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Congressional Commission Rules Against Purús Highway

March 2017

Peru’s Congressional Commission of Andean, Amazonian, and Afro-Peruvians on Environment & Ecology has ruled against the proposed Puerto Esperanza—Iñapari Highway. While the Commission agreed that sustainable development in the Purús region should be “of national interest'”, it  outright rejected the proposal to construct a highway to connect the region with the rest of Peru, citing the need to respect the rights of indigenous peoples living in isolation as well as the importance of protecting the Alto Purús National Park. The highway would have crossed the Park and a protected reserve for Mashco-Piro tribespeople living in isolation.

Citizens of the Purús region, of which 80% are indigenous, have demonstrated against the highway by all means necessary; producing reports and holding meetings sharply criticizing the project, and organizing demonstrations and protests, as seen in the image below. This denunciation of the highway is yet another example of collective, indigenous-based rejections of Bill N˚ 075-2016-CR pending in Congress. The Bill contains several proposals to improve the standard of living in the Purús, including the highway.  In addition to rejecting the highway component, the Commission recommended further development of a transit route through Brazil via river and existing roads. Indigenous federations representing the region’s tribes  support this multi-modal transportation route, while calling for complete removal of the highway from the bill.  They argue that a road would endanger isolated tribes, impact the fragile ecosystems, and introduce a whole host of threats to the Purús, including logging, land grabs, and commercial agriculture.