Independent verification of the Guyana-Norway MoU on Low Carbon Development finds failures to meet commitments on indigenous peoples' rights and insufficient processes for consultation and FPIC

Between 1 October 2010 - 30 June 2012 the Rainforest Alliance carried out a second verification audit of progress related to indicators for the Guyana-Norway REDD+ Agreement. Their final report, which includes extracts from the Wapichan's territorial management plan on FPIC, can be viewed here

Indigenous organisations oppose Camisea expansion as Peru postpones decision to create new concession

On 2 November four Peruvian indigenous organisations issued a statement opposing recently-approved plans to expand operations in the Camisea gas fields[1] in the south-east of the country which would threaten the ‘physical and cultural survival’ of indigenous peoples in ‘voluntary isolation’ and initial contact. This expansion is scheduled to take place within the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve for isolated peoples which is supposed to be off-limits to extractive industries. However, earlier this year an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the first phase of expansion was approved by Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, despite being challenged by the government’s indigenous affairs department , INDEPA, and questioned by indigenous organisations.

GUEST ARTICLE from Unión Verapacense de Organizaciones Campesinas (UVOC), Guatemala: Land conflicts and the struggle for rights in Guatemala

In common with many other countries in Latin America, Guatemala suffers from a highly unequal “bimodal” distribution of land. More than half of the land in the country is covered by private land estates owned by either families and individuals or by mining, logging, agribusiness and plantation companies. In contrast, smallholdings amount to one fifth of the land area and are occupied by peasants and small farmers who make up 80% of the population. Indigenous peoples are the customary owners of land throughout the country, but in many cases do not have legal demarcation nor titles to their ancestral territories. Despite promises to recognise indigenous peoples’ and peasant farmers’ land rights, made in the 1996 Peace Accords and in stagnant proposals for agrarian reforms, little has been done to secure the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.[i]

FPP E-Newsletter December 2012 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

The importance of ensuring respect for the rights of forest peoples’ to control their forests, lands and livelihoods, becomes ever clearer and yet more contested. As the articles in this edition of our newsletter starkly reveal, land and resource grabs are not just being imposed by commercial developers but are being actively promoted by governments, whose principle responsibility should be to protect the rights of citizens. Yet these same impositions are also being resisted, sometimes at great personal cost, by local communities and indigenous peoples.

Amazon highway between Peru and Brazil rejected by indigenous peoples’ organisations in Peru

A collective of indigenous organisations and local NGOs in Ucayali province in Peru have rejected Peruvian government plans to construct a highway between Peru and Brazil. The organisations highlight that the road would have major and irreversible effects on the area that includes indigenous peoples’ customary lands that remain unrecognised, the Isconahua reserve for isolated peoples and the Sierra del Divisor natural protected area. Despite this, the organisations point out that the Peruvian government has failed to comply with its own laws requiring prior consultation with affected peoples and violated obligations to uphold indigenous peoples' rights under international treaties ratified by the country. The collective of organisations is now calling on the Peruvian government to declare the project unviable.

Venezuelan Yanomami in conflict with illegal miners

In August, news broke of an alleged massacre of Yanomami people in the remote Upper Ocamo river. The news had filtered down to mission stations among the Yanomami in the Parima grasslands further south and was then broadcast by the Yanomami organisation, Horonami, and other indigenous organisations in the Venezuelan State of Amazonas.

The return of fortress conservation: REDD and the green land grab in the Peruvian Amazon

I remember when the park guards first came to our village. They called a meeting and said ‘get your things together and pack your bags, don’t make any new farms and we will see where you can be resettled’.  

These are the words of Miguel Ishwiza Sangama, former headman of the village of Nuevo Lamas, a small Kichwa indigenous community in Northern Peru as he remembers the moment in 2007 when officials of the Cerro Escalera Regional Conservation Area first attempted to resettle his community. In the following years, Park authorities persisted with these efforts but when the community remained resistant the Park authorities resorted to restricting community access to the forest for hunting and gathering and prohibiting their traditional system of rotational agriculture. In 2010, charges were brought against three members of the community for practicing their rotational agriculture.

Yanomami in Venezuela reiterate call for investigation of abuses by miners

On 25th September, the Venezuelan Yanomami through their national organisation, Horonami, reiterated their call for a calm, detailed and participatory investigation into possible violent acts and abuses by illegal Brazilian miners in the Upper Ocamo river in the headwaters of the Orinoco. Although allegations of a serious massacre of Yanomami have now been dropped, the Yanomami reject statements that 'all is well' in the region.

UNESCO will urge Peruvian government to reconsider Camisea gas expansion plans that threaten the rights of isolated indigenous peoples and the integrity of Manu National Park

Five Indigenous People’s organisations (AIDESEP, FENAMAD, ORAU, COMARU and ORPIO) have written a letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs for food, adequate shelter and on the rights of indigenous peoples requesting that they urge the Peruvian government to cancel its imminent plans to expand oil and gas development within the Territorial Reserve in favour of the Kugapakori, Nahua, Nanti and other ethnic groups in voluntary isolation or initial contact in South Ea

Venezuela: piqued by international criticism of its tardy response to the alleged massacre of Yanomami Indians by illegal miners, the Government has withdrawn from the American Convention on Human Rights

On 5th September 2012, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organisation of American States issued a press release in which it urged the Venezuelan Government to carry out an investigation in the Upper Ocamo village of Irotatheri where the alleged massacre of as many as 80 people is supposed to have taken place. On 10th September 2012, the IACHR issued a further press statement noting that Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had officially 'denounced' the Convention. However, as the IACHR notes, withdrawal from the Convention requires one year's notice and moreover:  

Shipibo communities in the Peruvian Amazon reject implementation of the Imiria Conservation Area for violation of their rights as indigenous peoples

Representatives of 12 Shipibo indigenous communities and neighbouring villages from the Imiria lake region in Ucayali, Peru have expressed their opposition to the Imiria Regional Conservation Area (RCA-Imiria), a protected area established by the Regional government of Ucayali. The RCA-Imiria was created in 2010 but the communities denounce the fact that it overlaps their traditional territory including the titled lands of seven communities.

Venezuela: Indigenous organizations denounce another serious massacre of indigenous Yanomami by illegal Brazilian miners

Following a recent investigation carried out by the indigenous organization, Horonami, other indigenous organizations in the Venezuelan State of Amazonas have issued a joint statement denouncing a massacre of Yanomami indigenous people in the headwaters of the Ocamo river in the Upper Orinoco. The massacre is alleged to have been perpetrated by Brazilian miners who illegally crossed the border into this remote, forested, upland area.

Venezuela: Indigenous organizations denounce cuts in land demarcations in Amazonas, 6 August 2012

Government moves to cut the Hoti people's lands in the Venezuelan State of Amazonas by 42% have been denounced by all the main indigenous peoples' organizations. The Hoti were only brought into sustained contact with the national society by missionaries in the 1960s and many groups are still choosing to remain out of contact in the forested highlands. After flawed consultations, the Government has proposed reducing the Hoti territory by almost half, thereby excluding from protection the most isolated groups.