Arequipa

Ethnic cleansing on Peru's jungle border

Highly vulnerable "uncontacted" indigenous bands who recently emerged in the Brazil-Peru border region have said that they were fleeing violent attacks in Peru. FUNAI, Brazil's indigenous affairs agency, has announced that the uncontacted bands have returned once more to their forest home. Seven members of the band made peaceful contact with a settled indigenous Ashaninka community near the Ríó Envira in Brazil's Acre state three weeks ago. A government health team was dispatched and has treated seven band members for flu. FUNAI has announced it will reopen a monitoring post on the Rió Envira which it closed in 2011 after it was overrun by drug traffickers. Survival International called the emerging news "extremely worrying," noting that isolated indigenous groups lack immunity to the flu, which has wiped out entire tribes in the past. Brazilian experts believe that the isolated bands, who belong to the Panoan linguistic group, crossed over the border from Peru into Brazil due to pressures from illegal loggers and drug traffickers on their land.

Peru: prison for regional leader who opposed mine

Gregorio Santos, regional president of Cajamarca in northern Peru, was ordered to turn himself in for "preventative" imprisonment by a local anti-corruption prosecutor on June 17. The prosecutor, Walter Delgado, said Santos is under investigation by Peru's Public Ministry for "illicit association" and bribery, although no details were provided. (La Republica, June 17) The left-wing Santos has been an outspoken opponent of the US-backed Conga mining project in Cajamarca. With Santos' support, the Conga site has for months been occupied by peasant protesters who oppose the mine project. A major mobilization was held at the site on June 5, to commemorate World Environment Day. (Celedín Libre, June 7)

Peru: controversial copper project moves ahead

Arizona-based Southern Copper is set to restart work at its controversial $1 billion Tía María copper project in Arequipa, Peru, within the next 90 days, Mines and Energy Minister, Jorge Merino said following a public meeting with local residents Dec. 19. Merino told Andina news agency that receiving support from the local community is “a big step forward," adding that it shows how "dialogue and coordinated efforts from national, regional and local authorities can make mega-projects happen." Peru's government sees the Tia Maria project as critical to boosting investment in the mineral sector. "It will show we have made inroads to resolve conflicts that have delayed several mining projects in Peru over concerns by communities about their environmental impact," Merino said.

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