Groups demand a halt to large scale projects in South America

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Indigenous leaders and organizations from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia will testify Nov. 2 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the harmful effects of development on their lands.

The commission is a body of the Organization of American States that considers cases of human rights violations and recommends remedies.

The impact of large-scale infrastructure and energy projects-such as dams, oil and gas pipelines, highways and electrical generating plants-will lead to widespread deforestation, pollution, destruction of indigenous territories and to the intense contamination and effects on  the environment in South America, indigenous leaders say. Remote regions where indigenous peoples live are especially vulnerable, particularly for indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation.

Testimony will focus on the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America known as IIRSA. In addition to its impact on the land, the initiative threatens Indigenous peoples' rights to land, territory and natural resources and their way of life.

The hearing takes place at a critical moment when indigenous peoples are in full mobilization in defense of their territories throughout South America, confronting the systematic plundering of natural resources and violations of human rights, promoted by the governments and financed by the intergovernmental banks.  

The delegation includes Miguel Palacín Quispe, Coordinator of the Andean Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organizations, and Mario Palacios, president of the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining, both from Peru; Rodolfo Lopez, first General Cacique of the Indigenous Organization Chiquitana and Narcisco Roca member of the Indigenous Organization Chiquitana, from Bolivia; Jorge Cortez, Director, Center for Applied Studies in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Bolivia; Almir Surui of the Surui people and Telma Monteiro, Amazonian coordinator of Energy and Infrastructure for the Kanindé and the  Environmental Defense Association in Rondônia, from Brazil; and Leonardo Crippa, from the Indian Law Resource Center.