BY PIERRE AUZERAU Y MELISSA SJABERE FOR DEBATES INDÍGENAS
On the edge of French territory, in north-western Guiana, the Indigenous Kali’na village of Atopo W+p+ is resisting to safeguard its territory against a power plant. In violation of Indigenous rights, the French state ceded part of their lands to HDF Energy company and mobilised a large number of armed gendarmes to carry out the project. The Kali’nas warriors maintain a strong opposition and are urging for the plant to be relocated.
French Guiana is a French overseas territory located in South America. It shares a border to the west with Suriname, along the Maroni River, and to the east with Brazil along the Oyapock River. It covers an area of 83,846 km2. The population numbers 268,700 inhabitants (INSEE, 2017) who live mainly in the capital of Cayenne and along the coast. The interior of the country is covered with dense equatorial forest and is only accessible by plane or canoe.
French Guiana officially became a colony of France in 1604. France applied the principle of “terra nullius” to appropriate the lands of the Indigenous Peoples. Since 1946, French Guiana is no longer a colony but remains administered by France. More than 90% of Guiana’s territory is owned by the French government.
Guiana is an overseas department and region of France in South America. It is bordered to the west by Suriname and the south and east by Brazil. It has a population of 259,865 inhabitants (INSEE, 2015). The interior of the country (90% of the land mass) is covered by dense equatorial forest that is only accessible by plane or canoe along the Maroni River from the west or the Oyapock River from the south-east.