Informe pericial de 12 de marzo de 1993.



TO: Ana Maria Reina

Deputy Secretary

Inter American Court of Human Rights

Fax: (506) 34-05-84

FROM: Merina Eduards

Fax: (597) 410 950

Tel: (597) 476 640 (work)

DATE: March 12, 1993

No. of pages: <11 (including this one)


Dear Mrs. Ana Maria Reina,

Please accept my apologies for the delay in getting the information to you. It took more time than I expected to get the information, and some correction had to be made in the first draft of the report. As Mr. Healy explained to you, I also had difficulty getting the report faxed at the OAS office. There is a strike going on currently at the government offices, but I will work normally, so I can be reached at my work number. I will try again to get the fax through today, but, as you know we might some difficulty in getting through such a long fax.

Re your statement about the decision whether the Saramaka tribe should be given compensation or not, I think you might have misunderstood the point that was being made. Of course, as you stated, this is a matter to be decided by the court, however, Mr. Healy and I also wanted to point out that we do not have the vast experience and the kind of expertise Professor Price has to advise the court in this matter, and on how the distribution of such an award could be managed.

As I noted in reply to question IV, with respect to the psychological and the emotional damages, I'm certain the family members will have suffered tremendously, but I'm not familiar with the legal techniques used to express such suffering in monetary terms. The same goes for compensating the Saramaka nation, I am not familiar with the legal method used to convert/express such suffering in a monetary equivalent.

In addition, please be aware that the matter is extremely sensitive. Professor Price has already discussed this matter with the Granman, and this might already have created some expectations. If the award to the Saramaka nation does not come through, or is delayed, I might be accused of having provided the court with the information on the basis of which this decision was taken. It is important to understand Saramaka culture in this respect. Once a ¬news item¬ has been spread along the river, regardless whether it is true or not, it is next to impossible to undo the damage. The same holds for question IV, I do not think it is a good idea for me to go to Guyaba to start interviewing women about their marital status before the death of the victims. It seem to me sensible that this type of scrutiny should be conducted by outsiders, who are in any event not a member of the Saramaka nation. Of course, the information I received from informants, I will relay to you (question VII), however, the final review will have to be done by somebody else.

As far as I know, there are no published reports on the economy of the Saramaka Nation. You suggested that I ask Dr. Price to give me information on income earned by people working in the interior. As far as I know, Prof. Price has not been in the interior for the past four years, and it is precisely in this period that the most radical economic changes have taken place.

In the course of the adjustment program now underway, the government is discontinuing the subsidies for many of the basic products, and will continue to do so in the coming months. For example, the price of fuel went up from Sf. 1.50 to Sf. 6.00 for liter, is expected to rise even further in the coming months to Sf. 10.00 and Sf. 15.00 for liter. The impact of the termination of these subsidies and price deregulation is felt much more severe in the interior. While gasoline was still Sf. 1.50 for liter in town last year, a liter already sold for Sf. 17.00 on Stoelmanseilands, and now the price if around Sf. 32.00 for liter in this area. The subsidy for aviation fuel was also discontinued, and now the airline companies have to by fuel in foreign currency. The prices of charters to the interior have doubled and in some cases tripled. The prices for products from the coastal area will continue to rise sharply in the coming months. The elderly, disabled, and young children, who relied on imports from the coastal area (such as rice) for part of their diet, will suffer most.

With respect to increases in the cost of living, Suriname is now entering the period of ¬hyper-inflation (Brazilian style). The inflation rate for 1990, 1991 and 1992 is resp. 21,7% (?), 26% and 43,7% (I still need to check 1990, the statistics office is on strike). I based my calculations on 43.7%. Please note that Suriname is now in the middle of a adjustment program, and wage increases of 30 to 40% have recently been granted. For 1993, inflation is expected to jump to 150 to 200%, as a results of the increases in the price of fuel and the upcoming increases in the cost of electricity (The fuel bill at the electricity company has gone up from Sf. 1.7 to Sf. 17 million per year, that is over 1000%).

In your fax you asked me to sent a copy of the relevant parts of my passport. I will include the copies with this report.

Question I. Are the salaries indicated by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights, for the victims John Amoida, Daison Aloeboetoe, Dedemanu Aloeboetoe and Mr. Banai according to today's reality?.

Given the original salaries for 1986, quoted by the IACHR, I calculated the projections for 1993 taking into account an inflation rate of 43.7% (I don't know how the original salaries were calculated). The wage and price index for a master builder such as I.H. Banai is 292, and for the other three victims who worked in Paramaribo is 205 (1986 = 100). The inflation rate for 1991 and 1992 is resp. 26% and 43.7%. I based my calculations on 43.7%.


(Salaries indicated by the IACHR)

1986 1993

A.ADAME (Amoida) 27.600 68.678

D.ALOEBOETOE 21.600 53.748

D.ALOEBOETOE 21.600 53.748

I.H.BANAI 48.000 119.139


(Salaries calculated by Miss Eduards)

1986 1993

A.ADAME 27.600 81.305

D.ALOEBOETOE 21.600 63.630

D.ALOEBOETOE 21.600 63.630

I.H.BANAI 48.000 201.409

Question II. What is the value of the US Dollar in Suriname Florin today on the parallel market?

The value of the US Dollar on the black market fluctuates between Sf.37 - Sf. 40 for one US Dollar, and is likely to climb further in the near future.

Question III. Do you know how much a Saramaka ¬earns¬when he is working at the village? Would it be possible to calculate the equivalence of his duties and services in money?

I don't have enough field data to calculate accurately how much a Saramakan ¬earns¬when he is working in the village. I have prepared some estimates, however, to giver the court an idea of what a man living in the interior could earn.

Maroons prefer to work less than a full year, so that they can assist their relatives in the village. If a person works only six months, as in one of the examples above, he will have a lot of time to perform other tasks for the lineage of clan members. Calculating the monetary equivalent of such duties and services in money is possible. In the past few years, persons have been hired to perform such tasks as clearing a garden, which traditionally have been performed by husbands and close relatives. The fees these persons charge could be used to assign a monetary value to the services rendered by relatives free of charge. New fieldwork studies are needed, however, to obtain recent information on the patterns of labor exchange in the villages, and to obtain information on the prices now being charged for services which were traditionally performed by relatives.

Paid labor is becoming more commonplace. As far as I know, there are no recent studies available indicating what a man could earn for performing such services as house building, boat building, selling game and fish, clearing gardens, and from engaging in activities such as harvesting and processing lumber (using a chain saw with a special bracket) and mining gravel or gold. As an example, I can present some estimates for what a persons could earn in the interior in 1993. This is only meant to give the court an idea of the range of incomes a resident of the interior could possibly enjoy. Extensive fieldwork is needed to arrive at accurate figures for the incomes earned by men living and working in the interior.

Gold mining: Several hundred Saramaka men are now active in gold mining. A man spends three to four days digging a hole of roughly 10 m3., and one to two days processing the ore. On an average about 10 grams will be recovered, worth Sf. 3000 in town. If he does this three times a month, and works six months out of the year (due to weather constraints), he will gross Sf. 54000 per year. If his expenses are about 30% (varies considerably from location to location), he will earn Sf. 37.800 per year. Of course, a person could work more than six months, or use heavier equipment, and enjoy a higher income.

Boat building: A motorized canoe can be purchased today for Sf. 12.000 to Sf. 15.000. A small canoe (for paddling) cost between Sf. 1.000 and Sf. 1.500. If a man builds one motorized canoe (Sf. 13.500) and three small canoe's (Sf. 1250 each) in one year he could gross Sf. 17.250. His expenses will be about Sf.3.000 (depreciation on chain saw Sf. 2000, tools, nails, tar, etc. Sf.1000). His net income will be Sf. 14.500 from canoe building. If he makes two large canoes, and six small ones (about the maximum output), he will earn about twice as much.

House building: There are three types of houses. A modern town-style house costs Sf. 20.000 (excluding roofing sheets, nails, etc.). A large traditional house costs Sf. 9000 and a small traditional houses Sf. 6000. Assuming a builder constructs four houses in a year, one modern, one large and two small, he will grosses Sf. 41.000. If his expenses are Sf. 15.000 he will earn a net income of Sf. 26.000. Of course, in a good year, a builder could build more than four houses, but not much more.

Boatman: A person traveling to Saramaka territory, can travel the first 180 kilometers by road. At Atjoni the road ends and the journey precedes by river. I obtained information from three different boatmen. There are 58 villages in the Saramaka territory above the lake. There are two main stretches: Atjoni-Botopasi (a mid-river village) and Atjoni - Asidonhopo (upriver-village). The information I have obtained, applies to the stretch Atjoni-Botopasi, and is as follows:

1988 Sf. 50

1989 Sf. 50

1990 Sf. 55

1991 Sf. 65

1992 Sf. 75

1993 Sf. 150

In a motorized canoe 45 feet long with nine seats can hold 18 adults. In one day the boatman can make two trips (up - and down river). The price the passenger will pay depends on the distance of his/her village from Atjoni. A boatman can make 16 trips a month. Assume a occupancy rate of 50% which comes to 27 passengers a day. The rates very from Sf. 30 (Abonaston) to 150 (Botopasi). The median rate is Sf. 90 (150-30:2+30). Per trip he will receive Sf. 750 from transporting freight upriver. He will consume 100 liters fuel per day at a cost of about Sf. 1000. If the depreciation for the boat Sf 5000 (very generous). He pays his assistant Sf. 200 per day. Assume the boatman works 10 months a year. Here are the estimates:


pass. 18*90*16*10 Sf. 259.200

Freight 750*8*10 Sf 60.000

Total Sf.319.200


Fuel 16*1000*10 Sf. 160.000

Wages asst. 16*200*10 Sf. 32.000

Dep.motor (60.000:3) Sf. 20.000

Dep.boat (15.000:3) Sf. 5.000

Maint. & repairs Sf.220.000

Net Income per annum Sf. 99.200

Of course, in 1987, this amount would be about one-third as much (+/- Sf. 33.000 per year).

Question Iv. Do you think that the data which appears in the affidavits given by the relatives of Daison Aloeboetoe, Dedemanu Aloeboetoe, John Amoida and Mr. Banai is credible?

As far as I can tell, the affidavits specify lost income by relatives, cost related to the death of the victims, and that they have suffered great psychological and emotional damage. With respect to the first matter (lost income), as I suggested above, this information will have to be collected in the village of Guyaba by an outside informant.

The same holds for the second item: costs related to the death of the victims (I have not traveled to Guyaba. The village I visited from 18 to 23 December, Tyalikondre, is about an hour down river from Guyaba by boat).

Finally, with respect to the psychological and the emotional damages, I'm certain the family members will have suffered tremendously, but I'm not familiar with the techniques used to express such suffering in monetary terms.

Question V. Are there unemployment rates for Suriname?

Yes, there are. I have obtained the following figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics:

1986 16,50

1987 18,87

1988 19,05

1989 16,48

1990 15,51

Question VI. Are the Saramakas who work in Paramaribo, specifically in the construction sector, always employed, or, are there seasons when there is lack of sources of employment;

In Suriname there are no seasonal variation in employment opportunities in the construction sector. For every project there are calculated rainy days and in December there is a two week vacation for all enterprises in this sector.

Question VII. Is there any way of verifying if the widows of the victims have remarried? Will it be appropriate to assume that some of them may have found a new husband in their tribe?

I have obtained the following information from a 45 year old inhabitant of the village Guyaba, who was visiting town. I have known this person for four years, and I consider him to be a reliable person. He told me that most of the widows have remarried with Saramaka men, except Mangumau Adjako, wife of Richenel Aside and Asoedance Wenke, wife of Daison Aloeboetoe. For some of the wives, I don't have information if they are remarried. Herewith the list of names he provided.

R.V. Aside:

- Mangumau Adjako no information

- Elsje Lugard remarried to Kondemasa/Guyaba

- Adona Tiopo remarried to Kaamaa / NW.Aurora

I.H. Banai:

- Somaba Vorstwijk div.before '87

- Aniemoeje Adipi div.before '87

- Adelia Koedem remarried to Atema/Guyaba

Bernard Tiopo:

- Dina Abauna remarried to Baaje/Guyaba

- Ajemu Sampi remarried to Koemoeliba/Pambooko

- Glenda remarried to no information

Deede-manoe Aloeboetoe

- Me-mei Foto div. before '87

- Norman Aloeboetoe remarried to Paipai/Heikuun

- Asoinda Tiopo remarried to Koona/Guyaba

Daison Aloeboetoe:

- Asoedanoe Wenke not remarried

- Aingifesi Aloeb. remarried to Panuu/Guyaba

(div. = divorced)

In the affidavits indicate that the common law marriages of all the wives of the victims ere still intact at the time of the incident. This list, however, indicates that three wives were already divorced prior to the death of the victims. As suggested above, this information will have to be checked again.

Question VIII. Is it feasible to commit the government to give medical assistance and a pension to the next of kin of victims? The same question applies to the issue of education granted by the Government.

Medical care, including hospitalization, doctors fees, and expenses related to operations, are provided free of charge to inhabitants of the interior by the Surinam Medical Mission. Of course, medical care in the interior is not of the same quality as that provided in town. Under the current system, however, I don't see how it would be possible to make special health care arrangements for the relatives of the victims living in the interior, but it does not hurt to try.

The government of Suriname provides a social security pension of Sf. 300 per month to citizens above the age of 60. Needless to say, this amount is far below the amount a person needs to sustain themselves on a monthly basis.

Of course, the Court can try to persuade the government to create a social pension for the relatives of the victims, however, in view of the current budget deficit and the adjustment program, the government will not be eager to implement such a arrangement. It is recommended that a pension be set up through a private organization or company.

Education is free in Suriname, including at the university level. In addition, the government supports students at the university level with a monthly stipend of Sf. 250, to defray the cost of school supply and transportation. Lower income students at the secondary education level receive a stipend of Sf.30 per month. Of course, the Court can try to persuade the government to create a special education fund for the children of the victims, however, it would be probably more effective and efficient to set up a private trust fun for this purpose.

With respect to the present administrative practices of the country, most everybody now living in the Saramaka area has an I.D. card.

Merina Eduards

Paramaribo, March 12 1993


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