New highways in remote Amazon risk ‘ethnocide’, say Peruvians

“Indigenous federations, state entities and congresspeople speak out against proposed law promoting road construction.

Indigenous federations and other Peruvians have responded fiercely to a proposed law promoting the construction of highways in some of the remotest parts of the Peruvian Amazon near the border with Brazil. A series of “protected natural areas”, including four national parks, and five reserves for indigenous peoples living in “isolation” could ultimately be impacted.

Local, regional and national federations - together with NGOs, relevant state entities and congresspeople - have spoken out against or expressed concern about the proposed law. The main claims: it poses serious threats to the forests, biodiversity and indigenous peoples living in “isolation” and “initial contact”, and it contravenes Peruvian and international laws, trade agreements with the US and European Union, Peru’s international climate change commitments, recommendations by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and a request made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

In addition, it is argued that it has been pushed through Congress with many relevant state entities not formally involved, or ignored, or both. These include the Environment Ministry, the Foreign Relations Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the Health Ministry, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the “protected natural areas” agency SERNANP, the ombudsman Defensoría del Pueblo, and the Congress’s Commission on the Environment, Ecology and Andean, Amazonian and AfroPeruvian Peoples.”

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