Indigenous communities demonstrate in defense of their land
On 27th September, hundreds marched in the city of Huaral over a resolution by the Administrative Authority of Water in Cañete-Fortaleza allowing the mining company Volcan to start exploration near Mashgua and Cacray lagoons.
Reina Castillo Pretel, president of the Peasant´s Community of Aucallam, said that the protest is the first step but they will take all the necessary measures to see the resolution revoked. Castillo Pretel declared in regards to the are under mining exploration:
“We are in an area where water means life, progress and development. This is an agricultural valley whose development cannot be affected by the contamination of its water”. (Translated from Spanish)
She added that mining will benefit miners and business and be detrimental to the lives of local residents.
Lote 192 in the Peruvian Amazon, where there is a major oil reserve, also experienced protests for about 40 days after the government refused to start a new public consultation process over the use of indigenous ancestral lands. The government aims to lease Lote 192 to oil company Petroperu for 30 years.
The umbrella organisation - Observatorio Petrolero de la Amazonía Norte (North Amazonian Oil Observatory) - reported on 10th October that it had received alerts over possible police intervention in indigenous communities' peaceful protests. Communities responded with a public statement reinforcing their peaceful actions and calling on all parties to respect the dialogue currently underway between government and local groups.
Proposed legislation introduced in the Peruvian congress could potentially impact indigenous communities' rights. Bill No. 1910 submitted on 2nd October could divide communities' lands into plots, with the intent of promoting agricultural development. In response, indigenous community associations have voiced their opposition to the law, asserting that it will have a negative impact on their way of life as the
"land is a source if cultural identity and the space where [the communities] exercise their own forms of organisation, production and authority".