Tag Archive | Peru

New Calls for Resistance across the Amazon*

New Calls for Resistance across the Amazon*

By Manuela Picq

Indigenous women carry the banner of the VIII Pan Amazonian Social Forum (FOSPA) during the opening march from downtown Tarapoto to Universidad San Martin on April 28. Photo: Manuela Picq


Ever since European colonial powers started disputing borders on its rivers in the seventeenth century, the vast Amazon rainforest—known simply as Amazonia—has been under siege.

Amazon Peoples always resisted the colonial invasion, even after the borders were ultimately settled with the Amazon rainforest getting divided into the territories of nine states. They’ve had no choice. After all, the insatiable lust for ‘wealth at any cost’ did not lessen with time; the siege continued through the nineteenth century, in part with the rubber boom that gave way to the automobile boom.

The attack rages on even now, with the intensive push to extract everything the Amazon holds including oil, minerals, water, and land for agriculture and soy production.

Nations states are leading the land-grab, fostering environmental conflicts that kill nature defenders (most of them indigenous), displace communities, and destroy rivers for megaprojects. The organization Pastoral da Terra estimates that half a million people are directly affected by territorial conflicts in the Brazilian Amazon. About 90% of Brazilian land conflicts happen in Amazonia; 70% of murders in land conflicts take Amazon lives.

That is why people responded to “the call from the forest,” or “el llamado del bosque” in Spanish. This was the motto of the VIII Pan-Amazonian Social Forum, or Foro Social Pan Amazónico (FOSPA), that just gathered 1500 people in the town of Tarapoto, Peru.

The VIII Pan Amazonian Social Forum in Tarapoto, Peru

Photo: Manuela Picq


FOSPA is a regional chapter of the well-established World Social Forum. It is based on the same model that brings together social movements, associations and individuals to find alternatives to global capitalism. From April 28 to May 1, indigenous peoples, activists, and scholars from various parts of Amazonia got together in the campus of Universidad Nacional San Martin.

FOSPA is an important space, not only because the region is at the forefront of the climate crisis but also because it represents 40% of South America and spreads across nine countries—Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana. The 370 indigenous nations in the region are an increasingly smaller part of a booming Amazon population that surpasses 33 million.

This VIII forum was well organized in an Amazon campus with comfortable work space and the shade of mango trees. In the absence of Wi-Fi, participants gathered around fruit juices and Amazon specialties baked in banana leaves at the food fair. The organizing committee, led by Romulo Torres, was most proud of creating the new model of pre-forum. For the first time, there were 11 pre-forums organized in 6 of the 9 Amazon countries to prepare the agendas.

The forum started with a celebratory march through Tarapoto. During three days, participants discussed the challenges of extractive development and land grab across the region. There was in total nine working groups organized around issues such as territoriality, megaprojects, climate change, food sovereignty, cities, education and communication.

During the opening march in defence of Amazonia, Elvira and Domingo, from Ecuador’s Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Amazon (Confeniae) walk along Carlos Perez Guartambel, from the Andean Network of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) and Ecuador’s Confederation of Kichwa Peoples (Ecuarunari). Photo: Manuela Picq

Development is the problem”

Speakers strongly criticized models of development based on extractive industries. “Development is the problem, not the solution,” said Carlos Pérez Guartambel, from the Andean Network of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) and the Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI).

Speakers blamed the political left for being equally invested as the right in extractive development, destroying life in the name of development. Toribia Lero Quishpe, from the CAOI and the Council of Ayllus Markas of the Quillasuyu (CONAMAQ) argued that this investment in capitalist gains corrupted the government of Evo Morales, who licensed over 500 rivers to multinational companies.

Gregorio Mirabal, from the Indigenous Network of the Amazon River Valley (COICA) and Venezuela’s Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (ORPIA) denounced a massive land grab by the state in the Orinoco region. He said the government is licensing land to mining companies from China and Spain to promote “ecological mining.” Indigenous populations, in turn, have not had a single land title recognized in 18 years and are denied rights to prior consultation.

Ongoing French colonization in Amazonia

One of the working groups focused on the decolonization of power; French Guyana being the last standing colonial territory in South America.

Rafael Pindard headed a delegation from the Movement for Decolonization and Social Emancipation (MDES) to generate awareness about Amazon territories that remain under the colonial control of France.

Amazon forests constitute over 90% of French Guyana. Delegates described laws that forbid Indigenous Peoples to fish and hunt on their ancestral territories. They explained the mechanisms of forced assimilation—the French state refuses to recognize the existence of six Indigenous Peoples, claiming that in France there is only one people, the French.

The Women’s Tribunal

The forceful participation of women was one of the forum’s most inspiring aspects. Amazon women held a strong presence in the march, plenary sessions and held a special working group on women.

The highlight was the Tribunal for Justice in Defense of the Rights of Pan-Amazonian and Andean Women. Four judges convened at the end of each day to listen to specific cases of women defenders. They heard individual as well as collective cases. Peruvian delegates presented the case of Maxima Acuña, a water defender from the Andean highlands of Cajamarca who faces death threats. Brazilian representatives from Altamira presented the case of the Movement Xingu Vivo para Sempre, which organizes resistance against the Belo Monte Dam.

The Women’s Tribunal also heard cases from across the continent. Liliam Lopez, from the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), presented the emblematic case of Berta Cáceres, assassinated in 2016 for leading the resistance in defense of rivers. Delegates from Chile presented the case of Lorenza Cayuhan, a Mapuche political prisoner jailed in Arauca for defending territory and forced to give birth handcuffed.


Many working groups called for a paradigm shift to move away from economic approaches that treat nature as a resource. Participants defended indigenous notions of living well, or vivir bien in Spanish.

There were many initiatives presented throughout the gathering. The working group on food sovereignty proposed to recover native produce and exchange seeds, for instance, through seed banks.

Delegates from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) and the organization Terra Mater presented a collaborative project to protect 60 million acres of the mighty Amazon River’s headwaters – the Napo, Pastaza, and Marañon River watersheds in Ecuador and Peru. The Sacred Headwaters project seeks to ban all forms of extractive industries in the watershed and secure legal titles to indigenous territories.

Wrays Pérez, President of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampís Nation (GTAN Wampís) explained practices of indigenous autonomy. The Wampís, who have governed their territories for seven thousand years, have successfully preserved over a million hectares of forests and rivers in Santiago and Morona, Peru. The Wampís Nation designed its own legal statute based on Peruvian and international law, including those protecting the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Amazon communication

Many venues emphasized the importance of Amazon communication. All workshops and plenary sessions were transmitted live through FOSPATV and remain available on FOSPA’s webpage.

Community radios and medias covered the forum and interviewed participants, such as Radio Marañón, Radio La Nave, and Colombia’s Radio Waira Stereo 104 (Indigenous Zonal Organization of the Putumayo OZIP).

Documentary films played in the evenings, followed by discussions. The Brazilian documentary film “Belo Monte: After the Flood” played in Spanish for the first time, followed by a debate with people affected by hydro-dams in the Brazilian and Bolivian Amazons. Other films presented include “Las Damas de Azul”, “La Lagrima de Aceite” y “Labaka.”

The Tarapoto Declaration

The forum closed with the Carta de Tarapoto, a declaration in defense of life containing 24 proposals. The declaration collected the key demands of all working groups. It demands that states respect international indigenous rights and recognize integral territories. It invites communities to fight pervasive corruption attached to megaprojects and suggests communal monitoring to stop land-grabbing.

The declaration stresses the shared concerns and alliances of Amazonian and Andean peoples, explicitly recognizing how the two regions are interrelated and interdependent. It denounces state alliances with mining, oil, and hydroprojects. It defines extractive megaprojects as global capitalism and a racist civilizing project.

It echoes FOSPA’s intergenerational dimension, celebrating elders as a source of historical knowledge to guide the preservation of Amazon lifeways. Youth groups, who had their own working group, demanded that states recognize the rights of nature.

Women concerns are the focus of four points. In addition to making the Women’s Tribunal a permanent feature of FOSPA, the declaration calls for the end of all forms of violence against women and the recognition of women’s invisible labor. It asks for governments to detach from religious norms to follow international women rights.

In closing, the declaration expresses solidarity with peoples who live in situation of conflict, whose territories are invaded, and who are criminalized for defending the rights of nature.

It is in that spirit that the organizing committee decided to hold the next FOSPA in Colombia. Defenders of life are killed weekly despite the peace process, revealing a political process tightly embedded in the licensing of territories to extractive industries like gold mining.

The Colombian Amazon is calling. May it be a powerful wakeup call across and beyond the Amazons.


Related Topics:

Canadian Company to Construct Brazil’s Largest Open-Pit Gold Mine—in the Heart of the Amazon*

Amazon Groups Fight U.S. Call for Forced Contact with Remote Tribes*

Amazonian Elders Conclude Completion of First Indigenous Medical Encyclopaedia*

The Sahara and the Amazon, a Tale of Interdependence*

Amazonian Hunter-Gatherers Isolated from Western Medicine Have the Most Diverse Microbiome Ever Recorded

EU to investigate Amazon*

Murder in the Amazon

Brazil Signing Away Our Amazonian Legacy

Tensions on the Rise As U.S. Announces Military Drills Near Venezuela*

Tensions on the Rise As U.S. Announces Military Drills Near Venezuela*

The involvement of the U.S. military in an upcoming multilateral military drill in South America has raised concerns over potential ulterior motives on the part of the U.S.


The involvement of the U.S. military in an upcoming multilateral military drill in South America has raised concerns over potential ulterior motives on the part of the U.S. The drill, dubbed “Operation: America United,” will involve the installation of a temporary military base on the triple border shared by the drill’s other participating nations: Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.

According to Theofilo de Oliveira, the top general of the Brazilian Armed Forces, the U.S. military will carry out the drill along with the three Latin American nations this November over a period of ten days. The Brazilian military has asserted that the objective of the exercise is to “ develop a greater knowledge, share experiences and develop mutual trust.” Brazilian government officials have strongly denied rumours that the exercise will lead to the establishment of a multinational military base in the Amazon.

The U.S. was invited to participate by Brazil’s unelected president Michel Temer, who has notably boosted Brazilian military spending by 36% while simultaneously freezing public spending for two decades through a controversial constitutional amendment.

A friendly relationship with Brazil’s military is key for the U.S.’ strategic interest in South America. As Hector Luis Saint Pierre – coordinator of international security, defense, and strategy at the Brazilian Association of International Relations – told the BBC:

“Brazil is a strategic partner for the doctrine of the military. If the United States has a good relationship with the Brazilian navy, it is easier to spread its message among the military in the region.”

Pierre pointed out that the drill is of particular interest to the U.S., as it presents an opportunity to focus on the political situation in Venezuela. According to Telesur, President Donald Trump has already met with the presidents of Peru and Colombia to discuss the U.S.’ interest in Venezuela.

As MintPress has previously reported, Venezuela has been the target of ongoing economic warfare as the U.S. continues to disrupt the leftist government first brought to power by the late Hugo Chávez. While Nicolás Maduro – Chávez’s successor – certainly bears some of the blame for Venezuela’s current situation, the U.S. has worked to covertly devastate the Venezuelan economy through a combination of sanctions and oil price manipulation.

With its cash reserves quickly dwindling, as a result, Maduro’s embattled government will likely go bankrupt at some point in the next several months, as nearly 70% of its remaining reserves must be used to pay back interest on loans from foreign governments. When “Operation: America United” begins, the situation in Venezuela is highly likely to be much direr and Maduro’s government on the verge of collapse.

In addition, the U.S. has funneled millions to Venezuelan opposition parties since the failed U.S.-led coup against Chávez in 2002, having spent an estimated $50 to $60 million since Chávez’s election on bolstering the country’s right wing. Now, that figure is set to grow substantially as the U.S. Senate is set to vote on a bill that would funnel millions more to the Venezuelan opposition, as well as unnamed non-government organizations.

The bill titled the “Venezuela Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Democratic Governance Act,” seeks to offer $10 million in “humanitarian assistance” to Venezuela and another $10 million for “democracy promotion.”

As the bill itself points out, the U.S. is extremely interested in the financial situation in Venezuela, particularly due to U.S. concerns that Russia may gain control of Venezuelan oil infrastructure if the Maduro government ends up declaring bankruptcy.

Within the text of the bill, concerns are raised regarding Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA and its transactions with Rosneft, a Russian state-owned oil company. As TeleSur noted:

“fearful that PDVSA could default on its $4- and $5-billion dollar loans from Rosneft, regardless of Venezuela’s steadfast debt repayments, the bill warned that Rosneft could come into control of PDVSA’s U.S. subsidiary, CITGO Petroleum Corporation, which ‘controls critical energy infrastructure in 19 States in the United States.’”

Seeing as Russia has already seized Venezuelan oil for unpaid bills despite their political alliance, this fear is not unfounded.

While the U.S. has held drills in South America in the past with little fanfare, the timing and location of the new drill, as well as the nations involved in it, have raised speculation about the U.S.’ current objectives in South America.

Given the U.S. fear of Venezuelan oil becoming the property of the Russian government, as well as the U.S.’ documented history of overthrowing and undermining leftist governments in Venezuela, “Operation: American United” may be less of a drill and more of what its name implies – a way to bring Venezuela, along with other South American nations, back into the fold of U.S. influence.

Related Topics:

17 Venezuela Opposition Parties Accept Government Invitation to Discuss Constituent Process*

Maduro Condemns Opposition-Led Violence as Venezuela Death Toll Nears 40

Venezuela Maintains High Human Development Despite U.S. Engineered Economic Crisis*

The Caribbean Supports Venezuela against U.S. Interventionism*

Venezuela’s Supreme Court Blocks U.S. Regime Change*

Maduro Accuses U.S. Of Taking over Venezuela’s Oil*

U.S. Interfering in Venezuela Again*

For Foiling U.S. Coups, U.S. Slap Sanctions on Venezuela*

Protests against U.S. Military Sending 3000 Troops to Peru*

U.S. Threaten Continued Violence if Colombia Challenges Big Pharma Monopoly*

Cuban Doctors Treat over 1,000 Peru Flood Victims in Two Days*

Cuban Doctors Treat over 1,000 Peru Flood Victims in Two Days*

Cuban doctors, part of the Henry Reeve medical brigade, arrive in Peru. | Photo: Twitter


The doctors had seen 1,046 people in their first two days of fieldwork.

In just two days after Cuba sent a medical brigade to Peru, where deadly floods have killed at least 94 and left at least 700,000 more homeless, more than 1,000 people received treatment from the visiting doctors known for their internationalism.

The leader of the brigade — which consists of 11 doctors, 10 health care professionals, an administrator and a lead doctor — told Prensa Latina Wednesday that they are working at five shelters where thousands of refugees were relocated when their homes were destroyed or left uninhabitable.

By Tuesday, the doctors had seen 1,046 people in their first two days of fieldwork. In addition, the brigade’s leader, Rolando Piloto, said that the group is also conducting 549 educational workshops among the refugees and 23 group health hearings.

The group’s epidemiologists have also carried out assessments to see if there could be disease outbreaks because of the physical environment and conditions.

Cuba has extended its solidarity to Peru in the past, most notably in response to earthquakes Peru experienced in 1970 and 2007.

In March, Cuban President Raul Castro sent his Peruvian counterpart, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a message to express his condolences over the crisis.

Peru has been dealing with severe weather since at least December, which has hit the poor hardest, most notably Peruvians who built their homes on cheap land near the river, which runs from Peru’s central Andes to the Pacific coast.


Related Topics:

Cuban Medical Internationalism*

Cuba Delivers Vaccines against Meningitis to Syrian People*

Ongoing U.S. Blockade on Cuba Is  Genocidal*

Child abduction in Peru but who are the kidnappers?

Eight Ex-Military Behind Operation Condor Sentenced to Life*

Eight Ex-Military Behind Operation Condor Sentenced to Life*


Many human rights advocates will be disappointed by the court’s failure to sentence 19 other military officials charged in the case.

A court in Rome handed down Tuesday life sentences to eight former military officers from Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay who were found guilty of the forces disappearance and death of about 20 Italian nationals as part of the bloody “Operation Condor” in South America in the 1970s and 1980s.

Only eight of the 27 military officers charged from the four countries received jail time in the high-anticipated sentencing hearing after a lengthy 9-year investigation.

“We are disappointed by the decision,” said Uruguay’s Vice President Raul Sendic, who was present at the hearing. The prosecutor had asked for life sentences for the 27 officers.

The former military men sentenced were Chile’s Hernan Jeronimo Ramirez and Rafael Ahumada Valderrama; Uruguay’s Juan Carlos Blanco; Bolivia’s Luis Garcia Meza and Luis Arce Gomez; and Peru’s Francisco Morales Bermudez, Pedro Richter Prada and German Ruiz Figueroa.

The investigation, opened by Italian attorney Giancarlo Capaldo, initially included 140 people accused of human rights abuses, but the list was eventually whittled down to the 27 who were charged, as many of the accused had died or were found too old to be tried.

When the trial launched on Feb. 12, 2015, the case involved 34 former heads of state, military officials, police and secret services agents and other operatives of military regimes in South America in the 1970s and 1980s.

On Dec. 28, 2016, former president and military dictator of Uruguay from 1982 to 1985, Gregorio Alvarez, died while serving a sentence for human rights abuses carried out during his reign.

The deadly multi-state Operation Condor intelligence operation was designed to destroy opposition to U.S.-backed right-wing regimes in Latin America.

Operation Condor operations are thought to have led to the death or disappearance of 50,000 people throughout Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s.



Related Topics:

Bolivia, Paraguay and Retrieving Our Backyard!

Morales Asks Citizens to Believe in Bolivia, Not U.S. Rule*

The U.S. Interfered In Foreign Presidential Elections 81+ Times from 1946-2000*

Occupy World: Chilean Farmer Wins Case against Monsanto*

Child abduction in Peru – but who are the kidnappers?

Rivers Run Blackened by Big Oil in Peru, which the Indigenous are Left to Clean-up*

Occupy World: Peru Aiming to Dismantle Rothschild’s Media Monopoly*

South America and another U.S Invasion*

TiSA: Uruguay Does Unthinkable, Rejects Global Corporatocracy*

Declassified Docs Detail U.S. Role in Dirty War Horrors of Argentina *

New Oil Spill in Peru Contaminates Indigenous Community*

New Oil Spill in Peru Contaminates Indigenous Community*

Pastor Dahua, president of the community of Monterrica, on the Marañón River in the Peruvian Amazon, scoops oil from a spill from a Petroperu pipeline on his community’s land – Barbara Fraser


The spill is one of 10 that have occurred since January along the pipeline

By Barbara Fraser

Hunching his shoulders against a driving rain Pastor Dahua scrambled down a muddy bank and stepped across a pool of blackened water to a makeshift shelter that marked the place where crude oil had spilled from an oil pipeline.

The spill in Monterrico, the community of Kukama and Urarina people of which Dahua is president, is one of 10 that have occurred since January along the pipeline that runs from oil fields in the Peruvian Amazon across the Andes Mountains to a port and refinery on the Pacific coast.

The rain worried Dahua. Between November and May, water levels in Amazonian rivers rise by 30 feet or more, flooding villages and forests. If the spill was not cleaned up by the time the flooding began in earnest, Monterrico’s only water supply—a stream that crossed the pipeline near the end of the oil spill—could be contaminated.

Monterrico is one of dozens of communities affected by recent spills. Even more people are exposed to contamination from 40 years of oil operations that dumped oil and salty, metals-laden water into rivers, streams and lakes in Peru’s oldest Amazonian oil fields.

Indigenous protesters stand watch on bank of Marañón River in Saramurillo, Peru, blocking boats from passing, as they pressure the government to solve problems related to pollution from four decades of oil production in the Peruvian Amazon – Barbara Fraser


Government agencies have identified more than 1,000 sites needing cleanup, but have a budget of only about $15 million for testing and remediation. Experts say that is just a fraction of the amount that will be needed.

Anger over the sluggish pace of efforts to address decades of pollution and neglect have come to a head in Saramurillo, on the bank of the Marañón River, a few hours by boat downstream from Monterrico.

Hundreds of people from more than 40 indigenous communities converged there on September 1, blocking boat traffic on the Marañón River, a key transportation route in the northeastern Peruvian region of Loreto, where there are virtually no roads.

Despite an initial meeting with government officials in October, the protest dragged on into December, amid tensions among both the protesters and the travelers and merchants trapped by the blockade.

Workers clean up oil from a late-August spill in Nueva Alianza, Peru, from an oil pipeline operated by the state-run oil company Petroperú, which carries crude from Peru’s northern Amazon region across the Andes Mountains to the Pacific coast


The protesters are calling for a thorough study of the damage done by four decades of oil operations, much of which occurred when environmental regulations were lax or non-existent. They also seek repair or replacement of the pipeline, remediation of damage and compensation for the affected communities.

Ultimately, however, they are calling for Peru to rethink whether pumping oil out of the Amazon is worth the toll on human health and ecosystems.

“The way oil operations are done now is not viable,” said José Fachín, 35, a lanky Kichwa law student who serves as an adviser to the indigenous leaders heading the protest.

Saramurillo, the community at the epicentre of the river blockade, and the neighbouring community of Saramuro are flanked by the pumping station that marks the beginning of the pipeline, which is operated by Petroperú, the state-run oil company. Another pipeline, which carries oil from wells upstream, connects to the main line there.

Indigenous protesters are flanked by tanks at a pumping station shut down by the state-run oil company Petroperú when the protest started in early September – Barbara Fraser


In some ways, the protest echoes the standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

“The contexts are different, but some issues are shared,” says Andrew Miller, advocacy director at Amazon Watch, a Washington-based indigenous rights advocacy organization.

Both the Standing Rock protesters and those in Saramurillo are defending the water on which their communities depend, Miller says. Indigenous leaders from Ecuador and Panama have traveled to Standing Rock to highlight links between Indigenous People’s struggles there and those in Latin America.

In North Dakota, however, the pipeline is still under construction, while the communities in Peru are protesting decades of negligence in oil fields and along the poorly maintained pipeline.

The conflict in Peru also underscores tensions among indigenous organizations. For more than a decade, four federations have staged demonstrations and negotiated with government officials over oil pollution in communities along the Corrientes, Pastaza, Tigre and Marañón rivers.

“We’re tired of endless talks,” said Fachín, 35, a lanky Kichwa law student who grew up amid the pollution along the Tigre River and is an adviser to the leaders of the protest in Saramurillo.

The leaders of the organizations represented – in Saramurillo – complain that the four federations involved in past talks do not represent all of the affected communities. They want negotiations with the government to include 15 organizations in five watersheds.

Nearly six weeks into the river blockade, a team of government officials led by Rolando Luque, who heads a department in the Cabinet chief’s office that deals with social conflicts, arrived in Saramurillo for initial talks.

Government officials had asked the protest leaders to meet in Iquitos, the capital of Loreto, which is more than six hours away by river and road, but the leaders insisted on meeting in the village, where everyone involved in the protest could attend.

When the government representatives arrived by helicopter on October 11, they were greeted by more than 400 men, women and children, many in traditional dress, with their faces painted and carrying spears.

After a sometimes tense two-day meeting, the protesters agreed to partially lift the river blockade temporarily—allowing passenger and cargo vessels to pass, but not oil or fuel barges—while the government promised to respond within a week to the indigenous groups’ initial demands.

When they received a response they considered inadequate, the protesters resumed the blockade and repeated their demand that President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who took office on July 28, or some of his Cabinet ministers travel to Saramurillo to continue the talks.

But on November 12, the government reached an agreement with the protesters for more than 80 of the leaders at the protest to travel to Lima to meet with several government ministers, including the Cabinet chief.

That deal, brokered by the Defense Ministry, appeared to be a way of ensuring that the river blockade would be lifted during the week of November 14, while Peru was hosting an international gathering of Asia-Pacific business leaders and heads of state in Lima.

A meeting with the ministers of defense, justice and culture on the night of November 19 paved the way for talks that began December 6 in the village of Saramurillo, and which have continued off and on since then, with the ministers of justice and energy and mines.

Another round of talks is slated for December 14-16, with the minister of production. Both protest leaders and government officials say that round should end with an agreement to be signed by the Cabinet chief, Fernando Zavala, who would travel to Saramurillo for the occasion.

The river blockade is suspended and Petroperú has resumed loading oil barges at the pumping station, in return for restoring electricity and running water to Saramuro and water to Saramurillo. The communities depend on the company for those services.

Meanwhile, five more oil spills have occurred along the pipeline, which is operated by Petroperú, the state-run oil company. Petroperú officials attribute those spills, plus four others, to vandalism.

In a region where jobs are scarce and a day laborer might only earn a few dollars harvesting crops, oil spill cleanup jobs—which have paid between $20 and $50 a day—create a perverse incentive for vandalism, company officials say.

A member of this indigenous community examines an oil spill from a pipeline operated by the state-run oil company Petroperú – Barbara Fraser


Community leaders—including Gilter Yuyarima, president of the Kukama community of Nueva Alianza, where three spills have occurred—say the company blaming them unfairly, and without evidence, for harming the land and water on which their livelihoods depend.

Villages along the rivers have no water or sewer service, so rivers, streams and lakes are the only source of water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. Studies have found that most communities’ drinking water is unfit for human consumption. There are no systematic studies of the effect of pollution on the village.

In late October, Petroperú changed its tone slightly in a press release that blamed “political and economic interests” that “use the communities to purposely break the pipeline.” Company spokespersons say the vandals could be local contractors who hope to profit from cleanup work.

Meanwhile, the rainy season has started, and workers—most of them members of the affected communities—are racing the calendar to scoop up the oil and contaminated soil and vegetation before seasonal floodwaters spread the pollution more widely.

In Monterrico, Dahua recalled the day more than two years ago when he and other leaders hiked to a spill site in the Kukama community of Cuninico, where about 2,000 barrels of oil had killed fish and blackened the canal in which the pipeline was built in the Amazon lowlands.

“I never thought it could happen here,” he said.


Related Topics:

Rivers Run Blackened by Big Oil in Peru, which the Indigenous are Left to Clean-up*

Oil vs. Communities: The Case of Peru

Child abduction in Peru, but who are the kidnappers?

Protests against U.S. Military Sending 3000 Troops to Peru*

Peruvian Woman Wins Battle against Multinational Mining Corporation*

Oil Company States They Will Defy Army Corps Order in Standing Rock*

2010 Gulf Oil Spill Caused Widespread Land Loss*

BP, Trafigura and Vitol Export Dirty Oil to Africa to Kill People*

The Oil-Gas War Over Syria*

Norway Aiding Israeli Fuel Extraction on the Golan Heights Under Fire*

In Alaska, Indigenous Voices Raised in the Struggle Between Life and Oil*

Egypt to Begin $10B Privatization Plan with Oil Firms*

U.K. Taxpayers Subsidising World’s Largest Oil Companies to Exploit Its Own Natural Resources*


Public Prosecutor says Forced Sterilization of 272,000 Indigenous Women ‘not a crime against humanity’*

Public Prosecutor says Forced Sterilization of 272,000 Indigenous Women ‘not a crime against humanity’*

By Shena Cavallo

Photo: Geraint Rowland

“A nurse put me on a stretcher and tied my hands and feet,” said Sabina Huillca.

“I asked them to bring me my little baby girl but instead they anesthetized me. When I woke up, the doctor was stitching my stomach. I started screaming, I knew I had been sterilized.”

In Peru, during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori, 272,000 women and 22,004 men were sterilized between 1996 and 2000 as part of the National Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program. Most of the men and women were indigenous, poor, and living in rural areas. The program’s alleged aim was to eradicate poverty through lower birth rates, but evidence has emerged over the years that it was coercive and blatantly violated reproductive rights.

Over 2,000 women have testified that medical practitioners performed the procedures against their will. In many cases, the women did not speak enough Spanish to understand what they were consenting to and in some cases, providers did not even go through the motions of obtaining informed consent. Some women have shared stories of providers offering them money to have the procedure or intimidating them with threats or violence.   Some women died due to complications and other women still suffer serious health complications today.

Last month, Public Prosecutor Marcelita Gutiérrez decided not to pursue charges of crimes against humanity against former President Fujimori and several staff members of the Ministry of Health. Gutiérrez stated that instances of forced sterilizations of indigenous women were not conclusive evidence that the practice was state policy and were, rather, isolated cases.

Some health providers tell a different story, saying that they  were required by state officials to meet daily quotas. Dr. Hernando Cevallos, a leader of a regional medical doctor’s union, for example, received an order to sterilize 250 women in 4 days in 1997.

Meanwhile, the victims and their allies are appealing the dismissal of the case and hoping to appeal to a higher court, such as the Inter-American Court. Tania Pariona, a newly elected member of the national Congress and indigenous activist, said of Gutiérrez’s decision,

“I believe we are facing a situation of shameful impunity in the country.”

Congresswoman Pariona went on to highlight the scale of the reproductive health program (in terms of the number of people sterilized) during this period, pointing out that in many indigenous communities today there is not even a single ob-gyn to perform a safe delivery. More than 15 years after the end of this “reproductive health” program, the Peruvian state continues to fail indigenous women.

Thankfully, activists and organizations continue to make slow but significant progress in advancing the rights of indigenous communities and building the capacity of the next generation of advocates.

This past year, IWHC’s partners REOJIP (Peruvian Network of Indigenous Youth) and Chirapaq (through its Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru) organized a series of trainings in Lima, Ayacucho, and Ucayali with 75 young indigenous men and women. These trainings ensure that young people are informed of their rights and have a safe space to discuss issues related to sexual and reproductive health. The workshops also offer youth a space to discuss and challenge stereotypes and biases about sexuality, gender, and relationships, all while affirming and strengthening their indigenous identity.

Chirapaq was formed in 1986 in Ayacucho, Peru, by a group of Andean and Amazonian women to defend indigenous rights and strengthen indigenous identity. Today, Chirapaq investigates violations of indigenous peoples’ rights, offers human rights trainings, and works to document and preserve local culture.

After participating in these trainings, indigenous adolescents and young people not only are better informed of their rights, but many go on to form their own advocacy groups and replicate trainings in their communities.

In fact, Tania Pariona participated in CHIRAPAQ’s workshops on cultural identity when she was 10 years old and later went on to participate in IWHC’s Advocacy in Practice (AiP) trainings and has become a leading voice for indigenous rights in Peru and throughout the region.

IWHC and Chirapaq share the belief that awareness-raising and training are the first steps to nurture advocates who will go on to fight for the health and rights of women, girls, and young people.


Related Topics:

USAID and Sterilization Camps In India*

American and British Taxes Paying for Eugenics in India*

Rockefellers Funded Eugenics Initiative to Sterilize 15 Million Americans*

Virginia to Compensate Victims of Forced Sterilization*

U.S. Program Forced Sterilization of Hispanic Women*

The GMO Agenda is Planned Sterilization of Humanity*

Melinda Gates to Inject Indian Girls with Sterilization and has Injected African Girls*

The Clinton’s Eugenics Agenda in Haiti*

Bishop Badejo: U.S. won’t fight Boko Haram because of their Eugenics Agenda in Africa*

Eugenics of the UN, WHO and World Bank in Mexico*

Eugenics or Bioethics?

Israeli Eugenics Program on Ethiopians*

Black Women Targeted with Eugenics Drug*

The Eugenics of HPV Vaccine*

Coca-Cola and Cocaine is Old Business*

Coca-Cola and Cocaine is Old Business*

By Bartow Jerome Elmore

When news broke yesterday about the discovery of $56 million worth of cocaine at a Coca-Cola plant in France, the press was all abuzz. But as it turns out, this Cocaine-Cola connection is not entirely new; Coca-Cola has been intimately linked to domestic manufacture of cocaine in the United States for years.

A little glimpse into Coke’s history reveals all.

Yes, most people know that Coca-Cola’s first president Asa Candler became concerned about cocaine in the early 1900s and decided to remove any trace of the drug in the company’s famous drink, but few people know that Coke continued to use what is called “decocainized coca leaf extract” in its signature beverage. In company ledgers, this―mixed with kola nut powder― is what is known as Merchandise #5, one of the “secret ingredients.”

Here’s how the process works. Beginning in the early 1900s, Coca-Cola partnered with a company called Maywood Chemical Works based in Maywood, New Jersey (now the Stepan Company) to import coca leaves (which contain small quantities of the alkaloid found in purified cocaine powder) from Peru for Coca-Cola. The company removed the cocaine alkaloid from these leaves and then sold Coca-Cola the leftover extract. As per the cocaine, Maywood sold it under close federal supervision for approved medical uses.

Federal law sanctioned this practice. Legislators wrote a special exemption into the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, the Jones-Miller Act of 1922, and subsequent counternarcotics legislation that allowed “decocainized coca leaves or preparations therefrom” to be sold in the United States. Some lawmakers called this clause the “Coca-Cola joker” because it was clearly designed to protect Coke’s secretive coca business.

Over time, Coke’s demand for coca leaves grew so great that legislation had to be passed to allow leaves to come into the country beyond what was needed for the manufacture of cocaine for medicinal purposes. These laws specified that alkaloids extracted from these coca leaves had to be destroyed with federal officials bearing witness.

All was well for Coke for many years under this arrangement, but in the 1960s, the company got a crazy idea: why not grow coca leaves secretly in the United States? That way the company would have a domestic source of supply.

It may sound outlandish, but that’s exactly what happened. In the 1960s, Coca-Cola, working with its partner, the Stepan Company, gained federal approval to begin a secret coca cultivation operation in Hawaii called the “Alakea” project. University of Hawaii scientists agreed to participate in the project but were prohibited from publishing any reports about their work because Coke did not want the public to know about its relationship to these coca leaves.

Within months, those working on Alakea could happily report that coca shrubs were growing in Hawaii, but celebrations lasted only so long. Soon a fungus wiped out the entire crop and the project was abandoned.

The failure of Alakea was really no matter for Coke, which simply continued sourcing leaves from Peru. All of this was channeled through Stepan, a third-party buffer that helped keep Coke’s coca trade out of sight. Import records show that Stepan is still happily bringing in coca leaves in the 2010s.

What’s problematic about all this is that cocaleros, coca farmers in Peru, have been getting a raw deal. For years, Coca-Cola has enjoyed exclusive access to coca leaves coming into the United States and cocaleros have been prohibited from selling other coca products—teas, candies, and flours—to American markets. Coke has no doubt liked it this way because competition for coca leaves would drive up prices, which is never good for business.

But cocaleros see it differently. Peruvians with intimate knowledge of coca production in the Andes told me back in 2012 that coca farmers would love nothing more than to “revalorize” the coca leaf and once and for all quash the misconception that the coca leaf and purified cocaine are the same thing. Then cocaleros might experience a commercial boon that would allow them to abandon exploitative relationships with drug lords and monopolistic buyers.

Today, if I were to travel to Peru and try to return home with a small batch of coca leaves (perhaps to brew tea), I would be detained by border officials.

So here’s the essential question: if Coke can work partnerships to bring coca leaves into the United States, why can’t the rest of us? That’s the real story behind the Cocaine-Cola connection.


Related Topics:

What is the Harm in Cocoa Leaves!

Coke’s Assault of Destruction

Nixon Advisor Admitted War on Drugs Invented to Crush Anti-War and Black Movements*

Drop in Drug Trafficking Followed Expulsion of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration*