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SOUTH AMERICA
Indigenous groups file claim against IIRSA
11/5/2009
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Native peoples go to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protest massive regional integration project.

Indigenous groups from Bolivia, Brazil and Peru filed a case against their respective governments Nov. 2 in the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America, or IIRSA, is causing collective human rights violations against their communities.

The Andean Confederation of Indigenous Organizations, Bolivia´s Chiquitana Indigenous Organization and the country´s Center of Applied Sciences in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Brazil´s Native Communities of Indigenous Peoples of Rondonia presented their complaint against IIRSA, whose more than 500 infrastructure projects, including transportation and energy, in the 12 member countries are being carried out with systematic violations against the rights of the communities.

“IIRSA is trying to attack the ´buen vivir,´ an indigenous philosophy, a cosmovision that implies living in harmony with nature,” said Leonardo Cippra, a lawyer of the Indian Law Resource Center, representing the groups.

The projects threaten indigenous communities´ collective property, their right to self-govern, and personal integrity and health, Cippra told the Commission, a branch of the Organization of American States. He added that governments go ahead with these projects, disregarding the prioritities and opinions of the indigenous communities where many of them coincide.

“We agree with integration,” said Peruvian Miguel Palacín, head of the Andean Confederation of Indigenous Organization. [But] “we have another way off seeing development.”

Palacín told the commission that Inter-Oceanic Highway South , a section of a highway that will join Brazil´s Atlantic ports with Peru´s Pacific ports,  is facilitating the development of extractive industries such as mining, gas and oil there, impacting hundreds of indigenous communties. The roadway cuts through Brazilian, Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon rainforest and over Peru´s highlands.

He said that more than 3,950 campesino communities in Peru, and 78 recognized native communities of the Amazon basin, would be affected by the project in addition to two national parks.
–Latinamerica Press.


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