Planet Watch
Waj√£pi

Protect indigenous rights in biodiversity framework

Amnesty International cautioned¬†against potential threats to indigenous peoples’¬†rights in the monitoring process for progress towards the Global Biodiversity Framework. The organization emphasized the imperative for states to engage in consultations with indigenous communities and secure their “free, prior, and informed consent” in conservation projects, in line with the¬†Universal Declaration on¬†the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The statement warned against “fortress conservation” methods in which original inhabitants¬†are forcibly evicted from protected areas.¬†(Photo of¬†Waj√£pi indigenous people in Brazil via¬†Mongabay)

Southern Cone
Malón de la Paz

Argentina: indigenous march against lithium mining

Thousands of indigenous people from the northwestern Argentine province of Jujuy arrived in Buenos Aires after marching cross-country to protest a provincial constitutional reform allowing greater lithium extraction from the lands they reside on. The marchers said that increased mining of lithium would exacerbate drought conditions, and cause soil contamination and other environmental damage. The protesters called on the Argentine Supreme Court to strike down the reform, saying indigenous voices were largely left out of the debate that led to its approval. Justice Minister Martín Soria asked the court to declare the reform unconstitutional, citing indigenous rights concerns. (Photo: UAINE via Twitter)

The Amazon
cofan

Ecuador: indigenous rainforest defenders honored

Two indigenous leaders in Ecuador who successfully fought against mining on their ancestral lands were awarded the prestigious Goldman Prize for environmental activism. Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narv√°ez of the Cof√°n indigenous people organized patrols, and used drones and camera traps to document gold mining operations within their traditional territories. Their evidence was crucial in securing a legal victory that resulted in 324 square kilometers of rainforest being protected from mining. The Cof√°n community sued the Ministry of Mines, asserting that the concessions violated their right to prior consultation. The Sucumb√≠os provincial court ruled for the Cof√°n¬†in 2018, ordering a halt to the mining operations. In a review of the case this February, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court upheld the decision and widened its scope, holding that the state has an obligation to ensure that indigenous communities undergo a consultation process before any extractive activity is approved on or near their territories. (Photo: Goldman Environmental Foundation)

North America
thacker-pass

Paiute and Shoshone oppose Nevada lithium mine

Local indigenous peoples and their environmentalist supporters have rallied outside the federal courthouse in Reno, Nev., as they await a decision on their request for an injunction to stop the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project, set to be developed on public lands within the ancestral territory of the Paiute and Shoshone. Opponents have also established a protest camp near the mine site. If the injunction is denied, Lithium Nevada, a subsidiary of Canada-based Lithium Americas, will be able to move ahead with an archaeological survey in preparation for breaking ground on the mine. (Photo: Protect Thacker Pass)

The Amazon
bloc 58

Peru: indigenous opposition to Chinese gas project

A new coalition of Amazonian indigenous groups and environmentalists has come together in Peru to demand oversight and accountability in the development of a huge new hydrocarbon exploitation bloc in the rainforest. The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won exploitation rights in 2017 at Bloc 58, in the Upper Urubamba zone of Cuzco region, after explorations revealed some 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, enough to increase Peru’s total gas reserves by nearly 28%. But Bloc 58 overlaps with the traditional territories of the Ash√°ninka and Machiguenga¬†indigenous peoples. The newly formed¬†Amazon Indigenous Platform for Monitoring Chinese Investment in Peru is demanding that exploitation proceed at Bloc 58¬†only in compliance with the internationally recognized right to “prior and informed consent” of impacted indigenous peoples. (Photo via Andina)

The Amazon
Madre de Dios

Podcast: indigenous survival and the crisis in Peru

In Episode 73 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Thomas Moore, anthropologist, advocate for indigenous cultural survival, and author of the newly released book, Madre de Dios: Refugio de Pueblos Originarios. The remote rainforest region of Madre de Dios in Peru’s southern Amazon is a last refuge for isolated indigenous peoples, but is now massively threatened by mining, timber and other resource interests that operate in a semi-legal gray zone in a nexus with criminal networks. Peru has made some progress in complying with international norms on protection of isolated peoples, but these advances stand to be dramatically reversed if far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori comes to power in the pending run-off election. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Amarakaeri)

New York City
James Bay

Podcast: the struggle for James Bay

“Who is James Bay?” That’s the frequent reaction from New Yorkers when it is brought up‚ÄĒdespite the fact that James Bay is not a “who” but a “where,” and a large portion of New York City’s electricity comes from there. In Episode 44 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s so-called “Green New Deal,” and how maybe it isn’t so green after all. The mayor’s plan is centered on new purchases of what is billed as “zero-emission Canadian hydro-electricity.” But supplying this power is predicated on expansion of the massive James Bay hydro-electric complex in Quebec’s far north, which has already taken a grave toll on the region’s ecology, and threatens the cultural survival of its indigenous peoples, the Cree and Inuit. And it isn’t even really “zero-emission.” Listen on SoundCloud,and support our podcast via Patreon.¬†(Photo: Orin Langelle)

New York City
Rupert River

NYC ‘Green New Deal’ to fund mega-hydro?

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio is aggressively touting his “Green New Deal,” boasting an aim of cutting the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions 40% of 2005 levels by 2030. Centerpiece of the plan is so-called “zero-emission Canadian hydroelectricity.”¬†The city has entered into a deal to explore new power purchases from provincial utility Hydro-Quebec. But this power is predicated on expansion of the massive James Bay hydro-electric complex in Quebec’s far north, which has already taken a grave toll on the region’s ecology, and threatens the cultural survival of its indigenous peoples, the Cree and Inuit. And it isn’t even really “zero-emission.” (Map: Ottertooth.com)

The Amazon

Peru: acquitted Bagua defendants may face retrial

Defense lawyers for the 53 indigenous activists who were cleared of charges in the 2009 Bagua massacre were ordered to testify before a Peruvian Supreme Court magistrate, as the high court’s penal chamber considers a request from the government for a retrial in the case. The defendants were acquitted by a lower court in 2016 in the slaying of National Police troops in the clash at Bagua, which began when police attacked an indigenous roadblock during a protest campaign against oil and resource exploitation in the rainforest. Peru’s Prosecutor General and Public Ministry have called upon the Supreme Court to review the acquittals. Attorney Juan Jos√© Quispe said that if a retrial is ordered, the defendants will boycott the proceedings. He asserted that a retrial would violate¬†the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169, on the rights of indigenous peoples. ¬†(Photo: Wayka)

The Amazon

‘Silk Road’ to Peruvian Amazon?

Peru is to sign a memorandum of understanding to join China’s Belt & Road international infrastructure initiative, Beijing’s ambassador to Lima said. The announcement coincided with a Beijing summit to promote the initiative, also known as the New Silk Road, where¬†Peru’s trade minister stated that a revision of Lima’s Free Trade Agreement with China will be implemented next year.¬†These announcements come amid growing environmentalist concern over the Hidrov√≠a Amaz√≥nica, a Chinese-backed mega-project aimed at further opening Peru’s eastern rainforests to resource exploitation. (Photo: Segundo Enfoque)

The Amazon

Ecuador court win for indigenous territorial rights

The Waorani indigenous people of the Ecuadoran Amazon won a legal victory hailed as historic, as the provincial court of Pastaza¬†blocked the opening of their traditional territories to oil exploitation. The case was brought by 16 Waorani communities, who charged that their right to “free, prior and informed consent” was violated when the government divided much of the province into oil blocs. One, Bloc 22, overlaps almost entirely with Waorani territory. The ruling suspends auctions for Bloc 22 while the case is on appeal. (Photo: Mongabay)

The Amazon

‘Historic’ win against illegal mining in Peru

The Supreior Court of Justice for Peru's rainforest region of Madre de Dios upheld a lower court ruling that nullified mining concessions as well as the titling of agricultural properties and granting of water rights to third parties on the territory of the indigenous community of Tres Islas, without prior consultation with that community. The regional government of Madre de Dios is ordered to comply with the ruling, as is the National Water Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. The National Police are called upon to enforce the ruling if necessary. Peru's International Institute of Law and Society, which represented Tres Islas in the case, hailed the ruling as "historic." (Photo: La Mula)