AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE CONSEJO SHIPIBO KONIBO XETEBO (COUNCIL OF THE SHIPIBO NATION) DESCRIBING THE PRESENT SITUATION IN THE AMAZON
A REALITY WE CAN NOT DENY: THE FUTURE OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN THE AMAZON
THREAT AND INEQUALITY
MARCH 2, 2012
We are the Shipibo Konibo people with a population of approximately 35,000 living in 132 communities along the Ucayali River and the tributaries of the Pisqui, Calleria, Aguaytia, Pachitea, Tamaya among others. The forests, lakes, rivers, animals, and medicinal plants are our source of life. They maintain our culture, language, and ancestral knowledge making us strong.
The presence of oil companies and mega-projects like the IIRSA project (Initiative for regional integration of South America) in our Amazonia is a threat to our rights and the unequal distribution of wealth. The Congress of Brazil has declared that it is in the public interest to open a highway between Brazil and Peru and expects that Peru will do the same. The execution of this highway project is projected to go from Brazil through Pucallpa and would affect the environment, the rivers, lagoons, and cause serious social and cultural damage. The highway project plans go through natural protected areas where indigenous people such as the Isconahua live in voluntary isolation and will also affect Shipibo Konibo communities. Recently, the consulting firm, Consorcio Vial Pucallpa, presented an environmental impact study, but this study did not have the participation of the Shipibo Konibo Nation, thus, it was conducted without regard to the ILO Convention 169.*
There has been no social responsibility for the environmental impacts (oil spills and pollution associated with oil drilling**) in the Corrientes River, Canaan de Cachiaco, and communities in Urubamba where there is severe environmental damage, threatening the future of the Amazon. In these territories, where there are indigenous communities, land has been auctioned off to multinational corporations who only seek to make a profit off of the natural resources. When their activities cease, they leave behind contaminated communities, infectious diseases, families who are dislocated, youth who have no future, and communities that are condemned to live in poverty. At the same time these affected communities are excluded from sustainable development. The water that is used for human consumption is completely contaminated by debris shed by these businesses, and informal gold extraction activities use mercury which is then thrown into the water, polluting the Ucayali River.
In a visit made by the Consejo Shipibo Konibo Xetebo (the Shipibo tribal council) we found many communities lacked basic services; health care and education is still deficient. With respect to social programs, services have not reached the indigenous populations. The state receives royalties from the companies (multinational corporations) that fail to benefit communities; far from thinking of sustainable development or the future of Amazonia.
We are calling for solidarity in organizing the “AMAZON DIALOGUE” , a meeting with the aim of agreeing on a SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PLAN that will protect the resources and life of the Amazon. 264 representatives of the Loreto, Ucayali, and Huanuco regions will meet on May 10 and 11, 2012 in the city of Pucallpa, Peru.
*”Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1989 and ratified by Peru in 1994. Pursuant to ILO Convention 169, which came into effect in 1991, ratifying governments must implement special systems to protect the rights of their native peoples and introduce a mechanism to consult them on laws, production projects, and policies that may affect their development and their habitat.
Despite ratifying the convention more than 15 years ago, Peru had done nothing to apply its provisions and, in particular, article 6, which expressly establishes the right of indigenous peoples to be consulted on matters affecting their territories and way of life. It was only in 2011 that Congress finally passed the Indigenous and Native Peoples’ Right to Prior Consultation Act.” (The indigenous organizations in Peru have not agreed with the regulations of this act).
Native Peruvians See Loopholes in Prior Consultation Law
By Milagros Salazar
**translator notes in parenthesis
PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING TO SHIPIBO JOI SO WE CAN SUPPORT THIS EFFORT FOR MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE SHIPIBO NATION, OTHER INDIGENOUS GROUPS AND THE PERUVIAN GOVERNMENT