacts on women, children, elders, families, community health and displacement.
We earnestly recommend the Special Rapporteur investigate ACLU’s analysis of the U.S.-Mexico Border as a “No Constitution Zone”, and the implications for Indigenous women’s, children’s, families’, and communities’ rights to access their mothers, families, communities, education, health education, shelter, livelihoods and spiritual practice in militarized zones.
We earnestly recommend that the Permanent Forum commit to the key concepts: “Militarization, Borders, Customary-Use, Indigenous Peoples, & Gender” as a prioritized framework for the Forum’s 9th Session in 2010.
Thank you for your attention to these serious matters.
Lipan Apache Women Defense
Brave Heart Society (South Dakota)
Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Daniel Castro Romero, Jr. Chairman
CORE, the Centre for Organisation Research and Education
Native Women’s Association of Canada