In the midst of the political crisis gripping Peru, reactionary elements in the country’s Congress have launched an initiative to repeal the 2006 law establishing reserves to protect isolated indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest. AIDESEP, Peru’s trans-Amazonian indigenous alliance, is calling Law Project 3518/2022-CR the “Law of PIACI Genocide”—a reference to the Spanish acronym for Indigenous Peoples in Isolation or Initial Contact. The AIDESEP statement also charges that the congressional Commission on Decentralization & Regionalization submitted the bill on Dec. 14 without first seeking clearance from the Commission on Andean & Amazonian Peoples, which holds first authority in the matter.
AIDESEP and it allies believe that the PIACI population in Peru is roughly 7,500 people—5,200 in isolation and 2,300 in a process of initial contact, mostly in the regions of Loreto and Madre de Dios. But a new civic alliance in support of oil, timber and other extractive industries, the Coordinator for the Development of Loreto, asserts that their existence is “not proven.”
“I’ve never seen such a nefarious bill in 30 years working for the protection of isolated indigenous peoples,” said Beatriz Huertas, an anthropologist working with the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Oriente (ORPIO), the AIDESEP affiliate in Loreto. Pablo Chota, secretary-general of ORPIO, added that the development initiative is driven by the hidden interests of “illegal loggers, miners and drug traffickers.” (The Guardian, EFE)
Photo of Loreto rainforest via Pixabay