Peru: incoming admin threatens communal lands

Peru's president-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has unveiled a platform that calls for privatizing and "individualizing" communal lands to facilitate mineral and agribusiness development. On June 10, PPK's "virtual" minister for Economy and FinanceAlfredo Thorne, told Lima's Radio Capital: "A big part of the properties where the mines are located are today communal property. These properties must be individualized, to give the individual the power to use his land, or to sell it to a mining company or sell it for agriculture." He said he is already working on a map of Peru's properties, to begin "interchanging communal titles to individual titles."

Land rights groups Muqui and Instituto de Bien Común issued a statement protesting the proposal, pointing out that communal properties are protected by Article 88 of Peru's constitution. The statement also asserted: "Campesino and native communities are the concrete and juridical expression of indigenous and original peoples of Peru." It said that Peru has a legal responsibility to protect these lands, citing the 2010 ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Yakye Axa vs Paraguay.

The statement also called upon Kuczynski to honor the pact he signed with indigenous peoples on May 20, during his electoral campaign, which included the pledge: "To concretize the titling of the territories of the original peoples in collective manner."