Peru’s largest protected area is on the verge of being invaded by a road, which threatens to destroy the lives of thousands of indigenous people.
The proposed project would cut through two indigenous reserves and a national park, exposing thousands of Indians to the risks of drug trafficking, illegal logging and unwanted contact.
It would also place some of the world’s last uncontacted tribes, who live in the government-protected area, in direct and immediate danger.
Politicians are now debating the issue, which supporters say will open up for economic ‘development’ parts of the Amazon that are currently isolated.
Fr. Miguel Piovesan, a Catholic priest from the small town of Puerto Esperanza is at the forefront of the project.
He wants his town, which borders west Brazil, to have better transport links to the town of Iñapari, which lies further south.
However, indigenous organizations in the region are against the plans, and calls are growing for Peru’s Congress to investigate the priest’s motives.
Of the 3,200 people in the area, 80 per cent are indigenous.
AIDESEP, Peru’s national organization for indigenous peoples says, ‘The road, far from solving the supposed isolation of the province, would only bring degradation and destruction.’
Similarly, Flora Rodriguez from local indigenous organization FECONAPU says, ‘The road is not development. It is creating division. The road has no purpose for us, it would bring death, because the forest is life.’
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This project not only endangers the lives of thousands of indigenous people, but makes a mockery of Peru’s laws. If it goes ahead without consulting the indigenous peoples, one of the most important parts of the Amazon for isolated and uncontacted Indians will be devastated.’