Sunday, June 7, 2009

Reuters: Laws criticized by Peru's indigenous groups

This Reuters article outlines some of the laws signed by Peruvian President Alan Garcia that are opposed by indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon:
- Legislative Decree 1090, which shrinks the size of Peru's Forestry Heritage protection system, outlines a broad plan for how to regulate investment in the Amazon. Protesters say the rule frees up some 111 million acres (45 million hectares), or roughly 60 percent of Peru's jungles, for potential development. The deadly conflict between police and indigenous tribes on Friday happened one day after Congress blocked a motion to open debate on this rule.

- Legislative Decree 1064 allows companies with concessions to get changes in zoning permits directly from Peru's central government, potentially giving them a way to extract resources without having to win the approval of local communities.

- Legislative Decree 1020 encourages the private ownership of agricultural lands by offering loans to individuals with relatively large farms. Protesters fear it will lead to communal land holdings being broken up into individually owned plots and push consolidation.

- Law 29833 creates new public agencies to oversee water management and distribution. Small farmers fear the changes will drive up costs, reduce their access to water while giving more of it to corporate growers, and eventually lead to the privatization of the water agencies.

- Besides the repeal of the laws, protesters want the government to create new reserve areas for tribes living in voluntary isolation, revoke Peru's free-trade agreements with Chile and the United States, and include a clause in the constitution requiring that tribes be consulted on potential economic projects.

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