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7/4/09

Progress?

Ed Stafford is a incredibly brave (or stupid, or mad...your call) dude who decided to do what nobody else has ever done, namely walk the length of The Amazon River. His website, walkingtheamazon.com is right here and regular reader MM has been following his journey and occasionally sends me a "hey Otto, check out this Ed Stafford post" headsup.

Well MM sent one today (thank you sir) and it's pretty much obligatory reading for everyone. Ed met up with an anthropologist on his way through one area. She sent him a mail to point to the progress that the Amazon basin is facing. No more blab from me, read the entry yourself:

Hi Ed,

In December the CARE, the organisation the oversees the Ashaninkas, discovered that the Peruvian national and regional governments, along with the Brazilian govt, have been cooking up plans for no less than 3 dams on the Ene River - 15 in total in Peru. I wrote something about it in an article I have on my new blog… www.gezc.wordpress.com.

Well, the headlining act of these 15 dams happens to be right in the middle of the River Ene - I don’t know if you remember when you took the boat, when going upriver about 5 hours in from Puerto Ocopa there’s a massive canyon with high walls - it is called Pakitzapango by the Ashaninka.

Pakitzapango is a mythical eagle that the Ashaninkas believe was building a massive dam across the river in order to steal the Ashaninka and eat them but the Ashaninka succeeded in killing him before he finished his dam. They believe this is why there is such a tight canyon there…

Well, it is going to be dammed in reality, by a 165 meter concrete wall which will flood all the communities upstream & dry out the ones downstream. basically a HUGE disaster for the Ashaninka. Their declaration against the dam is copied below.

Emily xx

———

DECLARATION CONCERNING THE THREAT OF THE PAKITZAPANGO DAM
BY THE ASHANINKA COMMUNITIES OF THE ENE VALLEY

The Ashaninka communities of the Ene Valley, in the districts of Rio Tambo and Pango, Province of Satipo, Junin, Peru, gathered together to celebrate the XIII ordinary Congress of their representative organisation, Central Ashaninka del Rio Ene (CARE), in the community of Pichiquia on the 24th-26th of April 2009 in order to debate the threat of the current project for the construction of the Pakitzapango hydroelectric dam, declare the following:

Considering that:

Our history is one of constant abuse: we were enslaved during the rubber boom, forcibly removed from our territory and subjected to cruel atrocities during the civil war that has unfolded in our territory since the 1980s. The Truth Commission reports that around 6000 Ashaninka were murdered or disappeared during the latter’s worst years. While organised in Ashaninka Self-defense Committees, we contributed with our blood and our lives to the pacification of this country, and yet the government still imposes new threats upon us: the concession of our territories to petrol companies and to the construction of the Pakitzapango dam. To us, the latter assaults on our territorial integrity signal a direct attack on our lives and our survival as a People. It leads us to one conclusion: this government intends to exterminate us.

The Ene river is the heart and soul of our territories: it feeds our forests, animals, plants, crops, and most of all, our children. For the Ashaninka People, Pakitzapango is of great cultrual and spiritual importance, as the origins of our People lie within this sacred place. We, the Ashaninka of the Ene have demonstrated our ability to care for our environment; we also helped create the Otishi National Park and Ashaninka Communal Reserve, to biodiversity hotspots which would be severely affected by the construction of the Pakitzapango dam.

Nevertheless, the government persists in ignoring and violating our human rights, as enshrined in the ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is made clear in the Ministerial Resolution N. 546-2008-MEM/DM in which the Minister of Energy and Mines grants, to the company ‘Pakitzapango Energia SAC’, a concession for a feasibility study to prepare for the constuction of the Pakitzapango hydroelectric dam. This concession was granted without informing or consulting us, demonstrating, once again, the peruvian government’s lack of respect towards our way of life and, more fundamentally, our human rights.

Furthermore, it is outrageous that our president Alan Garcia and Brasil’s president Lula da Silva are currently in the process of negotiating an energy agreement by which they commit to the building of six hydroelectric dams in Peru, Pakitzapango being the largest of them.

In view of this, the Ashaninka communities of the Ene river:

1. Wholly reject and demand the immediate anulment of the Resolution N. 546-2008-MEM as the Ashaninka communities of the Ene valley were neither informed nor consulted regarding it
2. Demand that the peruvian government respect and unreservedly apply our human rights as enshrined in the ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
3. Insist that the national government, represented by the president Alan Garcia, and public institutions such as the Ministry for Energy and Mines, the Congress of the Republic, the Junin Regional Government and the local Municipalities (Pangoa and Rio Tambo) respect the decisions of the Ashaninka People and call off any negotiation regarding the Pakitzapango hydroelectric dam.
4. Insist that international goverments such as Brasil, represented by Lula Da Silva, respect the decisions of the Ashaninka People and call off any negotiation regarding the Pakitzapango hydroelectric dam.
5. Repudiate the use of the Ashaninka word Pakitzapango in light of its spiritual and cultural significance for the Ashaninka People of Peru.
6. Demand that any activity such as research, promotions, reports, meetings or proposals that support or promote the construction of the Pakitzapango dam are immediately called off. The Ashaninka of the Ene valley will NOT permit the entry of any institution carrying out any of the mentioned activities.
7. Provide our wholehearted support to our orgnisation CARE (Central Ashaninka del Rio Ene) and trust that it will transmit, maintain and defend our common decisions. Furthermore, we entrust it to disseminate our voices in all necessary social and political spaces.