The Wampis people of Peru’s Amazon basin region have formed the country’s first self-ruling native area to try to protect traditional lands from settlers, mining, oil drilling and illegal loggers.
While Peruvian authorities have not officially recognised the move, it gives the Wampis a higher profile with which to negotiate.
‘We are not looking for independence. Let’s be clear,’ Wrays Perez Ramirez, the new president of the area, told AFP by phone.
‘We are are trying to protect our ancestral lands and ask the government to give us title to 1.3 million hectares where more than 100 Wampis communities are living.’
He was elected November 29 in Soledad, Rio Santiago district to lead the Wampis who live in Amazonas and Loreto provinces on the border with Ecuador.
Perez Ramirez has a vice president as well as a local legislature.
There are some 10,000 Wampis, according to government data.
The communities farm, hunt, fish, raise fowl and grow small crops such as yucca and plantains.
‘The elections were not held behind the government’s back,’ Perez Ramirez stressed, saying local governors and government representatives were invited. But none turned up.
More than 10 million of multi-ethnic, multicultural, multiracial Peru’s 30 million people belong to indigenous communities.
SOURCE: Sky News Australia