This Week's Program: Saturday, April 23, 2005

Peru Plans Reserve for Isolated Indigenous Group

The Peruvian government has created a commission that is in the early stages of designing plans for a reserve for the Mashco-Piro Indigenous group, one of 11 Indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation in the Peruvian Amazon. There is no reliable data on the Mashco-Piro, but there are estimates that there are 800 members of the group. The commission is planning to create “transitory territorial reserves” to enable to Mashco-Piro to maintain extensive routes to move freely about. A commission member, an anthropologist, said that the reserves will be assigned “until they decide, through their own community organization, to obtain recognition and ownership titles over land.” The Alto Puros province, home to 2,800 members of 8 Indigenous groups, is threatened by illegal logging that causes displacement of Indigenous communities and engenders social violence. Peru, one of the six South American countries that share the Amazon, loses 265,000 hectares of tropical rainforest annually to logging.

Brazil Formalizes Indigenous Reserve

The Brazilian Justice Ministry decided on Friday, April 15 to formalize the demarcation of the Raposa Sierra del Sol reserve in the northern state of Roraima, recognizing the right of 15,000 Indigenous members of five ethnic groups to the territory. The 1.74 million hectare reserve in on the border with Guyana and Venezuela and has been the site of contention and violence between Indigenous groups and white landowners growing rice and raising cattle for more than three decades. More than 20 Indigenous activists have died during the 30 year struggle to regain ancestral territory and the right to fish and hunt on their own land. A one-year deadline has been set for the large landowners to pull out of the territory. The Roraima Governor Ottomar Pinto said he would appeal the decision as soon as President Lula signed it, and rice growers announced calls for protest demonstrations. In January 2004, rice growers staged violent protests calling to break up the reserve in which three Catholic missionaries were briefly taken hostage.