On September 14, Peru’s Congress held a roundtable meeting organized by congresswoman Veronika Mendoza Frisch and the indigenous association AIDESEP. The objective of the meeting was to debate the social, legal, economic and environmental impacts of a Bill proposing the construction of a terrestrial connection, either a road or train, between the towns of Puerto Esperanza, capital al the Purús, and Iñapari, in Madre de Dios department. Special attention was given to impacts to the region’s tribes in voluntary isolation.
The meeting was attended by the Bill’s author, congressman Carlos Tubino; Quijandría Gabriel, Vice-Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources for the Ministry of Environment; Ivan Lanegra, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Intercultural Affairs for the Ministry of Culture; Félix Denegri, Director of Border Integration and Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Carmen Ferreyros, Office of Planning and Budget of the Ministry of Transport and Communications; Arsenio Calle, Chief of the Alto Purús National Park; and several indigenous representatives from the Purús.
The meeting began with a presentation by Dr. David Salisbury from the University of Richmond and UAC board member, who detailed the serious negative impacts of a road or railroad though such a sensitive and valuable mosaic of indigenous territories and protected areas on both sides of the Peru-Brazil border. He presented the results of a study conducted with student George Appling in the University of Richmond’s Spatial Analysis Laboratory using border data to map the potential impacts to the region.
The representatives from the government ministries and the Purús indigenous communities unanimously expressed concern about the Bill and rejected Turbino’s argument that the land connection between Purús and Iñapari is a matter of critical interest national. Despite vehement opposition to his proposal, congressman Tubino defended his Bill to construct a road or railroad through one of the most remote and best preserved areas on the planet with exceptional biological and cultural diversity.
More information on the event is available on the following websites: