Peruvian indigenous forest dwellers have been forced to set up a guard post to protect a reserve established for “uncontacted” peoples, after the authorities ignored their repeated pleas for action. The Isconahua reserve on the Peru-Brazil border was set up with the support of Peru’s Amazon indigenous alliance, AIDESEP, to protect uncontacted Isconahua bands living in its forests. But the reserve has been invaded by illegal loggers, and numerous appeals to the authorities have gone unanswered. Now two local indigenous groups, the Ucayali Regional AIDESEP Organization (ORAU) and the Federation of Native Communities of the Ucayali and Tributaries (FECONAU), have united to create a guard post to protect the reserve themselves.
Illegal logging is rampant in Peru and poses a serious threat to the survival of the country’s estimated 15 uncontacted groups. Aerial flights over the Amazon have documented illegal logging camps that are forcing the Indians to flee into unknown territories. The UK-based advocacy group Survival International has collected nearly 100,000 signatures asking President Alan García to put a stop to the logging and safeguard tribal lands. Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said, “That local indigenous organizations have to protect isolated Indians’ reserves is a devastating criticism of the government’s inaction. Standing by and ignoring the problem seems to be the government’s preferred tactic.” (Survival International, March 29)
See our last post on Peru and the struggle for the Amazon.