The McGill Daily - - International Stories -

In­dige­nous lead­ers in Peru have is­sued an of­fi­cial state­ment con­demn­ing the gov­ern­ment for not ad­her­ing to laws re­gard­ing is­sues that af­fect the In­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion. Peru’s gov­ern­ment is cur­rently ne­go­ti­at­ing with Fron­tera En­ergy, an oil­based Cana­dian en­ergy firm, on re­new­ing a 30-year con­tract.

The lead­ers, who rep­re­sent more than 100 In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, ref­er­enced a law passed in 2011 that re­quires the gov­ern­ment to con­sult these com­mu­ni­ties be­fore im­ple­ment­ing de­ci­sions that might im­pact their ter­ri­to­ries. How­ever, Án­gela Acevedo, the Di­rec­tor of In­dige­nous Peo­ples Rights at Peru’s Vice Min­istry of In­ter­cul­tural Af­fairs ar­gues that while the law is in ef­fect, the state still “takes the fi­nal de­ci­sion.”

The In­dige­nous lead­ers, mean­while, con­sider the ne­go­ti­a­tions an un­law­ful vi­o­la­tion of their rights. To protest the gov­ern­ment’s ac­tion, the In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties are threat­en­ing to pre­vent the oil firms from ac­cess­ing their land if a valid con­sul­ta­tion with the com­mu­ni­ties does not take place.

Added to the tribal rights is­sue is the con­cern over oil spills in the re­gion. The United Na­tions spe­cial rap­por­teur on haz­ardous sub­stances and wastes stressed the im­por­tance of deal­ing with the ex­ist­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ards be­fore is­su­ing any new deals or con­tracts that may fur­ther ex­ac­er­bate the is­sue. Ad­di­tion­ally, the rap­por­teur em­pha­sized that the In­dige­nous peo­ples’ con­cerns should be in­cluded when mak­ing de­ci­sions such as these, be­cause oil spills have been proven to con­tam­i­nate water to a point that can cause poi­son­ing and death.

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