Repeated appeals by leaders of the Awajún communities of the Cordillera del Condor over the last two years have so far failed to mobilise the regional government in Amazonas to take steps to prevent incursions of illegal gold miners in this steep and forested area where the conflict between Peru and Ecuador was played out in the mid-1990s.
ODECOFROC, the Organisation for the Development of the Frontier Communities of Cenepa, in a document dated 12 January, has once again denounced collusion between a group of informal miners and the Afrodita company aimed at illegally transforming this indigenous territory into a mining area, causing irreversible damage to the eco-system of the Cordillera del Condor.
The Awajún further accuse Afrodita of opening up a track that allows Ecuadorian miners to operate illegally across the frontier and of implicating unwary community leaders in their operations.
During the government of Alan Garcia, ODECOFROC approved the creation of a national park in the area following a process of prior consultation in 2005. This was not followed up. Since then, the Awajún and Wampis, frustrated by the piecemeal process of community land titling, have unilaterally declared their full rights over their territories. In the absence of action by the regional government, some communities have taken matters into their own hands and evicted illegal miners from their territory.
Official inaction has effectively allowed illegal gold trafficking networks to develop, and there is a risk of mining activity in this part of Peru replicating the devastation brought about on the Ecuadorian side of the border.