The president of Peru’s Council of Ministers, Cesar Villanueva, announced he would meet and hold talks with the Indigenous peoples of the province of Atalaya, who began an indefinite strike on August 15 to demand government action to safeguard their lives from the harmful effects of pollution by extractive industries in the region, threats related to drug and land trafficking.
According to the Interethnic Development Association of Peru’s Jungle (Aidesep), Villanueva was going to “send a letter to establish a date to visit Atalaya and meet with the Indigenous organization and install a permanent and resolutive working group. The group will seek to address the problems in education, health, land deeds, territorial security, among others raised by the Indigenous people of Atalaya.”
The agreement was reached Friday, during a meeting between the ministers’ council, a spokesperson for the people of Atalaya, congresswoman Maria Elena Foronda, and Aidesep representatives.
However, there is no confirmation of a date for the meeting. Instead, on Monday, the Aidesep sent a letter to president Martin Vizcarra and Cesar Villanueva urging the state not to respond with violence and instead address the communities’ demands.
The national spokesperson for the nationwide strike, Hestalin Coronado, leader of Regional Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples of Aidesep, said they would continue their peaceful march and maintain the closure of the Urubamba and Ucayali rivers until they guarantee direct communication with Peru’s president Martin Vizcarra.
“We shouldn’t reach the bicentennial without closing the historic debt and marginalization of Indigenous peoples with over 5,000 years of civilization in Peru. Action against corruption should not be limited to Lima, and it should reach the forgotten Amazonian regions.”
The 1,800 communities have requested Vizcarra to form a delegation that includes the ministers of agriculture, transport, and communications, environment, and education, to meet with the communities and their representatives.
Indigenous peoples and civil society organizations are also demanding the government to fulfill its responsibility to consult the people on the Hidrovia Amazonica project, which will affect the Huagalla, Amazonas, Marañon, and Uyacali rivers as well as nearly 60,000 people of Indigenous communities like the Achuar, Ashaninka, Awajun, and Bora.
These communities have denounced the project could hurt native transit in these rivers and the development of fish and the general ecosystem on which their lives depend.