Campaign questions the existence of isolated peoples in Peru – EFE News

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Carla Samon Ros |

Iquitos (Peru), (EFE).- Peru is home to 25 indigenous peoples isolated and in initial contact (piaci), 16 of whom live in the vast Amazon region of Loreto, where a campaign aims to repeal the law that recognizes and protects these towns on the pretext that the law condemns the region to underdevelopment.

Official data estimates that there are around 7,500 Peruvians who make up the piaci, around 5,200 in isolation and another 2,300 in initial contact, all descendants of those who have inhabited the country since before the formation of the Peruvian state.

Most of them live in the Amazonian forests of Loreto, on the border of Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, in a situation “of extreme vulnerability due to the dangers to their health and culture and due of the constant invasion of their territories”, according to the Ministry of Culture. .

Isolated villages in danger

Now, a campaign at the regional level calls for the repeal of the rule that protects the piaci, in force in Peru since 2006 and provides for the immaterial character of the indigenous reserves for these peoples, considering it “harmful” to the execution of infrastructure and investment projects for forestry and hydrocarbons industry activity in the region.

Various civil society groups have risen up against it, including the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the East (Orpio), which brings together more than 500 indigenous communities in Loreto and has been the most active voice of isolated peoples.

In the opinion of the apu (chief) Pablo Chota, secretary general of Orpio and “descendant” of the Piaci, this campaign is “genocide” and considers that behind it are hidden strong economic and commercial interests of the oil lots, “illegal loggers, miners and drug dealers.

Apu Pablo Chota speaks during an interview with EFE, in the region of Iquitos (Peru). EFE/ Aldair Mejia

“It’s really unfortunate,” Dulhy Pinedo, Sector IV Program Director of the Ministry of Culture’s Directorate General for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, told EFE.

Although he recognizes that as a State, “it is time to understand these perceptions regarding economic development”, Pinedo regrets that in this case they are trying to “privilege one of the rights over the other or “even to deny the specific existence of these peoples”. “

multisectoral process

On this last point, the person in charge insists on underlining the rigor of the process of identification of the Piaci in Peru. It starts with a preliminary reconnaissance study based on “anthropological evidence”, which lasts one year and is approved by a multi-sector commission.

Then, through an additional categorization study, the territory that will be protected for these peoples as immaterial zones is determined, a preliminary step to the creation of the reserves.

“It is a scientific, technical and also political procedure, but it is not established solely by the Ministry of Culture, but within a multisectoral commission where there are objections, questions, doubts, recommendations (…) and finally there is a document that can account for the recognition of peoples and, secondly, for the categorization of their territory”, summarizes Pinedo.

One of the most active players in the campaign for the repeal of this law, he adds, is the coordinator of sustainable development of Loreto (CDSL), a civil institution directed by the engineer Christian Pinasco, who n did not respond to an interview request from EFE.

parliamentary debate

Recently, the piaci law debate has transcended regional boundaries and reached the national stage, after Congressman Jorge Morante of the Fujimori Fuerza Popular party presented a bill to Congress that, if approved, would could put these peoples “in danger of extermination”, in the words of Orpio.

This legislative initiative proposes to transfer legal powers over the creation of indigenous reserves from the Ministry of Culture to regional governments and requires that an “economic analysis” be carried out before the creation of reserves “because of the enormous economic impact that this would entail.”

For Orpio, modifying the current law without a human rights approach “would imply the commission of a crime against humanity against those populations who enjoy the same constitutional rights as all citizens born in Peru”.

The representativeness of indigenous peoples

“They want the Piaci law to become a productive law,” warns Chota, after deploring the zero representation of indigenous peoples in the Peruvian parliament.

Orpio’s fear is that there will be express endorsement of this Fujimorist proposal which, according to their complaint, would unleash extractive activities in Loreto to the detriment of the lives and rights of isolated peoples.

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