Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

May25

Uncertain Future for Tia Maria

In April 2015, one person was killed and eleven others were wounded during protests against Southern Copper’s Tia Maria mine in Arequipa, Peru. The mine was suspended in 2011, after similar protests left three people dead. It was resumed in 2014, following the government’s approval of a revised environmental impact assessment.

However, the latest protests are larger than ever before, and it looks like the mine will be stopped again. Despite this, Peru’s Vice Minister of Intercultural Affairs said it won’t perform consultations with impacted communities because they’re not Indigenous, even though many in the region self identify as such.

The mine’s future is highly uncertain, even from the company’s perspective. Last month, the company said the mine would be cancelled due to the protests. It later retracted this statement, and said the mine was moving forward.

Sources: Reuters, Peru Support Group

May01

Indigenous Women Still Discriminated Against by Their Governments

This article has been reposted from Cultural Survival, originally posted March 25, 2015

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Indigenous women demand that their countries reduce the inequality gaps and improve the quality of life for Indigenous Peoples.

Racism and gender discrimination are intertwined in our societies. That is why Indigenous women represent the population that face some of the biggest hardships. This was pointed out by female leaders who are members of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA), Tuesday the 13th, at the 59th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, which ended on March 20 in New York.

“If we want to talk about inclusion and be inclusive ourselves, we have to share the stage with all differences present and develop respect between us,” recommended Tarcila Rivera Zea to the states. Rivera is the Peruvian president of CHIRAPAQ, the Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru. Rivera said that while countries should promote respect for the human rights of women, these should include the collective rights of Indigenous women in relation to their cultures and territories.

For Tania Pariona, a young leader from Peru, “there are still gaps in empowering Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.” Pariona stated that young leaders like herself are demanding to participate in any discussion board on topics that deal with “the rights of our people and the survival of our cultures.”

“Women in Latin America face great challenges to obtain even the most basic human rights. This is magnified in the case of Indigenous peoples,” reported Karmen Ramírez, a leader from the Wayuu people of Venezuela. Ramírez expresses that without educational and legal assistance programs, all other programs for the protection of Indigenous women will be ineffective. “Even if these barriers were overcome, women in our communities are stigmatized and excluded by extremely patriarchal societies,” she concluded.

The statements were made in the context of an intergenerational dialogue organized by UN Women, a United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. The space aimed to strengthen ties between young activists committed to gender equality and senior leaders of the “generation of Beijing,” who participated in the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. During the meeting, participants examined advancements and challenges from the past twenty years and the strategies and perspectives that can accelerate the achievement of gender equality by 2030.

 

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Apr17

Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership: What It Means for Indigenous Peoples

This article has been reposted from Cultural Survival, originally published April 13, 2015.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a massive, controversial free trade agreement currently under negotiation behind closed doors by officials from the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The TPP would elevate multinational corporations and private investors to equal status with sovereign nations, and therefore above individual citizens, empowering these entities to sue nations via private tribunals.  The TPP has been marked by an alarming lack of transparency and public input. The public has not been allowed to see the draft text, and the majority of information that is available is the result of leaks. Even members of Congress have been provided only limited access to the proposed agreement. US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called for increased transparency in trade negotiations for the TPP, warning that, “Without transparency, the benefit from robust democratic participation—an open marketplace of ideas—is considerably reduced.” Meanwhile, more than 600 official corporate “trade advisors” have been given special access to the draft text.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: What Does It Mean for Indigenous Peoples?

In the same vein as deals like NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, the TPP is being drafted with no input from the Indigenous Peoples who live in countries that will be affected by the deal. The TPP could have broad implications for Indigenous Peoples living in the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The secrecy of the TPP entirely disregards the concept of Free, Prior, Informed Consent, a tenant of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that policies affecting Indigenous Peoples should not move forward without the full understanding and approval of those it might affect.

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Corporate Rights over Human Rights

The agreement threatens to dramatically affect Indigenous Peoples by ramping up trade policies that have allowed for transnational corporations to engage in oil, gas, and mineral extraction without the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of their communities.  TPP policies would encourage the natural gas industry, which has already severely affected Native and First Nations communities in North America.  “The TPP would facilitate increased exports of liquefied natural gas by requiring the U.S. Department of Energy to automatically approve all natural gas exports to TPP countries. Increased exports would mean an increase in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the dirty and violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations,’’ explains the Sierra Club.  Natural gas companies have already begun encroaching otherwise off limits native lands. Uniquely affecting native women, fracking operations tend to be correlated with increased sex trafficking, rape, missing women, and influxes of drugs and alcohol into communities, in addition to its obvious environmental effects contaminating local water and air quality.

The TPP would also allow companies to evade financial responsibility for environmental contamination, even when it occurs on Indigenous Peoples lands. Under the TPP, investors would have the ability to demand taxpayer compensation for imposed fines, effectively burdening the public with the cost of environmental cleanup. According to Professor Jane Kelsey of New Zealand, the TPP draft chapter on environmental regulations fails to define its key terms, leaving vagueness that will allow for inconsistent interpretation and implementation of regulations. Nowhere in the chapter does it detail a mechanism for setting penalties for environmental offenders. It excludes resource management practices and ignores standards set by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mother Nature®

The draft article on Trade and Biodiversity recognizes the rights of states over natural resources and genetic material. This would allow for multinational corporations like Monsanto and industries like Big Pharma to benefit enormously by allowing them to exclusive rights over things like seeds and traditional plant-based medicines found in biodiverse areas managed by Indigenous communities. The agreement flagrantly ignores the United Nations’ specific mention of this in the Declaration, which states that

“Indigenous Peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop…the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora.” –Article 31

The patenting of plants that have been used traditionally by Indigenous Peoples without their consent or benefit sharing has been called bio-piracy, and would snowball given the approval of the TPP.  Indigenous activist Te Kaituhi, a Māori of Aotearoa New Zealand, exhorts us to “Imagine a world where Indigenous knowledge, language, and customs are outright owned by multinational corporations and copyright enforcement is heavily backed by government police forces.” According to Kaituhi, “The TPP won’t only affect Indigenous freehold land, nor will it just push our people further into poverty. The TPP will give multinationals the right to exploit the ecosystem and further aid them in the acquiring of enforced trademarking and copyrighting of Indigenous intellectual property and cultural or traditional knowledge;” in other words, a new form of colonization.

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Suing for lost profits

One of the most troubling aspects of the TPP is found in the draft chapter on investment deals with investor-state dispute settlement which gives corporations the right to sue a government for unlimited cash compensation — in private and non-transparent tribunals — over nearly any law or policy that a corporation alleges will reduce its profits. Kelsey notes that “the vast majority of investment arbitrations under similar agreements involve natural resources, especially mining, and have resulted in billions of dollars of damages against governments for measures designed to protect the environment from harm caused by foreign corporations.” Under the proposed TPP, the investor-state clause can be used to pressure governments into allowing the continued operation of the severely polluting industries out of fear of being sued for lost profits.  Governments around the world are already extremely reluctant to regulate industries like mining and oil, which can bring them large revenues in royalties. With the potential that States could be held financially responsible for reigning in harmful business practices, corporate profits gains an even stronger precedence over disenfranchised Indigenous Peoples living with destructive industries in their backyards.

Fast Track

Negotiators have announced that they are very close to concluding the agreement, with just a few outstanding issues remaining. However, several countries have said that they won’t present their final offers until the US Congress grants President Obama “Fast Track” Authority.

Fast track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), is a process that would rush trade deals through Congress and remove the ability of elected officials to ensure that trade pacts protect workers, communities and the environment. Fast track would allow the president to send already signed trade pacts, including the TPP, to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote with no amendments and a maximum of 20 hours debate.

Despite mounting opposition, The Obama administration is throwing its full weight behind Fast Track and the TPP.   In response, a national day of action against Fast Track  has been declared for April 18th, 2015. The national day corresponds to a global day of action to promote fair rather than free trade deals  with events spanning the globe.  Now is the time to spread the word about the detrimental effects of the deals like the TPP and advocate for something better.

Cultural Survival signed on along with over 550 organizations in sending a letter to then US Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) firmly rejecting fast track trade promotion authority in the United States and calling for a new system for negotiating and implementing trade agreements. In the letter, this diverse coalition stated that “fast track,” an outdated mechanism that would limit Congressional and public oversight over trade negotiations, is “simply not appropriate” given the broad subjects covered by today’s trade pacts, such as the TPP and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. “Fast track is the wrong track for Americans who care about the health of our families and access to clean air, clean water, and land,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “We need a new model of trade—one that protects communities and the environment while keeping the public engaged in the policy-making process.”

Communities, workers, and especially Indigenous Peoples must have a say in these deals. The fast track is the exact opposite of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent that is laid out as a human rights standard when negotiating deals that will affect Indigenous Peoples, as the TPP will in a dozen countries.

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What can you do?

  1. Get in touch with your area Representatives and Senators.
  2. Share on social media: Fast tracking the TPP ignores the rights of #Indigenous Peoples across Pacific nations. #NoFastTrack for #TPP Atn.@RonWyden .@BarackObama
  3. Learn more with Public Citizen

 

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Apr13

IADB Land Titling Project Criticized

An $80 million land titling project in Peru is being criticized for fueling deforestation and land conflicts with Indigenous Peoples. The project, which is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), will award over 700,000 individual land titles to migrant farmers, despite the prevalence of unrecognized Indigenous territories in the country. The Asociación Interétnico de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP) sent a petition to the government demanding formal consultations before the project proceeds. In response, the government and the IADB announced that they will “redesign the project and recommend that the titling of Indigenous lands is prioritized.” AIDESEP intends to file a complaint with the IADB if their grievances are not addressed.

Insecure land tenure is one of the greatest drivers of risk to corporations operating on or near Indigenous territories, but most governments’ efforts to address the issue are either dysfunctional or inconsistent with international law. Companies should use their influence with governments to promote better policies and greater allocation of resources to titling and protecting Indigenous territories.

Sources: Forest Peoples Programme

This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.

Mar30

The Cost of Ignoring Cleanup

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Occidental Petroleum and five Achuar communities in Peru have reached an out-of-court settlement in which the company agreed to compensate the communities for three decades of alleged oil contamination. The amount of the settlement is undisclosed, but both parties are reportedly satisfied. The settlement relates to Occidental’s operations in Block 1-AB from 1971 until 2000, when the concession was sold to Pluspetrol. Pluspetrol has since experienced its own tumultuous disputes with the Achuar, which escalated significantly in the past two months.

Indigenous resistance to resource extraction is often rooted in longstanding grievances with business practices that predate the emergence of corporate social responsibility. Rectifying these grievances, however old they may be, will often be a prerequisite for companies and communities to move forward with constructive relationships.

Sources: Reuters

This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.

Mar16

Defining Impact Areas

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For several weeks, hundreds of Achuar and Kichwa protesters have occupied Pluspetrol’s oil facilities in Peru to demand compensation for the company’s use of their land. Production has been suspended at fourteen wells. With oil prices at an all-time low, the costs of these delays will be especially debilitating.

The protests were triggered by the fact that Pluspetrol pays compensation to some communities in the area, but excludes others. The company says the protesters are from communities outside its impact area, and are ineligible for compensation. Impact areas are frequently defined too narrowly by companies, as Indigenous Peoples often have different conceptions of territorial boundaries, inhabiting and using large swaths of land rather than a defined space. This is why the identification of a company’s impact area requires transparent and inclusive consultation with communities.

Sources: Fox News, Telesur

This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.

Feb23

Indigenous Peoples Excluded from UN Climate Change Conference

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Among many criticisms of the twentieth UN Climate Change Conference, which convened in Peru in December 2014, is the omission of Indigenous Peoples’ rights from the outcome document, despite the fact that 1) Indigenous Peoples are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and 2) Indigenous traditional knowledge offers valuable solutions to climate change that may be lost if it continues to be ignored by policymakers. An Indigenous Peoples’ caucus presented a series of proposals to the negotiators, including recognition and respect for land rights, the creation of a climate fund for Indigenous Peoples, and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent for climate related projects. None of these proposals were accepted.

As the impacts of climate change become more apparent, the private sector will undoubtedly be expected to play a greater role in mitigation. It would be more effective—and probably cheaper—for companies to accomplish this by supporting Indigenous Peoples’ rights and lifestyles, rather than perpetuating the sequence of failed commitments and botched programs from governments.

Sources: Indian Country Today, HuffingtonPost

Christiana Figueres (L), executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) addresses the opening meeting of the plenary session. [photo credit: Xinhua News Agency/REX]

Christiana Figueres (L), executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) addresses the opening meeting of the plenary session. [photo credit: Xinhua News Agency/REX]

This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.

Nov10

PRESS RELEASE: The Indigenous Rights Risk Report

PRESS RELEASE
November 10, 2014
Contact: Katie Cheney, communications@firstpeoples.org
www.firstpeoples.org

 

The Indigenous Rights Risk Report: How Violating Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Increases Industry Risks

New report finds that US extractive companies expose shareholders to risks by neglecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – On November 10, First Peoples Worldwide released the Indigenous Rights Risk Report at the SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing, a product of two years of consultations with investment analysts, industry professionals, and Indigenous Peoples. The report analyzes 52 U.S. oil, gas, and mining companies with projects operating on or near Indigenous territories around the globe, impacting some 150 Indigenous communities. These projects were assessed against five indicators (Country Risk, Reputation Risk, Community Risk, Legal Risk, and Risk Management) to determine their risk of Indigenous community opposition or violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The report found that most of the U.S. extractive companies analyzed are poorly positioned to manage the risks they face when working on Indigenous lands. Furthermore, the Report shows that poor governance and negligible policies for Indigenous peoples in host countries is bad for business. Nearly 60% of all projects operating in high-risk countries were rated as high risks themselves. You can read the full report athttp://firstpeoples.org/indigenous-rights-risk-report.

When analyzing risks associated with the operating country, companies’ reputation, the engaged Indigenous community, legal action, and risk management, the report found that 35% of the 330 projects assessed had high risk exposure, and 54% had medium risk exposure. Despite these risks, the vast majority of companies and projects are exhibiting suboptimal efforts to establish positive relations with Indigenous communities, and 92% of the companies assessed do not address community relations or human rights at their board level in any formal capacity. Companies with high risk scores at 100% of their projects on or near Indigenous territories were Alpha Natural Resources, Kosmos Energy, Southwestern Energy, and Whiting Petroleum. Other companies with high risk scores at 50% or more of their projects on or near Indigenous territories were Anadarko Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Continental Resources, Murphy Oil, Royal Gold, SM Energy, Southern Copper, and WPX Energy. A searchable database of the 330 oil, gas, and mining projects assessed under the new methodology is available on First Peoples’ website athttp://firstpeoples.org/wp/.

FPW also analyzed risks associated with Indigenous recognition by host governments, land rights, and community consultation, demonstrating how resource-rich countries’ negligible or non-existent policies towards Indigenous peoples affect the companies that work within their borders. This is becoming increasingly evident in Canada, Indonesia, Ecuador, Peru, and other emerging resource economies. In 2013, a consortium of Canadian leaders (including industry representatives) warned that Canada is “heading for a gridlock in energy development that will rob the country of future wealth unless it can solve vexing environmental and Aboriginal conflicts.” Indonesia has become saturated with violent resource conflicts, with more than 2,230 Indigenous communities requesting investigations into violations of their land rights. Also in 2013, auctions for oil and gas concessions in Ecuador and Peru encountered both vehement opposition from Indigenous Peoples and “underwhelming” interest from companies – raising speculations that the Indigenous protests influenced companies’ decisions. Poor governance is bad for business – governments that disregard Indigenous rights are propagating volatile business environments that threaten the viability of investments in their countries.

Not only are Indigenous voices becoming louder, the media spotlight on Indigenous Peoples and resource extraction is shining brighter: 126 projects were exposed to negative attention from the media in 2014. Legal risks are also becoming more prominent, as legal protections for Indigenous Peoples’ rights around the world continue to strengthen. Indigenous community opposition is an especially perilous investment risk because Indigenous Peoples have the international legal framework for Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) – the right for a community to give or withhold consent to projects that may affect their lands. Over the past several decades, Indigenous Peoples have secured unprecedented recognition of their rights from governments, but these impressive legal gains are matched with chronic gaps in implementation, especially as they relate to resource extraction. Using market forces to financially incentivize business practices that respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights – including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent – presents opportunities for communities to exert powerful leverage over corporations operating on or near their lands.

First Peoples Worldwide is an Indigenous-led organization that builds upon a foundation of Indigenous values and rights to achieve a sustainable future for all. Our Keepers of the Earth Fund provides grants directly to Indigenous-led development projects. Since 2007, we’ve given $1.7 million in grants to hundreds of Indigenous communities across 58 countries. Our corporate engagement program makes the business case for respecting and upholding Indigenous Peoples’ rights through vigilant monitoring of corporate practices, affecting policy change, and advocating best practices in Indigenous community engagement.

View the full report online at http://firstpeoples.org/indigenous-rights-risk-report.

Contact Katie Cheney at First Peoples Worldwide for media inquiries at (713) 560-6378 orcommunications@firstpeoples.org

Learn more about First Peoples Worldwide at www.firstpeoples.org.

 

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Nov07

Maintaining the Ways of Our Ancestors: Indigenous Women Address Food Sovereignty

In honor of The Great Native Eats Challenge this November, this Cultural Survival article is re-posted from December 2013.

Photo Credit: Cultural Survival

Photo Credit: Cultural Survival

“Food sovereignty is knowing the species we have on our lands, knowing what kind of seeds to plant in each territory.” These are the words of Clemencia Herrera from the Colombian Amazon, a participant in the working group on food sovereignty at the recently concluded World Conference on Indigenous Women. From establishing schools to educate Indigenous youth about traditional foodways to building greenhouses in the Arctic and east Africa, no shortage of proposed solutions emerged from the conference on the issue of food sovereignty—the ability of a people to produce their own food independent of outside markets.

As introduced by Indigenous leader Andrea Carmen (Yaqui, United States), executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council, food sovereignty is a concept that Indigenous Peoples have developed as a key component of their right to control how their lands and territories are used. Article 1 of Common, International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states, “In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.” Yet, that is exactly what is happening: governments and companies the world over are seizing Indigenous Peoples’ lands without their consent, introducing genetically modified seeds to replace highly adapted heirloom seeds, and forcing dependence on a globalized food economy. Moreover, climate change is altering the environments in which Indigenous peoples live, rendering inhospitable the habitats of the plants and animals on which they depend for food.

Although the problem of diminished food sovereignty and food insecurity is one that affects all people, not just Indigenous communities, Indigenous Peoples are uniquely situated to offer solutions. Armed with ancient traditional knowledge and a deep connection to the their lands, Indigenous communities, and particularly Indigenous women, are developing projects and building networks to revitalize local food capacity and strengthen food sovereignty.

 

Food security vs. Food sovereignty
Cecilia Brito, president of the Coordinating Association of Indigenous Women of the Amazon, explains how the eating practices of her community have changed. “In the old days, we Indigenous Peoples enjoyed unlimited territory for all. There was no hunger or contamination. We had our lands, our forests, our rivers . . . all with plenty of species.” Her people produced or hunted their own food, but now, she says, they hunt animals, sell them in the market, and use that money to buy food from outside, a cycle that she sees as self-defeating,  especially considering the high levels of malnutrition that she and other women are seeing in their communities.

The same is happening in the Arctic. Another conference attendee, Linda Arsenault-Papatsie (Pauuktuutit), executive assistant at Pauktuutit, whose people depend heavily on hunting and fishing, said that last winter their caribou herds did not arrive because climate change had altered their migratory routes. Thus, the men in the community are no longer hunting and women are turning to paid work to provide income to buy food, almost all of which is imported. And in the Andes, alpaca are no longer arriving to drink the water they always have, so communities are losing their best source of meat and forced to turn to pesticide-ridden imported products.

Maria Ponce, a representative of Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, clarifies that food security and food sovereignty are not the same thing. Her people are full, she said, but on potatoes, yucca, and other carbohydrates. Whereas her community used to be able to call the forest their market, they no longer have access to protein and other vital nutrients. They may be food secure—that is, they have enough food—but not the right food.

 

Biodiversity and Free Trade
“Transnational corporations have negative social, economic, and cultural impacts,” including among them destruction of food sovereignty, Brito said, because “the State supports a neoliberal policy to which we are not well adapted.” Neoliberal, capitalist policy was a theme running through the presentations of the many Indigenous women in the food sovereignty working group. The issue is not, as defenders of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides would have us believe, that Indigenous peoples cannot feed themselves. Clelia Rivero, a Quechua from Peru, faults free trade agreements, under which the best domestically produced foods are exported to other countries and Peruvians are left with lower quality foods.

The loss of biodiversity, changing migration patterns, atypical rainfall, and other effects of climate change, along with the false lure of pesticides and “improved” seeds, are causing traditional foods to be supplanted by imported, less nourishing foods. And as Indigenous Peoples stop producing their own food in traditional ways, the passing down of ancient knowledge to their children is lost, seeding a vicious cycle resulting in the loss of traditions developed over thousands of years to care for the Earth and produce from it nutritious foods.

 

Finding Solutions
Recommendations to address these problems are plentiful, although as many women recognize, implementation is a long process. Ilaria Cruz, a Guaraní from Paraguay, proposed establishing agro-ecological schools to prepare Indigenous youth for the task of maintaining food sovereignty. She said that in her community, Indigenous organizations are saving seeds and engaging in seed exchanges where they share successful seeds and maintain them by continuing to plant them. Alice Lesepen, a Maasai from Kenya, described how
the women in her community have sought assistance from the government to address an inability to access water for growing food. They began planting greens and vegetables at the household level; when climate change altered rain patterns, they consulted the government and now have a greenhouse in which they can grow food in less time, with less water.

The Maasai women’s self-determination is allowing them to confront the issues of food sovereignty and develop solutions. They need to learn how to use irrigation systems and access markets but, Lesepen says, “I am sure we are able to produce a lot.” In similar fashion, Brito and her community are implementing a project to teach families to produce food at the household level and to bring in a small income. Her organization offers workshops to gather traditional knowledge about native foods and to teach people to produce their own food again based on the wisdom of their ancestors, creating “cooperation between the past and the present.”

Indigenous women are especially important to the fight for food sovereignty. As Brito explains, “The special role of the Indigenous woman is to maintain the ways of our ancestors. [We fulfill] the important role of preserving our cultures. We produce and reproduce. For the most part, women are in our homes each day with our children, with our family, while the men go out. The woman is the one who most works the earth. As women we hold an important role as protagonists in moving forward.”

All of the Indigenous women who spoke at the conference emphasized working toward food sovereignty, acknowledging that the encouragement of their families and communities to do so largely falls to them. Brito’s organization is working to change this paradigm by encouraging couples and their children to produce food for their families together. As she says, they do this work “to preserve, to continue holding onto that which is ours.”

 

Cultural Survival helps Indigenous Peoples around the world defend their lands, languages, and cultures as they deal with issues like the one you’ve just read about.

Aug25

Intimidation is Ineffective

In 2009, more than 2,000 Aguaruna and Wampi Indians protested a Peruvian law that allowed mining companies to enter their territories without consent. The protests turned violent, resulting in 33 deaths (23 police officers and 10 civilians) and 200 injuries. Five years later, 400 of the protesters are being prosecuted for their alleged role in the police officers’ deaths, and for disrupting the operations of mining companies. Yet no charges have been brought against police officers, due to laws that exempt them “from criminal responsibility if they cause injury or death…while on duty.” Human rights groups are concerned that this gives police officers a “license to kill” citizens demonstrations against mining, without repercussions.

Peru appears to be employing intimidation tactics to quell the social unrest that has ravaged many foreign investments in the country. This will only make it easier for activists to associate companies with human rights violations committed by the state, while aggravating the severity of communities’ grievances. The only tangible solution to Peru’s natural resource struggles lies in policies that prioritize and listen to the needs of communities.

Sources: The Independent