Peru to evacuate village in Amazon conflict

Army and National Police forces in Peru sent riverboats to evacuate a remote rainforest village after it was raided by an indigenous band that has long lived in voluntary isolation in southeastern Madre de Dios region. Around 200 men armed with bows and arrows raided the community of Monte Salvado on the Río Piedras near the Brazilian border Dec. 19. The raiders—thought to be members of the Mashco-Piro tribe—took machetes, rope, blankets and food in the attack. There were no injuries reported, although the raiders did fire arrows. After the raid, they retreated back into the forest. But fearing another attack, Monte Salvado residents—themselves of the Yine tribe, a linguistically related group—are seeking refuge in Puerto Maldonado, the regional capital. Some 40 have now been evacuated.

This is the third time this year that Mashco-Piro tribesmen have arrived at Monte Salvador searching for food and metal objects. Madre de Dios indigenous organization FENAMAD has asked Peru's government to take urgent measures to protect the Mashco-Piro's land, much of which has been taken over by illegal loggers and drug-traffickers. UK-based Survival International's director Stephen Corry said, "Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable societies on the planet. If the survival of the Mashco-Piro is to be guaranteed, Peru has to take action quickly, otherwise they risk being wiped out by diseases like flu and measles to which they have no resistance. The Mashco-Piro, like all uncontacted tribes, face catastrophe unless their land is protected." (The Guardian, BBC News, Peru This Week, Survival International, Dec. 23; Notimérica, Dec. 22)

  1. Peru: deadly clash with isolated tribe

    Mashco-Piro tribespeople apparently killed a young indigenous man from Shipetiari village in Manu district in the Madre de Dios Region on May 1. An arrow pierced the chest of the 20-year-old man, Leonardo Perez Pena, killing him instantly, according to the Ministry of Culture. In the third such encounter this year, the previously isolated Mashco-Piro band apparently ran across a group of Machiguenga villagers on the road. It is not yet known what caused them open fire. Traditionally living in shelters on river banks, where they dig for turtle eggs, the Mashco Piro are a nomadic tribe that has resisted contact with outsiders. Experts believe the tribe has about 600 members who inhabit the jungle near the Brazilian border. (Peruvian Times, May 5; Peru This Week, VOA, May 4)