Tag Archive | "peru"

Peru to Take Legal Action over Greenpeace Stunt at Nazca Lines

Peru’s vice-minister for culture Luis Jaime Castillo has accused Greenpeace of “extreme environmentalism” and ignoring what Peruvian people consider to be sacred after a protest at the Nazca lines, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Activists entered a prohibited area next to the figure of a hummingbird and laid down big yellow cloth letters reading ‘Time for Change! The Future is Renewable’ as part of a stunt to highlight climate change as world leaders gathered at the COP20 UN climate summit in Lima.

The hummingbird is one of the most well-known of Peru's Nazca lines (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The hummingbird is one of the most well-known of Peru’s Nazca lines (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Castillo said the government was seeking to prevent those responsible from leaving the country while it asked prosecutors to file charges of attacking archaeological monuments, a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

Peruvian authorities are also seeking the identity of the archaeologist who led the activists to the site and the plane from which the photos of the stunt were taken, he said. “It was thoughtless, insensitive, illegal, irresponsible, and absolutely pre-meditated. Greenpeace has said it was planning this action for months.”

However, Castillo added that “Peru has nothing against the message of Greenpeace. We are all concerned about climate change. But the means don’t justify the ends.”

Greenpeace has responded saying that those involved were “absolutely careful to protect the Nazca lines”, adding that the group was taking the incident very seriously. The organisation also issued a public apology, saying: “Without reservation Greenpeace apologises to the people of Peru for the offence caused by our recent activity laying a message of hope at the site of the historic Nazca lines. We are deeply sorry for this.

“Rather than relay an urgent message of hope and possibility to the leaders gathering at the Lima UN climate talks, we came across as careless and crass.”

A week earlier, Greenpeace projected a message promoting solar energy on to Huayna Picchu, the mountain that overlooks the ancient city of Machu Picchu, another protected ancient site in Peru.

The Nazca lines are a series of geoglyphs drawn into the Nazca Desert, an arid plateau located around 400km south of Lima. The lines, which depict dozens of animals and motifs, as well as hundreds of simple lines and shapes, are believed to have been created between 1500 and 2000 years ago.


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Peru: Report Condemns Activist Killings Ahead of UN Climate Talks

Edwin Chota was one of four Ashaninka leaders killed in September 2014

Edwin Chota was one of four Ashaninka leaders killed in September 2014

A new report from Global Witness has condemned the killing of environmental activists in Peru, just two weeks before the country hosts the 2014 UN Climate Conference.

The report, called ‘Peru’s Deadly Environment‘ highlights how at least 57 activists had been killed defending land or the environment since 2002. 60% of these killings occurred in the last four years, with the majority caused by conflicts over mining projects and with police suspected of being the perpetrators.

This makes Peru the fourth most dangerous country to be an environmental or land defender, according to the report.

The report was released two months after four tribal leaders were shot dead as they travelled to a meeting to discuss how to combat illegal logging on their territories.

It also comes six months after another report by Global Witness revealed how 80% of environmental activist killings occur in Latin America, with Brazil topping the world rankings of the most dangerous states.

The latest report concluded that in Peru, “the government’s recent legislative measures aimed at kick-starting investment in the extractives sector have weakened key environmental safeguards and threaten to stoke the fires of discontent yet further.”

It called on the government and international community to take urgent action to protect those on the front line of environmental defence.

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Peru: Eight Dead after Cusco Earthquake

Many of the adobe houses collapsed or were left uninhabitable after Saturday's earthquake (photo courtesy of Presidencia Peru)

Many of the adobe houses collapsed or were left uninhabitable after Saturday’s earthquake (photo courtesy of Presidencia Perú)

Peru’s government has declared a state of emergency in the Cusco region after an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale killed eight people and injured around a dozen on Saturday night.

A further 500 have been affected after more than a hundred houses collapsed or were rendered uninhabitable.

The worst hit area was the Quechua community of Misca around two hours south of the city of Cusco, the country’s biggest tourism centre. Residents were also affected in the nearby community of Cusi Bamba Bajo due to building collapses, but there were no reports of fatalities or injuries.

After visiting the affected area on Sunday, President Ollanta Humala said that the national government would help the rebuilding of the region, with aid promised for 90 days. Around ten tonnes of aid have already been sent by the National Civil Defence offices in Cusco and Lima.

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Peru: Four Indigenous Anti-Logging Activists Killed

Edwin Chota was one of the four xxx

Edwin Chota was one of the four Ashaninka men killed

Four Peruvian tribal leaders have been shot dead on their way to a meeting to discuss ways to stop illegal logging. The group, who were from the Amazonian Ashaninka community, were killed near the border with Brazil, and included outspoken anti-logging campaigner Edwin Chota.

Chota was the leader of the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community, and had received several death threats from illegal loggers, who are thought to have been behind the killings.

“He threatened to upset the status quo,” said David Salisbury, a professor at the University of Richmond who was advising Chota on his community’s quest for land titles and had known him for a decade. “The illegal loggers are on record for wanting Edwin dead.”

The group were killed on 1st September, but news has only just filtered out of the killings due to the remoteness of the location.

The president of the Ashaninka organisation Aconamac, Reyder Sebastián Quinticuari, said: “Our people have always defended our resources and have faced illegal loggers who see our reserves as places to exploit.”

Peru’s main indigenous federation, AIDESEP, expressed outrage at police and the judiciary in a statement for “doing absolutely nothing despite repeated complaints” to protect the slain men, who it said had joined “the long list of martyrs who fell in defence of their ancestral lands”.

According to a 2012 World Bank report, an estimated 80% of Peruvian timber exports stem from illegal logging.

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Peru: Police Stop Demonstrators from Entering Disputed Territory

The disputed 38 hectares (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The disputed 38 hectares (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Peruvian police have blocked demonstrators from entering a triangle of land that is at the centre of a sovereignty dispute with neighbouring Chile. The land dispute erupted just months after a similar diplomatic spat over the maritime border was resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.

The ICJ ruling granted Peru some 50,000km2 of additional territorial waters previously considered Chilean, but allowed Chile to maintain rich fishing grounds in the disputed area. 

Peru’s President Ollanta Humala set off the latest squabble with Chile earlier this month by presenting a new map that shows Peruvian ownership of a 38-hectare triangle of desert bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Peru considers the land border to be marked by Punto Concordia, on the shore, whereas Chile views it to be at Hito no. 1, some 300 metres inland. The border Chile is claiming follows the line of the new maritime border directly inland.

Chile’s foreign-affairs ministry contested that Peru had overstepped its bounds by claiming the land territory, saying that the ICJ never ruled on their land border, just on the ocean territory.

“We need to safeguard our rights,” Chile’s Foreign Affairs Minister Harold Muñoz said at a news conference last week, going on to accuse Peruvian nationalists of committing acts of provocation.


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Ecuador Signs Free Trade Agreement with European Union

Ecuador's bananas are excluded from the deal

Ecuador’s bananas are excluded from the deal

After four years of negotiations, Ecuador has joined the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union, Colombia, and Peru. The accord means that Ecuadorian exports will enter the EU without duties, providing the Andean nation with a new market of 500m inhabitants.

Ecuador’s foreign trade minister, Francisco Rivadeneira, called the agreement “ambitious”.

He said: “After nearly four years of work, today we finally closed a balanced accord with the European Union, which maximises opportunities, minimises costs, respects the country’s development model, and protects our sensitive sectors.”

President Rafael Correa announced on Monday that an agreement could be signed this week, underscoring that the country had negotiated “higher thresholds” than its neighbours, and adding that the most difficult negotiations had been over agricultural produce. Bananas, one of the country’s biggest exports, are excluded from the deal.

The latest deal means Ecuador now enjoys free trade with 28 more nations, adding to the country’s previous agreements with China, India, Russia, and most of its South American neighbours.

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Brazil: Uncontacted Tribe Displaced by Amazon Logging

Uncontacted Indians in Brazil, May 2008. Photo courtesy of Survival International. ©Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

Uncontacted Indians in Brazil, May 2008. Photo courtesy of Survival International. ©Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

An uncontacted tribe living in the Amazon has emerged from the rainforest in Brazil near the Peruvian border and made contact with a settled indigenous community.

The news comes just days after FUNAI, Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Department, and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, warned of the serious risk of such an incident, in light of the failure of the Peruvian authorities to stop rampant illegal logging on its side of the border.

The group had been coming increasingly close to the settled Asháninka who live along the Río Envira in the Brazilian state of Acre, and news emerged this week that the group had made contact with the Asháninka on Sunday.

A specialist FUNAI team is in the area to provide help to the newly-contacted group, and a medical unit has been flown in to treat possible epidemics of common respiratory and other diseases to which isolated indigenous groups lack immunity.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, who is from Brazil’s Acre state and who joined Survival to speak out for indigenous rights said: “I am from the same area as they are. It is very worrying that my relatives are at risk of disappearing. It shows the injustice that we face today. They are even more vulnerable because they can’t communicate with the authorities. Both governments must act now to protect and to stop a disaster against my people.”

As a result of aerial and land surveys, the Brazilian government has so far identified 77 uncontacted peoples, many of which only have a few dozen people remaining. One tribe in Rondônia state has only one lone man; known as ‘the Last of his Tribe’, who resists all attempts at contact. It is believed that many have stopped having children because they are constantly fleeing loggers and other intruders. The uncontacted Awá, who are the Earth’s most threatened tribe, hunt monkey and other game at night, in order to remain hidden.

According to Survival, introduced diseases are the biggest killer of isolated tribal people, who have not developed immunity to viruses such as influenza, measles, and chicken pox that most other societies have been in contact with for hundreds of years.

In Peru, more than 50% of the previously-uncontacted Nahua tribe were wiped out following oil exploration on their land in the early 1980s, and the same tragedy engulfed the Murunahua in the mid-1990s, after being forcibly contacted by illegal mahogany loggers.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Both Peru and Brazil gave assurances to stop the illegal logging and drug trafficking which are pushing uncontacted Indians into new areas. They’ve failed. The traffickers even took over a government installation meant to monitor their behaviour. The uncontacted Indians now face the same genocidal risk from disease and violence which has characterised the invasion and occupation of the Americas over the last five centuries. No one has the right to destroy these Indians.”



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Peru: Bodies of 800 Indigenous People Found in Mass Grave

Around 5000 Asháninka are believed to have been killed during the Shining Path insurgency (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Around 6,000 Asháninka are believed to have been killed during the Shining Path insurgency (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The largest mass grave in Peru has been uncovered by a team of government investigators, in the ancestral land of the Asháninka in the country’s central Amazon region.

The grave contains the remains of around 800 people, the majority believed to be Asháninka and Matsigenka Indians, who were killed during the violent conflict between Shining Path guerrillas and counter-insurgency forces in the 1980s.

Bodies from several other mass graves are currently being exhumed in the region.

Around 70,000 people are estimated to have died or disappeared during the Shining Path insurgency, which started in 1980. The most violent period lasted for just over a decade, until the capture of guerrilla leader Abimael Guzmán in 1992.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 10,000 Asháninka were displaced, 6,000 died, and 5,000 were taken captive by the Shining Path during this time. Between 30 and 40 Asháninka communities disappeared as a result of the conflict.

The Asháninka’s population is estimated to be between 25,000 and 45,000, making them the second largest indigenous group living in Peru’s Amazon, although a few hundred live across the border in the Brazilian state of Arce.

Today, their land is under threat from oil and gas projects, hydroelectric dams, drug trafficking and deforestation. Asháninka leader Ruth Buendía was this year presented with the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her work against the Pakitzapango Dam. The dam was one of six hydroelectric projects planned under an energy agreement between Brazil and Peru, and would have forced thousands of Asháninka from their homes, but in 2011, Buendía’s organisation CARE succeeded in getting the dam suspended through legal action.

A few small groups of Shining Path rebels remain active, mostly confined to the Ene and Apurimac rivers, which form part of the Asháninka’s homeland.



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Peru: Qhapaq Nan Inca Road System given World Heritage Status

The Inca road system covered 30,000km over six countries

The Inca road system covered 30,000km over six countries

UNESCO has granted World Heritage status to a 600-year-old road system built by the Inca Empire, which goes through six South American countries. The UN cultural body described the system as an “engineering wonder” that must be restored and preserved.

The Qhapaq Nan roads were built over hundreds of years, and traverse 30,000km across six South American countries, linking the Incan capital Cusco to the outposts of the empire, from Colombia to Argentina and Chile, across Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The most famous section of the road is the 43km Inca Trail, walked by thousands of tourists each year to reach the ancient city of Machu Picchu, itself a World Heritage site.

The road system was also used by the Spanish conquistadores, although most of the route has since deteriorated or become overgrown.

“The Qhapaq Nan by its sheer scale and quality of the road is a unique achievement of engineering skills. It demonstrates mastery in engineering technology,” Unesco said in a statement.

The road, which covers diverse terrain from the Andean plateau to rainforest and deserts, will now be eligible for restoration funds.

To support the proposal, members of the city government from the Ecuadorian city of Cuenca walked 20km of the road network on Saturday morning.

The Qhapaq Nan roads are one of dozens of new World Heritage sites that UNESCO is considering during their 38th session in Doha, Qatar, which ends on Wednesday.



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Peru: Trial Opens over 2009 ‘Baguazo’

Presidents Alan García and George W. Bush. The clashes erupted as a result of laws passed as part of the free trade agreement between the US and Peru (photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Presidents Alan García and George W. Bush. The clashes erupted as a result of laws passed as part of the free trade agreement between the US and Peru (photo: Wikipedia Commons)

The trial started today over the so-called ‘Baguazo’, a 2009 political crisis that took place in the region of Bagua in the north-Peruvian Amazon, which led to dozens of deaths and one disappearance.

The crisis resulted from on-going opposition to oil development in the rainforest, which was opened up to private investment as part of the US-Peruvian Free Trade Agreement. Local indigenous groups, led the Peruvian Jungle Interethnic Development Association (AIDESEP), by a coalition of indigenous organisations, lead the resistance movement to exploitation of the rainforest.

Things culminated when, after a year of opposition and advocacy, and over two months of civil disobedience, in June 2009 the government of then-president Alan García suspended civil liberties, declared a state of emergency, and sent in the police and military to quash the protests. This intervention, referred to as the ‘Baguazo’, resulted in two days of bloody confrontations in which 23 soldiers and estimates of 30 indigenous people, including three children, were killed. Police were accused of burning bodies in an attempt to hide the actual death toll, and still the official death toll of the indigenous is put at ten.

The 53 defendants include 23 awajún-wampi people, who face charges of murder, disturbing the peace, and stealing weapons and ammunition from the armed forces, charges that carry from six years to life imprisonment.


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