Peru: Law prioritizes highway construction that could threaten indigenous communities

UCAYALI REGION, Peru — Peru has passed a controversial law that makes highway construction in border areas and maintaining trucking roads in the Ucayali Region a national priority. On January 22, the Congress of the Republic of Peru enacted the new law. The move has sparked serious concern because the construction of highways in this area of the country would put various areas at risk. These areas are home to Indigenous People in a Situation of Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI), including the Mashco-Piro, Isconahua, Amahuaca, and others who inhabit the Ucayali Region. The presence of the voluntarily isolated indigenous communities on the border between Brazil and the Ucayali Region of Peru has been documented. This has led to the creation of three indigenous reserves: the Murunahua (470,305 hectares), the Mashco-Piro (816,057 hectares), and the Isconahua (298,487 hectares). According to indigenous organizations and specialists, the new law would affect communities that choose to stay isolated. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Culture of Peru. These spaces are threatened under the new law, according to statements by indigenous leaders and experts consulted by Mongabay Latam. Another area threatened by the law is the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve, although it is not yet categorized. Any highway in this area would also affect six natural protected areas: Alto Purús National Park, Cordillera Azul National Park, Sierra del Divisor National Park, Purús Communal Reserve, El Sira Communal Reserve, and Imiria Regional Conservation Area. Ruth Buendía, an indigenous leader, winner of the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize, and…

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