New video released by the Peruvian government shows a potentially disastrous encounter between tourists and indigenous people long isolated from the outside world. In a motor boat tourists follow a group of Mashco-Piro people walking along the shores of the Manu River in Manu National Park. At one point one of the tribal members prepares to fire at the boat with an arrow. But danger doesn’t only come from the possibility of a violent clash: uncontacted indigenous people, those who have chosen isolation from the world, are incredibly susceptible to disease.
According to indigenous-rights group Survival International, uncontacted people from the Mashco-Piro tribe have been seen numerous times recently in the park with one ranger being hit by an arrow without a tip as a message to back off. Tourists have also been accused of leaving clothes for the indigenous people, a practice that could threaten the lives of tribal peoples since the clothes could carry disease.
Survival International says the area where the indigenous people have been seen is a restricted zone.
The Peruvian government says it is working on mitigating the issue, by warning tourists not to approach indigenous people and updating policies related to isolated tribes.
“The policy of this government is one of permanent inclusion of indigenous peoples, of commitment to their social demands, including territorial demands, education, and health care,” said Roger Rumrill, a special advisor to the Environment Ministry, as reported by National Geographic. “It’s diametrically opposed to the previous government.”
After years of hostility toward indigenous groups by Peru’s previous administration under Alan Garcia—who referred to indigenous people as ‘savages’—the new administration under Ollanta Humala is attempting to turn over a new leaf. However, indigenous people remain deeply imperiled in the Peruvian Amazon due to logging, gold mining, and gas and oil projects. Around 70 percent of Peru’s Amazon has been opened up to oil and gas operations in a bid to industrialize the region.
Video of tourists tracking isolated indigenous tribe.
(10/11/2011) As the price of gold inches upward on international markets, a dead zone is spreading across the southern Peruvian rain forest. Tourists flying to Manu or Tambopata, the crown jewels of the country’s Amazonian parks, get a jarring view of a muddy, cratered moonscape … and then another … and another in what the country boasts is its capital of biodiversity. While alluvial gold mining in the Amazon is probably older than the Incas, miners using motorized suction equipment, huge floating dredges and backhoes are plowing through the landscape on an unprecedented scale, leaving treeless scars visible from outer space. Sources close to the Peruvian Environment Ministry say the government is considering declaring an environmental emergency in the region, but emergency measures passed two years ago were not enough to contain the destruction, and some observers doubt that a new decree would have any more impact.
(09/21/2011) Over the weekend more than 100 Shuar indigenous people, also known as Wampis, blockaded the Morona River in Peru in an effort to stop exploratory oil drilling by Canadian-owned Talisman Energy. The blockade in meant to prevent oil drilling in an area of the Peruvian Amazon known as Block 64, home to four indigenous tribes in total and the Pastaza River Wetland Complex, a Ramsar wetland site.
(09/07/2011) Peru’s new president, Ollanta Humala, has signed into law a measure requiring that indigenous groups are consulted prior to any mining, logging, or oil and gas projects on their land. If properly enforced, the new legislation will give indigenous people free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) over such industrial projects, though the new law does not go so far as to allow local communities a veto over projects. Still, the law puts Peru in line with the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of 1989, which the South American nation ratified nearly two decades ago.