Endangered isolated Amazonian tribes in Peru, Brazil – indigenous group

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BRASILIA, December 8 (Reuters) – Deep in the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest area of ​​isolated and isolated tribes is increasingly threatened by illegal logging and gold mining, the rise of coca plantations and violence linked to drug trafficking, warns a new report.

An unknown number of indigenous people who could number in the thousands inhabit a vast expanse of forest twice the size of Ireland which straddles the Brazil-Peru border.

Their longhouses in the jungle glades have been spotted from planes, but encounters with strangers or clashes with invaders are anecdotal.

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In the most comprehensive study to date on the so-called Javari-Tapiche corridor, to be released in Lima on Thursday, an indigenous Peruvian organization says the largest number of isolated people in the world are at risk.

Anthropologists have recorded groups crossing Brazil in search of food, metal utensils and clothing south of the corridor, apparently moving away from the violence in Peru.

The organization of indigenous peoples of the eastern Amazon of Peru, ORPIO, calls for urgent joint action by the governments of the two countries to protect the region, abandon plans for a cross-border road connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, enforce the laws environmental and repress activities.

This activity damages the environment and places vulnerable isolated peoples at great risk by destroying their livelihoods and generating situations of potential conflict, said Beatriz Huertas, principal researcher of the study.

Illegal logging and legal timber concessions are the main threat, but the presence of drug traffickers who use rivers to bring drugs into Brazil has increased, said Huertas, an anthropologist and expert on isolated tribes.

In addition, coca plantations are expanding in the adjacent region of Ucayali and bringing violence and death, as well as internal strife among neighboring indigenous communities, she said.

Brazil has long protected the indigenous area of ​​the Javari Valley, but the current government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has weakened the indigenous affairs agency Funai which has withdrawn experts on isolated indigenous peoples, he said. she declared.

Bolsonaro’s drive to develop the Amazon region has encouraged illegal logging and gold mining in the world’s largest rainforest, spurring deforestation in what experts see as a major bulwark against climate change. .

Peru more recently implemented indigenous protection of isolated tribes, but it took up to 18 years to create some reserve areas, Huertas said.

“The study shows the need to understand the corridor as a space permanently inhabited by isolated people, where government decisions or pressure can have large-scale effects regardless of which side of the border they inhabit.” , she said.

An emerging threat is the construction of a road from Cruzeiro do Sul in Brazil to Pucallpa in Peru, pushed by the Brazilian government as a route to export soybeans to China from the Pacific coast of Peru.

The 300-page study, supported by the Rainforest Foundation Norway, urges governments to abandon the planned route.

He also asks for a more attentive follow-up of the religious missionaries to avoid the loss of the indigenous culture through their work of evangelization.

Beto Marubo, a representative of the indigenous peoples of the Javari Valley and former FUNAI official, said the study reinforces the need to create a buffer to stop the advance of “illegal Christian miners, loggers, hunters and missionaries” .

But he is not optimistic.

“Brazil has a government that has shown no sensitivity to the environment and even less to indigenous issues. I think very little will happen,” he said from Manaus.

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Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Mark Porter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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