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INTRODUCING: DANGERS TO THE AMAZON

The next series of articles are about the oil company Hunt Oil and its hydrocarbon concession of Block 76. Block 76 is in the Amazon of southeast Peru and comprises part of Manu’s Cultural Zone and almost all of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve. Manu’s Cultural Zone is on the Alto Madre de Dios River’s western banks, the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve is on its eastern banks.

Manu’s Cultural Zone is part of UNESCO’s Manu Biosphere Reserve. The Manu Biosphere Reserve has two areas, the National Park, which is protected under Peruvian law, and the Cultural Zone, which has no legal status as a protected area under Peruvian law. On the other hand, a communal reserve, like the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, does have legal protection. Its exact rules and regulations are based on its 5-year management plan. This management plan should reflect the ideas and wishes of the indigenous people who live in and from the communal reserve. This means, in the case of the Amarakaeri Reserve, the Harakmbut, Yine and Matsiguenka peoples that live in legally established communities in and around the Reserve.

Peruvian indigenous peoples also have the legal right to be consulted before any project involving their territories can be implemented. All other people immigrated into the same area, such as people from the Andes doing agriculture in Manu’s Cultural Zone or any outsider doing tourism have no legal say in anything happening to the land.

This means that we from Pantiacolla, working in tourism in Manu, have no legal way to protest the activities of the oil company. Therefore, we decided to combine forces with the Harakmbut of the Amarakaeri Reserve, who do have the legal right to protest. In the past, the Harakmbut had experienced difficulties in their communication with government officials and lawyers, and so we offered to be their liaison. The articles that follow describe the process of learning about each other and from each other while aiming at the same goal: keeping the Amazon alive and healthy!

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