Organizations once again demonstrate against roads that cut through indigenous territories on the border between AC and Peru: ‘Undue occupation’ | Acre

Organizations once again demonstrate against roads that cut through indigenous territories on the border between AC and Peru: ‘Undue occupation’ | Acre
Organizations once again demonstrate against roads that cut through indigenous territories on the border between AC and Peru: ‘Undue occupation’ | Acre
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1 of 5 Indigenous people have already released a dossier with studies on the impacts of construction on the population that lives there — Photo: Associação Apiwtxa
Indigenous people have already released a dossier with studies on the impacts of construction on the population that lives there — Photo: Associação Apiwtxa

Organizations demonstrated again against roads that cut through indigenous territories on the border between Acre and Peru, which they consider a threat to the integrity of the communities that inhabit these regions. In a document released after a meeting of the Yurúa/Alto Tamaya/Alto Juruá Cross-Border Commission Between the 10th and 14th of March, the groups took a stand against the crossings between Nueva Itália and Puerto Breu, and another between Cruzeiro do Sul and Pucallpa.

The commission was created in November 2021 and articulates mobilization among indigenous peoples in the regions affected by the constructions to attract the attention of authorities in both countries. In the published text, the groups state that the opening of roads in these regions constitutes undue occupation.

That year, the organizations denounced, through a dossier, the illegal opening of the section of the UC-105 road that goes from Nueva Italia to Puerto Breu, in Peru, by logging companies and other groups. The dossier also exposes a series of official documents, maps and statements from leaders, which show the risk that this project represents for indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the region. Currently, according to the commission, a bill is being processed in the Peruvian congress to make paving the road a national interest.

Images show the advance of deforestation on the border of Acre and Peru — Photo: Personal archive

In November 2019, work began with the opening of a trail of around 90 kilometers to the Peruvian municipality of Pucallpa. At the time, according to the Secretariat of Infrastructure and Urban Development (Seinfra), the action was to open the trail and survey the stretch that goes from the end of the Ramal do Feijão Insosso, in Mâncio Lima, to Rio Azul. In June 2023, a decision by the Federal Court suspended the works.

2 of 5 Indigenous people from Vale do Juruá criticize proposal to build roads in the region — Photo: Arison Jardim/Assessoria Opirj
Indigenous people from Vale do Juruá criticize proposal to build roads in the region — Photo: Arison Jardim/Assessoria Opirj

Both constructions are defended by parliamentarians from both countries, under the argument of economic development. Indigenous organizations highlight the association of these roads with timber smuggling and drug trafficking, factors that, when combined, can be harmful to the populations of these locations.

“Historically, legal and illegal logging, drug trafficking, the construction of roads and branches, are among the main problems faced. At this meeting, we discussed the negative impacts of road construction and forest concessions in Peru, which affect both sides of the border”, highlights the document.

3 of 5 Indigenous people believe that construction threatens the region — Photo: Arison Jardim/Assessoria Opirj
Indigenous people believe that construction threatens the region — Photo: Arison Jardim/Assessoria Opirj

The dossier highlights that UC-105 cuts through river sources and streams, indigenous territories and conservation areas; and affects more than 30 indigenous and traditional communities in the region. Furthermore, it will pass 20 km from the Murunahua Indigenous Reserve, where isolated and recently contacted indigenous peoples live.

The organizations also claim that indigenous peoples were not heard or consulted about the environmental and cultural impacts of these roads, and call for greater dialogue.

“We point out that the construction of roads, legal and illegal, leads to undue occupation of non-indigenous people in the region and generates negative environmental and social impacts, such as: the weakening of food security (due to deforestation, illegal hunting and fishing, contamination of rivers) ; increased supply of drugs and alcoholic beverages; co-option and exploitation of young indigenous labor for drug trafficking; serious losses of the mother tongue; territorial invasions; weakening the physical security of communities and leaders who are constantly threatened”, he argues.

4 of 5 Invasions by loggers have already been recorded in the Sawawo Indigenous Community, which fears that cases will increase — Photo: Sawawo Indigenous Community
Invasions by loggers have already been recorded in the Sawawo Indigenous Community, which fears that cases will increase — Photo: Sawawo Indigenous Community

Finally, the document presents a series of demands, including the organizations’ questions regarding the opening of these roads and their possible effects. Additionally, the groups also ask for:

  • Guarantee inspection and security forces in the territories
  • Environmental studies by the Peruvian government
  • Bill filing of the Peruvian Congress that intends to declare the national interest in paving the UC-105 road
  • Respect to the Climate Priorities of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)

To once again draw the attention of the Peruvian and Brazilian authorities, eleven indigenous organizations, one of which is Aldeia Apiwtxa, located in Marechal Thaumaturgo, produced another document warning of the invasion of land grabbers in the border region of Acre and Peru. In the document, they once again talk about the invasion of land grabbers who threaten not only indigenous lands, but also facilitate the advancement of drug trafficking across the border.

“The threats we face are enormous, but drug trafficking, illegal roads, loggers, illegal mining and land grabbing, all protected by state corruption, continue to destroy our territories and forests. They have been assassinating our leaders for years without being punished for their crimes and many of our leaders continue to be threatened by those who want to appropriate our lands and natural resources. Despite our complaints and the knowledge of the State Justice bodies, the culprits are not being punished”, highlights the manifesto.

Acre leaders reported that more than 2,300 indigenous people are expected to be affected, as the road is expected to affect all river headwaters and, consequently, all indigenous lands of Marechal Thaumaturgo. At the time, several documents, including a dossier with video and photo materials, were filed with Brazilian and Peruvian bodies.

“We demand that the competent authorities of Brazil and Peru comply with their obligation to protect borders, the rights of indigenous peoples and the environment. In Brazil, a greater presence of State authorities and greater action in defense of everyone who lives within the country’s borders is necessary. In Peru, we demand that the State monitor, sanction and act on local and regional authorities, who constantly violate the rights of the indigenous population”, he suggests.

5 of 5 The Apiwtxa International Congress – Threats, Protection and Development on the Amazon Frontier, took place between the 16th and 19th of November — Photo: Associação Apiwtxa
The Apiwtxa International Congress – Threats, Protection and Development on the Amazon Frontier, took place between the 16th and 19th of November — Photo: Associação Apiwtxa

Regarding the illegal road already opened near the city of Marechal Thaumaturgo, the indigenous people ask that they be closed.

“We strongly reject that states and companies make decisions about our territories without prior consultation and prior, free and informed consent, guaranteed by law, as well as other infrastructure and mineral extraction projects that affect us and endanger our existence, such as the case of the Masisea – Alto Tamaya Highway and the Pucallpa – Cruzeiro do Sul Road”, he points out.

The associations conclude the manifesto by highlighting that they are the owners of the land and that they work together to maintain the preservation of the environment, in addition to defending their territories.

“We, indigenous people, reaffirm that we were never discovered. We are the ancestral owners of our lands, which have been stolen and destroyed by invaders, extractive companies and mafias of all types. We, indigenous people, know that it is possible to make each place the best place in the world to live, that is why we take care of our forest, our home and generate pure air, clean water, biodiversity, wisdom and culture for our countries and for the world. Our people believe in life”, highlights the document.

g1 contacted the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and is awaiting feedback.

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Organizations demonstrate roads cut indigenous territories border Peru Undue occupation Acre

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