Indigenous organisations in Peru

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Indigenous organizations will take Peru to court about Amazon gas project

David Hill writes about the legal action to protect the isolated groups of indigenous people. They could all be killed off by the biggest ever hydrocarbon project in Peru.

Indigenous organizations say they will take legal action to stop the expansion of the Camisea gas project in the Peruvian Amazon. They are trying to stop people going further into the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve. This area was given to indigenous groups of people, who have no regular contact with people outside their groups. They live in ‘voluntary isolation’, as defined under Peruvian law.

In December they said they have plans to sue the government of Peru and the Argentinean firm Pluspetrol. This is the latest part of a new, international campaign by a group of indigenous organizations - AIDESEP, FENAMAD, ORAU and COMARU. Before taking this to court, they complained in newspapers and asked the United Nations for help.

Jaime Corisepa, president of FENAMAD, went to a legal discussion about ‘isolated’ peoples in Washington DC last November. ‘We’ve come a very long way to tell you about this,’ he told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. ‘Something can still be done to save these peoples’ land, lives and culture - before they die out forever.’

Mining is very dangerous for ‘isolated’ groups. This is because they do not have immunity to diseases outside their group. Almost half the Nahua people died after the first regular contact in the 1980s when Shell and forestry companies came into their land.

If Camisea are allowed to continue and expand, they will start seismic testing, build new wells in an area called ‘Lot 88’, and maybe develop another area ‘Lot Fitzcarrald’.

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