The Peruvian government has declared of national interest the protection amd conservation of the Indigenous Harakbut Nation, presenting the new law to the people in their own territory in Madre de Dios.
The law was handed over to the Harakbut in an official ceremony two weeks after it was published and implemented by Congress on July 4.
The Harakbut people took part in their own way, with the coordinator of the Harakbut Miguel Visse and the Culture Minister Patricia Balbuena receiving the document from the hands of Modesto Figueroa, a regional parliament member.
The Harakbut, whose name translates as 'humanity' or 'people,' are subdivided into seven groups and live in the Communal Amarakaeri Reserve (RCA), between the departments of Madre de Dios and Cusco. They remained isolated until the 1960s, when the Dominican order found them and evangelized them.
"It's important for government institutions to keep assuming the challenge of going beyong the recognition of the Indigenous peoples," said Visse.
Balbuena recognized there's still a long way to go until the Indigenous peoples enjoy their full collective rights.
"This innitiative speaks about an important process we're living as a country in the struggle of the indigenous peoples... we know the recognition is important, but at the same time one must work to value and guarantee memory, values and knowledge of these peoples,” said Balbuena.
The new legislation, known as the 'Harakbut Law,' represents a great step for the legal protection of the Indigenous group, some are concerned this is not enough to protect their territory.
"The Congress declares of national interest the conservation and protection of the Harakbut people."
"This law helps to reasses a part of the knowledge and customs that the Harakbut people is losing. However, there are several vacuums such as the issue of territorial security," Walter Quertehuari, president of the administrative council of the RCA (ECA-RCA), told the radio broadcast 'Coharyima te informa.'
The spokesperson of ECA-RCA, Pedro Corisepa, said some of the Harakbut communities lack basic services such as drinking water or access to health and education.
Now, Peru's Culture Ministry is evaluating the possibility of naming the customs and habits of the Harakbut as Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Nation.
The bilingual professor Yesica Patiachi was also present at the ceremony and spoke about the massacre suffered by the Harakbut during the worst years of the rubber fever, and their most recent struggle to preserve and protect the RCA, their ancestral territory.
"Thanks to the struggle of great wise men and women that have already departed, the Communal Amarakaeri Reserve was created," said Patiachi. "They left an organized strategy legacy to keep resisting and paying attention to our own demands, searching for unity, pacification, strength and conviction through each Harakbut."
Also present at the ceremony were the Decentralized Director of Culture of Madre de Dios Hector Sueyo; the bishop of Puerto Maldonado David Martinez, and the head of the National Service of Natural Protected Areas by the State, Pedro Gamboa.
The Madre de Dios ecosystem is being threatened by several economic activities that harm the environment, polluting water reserves and poisoning the fauna and vegetation of the region, such as illegal mining.