Rights & Tenure in the News »
Indigenous Peoples in Peru protest government-backed land grab
As reported in the Guardian by Gabriela Mendoza Mendizábal, indigenous groups in Peru are mounting protests against President Alan Garcia’s attempt to grant corporate access to Amazonian lands. Two new legal decrees would allow oil, logging and mining companies to buy large parcels of aboriginal lands without the consent of local inhabitants. In an interview with Amazonian leader Saul Puerta Peña of the Peruvian indigenous association AIDESEP, the unrest felt amongst Peruvian Amazonians during a 14-day protest is highglighted. As an Amazonian native, Peña is “...leading the fight against the Peruvian government after it tried to sell our land to foreign investors. I don’t really speak Spanish. I'm Awajun and my native language is Awajun. I come from San Ignacio, a village in northern Peru, right in the middle of the Amazon jungle.”
Following are a few excerpts from Peña’s interview:
“…These native lands are the entitled properties of the Amazon people, and to sell them off without even consulting us is a violation of our ancestral rights. This is why we rioted on August 9. Well, how would you feel if all of a sudden some authority came to tell you that you had to get out of your house because a rich company wanted to settle there, and you had to find yourself another place to live?...”
“…Amazon Indians think that, yes, we can handle things. We can handle the fact that food prices are rising – we can handle almost everything. But now they want to sell off our territories, and that's way too much. We will never allow that. We live there. Our lands are ancient and we will give our lives for them. We will not accept eviction, even if they send soldiers and policemen…”
“…The Awajun, my people, are very strong. My village is known for being rebellious. We have resisted invaders of all kinds – the Incas, the Spanish, colonists and loggers. That’s one reason why we are not worried…”
“…Two very positive things came out of our protest. The first is that within 12 days of the riots the two land decrees, so damaging to our lands and rights, were repealed in congress. The second is that the riots have strengthened the Amazon population. The people are grateful because now the government understands our needs better…”
“…But what is not positive is that the government now sees us as an obstacle. They say it explicitly. We are an obstacle to investment…”
For the full text of Mendizábal’s Guardian article click here.
Posted By Lopaka Purdy at 3:59pm on September 23, 2008
Posted By Ben on October 06, 2008 at 22:25
Nice sight, I love the layout...I think you've received very biased information. I live in Peru with my wife, we run a small monthly newspaper out in Peru looking at both sides of a story. The legal decrees you are referring to are "Legislacion 1015, y Legislacion 1073" (Legislacion = law or legistlative) also known as "La ley de la selva" (the law of the jungle). The decrees had, previous to the protests, been ratified in the natives favor. The cliche story of the even tyrant companies are going to come in and just evict
Posted By Ben on October 06, 2008 at 22:40
the uninformed natives has not existed for a few years in Peru. The natives are more informed, and the legislatives state that more than 50% of the village must agree in favor for a company to come in and open shop. However, they are also being informed by very left-wing party party leaders, some even known to be terrorists to the Peruvian government that easily sway the minds of these masses with a few words. The natives are always looking for a fight based on incorrect information, so much so that incorrectly so, they have begun to ignore their incorrectly fed please.
Posted By Carlos Soria on October 14, 2008 at 16:48
I think Ben is receiving very biased information. You can visit Instituto del Bien Comun website or Viajeros on line or Tsiroti.com and get first hand info on what has been occuring with regards to Decretos Legislativos 1015 and 1073. AIDESEP the biggest Amazonian confederation of indigenous peoples and CONAP its smaller rival for the last 30 years have only agreed on one thing the need to nulify DL 105 and 1073. That is a clear sign of how deeply felt is this issue by the amazonian indigenous peoples. But this is not an indigenous peoples issue but also a matter of concern for other small land owners, who have decided to join the indigenous peoples federations claiming the need nullify these decrees. The Peruvian government passed 100 Legislative Decrees (legistlation by the executive authorized by Congress on a specific matter and for a time period) that aim to modify the structure of land tenure reducing communal and promoting corporate access to these lands already in the hands of local peoples, indigenous or not. I suggest Ben to visit You Tube and search for 'paro', there is plenty inforrmation directly from the Amazon and its leaders. By the way Ben it is very simplistic and innocent to say that 'The natives are always looking for a fight based on incorrect information'. I think you have got the wrong information this time. If not listen to a COFOPRI (land title office) stating in tsiroti.com that they want to decide who owns the land, not who posses it. Regards Carlos Soria Instituto del Bien Comun
This blog may contain links to external websites. These links should not be construed as endorsements by Rights and Resources of the content present. They are provided for informational purposes only.