Source: Servindi. 1 September 2021. By Roberto Espinoza*
Prime Minister Guido Bellido’s message contains five references to indigenous peoples, but they remain “rhetorical and symbolic” because they do not include concrete measures in favour of their rights and historical aspirations.
This is what sociologist Roberto Espinoza observes in an article in which he acknowledges that in the Prime Minister’s 46-page speech there are positive measures for the country that “hopefully will reach the indigenous peoples”.
Unfortunately, as far as the Amazonian indigenous peoples are concerned, it does not touch on “their fundamental historical demands” and even “contains dangers that require clarification and eventual rectification”.
Below we share the analysis of Roberto Espinoza, member of the Red Decolonialidad del Poder y Autogobierno Social, which details the page of observations and develops complementary proposals to strengthen the coherence between preaching and practice.
Indigenous peoples and the Bellido Plan: rhetoric, gaps and dangers
The indigenous peoples were mentioned five times (pages 3, 21, 38, 38, 40, 46) in the message of Premier Guido Bellido, but unfortunately, the references remain rhetorical and “symbolic”, because in its 46 pages, in concrete terms, there are only four lines of a promise to “formulate a mechanism for direct financing of measures that tend to meet the needs of indigenous communities” (p.40).
This strange vacuum and minimisation leads us to focus on the actions that have been detailed and their possible impacts on indigenous peoples, especially those of the Amazon. It can be seen that there is nothing in the message about their rights and aspirations, and there are even dangers that require clarification and eventual rectification. We go into detail, indicating the source page of the premier’s message, and developing complementary proposals to strengthen the coherence between preaching and practice.
1. Social return (SR) (p.12) must be clarified in order to clear the dangers.
If people understand it as preferring their full life, as something superior to extractivist projects, then they will reject them, and the government must respect that interpretation. On the contrary, understanding such “SR” as works, services, and in the extreme, “more money in their pockets”, will provoke internal community division, and worse, if it seeks to replace consultation and consent and territorial security, both of which are prerequisites.
The result would be disastrous, repeating the conflicts and failures of similar attempts in other countries. The distribution of “works and money” has never “compensated” for destroying the natural basis, self-government and “self-development” of peoples; it has only led to worse and subsequent social conflicts. Moreover, this SR cannot and should not “resemble” similar ideas of right-wing and business sectors, with the deceptions of false “sustainable extractivism”, nor the favouritism of Chinese companies with the manipulations of “state geopolitical reasons”.
2. Native land titling and other demands for collective rights did not merit any mention, not even for these peoples (p.40).
In spite of the document delivered to President Pedro Castillo by the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP), which details the pending territorial demands of the Amazonian peoples for more than 20 million hectares, those in charge of the PCM, MINAGRI, MINCUL, MINAM and the GORE will have to decide whether to fulfil their electoral promises or ignore them, thereby endorsing the violent trafficking of colonisation lands that dispossesses and destroys the original Amazonian peoples. Without native, Andean, coastal and especially Amazonian territorial security, any “second agrarian reform” would be truncated and denaturalised.
3. The elimination of “unproductive” procedures in mining and hydrocarbons can be extended to other extractivisms (p.12).
The elimination of so-called “unproductive” procedures in mining and hydrocarbons, which could be extended to other extractivisms such as agribusiness, plantations and timber, is a danger if, in their clarification and precision, state standards on consultation and consent are reduced even further than they already are, in all phases of projects and investments, as well as their social, environmental and cultural impacts on indigenous peoples.
4. State investment in “small” local infrastructure to generate employment (p.43) or the “S/1000 million for carriage roads” (p.9) should not be used to support roads to penetrate the Amazon for logging, mining, illicit crops or colonisation.
This would be even worse if the announced flexibility for the titling of informal urban land were to be extended in these cases (p.25), which should differentiate (and not generalise) between the realities of large cities and the complexity of “urban land” in the Amazon, considering the numerous and long-standing colonisation conflicts over territories of indigenous possession, and therefore of original ancestral property.
5. Uncritical support for the continuity of the National Infrastructure Plan for Competitiveness (p.15) includes the danger of insisting on the Amazon Waterway.
The Hidrovía Amazónica, which imposes the invasion of Chinese capital that will result in the permanent dredging for years of no less than 13 points, profoundly affecting life along the great rivers of the Ucayali, Huallaga, Marañón and the Amazon. This project has been repeatedly rejected by the indigenous peoples.
Another danger is to disregard the request of the Purús peoples to strengthen and reduce the cost of civic flights for their air connection to Pucallpa, and to prefer the road to Puerto Esperanza, favouring colonisation deals, at the cost of invasions of indigenous peoples, including peoples in isolation and initial contact.
The Amazonian indigenous peoples, river owners and environmentalists reject this disastrous project.
For now, we will not analyse other measures that are positive for the country, and whose benefits will hopefully reach the indigenous peoples, but which unfortunately do not touch on their fundamental historical demands, but rather on important but complementary aspects. We only list them, in the hope of subsequently evaluating their application in practice.
These are the rapid collection of tax debts and contributions on extractive overprofits (p.5), the biotechnological production of vaccines in Peru (p.6), alliance with community leaders on vaccinations (p.8), 24-hour health centres (p.7), promoting community tourist destinations (p.11), the educational emergency in indigenous peoples (p.21), scholarships for e-learning (p.21), and the promotion of the development of the indigenous peoples (p.22). ), scholarships for basic education graduates (p.24), training in public management with a gender, intercultural and ethical approach (p.28), sanctioning corporate responsibility in state corruption (p.29), the rondas as a cultural expression without state intervention (p.33), which implies their non-imposition in the Amazon; as well as programmes on violence against women (p.38).
The native Amazonian peoples, through AIDESEP, sent President Pedro Castillo the Amazonian Indigenous Action Plan, with 13 axes, 30 objectives and 250 concrete actions, detailed and their responsible ministers, to stop the violation of their fundamental rights, and to advance in their Integral Territoriality, Self-Government by Peoples, Full Life with added value of the standing forest, stopping and sanctioning the violent and corrupt trafficking of land for colonisation and predatory extractivism.
Hopefully these proposals will not be shelved and deserve to be debated with the regional and local Amazonian indigenous organisations, by the ministries and regional governments involved. Symbolic mentions are and will be totally insufficient to overcome the bicentenary of the long structural and institutional racism applied especially to the indigenous Amazon.
* Roberto Espinoza is a founding member and promoter of the Decoloniality and Self-Government Network: https://www.facebook.com/descolonialidad – This text was written on 30 August 2021.