Indigenous peoples in Peru constitute more than half of the national population, yet social conditions for the majority of them continued to be less than adequate during 2009. In addition to ongoing concerns about the chronic lack of basic services such as health and education, and inadequate access to income opportunities, Peru's indigenous peoples continued to face loss of their land, which is often their main remaining asset and only safeguard against complete destitution.

According to the Asociación Inter-étnica para el Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP), the umbrella organization of Peru's 60 Amazon indigenous groups, oil prospecting and extraction is now occurring in more than 80 per cent of indigenous territories, with many of the concessions overlapping already titled lands of some indigenous communities. In addition, during 2009 the government continued to promote the development of large-scale agro-industry in the coastal zones, where there are a number of communally titled campesino properties. Many indigenous small farmers in the coastal regions have been forced to pledge their land titles to obtain commercial loans and now risk losing their land altogether.

In April 2009, indigenous communities throughout the remote Amazon region began a series of blockades and protests against government plans to open up 67 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest and to allow increases in petroleum and other natural resource extraction on indigenous territories. There was no prior consultation or consent.

As a result of the demonstrations of up to 30,000 people, the government declared a state of emergency in the affected areas and in June 2009 sent in heavily armed security forces. The resulting violence claimed a number of indigenous and security force lives, prompted resignations in protest by government officials and increased scrutiny of the billion-dollar deals that were developed with foreign petroleum companies.

In August 2009, Peru's justice minister was summoned to appear before the UN Human Rights Committee, and the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous rights called for an independent investigation. Nevertheless, the blockades and demonstrations failed to stop the exploration projects. As a result AIDESEP lodged an urgent appeal with the country's Constitutional Tribunal to halt the project in the part of the Peruvian Amazon known as 'Block 67'. According to Amazon Watch, for 30 years the company involved has been discharging more than 1 million barrels a day of untreated toxic waste directly into the rainforest. As a result, the Achuar indigenous people now have unsafe levels of a range of toxins, including lead and cadmium, in their bodies. The fish and game on which they have traditionally depended for food self-sufficiency have also been poisoned.


According to the Afro-Peruvian organization Centro de Desarollo Etnico (CEDET), in 2009 about 55 per cent of Afro-Peruvians continued to consider themselves as living in poverty, with another 23 per cent living in extreme poverty. The combined 78 per cent total compares unfavourably with the 50 per cent average poverty rate for the national population. As a means of highlighting their ongoing marginalization in the face of what they see as continued official indifference, MRG partner organization CEDET, together with Makungu por el Desarrollo, presented in July 2009 the first-ever alternative report on Afro-Peruvians to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva. The document strongly challenged the state's official report to the 57th Session of CERD and provided recommendations.

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