Friday, September 28, 2007

InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights to Hold Hearing on Isolated Peoples in Peru

On August 7, 2007, the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States adopted Precautionary Measure 102-07 requiring the Peruvian government to provide information about its efforts to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact that inhabit the Nahua, Kugapakori, and Nanti Territorial Reserve, affected by the Camisea Project. The IACHR called on Peru to provide information about the activities occurring in Block 88 and their possible impact on the life, personal integrity, health, environment, and culture of the communities within the Territorial Reserve. It also asked the Peruvian government to describe the actions taken to comply with the recommendations of the Reports # 101 and 103 of Peru's Defensoría del Pueblo (ombudsperson's office).

The precautionary measures stem from a petition by AIDESEP for the IACHR to intervene to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples in the Nahua, Kugapakori, and Nanti Territorial Reserve as well as the proposed Napo-Tigre Territorial Reserve in Loreto.

A hearing regarding these measures is scheduled for October 12, 2007 at the IACHR in Washington.
Servindi post (in Spanish)

New Report Finds Camisea Fails IDB and IFC Standards

The September 2007 report, Holding the IDB and IFC to account on Camisea II, is available for download from Amazon Watch. The report, by anthropologist, Tom Griffiths, highlights some of the major environmental and social problems of Camisea I and II and concludes that the Camisea consortium's community engagement in Block 56 has violated international standards on protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and fails to the meet the performance standards of the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), both of which currently considering financing Camisea II.

Among the problems with Camisea II outlined in the report are:
1) A flawed and deficient Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for operations in Block 56.
2) A community consultation process on the Block 56 EIA that threatened confused and dissatisfied communities into signing their approval.
3) Evidence that prior consent and prior consultation rights were not fully respected by the Ministry of Energy and Mines and Perupetro when it sold exploitation rights to Block 56, questioning the legality of the sale.
4) Failure to address potential impacts of Block 56 exploration and development on isolated indigenous peoples.

The report states that the IDB must delay its decision on financing Camisea II until it first addressed project non-compliance issues with respect to its financing of Camisea I and ensure that ascertain that the project fully complies with IDB policies, including protections for indigenous peoples’ established under ILO Convention 169 and the Inter-American human rights system.

It urges the IFC to include the “associated facilities” of Blocks 56 and 88 in its due diligence; conduct its own social and environmental audit as required under its Performance Standards; and ensure public consultation in Peru and internationally before proceeding with the project.

This is a very good document, in particular for understanding how indigenous communities were railroaded into signing off on the Block 56 EIA in early 2005. Good work, Tom.

Community Members Sickened by Gas in Lower Urubamba

On September 10th the native community Chocoriari and the Tupac Amaru colonist settlement reported cases of community members being sickened by a supposed gas escape at km 12.100 of the Camisea pipeline. Four people were stricken with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and three were taken away for medical attention. Community members claim that this was cased by a new pipeline spill. TGP responded saying that it was caused by a normal release of one of the pipeline valves. Rafael Guarderas, TGP's Manager of Institutional Relations, instilled confidence with the statement, "It is a small balloon of gas and the valve is several kilometers away. There is a family within 300 meters, but the rest is desolate jungle."
More in Andina and CPN Radio Peru.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Department of Propaganda: Energy Project Saves Rainforest

Earlier this month, the Latin Business Chronicle published an article titled, Peru Energy Project Saves Rainforest, which credits the Camisea Project with saving 1.5 million hectares of Peruvian rainforest. The article, written by the InterAmerican Development Bank's Roger Hamilton, is reprinted from the IDB's own IDBAmerica magazine. In the article, a wide-eyed development-bureaucrat-turned-rainforest-explorer, IDB's Joseph Milewski, points to a map made by CEDIA (Center for Development of Indigenous Amazonians) showing the extensive network of reserves, protected areas, and indigenous territories that CEDIA, the local communities, and other non-governmental organizations fought for years to establish - and takes credit for it all.

The inaccuracies of this article could be written off as lousy journalism if they were not so offensive to the many dedicated people who have literally protested the IDB and the Camisea companies in order to get any protection whatsoever for the Amazon.

Hamilton writes:
Today, largely as the result of Camisea, vast areas have been designated as parks and reserves, giving the indigenous peoples of the Lower Urubamba an unprecedented guarantee that they will be able to make their own decisions on how to safeguard their environment and protect their cultural identity in the years to come.
...a large number of indigenous communities occupy land that has been demarcated and titled, most of which lies along the Urubamba River and its tributaries. Along the river’s main stem, patches of land belong to settlers who also have been granted titles.

In fact, the project has titled a whopping total of zero indigenous territories along the Urubamba River and its tributaries. All of the titling of indigenous communities was done long before the presence of the Camisea consortia and the IDB and was carried out by groups like CEDIA and Comaru with support from Oxfam America and others.

The closest the project has gotten to titling indigenous communities in the region was commissioning a diagnostic study (in which CEDIA participated) of the land tenure along the pipeline route. This was in part because some 150 former TGP workers had invaded the territory of indigenous peoples in the Mantalo River watershed. That study identified at least seven indigenous communities in the Upper Urubamba that needed titling as well as thousands of individual campesino titles that needed to be formalized. So far, 80% of the campesino lands have been addressed, while not a single indigenous community has been titled.

All of the protected areas that the article credits the project with creating: Otishi National Park, the Machiguegna and Ashaninka Communal Reserves, and the Machiguenga Sanctuary, were planned and delineated long before the project. The IDB did give a $5 million institutional strengthening loan to the Peruvian government prior to project financing, but the agency created with this money, the GTCI (Grupo Técnico de Coordinación Interinstitucional), only paid for two consultation workshops during the process of declaring the protected areas. All of the technical work of georeferencing, scientific research, and biological inventories were carried out by NGO's including CEDIA and the Chicago Field Musuem, which together invested 30 times the amount that the IDB contributed to the process.

Hamilton also mentions the Nahua Kugapakori Nanti Reserve for indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation and claims that the IDB gave it a "solid legal standing and a real measure of protection." In fact, indigenous organizations and activities have long criticized the IDB for financing a project working in this reserve (created in 1990) because of the risk it poses to the lives of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. To assuage critics, the IDB and the Toledo administration quietly passed new legislation in 2005, changing jurisdiction of the reserve (which already existed) and declaring the indigenous residents as wards of the state. Today, the project is in the process of drilling dozens of wells in the Reserve, illegal logging continues unabated, and most of the recently contacted residents are concentrated in settlements along the Camisea River, confined by the project to hunt, gather, and fish in a much reduced territory.

Sadly, the IDB's $5 million investment in the Peruvian government has left virtually nothing to show for itself except for a handful of workshops, weighty "diagnostic" documents, and a shiny, well-outfitted GTCI office in the basement of the Ministry of Energy and Mines. It is no wonder then that their publicists have to instead take credit for the years of struggle and hard work of local communities and organizations. Meanwhile, the project continues to cause damage to the Amazon, its protected areas, and indigenous communities.

Thanks to Lelis Rivera for his comments.
Photo: Ian Gary

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Cusco Plans New Roads into the Lower Urubamba, Manu National Park

One of the more frightening side-effects of Camisea is the incursion of new roads into the Lower Urubamba. With the Department of Cusco flush with cash from gas royalties, restricted to investment only in infrastructure, planners are doing what they know best - build roads. And some of those roads will soon open up extremely remote parts of the Amazon, threatening indigenous territories and protected areas with encroachment from settlers and illegal logging.

Until now, the lower Urubamba River watershed has remained relatively protected from these threats because there are no roads into the region and the difficult rapids of the Pongo de Mainique discourage most river traffic. However, this is all changing as roads on both margins of the Urubamba River upstream of the Pongo are pushing closer and closer to the Machiguenga Sanctuary, a protected area established to preserve an area of immense cultural and biological value.

Peru's Ministry of Transportation and Communication recently published a map on its website that shows projects planned in for 2007 in the Department of Cusco. Included in this map is are roads labeled as "en proyecto" (in project) that cut into the Amazon (shown as dashed gray lines on the map). One road passes through the Machiguenga Sanctuary, bypassing the Pongo de Mainique, and then follows the Urubamba River downstream through Machiguenga communities, before turning west through the community of Nuevo Mundo and off through the Machiguenga Communal Reserve and Otishi National Park. Another planned road heads up along the Camisea River where it leaves Machiguenga communities and enters the Nahua-Kugapakori Territorial Reserve for Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation and then proceeds on to Manú National Park.

These roads pose a tremendous risk to the lives of the Machiguenga as well as the Nahua, Nanti, and Kirineri peoples who live without contact with outsiders. They will also give loggers and ranchers access to some of the most important natural heritage in the Peruvian Amazon.
(Thanks to LB for this information.)