Protecting One Of The Wildest Places On Earth
The Upper Amazon Conservancy (UAC) is dedicated to protecting the biological and cultural diversity of the Amazon headwaters in southeastern Peru. UAC works with its Peruvian partner organization, ProPurús, and in close collaboration with indigenous peoples, government agencies and other NGOs to strengthen the region’s protected areas, build the capacity of its local communities and affect well-informed, sustainable public policy. The Upper Amazon Conservancy prides itself on the time it spends in the field, working hard to understand the complex cultural, ethical and social issues facing these remote areas and indigenous tribes who live there.
Peru Ignores Pope and Approves Road Construction Law
During his recent visit to the Peruvian jungle town of Puerto Maldonado, Pope Francis gave an impassioned speech in defense of indigenous rights and conservation. He warned about the impacts of corporate greed on the Amazon and its indigenous tribes, and called on the Peruvian government to respect indigenous self determination and their struggle to defend their life, land and culture. The Pope’s message was in stark contrast to Peru’s aggressive policies to open up the Amazon and indigenous lands to road construction and extractive industries. Just a few days after the Pope’s visit, Peru announced a new law promoting road construction in the Amazon headwaters as a matter of “national interest”.
Violence Highlights Dangers to Peru’s Isolated Tribes
Last month in the remote headwaters of Peru’s Alto Purús River, a young indigenous man was shot with an arrow by a member of the Mashco Piro isolated tribe. He was transported by boat and plane to the hospital in the city of Pucallpa where he is expected to make a full recovery. The attack highlights growing tensions between the Mashco Piro, Peru’s largest tribe living in voluntary isolation, and remote villagers. In many cases, tensions are exacerbated by aggressive attempts by some villages to initiate contact with the Mashco by sharing food, clothing, and other manufactured items. Misunderstandings during these encounters often lead to violence, while even peaceful contact can prove disastrous to the tribes who have no natural defenses to common illnesses.
Last week, Peru’s isolated tribes were dealt another potentially lethal blow when Peru’s congress passed a law promoting road construction in Ucayali department, home to the Mashco and other isolated and remote tribes.