Vladimiro Huaroc, head of Peru’s National Office of Dialogue and Sustainability (ONDS), weighed in on the controversy over the country’s new Prior Consultation Law June 14, in comments published in the official newspaper El Peruano. “There are many sectors that want the government to execute these actions as soon as possible, and we do not understand the trouble,” he wrote. Seeming to address assertions by President Ollanta Humala that the law should not apply in the country’s sierras, Huaroc invoked Peru’s responsibilities under ILO Convention 169 and stated, “Probably, there are sectors that are not adequately informed” about the government’s responsibilities to indigenous communities. “Prior consultation means informing the population; the Executive must do everything possible so that communities know in detail the economic processes that will be realized.”
Huaroc’s comments came days after his office released a report noting 63 social conflicts registered in 20 regions of the country during the month of May, principally in Cajamarca, Loreto and Áncash. (Andina, June 14; Council of Ministers press release, June 10)
Loreto is in the Amazon rainforest, where vast areas are slated for oil exploitation. Cajamarca and Áncash are in the Andean sierras, and both heavily colonized by mineral interests. President Humala recently stated that the Andean communities are “campesino” rather than “indigenous” and therefore should not be covered by the law.
Six organizations representing both Amazon and Andean communities recently formed a Pact of Unity to coordinate their demands for prior consultation: the Inter-ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), the Campesino Confederation of Peru (CCP), the National Agrarian Confederation (CNA), the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI), the National Organization of Indigenous, Andean and Amazonian Women (ONAMIAP), and the National Federation of Campesina, Indigenous, Native and Working Women (FEMUCARINAP). On April 10, the Pact issued a statement calling for a cabinet-level “Ministry of Indigenous and Original Peoples,” to “guarantee the fulfillment and realization of [indigenous] rights… with the full participation of indigenous peoples in all directives and implementing bodies.”
Indigenous affairs are currently overseen by the Institute for the Development of Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples (INDEPA), an agency under the Culture Ministry‘s Vice-Ministry for Interculturality.
Former Vice-Minister for Interculturality Vicente Otta Rivera, who left the cabinet with Humala’s tilt to the right shortly after his election, writes that some voices within these organizations are going further, calling for a “pluricultural” or “plurinational” state. “The experiences of INDEPA, of the Vice-Ministry of Interculturality, and the failure to implement the Prior Consultation Law, are the most evident expressions of the inviability of intercultural policies under the actual state,” Otta wrote. (Nosotros Peru, May 5)
The regional governments of Puno and Loreto have meanwhile announced that they will move ahead with their own consultations while the process remains stalled at the level of the central government. In Puno, consultations will begin with the Quechua-speaking highland communities of Trapiche and Cajón Huyo, Ananea district, San Antonio de Putina province, site of the planned Chiquitosa-A mining project. In Loreto, the process will concern planned creation of the Maijuna Regional Conservation Area, a protected zone slated for the lands of the Orejón indigenous people. Eduardo Vega, head of the Defender of the People, Peru’s official human rights ombudsman, saluted the announcement. “It is a good sign that demonstrates the commitment of the regional governments to implementation of the right of prior consultation,” he said. (Latinamerica Press, May 24; La Republica, May 18; Andina, Defensoría del Pueblo press release via El Derecho No Basta blog, May 16; Rainforest Conservation Fund)