Peru: Amazonian leaders press land demarcation

The Inter-ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) on Nov. 22 issued an open letter to President Ollanta Humala, the national congress, and local and regional authorities, demanding that funds for the continued demarcation of indigenous lands in the Amazon Basin be included in the 2013 budget bill now being debated. The letter called for 100 million soles ($38 million) be earmarked for "recognition, titling and territorial expansion of Amazonian communities." The statement asserted that there are 988 identified communities in the rainforest currently awaiting demarcation and titling.

AIDESEP also demanded that 50% of the "canon forestal" from the Amazon regions be invested in technical assistance to indigenous communities for the development of their own forestry management programs. The canon forestal is the share of taxes on timber concessions to be invested locally, similar to the canon minero at issue in Peru's sierras. (AIDESEP, Nov. 22)

In a statement days earlier, AIDESEP protested the appointment of Walter Gutiérrez as Peru's next Defensor del Pueblo, the country's official human rights ombudsman. AIDESEP charged that he had bottlenecked the investigation into the 2009 Bagua massacre when he sat on the commission formed to probe the incident, in which National Police troops opened fire on an indigenous road blockade in Amazonas region. The statement charged that Gutiérrez's presence on the commisison was part of the governments' strategy to advance its "perro de hortelano" theory—"garden dog," the phrase used by then-president Alan García to describe indigenous peoples who cannot recognize the value of natural resources on their lands. (AIDESEP, Nov. 13)