Peruvian president under fire over indigenous rights

By agency reporter
April 4, 2012

Survival International say that Peru’s government is ignoring new UN guidelines on the protection of uncontacted Indians in the Amazon.

A landmark UN report supports the tribes’ right to be left alone. But Survival say that Peru is allowing the country’s largest gas project to expand further into indigenous territories known to be home to numerous uncontacted Indians.

The new UN guidance makes clear that uncontacted tribes’ land should be untouchable, and that “no rights should be granted that involve the use of natural resources”.

The expansion plan adds to existing controversies around Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol and its notorious Camisea project in southeast Peru. Past oil and gas exploration in Peru has resulted in violent and disastrous contact with isolated Indians.

In the early 1980s, Shell workers opened up paths into the uncontacted Nahua Indians’ land. Diseases soon wiped out half the tribe.

Survival allege that despite an electoral campaign that promised to respect indigenous rights, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala has done little to guarantee the survival of indigenous peoples.

The Camisea consortium includes US-based Hunt Oil and Spain’s Repsol. Both have been accused of violating tribal peoples’ rights.

Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today (4 April), “The UN’s breakthrough report at last recognises the rights of uncontacted Indians. Peru needs to read it and respect those who wish to be left alone before entire tribes are lost forever”.


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