In Peru, a showdown between the president and tribes over mining and drilling in the Amazon
August 21, 2008
In Peru indigenous rights groups and congressional leaders are pairing up against President Alan Garcia to revoke a controversial land law passed last week, reports Reuters.
The law, which makes it easier for oil and gas developers and mining firms to acquire communally owned-land, lead to a week of protests by indigenous groups who feared the law would lead to a land grab in the Amazon rainforest. During the protests, indigenous groups seized an oil pipeline and a natural gas field. They also took two police officers hostage.
Garcia decreed the land law to meet requirements set forth by a new free-trade deal with the United States. The law may now go to a floor vote in Congress tomorrow.
Gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon
The vote comes shortly after a study found that 72 percent of the Peruvian Amazon is under concession to oil and gas companies. 56 of of the 64 blocks in the country have been concessioned since 2003 and some overlap lands titled to isolated indigenous groups, including “uncontacted” tribes.