New Internationalist

Indigenous organizations to sue Peru over Amazon gas project

January 2013

David Hill reports on the legal move to protect isolated indigenous peoples at risk of ‘extermination’ by the country’s biggest ever hydrocarbons project.

An item from the Agenda section of the magazine, where we look beyond the news curve with reports and comment on breaking stories.

Indigenous organizations say they will take legal action to halt the expansion of the Camisea gas project in the Peruvian Amazon.

They are seeking to prevent deeper penetration into the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve, which was established for indigenous peoples who have no regular contact with outsiders and live in ‘voluntary isolation’, as defined under Peruvian law.

The December announcement of plans to sue both the government and Argentinean firm Pluspetrol is the latest step in a new, international campaign by a coalition of indigenous organizations - AIDESEP, FENAMAD, ORAU and COMARU. The legal move follows formal complaints in the press and an appeal to the United Nations.

Jaime Corisepa, president of coalition partner FENAMAD, travelled to a hearing on ‘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’ territories, lives and culture - before they are exterminated.’

Extractive industries pose a huge danger to ‘isolated’ peoples, who lack immunity to outsiders’ diseases. Almost half the Nahua people were wiped out following first regular contact in the 1980s when their territories were invaded by Shell and loggers.

If allowed to continue, the Camisea expansion will bring seismic testing, the construction of new wells in a concession called ‘Lot 88’, and potentially create another concession, ‘Lot Fitzcarrald’.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 459 This feature was published in the January 2013 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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