Peru: Amazonian Indigenous Groups Protest New Governmental Decrees

International Day of the World's Indigenous People was celebrated on August 9, but often in Peru these groups have very little to celebrate. The Aguaruna Indigenous group in Saramiriza in the Peruvian Amazon has mobilized to occupy the Petroleum Station No. 5 of the Northern Peruvian pipeline. Coordinadora Nacional de Radio [es] states that the groups are protesting that several legislative decrees are a threat to the Amazonian indigenous groups and peasant communities, which allows the government more access to their lands.

In summary, according to a communiqué from the National Agrarian Community [es], the decrees overturn previous laws that required a 2/3 vote from the community before the government can develop, purchase or lease communal lands. With the new decrees, only 50% is now required. This is causing concern for many communities as it will be easier for the government to influence some residents, and as a result other communities like Poyentimari, Monte Carmelo, Porenkishiari, Koribeni, Shimaá, Puerto Rico, Miaria, Nuevo Mundo, Kirigueti, Camisea, Shivankoreni, Segakiato, Cashiriari and Timpia are also supporting the protest.

The blog of Ideeleradio – Red Nacional [es] also notes that the indigenous groups may radicalize their protest. To date, 63 communities in 11 regions have been a part of these protests against these legislative decrees:

“Esperamos que el conflicto tenga un pronto desenlace, pues de lo contrario tendremos que radicalizar nuestra protesta. Nosotros no estamos agrediendo, estamos reclamando respeto a nuestros derechos. Queremos que nos entiendan y nos atiendan”, afirmó en tono enérgico el dirigente aguaruna. Informó que más de 700 pobladores awajún continúan en los exteriores de la estación petrolera N° 5, ubicado a unos 500 metros de la comunidad de Félix Flores en el distrito de Manseriche provincia Datem del Marañón.

“We hope that the conflict will have a rapid end, but on the contrary, we have to radicalize our protest. We are not attacking, we are calling for them to respect our rights. We want them to understand us and attend to us,” stated the Aguaruna leader in an energetic tone. He also said that more than 700 members of Awajún group would remain outside the Petroleum Station No. 5, located approximately 500 meters from the community of Félix Flores in the Manseriche District in the Datem del Marañon province.

The joining of forces across indigenous communities is nothing new. In June, the blog Por La Amazonia [es] posts about the Aguaruna and Huambisa Council's Declaration for the Unity of the Aguaruna and Huambisa communities:

El evento se realizó en la Comunidad de Urakusa, provincia de Condorcanqui, Región Amazonas y el acuerdo unánime fue dejar atrás las diferencias y luchar juntos por sus territorios, la educación bilingüe, la salud intercultural, el desarrollo humano, la producción agraria y defender su propiedad intelectual. Asimismo suscribieron un pacto para no permitir el ingreso de empresas petroleras como Perú Petro y Hoco SAC quienes pretenden acceder al lote 116 que recorta la reserva comunal Tunta Nain. El evento también se unió al clamor nacional de las comunidades campesinas y nativas de todo el país que vienen rechazando el paquete de medidas promulgadas por el Ejecutivo y que lesionan los derechos colectivos de los pueblos y comunidades indígenas.

The event took place in the community of Urakusa in the province of Condorcanqui, Amazon Region and the agreement was unanimous by leaving behind their differences and to fight together for their territory, bilingual education, intercultural health, human development, agrarian production and the defense of intellectual property. In addition, they signed an agreement that would not permit the entrance of oil companies such as Perú Petro and Hoco SAC who are attempting to gain access to the 116 lot that cuts across the Tunta Nain communal reserve. The event also united the national clamor of the peasant and native communities from the entire country that have been rejecting the package of measures promulgated by the government and hurts the collective rights of indigenous peoples and communities.

The blog La Pagina de Milanta [es] publishes the statements from a local Aguarauna leader Santiago Manuín, who said:

¿Qué daños produciría la petrolera? La deforestación es uno. Si perforan, ¿dónde van a botar los desechos? ¿Y cómo van a sacar el petróleo de ahí? Van a afectar ríos y bosque. Y el impacto social será enorme. Quieren trabajar 77 años en la zona: siete años de exploración, 30 de explotación petrolera y 40 de gas. Esa es toda una generación de habitantes.

¿Cuál es el sentir de la población? La selva no va a ser entregada aunque el Gobierno lo haya dicho y Sarasara haya firmado un convenio y nos digan perro del hortelano. Siempre las petroleras han hecho un daño muy grande a la naturaleza y al ser humano. Los indígenas no separamos al hombre de la naturaleza. Estamos incrustados uno en otro. El Gobierno está en su palacio; nosotros, en nuestra selva. Pensamos diferente. Si nosotros entregamos la selva, ¿dónde vamos a vivir? Seríamos mendigos en nuestra tierra.

What damages does the oil company cause? Deforestation is one. If they drill, where will they toss the waste? How will they remove the oil from there? They are going to affect rivers and forests. The social impact will be huge. They want to work 77 years in the area, seven years of exploration, 30 (years) of petroleum exploitation and 40 for gas. It is an entire generation of inhabitants.

What does the population think? The forest will not be handed over even if the government said so and if Sarasara had signed an agreement, and they calls us the farmer's dog. The oil companies have always caused large damages to nature and human beings. The indigenous do not separate themselves from the nature. We are linked to each other. The government is in its palace; we, in our jungle. We think differently. If we hand over the jungle, where will we live? We will be beggars in our own land.

Finally, De La Selva Su Web [es] posts on the wave of protests by the indigenous groups near the the petroleum station in the city of Iquitos, and which includes photos:

Es increíble que la mayoría de iquiteños veamos con indiferencia los problemas de estos compatriotas, cuando son justamente ellos el legado de nuestros orígenes. Es injusto dejarlos solos. Como es injusto que el gobierno y empresas extranjeras hayan envenenado sus bosques y sus ríos, como es injusto que los madereros y caucheros hayan talado sus árboles, como es injusto tirarnos el dinero destinado a su salud y educación, como es injusto desaparecer sus culturas, como es injusto continuar excluyéndolos de los servicios básicos a los que deben acceder los ciudadanos de este país.

It is incredible that the majority of Iquito residents are indifferent towards the problems of these countrymen and women, when they are the ones that are the legacy of our origens. It is unjust to leave them by themselves. It is unjust how the government and foreign companies have poisoned their forests and their rivers. It is unjust that the lumber and rubber industry have stripped their trees. It is unjust how we waste the money that is for their health and education. It is unjust to make their cultures disappear. It is unjust to continue to exclude them from basic services, which all citizens of the country should be able to access.

Thumbnail by Dubnars


  • […] news media has started to provide more coverage of the protests taking place in Northern Peru. The newspaper La República writes that the commission headed up by Environmental Minister Antonio […]

  • […] What does the population think? The forest will not be handed over even if the government said so … The oil companies have always caused large damages to nature and human beings. The indigenous do not separate themselves from the nature. We are linked to each other. The government is in its palace; we, in our jungle. We think differently. If we hand over the jungle, where will we live? We will be beggars in our own land. (Translated from Spanish in this fine article from Global Voices.) […]

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