Peru: indigenous groups reject draft regulations on Law of Prior Consultation

After two days of reviewing the draft proposal for regulations implementing Peru's new Law of Prior Consultation for Indigenous and Original Peoples, indigenous leaders from the Southern Macroregion announced that they rejected it as illegitimate Jan. 25. Meeting in the city of Cuzco, some 700 indigenous leaders from the regions of Tacna, Moquegua, Arequipa, Puno, Apurímac, Madre de Dios and Cuzco were joined by lawmakers Sergio Tejada and Verónica Mendoza and representatives of the indigenous affairs agency INDEPA. Participants concluded the proposed regulations did not meet standards for prior consultation established by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO-169). A week later, a similar conclusion was announced at a meeting for the Northern Macroregion, held in the Amazonas region town of Bagua and bringing together indigenous leaders from Amazonas, Cajamarca and San Martín.

The meetings brought together local directors from the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), the Confederation of Amazonian Nationalities of Peru (CONAP), the Campesino Confederation of Peru (CCP), the National Agrarian Confederation (CNA), the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI), and the National Organization of Indigenous Andean and Amazonian Women of Peru (ONAMIAP). A meeting for the Central Macroregion is next to be held in Huancayo, capital of Junín region, before a unified statement from Peru's national indigenous movement is brought to Lima on Feb. 15. (Andina, Feb. 3; Servindi, Jan. 25)

On Feb. 1, the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Oriente (ORPIO) held a mobilization in the Amazon River port of Iquitos, capital of Loreto region and principal city in the Peruvian rainforest. After marching through the city, they issued a statement protesting the presence of the oil industry on indigenous lands, saying that after 40 years, "it has damaged our fish... our land and the water that gives us life. The watersheds of the Corrientes, Tigre, Pastaza, Chambira and Marañon [rivers] suffer under the impacts of the oil companies. The result of these operations is lamentable and fills us with a just indignation." The statement expressed solidarity with "our brothers of the Coast and the Andes who suffer the negative effects of mining."

The statement also had a warning for the residents of the city: "We alert the people of Iquitos that the watershed of the Nanay, which supplies the city, is in serious danger due to the imminent initiation of oil activities. We the indigenous who have lived with this abuse [flagelo] announce that we will stand together with those who also defend their rights. Water is not a commodity, it is a right!"

With respect to President Ollanta Humala, who recently met with international mineral investors in Madrid, the statement said: "Like the majority of Peruvians who struggle for a different alternative of government, we feel profoundly disappointed and offended by the actions of the government of O. Humala. This government, instead of complying with its promises to defend the water and life of the Peruvian peoples, represses and threatens with a heavy hand those who exercise the right to defend water as a human right, and the right to decide the fate of our territories." (