(Dr. Paul Roberts addresses the participants of the ORDIM congress)

Dr. Paul Roberts addresses the participants of the ORDIM congress. Dr. Paul Roberts addresses the participants of the ORDIM congress. ORDIM is one of the 14 local indigenous organizations that form the base of ORAU, the Ucayali regional organization of AIDESEP — the national political organization for indigenous peoples in the Amazon. These organizations have been in existence for nearly 30 years and are an important expression of the indigenous movement in Peru.

Alianza Arkana has already worked in partnership with ORDIM in organizing a one-day training workshop on human rights for communities along the river Abujao at the community of Santa Rosa de Tamaya Tipishka in late September this year. Following the success of this event, Alianza Arkana was asked to participate in and help financially support their two-day congress on the theme of “Territory, Hydrocarbons, Sustainable Agriculture, Health, and Education”. The other three partners in the event were ERI (Earth Rights International, an International NGO fighting human rights abuses through legal action) with whom we have worked on two previous events), ORAU and the District Municipality of Masisea.

Masisea is one of the largest Districts in the region of Ucayali. It extends from close to Pucallpa to the border of Brazil with an overall population of just under 20,000 people. It is home to 80 communities, of which 23 are indigenous.

The indigenous people in Masisea are facing a number of serious threats to their way of life. This includes the recent arrival of three different oil companies (Petrovietnam, CEPSA and Pacific) in their territories, the proposed construction of the mega-project IIRSA – a combined highway and rail link to connect the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, which cuts across the territory of many indigenous communities – as well as substantial illegal logging and mining. The conference was called to inform people of these threats and organize themselves in the face of them.

On the first day, the presenters at the conference introduced themselves. They represented a range of non profit, indigenous and governmental organizations. In addition to Alianza Arkana, they included: ERI, COICA (the international organization of indigenous peoples in the whole Amazon basin), AIDESEP, ORAU, the District of Masisea, AIDER (a national Peruvian NGO supporting the sustainable development of the Amazon), and NCI (an International NGO working with the conservation of biological and cultural diversity).

Lydia Rengifo, secrectary of AIDESEP. Lydia Rengifo, secrectary of AIDESEP.

Following the introduction of the presenters, the participants introduced themselves, representing many of the indigenous Shipibo communities throughout Masisea, including the only female indigenous leader of the community of Preferida.

On the second day, the organizations made presentations, followed by dialogue by the participants about what further organizational steps were needed to counter the threats to their communities. The event closed with a musical performance by the group Shipis whose musical director, Humberto Sampayo is also, since June this year, the elected head of ORDIM.

Many of the participants expressed their appreciation for the organization and content of the event. ORDIM has been through a difficult period in the last five years and with the recent election of the new President, there is a new resolve and determination to rebuild the organization to address the threats facing indigenous people in this area.

Deborah Rivett, Tuesday, 04 December 2012

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