Indigenous Rights Developments in Peru

The following information is reposted from Amazon Watch and is important as it will be affecting the communities with whom we work. “The next two months are going to be crucial for the future of Peru’s forests and the rights of peoples who inhabit them. The context, in brief:

Peru’s Presidential elections on April 10th: Apparently unaffected by any kind of “lame duck” phenomenon, the outgoing Garcia Administration is pushing a number of controversial initiatives in its final months.
  • One one hand, the president has issued several “urgent decrees” which would weaken environmental safeguards on a list of 33 mega-projects. Diverse Peruvian voices have decried this move as unconstitutional, including environmental group SPDA and the legal specialists at IDL.
  • On another hand, colleagues on the ground say that the Forestry Law is likely to be brought to a vote before the election. This would likely entail the Peruvian Congress being hastily re-convened and members rushing into Lima for a vote with no debate. The Agriculture Committee has been carrying out a second round of “consultations”. While the number of locations has expanded over the Nov/Dec process, indigenous federations have continued to denounce the methodology as woefully inadequate and undeserving of the term “consultation”. AIDESEP has called for the vote to be postponed till the following congress, and for the Prior Consultation Law to be passed first.
Peru’s “Readiness Preparation Proposal” at the World Bank: Peru’s environmental ministry is applying for $3.4 million from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the funds of which would finance the development of a national forests and climate change mitigation strategy. Draft versions of the RPP were discussed at several FCPF meetings in 2010, paving the way for a potential approval at the March 21 – 24 FCPF meeting in Da Lat, Vietnam. AIDESEP has been raising concerns about the content of and procedure through which the RPP has been developed. As outlined in the attached letter, they make a number of detailed proposals around strengthening land tenure for indigenous communities and what they call “Indigenous REDD”.
Ongoing threats to Amazonian communities: The above developments are taking place in the broader context of ongoing threats to indigenous communities and their leaders, which include:
  • Spurious legal charges against indigenous leaders and protesters, in the aftermath of the Amazon-wide mobilizations of 2009. Some cases have been thrown out, but many remain. Bladimiro Tapayuri, a top forestry expert within the indigenous movement, was convicted in late December;
  • Ever-expanding hydrocarbons concessions and regular oil spills from aging pipeline infrastructure;
  • Proposed hydroelectric mega-dams within indigenous territories, which in some cases would destroy sacred sites. These include Inambari, Pakitzapango, and Pongo de Mainique, amongst many others;
  • Other mega-infrastructure projects, like the proposed construction of additional gas pipelines in the Camisea region;
  • Informal gold mining which has spread deep into the rivers of Loreto, according to recent investigations; and
  • Other illicit activities in the rainforest, such as illegal logging and coca cultivation.”

Click here to read AIDESEP‘s analysis and proposals regarding the Peruvian government’s plans around climate change and REDD (Translation courtesy of Amazon Watch) For the original Spanish document: Análysis y propuestas indígenas sobre el RPP (3ra versión) del REDD Perú