Keep gold miners out of our rainforest!

Shawi Shawi (© RdR-Screenshot)

The gold rush is not letting up: in order to let a Canadian mining company dig in the Peruvian Amazon, officials fraudulently declared the rainforest of the Shawi people to be clear, uninhabited land. The Shawi have been living there in harmony with nature for centuries – please speak out against the destruction of their ancestral land.

Call to action

To: the President of Peru, Martín Vizcarra

Annul the illegal gold and copper mining concessions in the rainforest of Peru’s indigenous Shawi people immediately.

Read letter

This is a truly unprecedented, brazen move: government officials in Peru declared 8,900 hectares of Amazon rainforest – the ancestral land of the Shawi people – to be uninhabited, clear land so that they could grant gold and copper mining licenses to a Canadian company. With these and other dirty tricks, they are running roughshod over indigenous land rights and nature conservation laws.

The supposedly nonexistent rainforest is located in the district of Balsapuerto in Peru's Alto Amazonas province. The Shawi people have lived there for generations. Now, their land rights – and their very existence – are being denied by government officials. Without consulting the indigenous people, the Ministry of Energy and Mining and the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (INGEMMET) hastily pushed through the concessions on the Shawi’s ancestral land. 

The beneficiary of the mining rights for gold and copper is Minerales Camino Real Perú SAC, a subsidiary of Royal Road Minerals Limited, a Canadian company.

Peruvian indigenous organizations strongly condemn the authorities’ actions, which violate Peruvian and international law. The approval is based on absurd and contradictory claims. An environmental impact assessment has not been published and the free, prior and informed consent of the Shawi people was not obtained.

The indigenous people are not the only ones who depend on the forest: an unpolluted environment is also indispensable for the more than 60,000 inhabitants of the town of Yurimaguas. The mining concessions are located at the foot of the Andes in the source areas of the Cachiyacu, Armanayacu and Yanayacu Rivers, which feed the Paranapura and Huallaga Rivers. The latter supplies the town with drinking water – polluting the rivers with cyanide and mercury from the mines would be a disaster.

Back­ground

The complainants are the indigenous organizations ORDEPIA (Organización de Pueblos Indígenas de Alto Amazonas), CORPI (Coordinadora Regional de los Pueblos Indígenas de San Lorenzo), FECONACHA (Federación de Comunidades Nativas Chayawitas) and the development organizations Frente de Defensa y Desarrollo de Alto Amazonas - FREDESAA, el Frente Amplio de Asentamientos Humanos de la ciudad de Yurimaguas, the community of Balsapuerto and the pastoral ministry Pastoral de la Tierra del Vicariato Apostólico de Yurimaguas.

Further information (in Spanish):

Servindi, May 31, 2018: https://www.servindi.org/31/05/2018/rechazan-actividades-mineras-exploratorias-en-territorios-ancestrales-del-pueblo-shawi

https://www.connuestroperu.com/consumidor/ecologia/56972-protesta-en-alto-amazonas-por-entrega-de-89-millones-de-m2-de-territorio-indigena-a-minera-canadiense

https://www.diariovoces.com.pe/108246/presidente-frecides-advierte-contaminacion-mercurio-fuentes-agua-balsapuerto

http://www.ingemmet.gob.pe/noticias/-/asset_publisher/ZGtiksvlsYk2/content/presidente-del-consejo-directivo-del-ingemmet-se-reune-con-alcalde-distrital-del-balsapuerto/pop_up?_101_INSTANCE_ZGtiksvlsYk2_viewMode=print

http://www.roriente.org/2018/04/26/empresa-minera-solicita-al-estado-peruano-concesion-de-bosques-en-el-distrito-de-balsapuerto/

Letter

To: the President of Peru, Martín Vizcarra

Dear Mr. President,

Indigenous groups and other organizations such as the Pastoral de la Tierra of the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas are calling on you to annul the mining concessions for gold and copper in the indigenous areas of Balsapuerto.

The official reports are outdated, contain contradictions and inaccuracies, and ignore the existence of rainforests and the Shawi people, on whose ancestral lands the concessions lie. Protecting and preserving these forests is crucial to the indigenous people, who have declared that they will defend their territory with their lives.

Furthermore, the chronic shortage of drinking water in the upper Amazon region is a serious issue that would be exacerbated by the pollution of local rivers with toxic chemicals from the mining project.

Please annul the mining concessions without delay and help preserve your country’s irreplaceable natural heritage. The mayor of Balsapuerto and the indigenous communities are calling for a meeting with you and the prime minister to agree on the annulment.

Yours faithfully,

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