“Water yes, Oil No”, said a banner at the march for climate in Lima on Wednesday, indicative of the life and death battles over natural resources for the indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon and other parts of the world.
Large green banners unfurled all over the street as people marched to demand action of the government on climate change and not mere words. Alejandra Alayza of OXFAM, Peru said people are urging the government to take notice of the many environmental violations in the country. The march is in the defence of the rights of mother earth, she said and everyone from NGOs, indigenous people, trade unions and those struggling for control over their land and natural resources were on the street.
“We are asking for coherence from our governments, we need to see climate leadership and while we are holding talks on climate, governments are doing the opposite of protecting the environment,” she said.
An estimated 15,000 people took to the streets of Lima on Thursday for the People's Climate March, calling for the ministers to shift to 100 per cent clean energy by 2050, according to the NGO Avaaz.
The march follows the delivery of a 2.2 million person petition by 100 children to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and the conference of parties President Manuel Pulgar Vidal. In Peru the government was opening up more land for oil and mineral extraction, giving concessional rates for mining and at the same time weakening environmental laws and regulation and diluting impact assessments, say activists.
As the climate talks began, a new report showed that, despite public commitments to protect Peru’s forests, the first Amazonian host of the UN COP is ignoring the real drivers of deforestation and failing to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples. The report, Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous Perspectives on Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, was compiled by Peru’s national indigenous peoples’ organisation, AIDESEP, and an international human rights organisation, the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP).
Contrary to official discourses that blame migrant farmers for deforestation, the report suggests that the “invisible” drivers of current and future deforestation in Peru include road construction, oil, gas and mining projects, palm-oil plantations, illegal logging operations and mega-dam projects. The threat to indigenous peoples and lands became all too real to Edwin Chota and other leaders of the Ashéninka community of Saweto in Ucayali when they were murdered in September 2014, allegedly by logging mafia, in reprisal for their longstanding efforts to protect their lands from illegal logging and to secure title to their territory, the report said.