Worldwide Protests Demand Protection for Peru's Uncontacted Tribes
In cities around the world today, Survival International supporters held protests outside Peruvian embassies and consulates – seeking an end to the deadly expansion of the Camisea gas project in Peru’s Amazon rainforest, which threatens the lives of uncontacted Indians.
Protesters in London and Madrid wore gas masks and helmets depicting gas workers, while carrying placards symbolizing the lethal effects of the Camisea project. Part of the protest demonstration included handing “oil canisters filled with the names of 120,000 people to the Peruvian embassies and consulates, asking Peru’s President to stop outsiders and companies from invading uncontacted tribes’ land,” according to a Survival International press release.
A similar protest was set for 9 a.m. this morning in San Francisco.
At each protest a letter was presented to the embassies and consulates by Survival that was addressed to Peru’s President Ollanta Humala that said, “Oil drilling and logging in uncontacted tribes’ territories could wipe the Indians out.
“Please protect these peoples’ right to live in peace and security – stop the loggers and oil companies from entering their land.”
As Indian Country Today Media Network reported on March 4, Peru recognizes 15 isolated groups, possibly totaling as many as 10,000 people, in various parts of Peru’s Amazon region, according to Jesús Castro Suárez, director of Ecodess, a non-profit organization working with The Inter-Ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Amazon (Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana, Aidesep). There are five “territorial reserves,” covering some 10,860 miles, that protect areas inhabited by some of the groups, but others are unprotected. (Related story: New Campaign Hopes to Raise Awareness of Threats to Peru’s Nomadic Indigenous People)
According to the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), a non-government human rights group, that supports the struggles of indigenous forest peoples in defending their land and livelihoods, the Camisea project which is Peru’s largest and most controversial hydrocarbons development has government support in expanding. “A consortium headed by Argentine company Pluspetrol is planning to drill over 20 new wells and conduct intensive seismic tests in a concession called ‘Lot 88’ in the Camisea gas fields in the Amazon in south-east Peru,” according to the FPP website.
The area sought for the expansion is part of the Nahua-Nati Reserve, which is home to several uncontacted and isolated tribes, and is the buffer zone to the Manu National Park – considered by UNESCO to be “the most biodiverse place on earth,” according to Survival.
As reported by ICTMN on March 4, the Camisea consortium, led by PlusPetrol, in February sought permissions to explore Manu National Park, although Peruvian law prohibits extraction of resources from national parks.
In March the United Nations called for the suspension of expansion plans for the Camisea gas project according to FPP.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, “The U.N. wants to suspend the Camisea expansion. Thousands of people worldwide are against it. International law prohibits it. So why is this lethal project still on the cards? Not only is the government putting its reputation in jeopardy, it’s guilty of breaking international law.”