Indigenous Group Challenges Peru-Brazil Energy Agreement in Court
LIMA, Peru -- A lawsuit filed last Thursday against the Peruvian Congress and the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Relations seeks suspension of the Peru-Brazil energy agreement signed by the Energy Ministers of Peru and Brazil in June 2010. The Central Ashaninka of the Ene River (CARE), an indigenous group, filed the lawsuit at the Superior Court of Justice in Lima today seeking an injunction against the agreement, asserting that the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples are threatened.
Photo: Brazil eyes the Peruvian Amazon. Credit: Intenational Rivers.
rights to life, integrity, freedom, lands and free prior informed consent of
indigenous peoples are threatened, as the agreement was never subject to
consultation with indigenous peoples," said David Velazco an attorney from
the legal NGO Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace
(Fedepaz). "Peruvian and international law mandates that indigenous
peoples need to be consulted in matters related to development projects on
indigenous lands, and that has not taken place."
of non-indigenous peoples, indigenous and uncontacted tribes would be displaced
by projects contemplated under the agreement. The injunction seeks to protect
the constitutional right to a healthy environment, and the right of indigenous
peoples to free, prior informed consent on matters of the state that could have
an impact on their rights. The agreement has not yet been ratified by either
the Brazilian or Peruvian Congress, but it is making its way through both
hope that this lawsuit seeking an injunction will convince Congressional
representatives and senior officials to instruct the Ministry of Energy and
Mines to respect our lands," said Ruth Buendia Mestoquiari, president of
CARE. "We have already lived through the civil war, and thousands of our brothers
and sisters have died or had to go far away. We won't let the history of
displacement repeat itself."
Peru-Brazil energy agreement, which has a timeframe of 50 years, commits Peru
to supplying more than 6000 MW of power to Brazil, most of which is expected to
come from hydropower in the Peruvian Amazon - one of the world's biodiversity
hotspots. Many of the projects contemplated by the agreement were designed by
the Brazilian electric utility Eletrobrás in conjunction with Brazilian
multinational construction giants Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez, all of which
would be directly involved in dam construction with funding from the Brazilian
national development bank, BNDES.
Most of the energy produced would be for export to Brazil.
numbers of dams associated with the agreement are unclear, but indigenous
communities have already delayed several projects contemplated under the
agreement. The Pakitzapango Dam planned on the Ene River ,
which would affect the Ashaninka, remains stalled by a legal action presented
by CARE in 2009. Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht announced in November of 2011 that it was
withdrawing from the Tambo-40 Dam on the Tambo River due to strong
opposition by indigenous Ashaninka communities. The planned Inambari Dam (2000 megawatts) in the Puno region
was halted by the government last June due to community opposition.
is uncertainty in the air. Recently-elected President Ollanta Humala, a former
army officer who ran for the "Peru Wins" party, made clear in his
inaugural speech his determination to build many dams. At present, 20 dams are
being planned on the Marañon River alone. The Awajun indigenous people, the
second most numerous indigenous group after the Ashaninka, would be affected.
Most communities do not have basic information on the projects that would
seriously impact their lives.
calls for the need to conduct evaluations of the environmental and social
impacts of the projects. It also states that a technical assessment of Peru's
energy needs and options for meeting these needs should be undertaken prior to
the implementation of the agreement. According to the lawsuit, plans for
building dams in the Peruvian Amazon and construction of transmission lines
under the agreement would have serious adverse effects due to the extensive
flooding and destruction of forests, impacts on the flora and fauna, and the
production of greenhouse gas emissions. The lawsuit also calls for the need to
comply with higher social and environmental standards in projects associated
with the agreement.
the Asháninka of the Ene River are concerned, what would happen to our children
if they flood our lands. Where are we going to go?" said Buendia
"I have seen videos and met people from Brazil that have been
evicted from their lands and now they live like beggars. Brazilian companies
have made many mistakes with their dams, how are we going to trust our rivers
and lands to them," Buenida asked.
Source: International Rivers
Nota de Prensa de Fedepaz
Summary of Legal Demand Against the Energy Agreement in
Acuerdo Energetico entre Peru y Brasil
Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales - DAR
Sociedad Peruana para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza
Brazilian Construction Company Cancels Plans for Mega-Dam in
Brazilian Construction Giant Odebrecht Withdraws from
Listening to Communities on Dam Building in Peru
Flooding Our Future, a Rainforest Foundation-UK video on the
Ashaninka and the Peru-Brazil Energy Agreement
Published by: Magne Ove Varsi