Peru: pending law threatens indigenous lands

Indigenous rights advocates in Peru are protesting a law being prepared by the administration of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) that would allow the government to abrogate the land titles of indigenous and peasant communities for development projects that are deemed "high-priority." This power, long sought by the oil and resource industries, was announced as a goal by the PPK administration shortly after taking office last year. The measure was first promulgated in January as Legislative Decree 1333, during a 90-day "honeymoon" period when Peru's Congress granted PPK special powers to enact laws by fiat, with only after-the-fact review by legislators. One of 112 decrees issued during this period, DL 1333 instituted a process entitled Access to Predios for Prioritized Investment Projects (APIP), allowing the government to "sanear" (literally, cleanse) titles to rural lands. Critics assailed this as a euphemism for arbitrary expropriation, and in May lawmakers  voted to overturn the decree. But on July 28, PPK submitted Law 1718 to Congress, essentially recapitulating the text of DL 1333—only this time, legislators will have to vote to approve it. The responsible agency for overseeing the saneamiento process—ProInversión, a division of the Ministry of Economy and Finance—says it has identified 33 projects around the country that could fall under the rubric of APIP. A watchdog on indigenous land rights, the Secure Territories for the Communities of Peru Collective, has joined with Peru's alliance of Amazonian peoples, AIDESEP, in dubbing Law 1718 the "Law of Dispossession," and calling on Congress to reject it. (AIDESEP, Sept. 12; Servindi, Sept. 3; El Comercio, Aug. 17; La Mula, Aug. 16; El Comercio, May 26; Bonds & Loans, May 22; Instituto del Bien Común)

  1. Indigenous best stewards of rainforest: study

    A study by scholars from Cambridge and other universities published in Scientific Reports compared different forms of protection in the Peruvian rainforest—government-run protected areas, private conservation concessions and indigenous territories. Of the three, indigenous territories were found to be the most effective. (Mongabay, Sept. 15; Espectador, Colombia, Sept. 13

  2. Peru: another bill threatens indigenous lands

    Lawmaker Luis Humberto López Vilela, of the right-wing Fuerza Popular bloc, has introduced a new bill, PL 1910, which would seek to clear clouded titles to over 100 communal land holdings in Piura region, in the interests of creating a "land market." Campesino advocates assert the proposed law would violate Article 89 of Peru's constitution and the General Law of Campesino Communities. (La Mula, Nov. 2)