Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Amazon Natives loosing control of ancestral lands

Here is an informative article about the troubles that indigenous people are having in the Eastern Amazon part of Peru as reported by Indian Country Today:
Credit: Photo by David Dudenhoefer

"...Margarita Benavides, sub-director of the Peruvian nonprofit Instituto del Bien Comun, which helps Native communities solicit title for their land, said Puerto Azul’s case is emblematic of a regional problem. Somewhere between 250 and 300 Native communities in the Peruvian Amazon lack titles for their land, and most of them face pressures from colonists, loggers, miners, or oil companies. In fact, the problem is so common that there is another Puerto Azul, a Harakmbut village in southeast Peru, that has waited 15 years for resolution of its title request.

Benavides explained that even Native communities with titles lack full control of their ancestral resources, because most of them depend on forested areas outside their territories for fruit, medicinal plants, building materials and hunting grounds, but the government has leased most of that land to loggers and oil companies. She said this situation led thousands of Amazonian Natives to join a 10-week regional protest last year organized by the Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) to demand the repeal of nine legislative decrees that threatened Native land rights. That protest culminated in a police crackdown in Bagua province that left nearly 200 protesters injured and 34 dead."  ...(Cont.)...