Open letter to President Ollanta Humala

Since Jan. 26, the inbox of Andean Air Mail & PERUVIAN TIMES has been inundated with an open letter addressed to President Ollanta Humala, signed by people from all corners of the globe.

As of today, the number of these appeals generated by the The Rainforest Portal and copied to our news blog’s email address surpassed 1,660.

Below is the content of their message:

“Please cancel plans for road through Alto Purus and save uncontacted tribes and their rainforest habitats”

Dear President Ollanta Humala,

A road through a national forest will open the door to illegal activities, pollution, and devastation of an area which has somewhat managed to remain ecologically rich.

People of all nations seem bent on destroying what can never be replaced. Shame on all of us. Your government has only been in office a short time, yet already you are doing tremendous harm to your great nation’s rainforests and indigenous peoples. The latest insult to basic human rights are plans to build a highway through Alto Purus – Peru’s largest national park – comprised of vital intact Amazonian rainforest ecosystems and inhabited by at least two ‘uncontacted’ indigenous tribes. I demand that this road be cancelled immediately, never to be re-considered.

Further, your government must cease state violence against indigenous and other local communities resisting mining and roads, and closely follow their desires regarding protecting standing rainforests and their land from all usurpers.

The highway would put isolated populations – including the Mashco-Piro – in grave danger of being decimated by confrontation with loggers, hunters and illegal miners. The highway would violate a new law passed last year by Peru’s government guaranteeing indigenous people the right to be consulted about and in agreement with any project affecting them. Your government has failed to understand legitimate community grievances regarding the Conga mine as well, and has reacted violently with a state of emergency against those trying – quite reasonably, for those that thirst – to protect their water from foreign mining.

Mr. Humala, your government is utterly failing to react to reasonable environmental concerns and protect the rights of local communities from ecocide and genocide. The history of European colonialism makes clear that the worst thing you can do to the Amazon and the people who live there, particularly if they are uncontacted, is build a road through their territory. Every time this happens, the result is the same: lots of people die, and standing rainforests that could provide local and global benefits forever are destroyed.

You are not helping the poor by stealing their lands and pushing through ‘development’ which kills them. Your actions against your nation’s indigenous peoples are nothing short of neo-colonialism, worthy of past violent and ruthless European colonialists who devastated your native peoples for hundreds of years. Is that the legacy which your “leftist” party wants to continue? I and the world community demand that you end the genocide, end the ecocide, and leave rainforests and their traditional peoples alone. Earth Revolution is in the air around the world and in Peru, and if you keep ruthlessly exploiting your indigenous peoples, your government will fall.

With grave concern,

1,661 signatories and counting….

Partido Nacionalista Peruano, Ministery of Justice,
Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of
Transportation, State Ombudsman, Congressman Carlos Tubino
Arias Schreiber, Father Miguel Piovesan, Peru Embassies
worldwide, Peru media

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  1. More interference from foreigners who have NEVER been outside of a large city, NEVER been to Peru, and who, I notice, have not offered to pay Peruvians, including the indigenous peoples, for their lost potential incomes.

    If these phony ‘enivronmentalists’ REALLY had the courage of their convictions, they would be sending money to the Peruvian people, NOT to these ‘for profit’ enviro-scams, and NOT just pointlessly flapping their lips.

    Come to Peru, loudmouths, come and work in the forests and jungles to improve the lot of Peruvians, not just shoot your mouths off.

    • I agree Mr. Joe, & if I’ve said it once I’ve said it 100 times, the Peruvian people always get the short end of the stick. Its not about progress but of money.

  2. Stopping the destruction of the Amazon must be successful for the sake of the whole planet. The pristine nature of the Peruvian rainforest should not be disturbed. There are sustainable economic avenues to ensure a benefit to the people who live there and at the same time to protect the indigenous peoples and the valuable live supporting plants of the Amazon. Sustainable harvesting and selling Rainforest products to the world. The Amazon is far more valuable alive and thriving than cut and dead.

  3. What “potential Incomes” for indigenous peoples are you speaking about?

    There are natural places across our planet that provide so much more than anything that can be extracted and sold. They hold cultural heritage, biodiversity and a place for people to remember that we as humans have a relationship to something other than 9-5 job’s, cities and modern lifestyles; that seem to be making millions of people sick.

    I am a foreigner to Peru in documents only, I am a citizen of this planet we live upon and all its places are my homeland and concern. In the last eighteen months I have been back to the Amazon three times accumulating nine months in total.

    My partner is Peruvian and lives in a small community in the Amazon, “the potential income” people of indigenous and mixed mestizo heritage make in this area for extracting wood would probably account for a couple of hundred US dollars and does not amount to any kind of income.

    In Peruvian terms this may be allot of money for a short term fix of people economic problems, but what will happen when all these places are contaminated and destroyed.

    What kind of social and economic problems will this create? When people cannot walk outside their houses and catch a fresh fish or wash in a river because the water if filled with poison and silt topsoil run off from deforested land.
    What will happen when people cannot grow their own food because the soil balance has been destroyed? What will happen when these people cannot remember where they came from?

    Big change starts with Government reform. I agree that Peruvians need better systems, until their government takes real notice and initiative to make responsible, informed, and sustainable changes, the people will not be able to either. These countries need to stop looking at the western system of development, industrialization and “progress” and create their own systems-look at Costa Rica’s forest management systems as an example.

    It is up to us as “foreigners” who live within this system, to let the Peruvian government know that these practices are not effective and do not work.

    I also recently made a trip to Brazil and I was devastated to see the amount of destruction of natural habitats in this place. When I saw places running for miles without a tree in sight I thought to myself, where is this planet going? What are we going to look at and share in the future if natural places are all swallowed up, not to mention issues with biodiversity, culture,medicine, weather to name a few.

    Furthermore the indigenous peoples in these regions benefit most from their communities and their relationships to the forest. It is clear from past mistakes all around the world that pushing western ideals of progress, reform and lifestyle on indigenous people does not work. These uncontacted indigenous peoples need to have their homes and land protected.

    This recent statement by NINAWA Kaxinawá ,that can be found on YouTube under ,NINAWA Kaxinawá: Non-Contacted Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation: illustrates what the indigenous peoples want for themselves and their communities and also proves that unsustainable land management is leading to the desecration of the forest homes and even deaths of uncontacted indigenous peoples in Peru(who are now fleeing into the Brazilian Amazon forest for protection.

    We face issues such as this all over the world. Stand up for these sacred and natural places and help protect them and their people to the best of your ability.

  4. Travel Experts Peru says:

    We fully agree with letter posted by Nina Fogelman. We believe that more efforts should be performed in order to obtain a response from Ollanta Humala, besides the Social Network.
    Many thanks for your imput in sharing this important themes.
    Carlos Nuñez Gonzalez.

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