Another State of Environmental Emergency in the Peruvian Amazon?

Indigenous communities from the Corrientes river basin are anxiously awaiting whether the Peruvian government is going to declare an Environmental State of Emergency in their lands, as they nearly promised this past week.

A multi-sectoral commission released their test results on contamination in the Corrientes river basin earlier this month, which revealed life threateningly high levels of contaminants.

Selected leaders from the region met with officials from the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) last week to demand action. The Minister of the Environment, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, assured them that they would respond in the coming weeks, after they are finished analyzing the results. Once a declaration of emergency is announced, Pulgar-Vidal said, they would carry out actions within 90 days to address the situation.

Indigenous leaders from a regional organization representing the Corrientes basin, called the Federación de Comunidades Nativas del Corrientes (FECONACO), are following this up with officials and insisting that the contamination in the Corrientes be addressed, as was the contamination in the Pastaza river basin earlier this year when the Ministry declared in an environmental state of emergency.

However, we have yet to see big changes in the Pastaza, as the leader from the Pastaza Apu Aurelio Chino recently lamented to the local newspaper “la Region: “Up until now they haven’t followed through with any of their promises after the declaration [of the state of emergency]. The only thing they have brought is some water. My brothers continue eating contaminated fish and animals.”

The situation in the Corrientes is not new, and well-documented, as FECONACO noted: “since the 80s, studies in the region have shown the effects of contamination in fish, waters, and even the public health in communities.”

Those affected by the contamination are eagerly awaiting the government’s response and action to effectively address the extensive contamination on their territories.

Deborah Rivett, Tuesday, 20 August 2013

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