From: David Hill for The Guardian, Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published January 14, 2014 09:41 AM

Peru - gas expansion in Amazon 'indigenous reserve'

Peru is to expand its Camisea gas project although it threatens uncontacted Amazon tribes with extinction, reports David Hill. The decision also ignores UN pleas to stop the operations.

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The Peruvian government is pushing ahead with plans to expand gas operations in a supposedly protected reserve in the Amazon despite calls by the United Nations to suspend them.

The company leading the operations, Pluspetrol, moved one step closer to proceeding with the expansion of the Camisea gas project - Peru's biggest ever energy development - following a report by the vice-ministry of inter-culturality (VMI) last week.

Pluspetrol's plans include drilling 18 wells and conducting seismic tests in an 'intangible' reserve for indigenous peoples living in 'voluntary isolation' and 'initial contact'.
The reserve is also part of the buffer zone for the Manu national park, where Unesco says the biological diversity "exceeds that of any other place on Earth."

UN special rapporteur visited in December

The VMI, Pluspetrol and the energy ministry are continuing to push ahead with the expansion plans despite recommendations made by the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, during a visit to Peru in December.

"As if the UN's special rapporteur didn't exist or hadn't made an official visit", was how Servindi, a Peruvian news website, responded to the VMI's report.
Anaya made his recommendations in a formal, 2,714 word statement read at a press conference in Lima. One recommendation was that the government perform an"exhaustive study" of the indigenous peoples in the gas project region.

Another that it "shouldn't proceed with the proposed expansion without previously and conclusively establishing that their human rights will not be violated."

"It's obvious that these groups are extremely vulnerable", Anaya said at the end of his eight day visit.

Violence can be expected

Pilar Cameno, from Peruvian NGO DAR, told the Guardian that the expansion could lead to"violent encounters" between gas project workers and indigenous peoples, "increased mortality rates", the loss of land and access to resources, and environmental contamination.

"The Peruvian state must heed the UN rapporteur's recommendations and implement them", Cameno says. "What's at stake here is the survival of the indigenous peoples in isolation and initial contact - not just as individuals, but as whole cultures."

Read more from our affiliate, Ecologist.

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