The Urrá dam
S. E. Alan Garcia,
Presidente de la Republica del Peru,
Palacio de Gobierno
Plaza de Armas,
12 March 2008
I have read recently in the press that several uncontacted tribes in your country are facing serious risks
from loggers, miners and oil explorers. These risks include exposure to western diseases to which
they have no immunity; loss of livelihood by invasion and conversion of their ancestral forest lands;
violent confrontation with outsiders armed with guns. Past situations such as this have led to
decimation and extinction of such peoples who are powerless against these threats.
Where there is a huge disparity in strength it is the responsibility of the strong to restrain themselves
and protect the weak. The government of Peru must act to remove the loggers and miners from
recognized tribal lands. The overlap of oil exploration blocks and tribal reserves must be repealed.
You suggested last year, in an article published by El Comercio on 28th October, that uncontacted
tribes are the creation of anti-capitalist environmentalists. There is plenty of personal testimony, and
photographic and video evidence spanning a long period of time, showing that uncontacted tribes do
indeed exist. One example being the photograph of the 21 uncontacted Indians by the Piedras River,
which I understand was printed on the front page of El Comercio a few weeks before your statement
The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of 1989 states in article 14 'Governments shall take
steps as necessary to identify the lands which the peoples concerned traditionally occupy, and to
guarantee effective protection of their rights of ownership and possession'. You will be aware that
Peru ratified this convention in 1994.
I urge you to take Peru's responsibility to its tribal peoples seriously: make good your country's
promises, and allow its reputation to be restored.