Most candidates colour-blind when it comes to seeing green
With the attention of the political world in Lima focused on the Guzmán case and the role of the controversial ruling of the JNE (see PSG article), key issues in the election, such as the fate of the environment in Peru, are being largely ignored. Oil spills along the northern Peru oil pipeline (also see PSG article) have been conspicuously ignored by the presidential candidates, except that is for Verónika Mendoza who visited Amazonas last week to examine the damage done there by a burst oil pipeline.
A document produced by Gran Angular highlights the indifference of the candidates to the problem of pollution and contamination. Most of the media in Peru (whose ownership is highly concentrated in the hands of the conservative El Comercio group) buys the line that environmental protection is just another hoop for investors to jump through and that what Peru needs to do is to streamline investment procedures not complicate them.
Prior consultation is in principle one of the routes by which communities could challenge companies on the environmental impact of their proposals. Another route is via the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) documentation which extractive companies have to provide. Gran Angular quotes Pedro Pablo Kuzcynski’s party (Perú por el Kambio) as saying it wishes to “eliminate the greater part of excessive red tape (tramitogía)” as if this was the reason why mining companies are currently reducing their investment in Peru (as opposed to rock-bottom minerals prices). Keiko Fujimori refused to answer when asked whether she would annul decrees that have reduced sanctions for lack of due environmental vigilance on the part of investors. Although Keiko says she would strengthen the system of prior consultation, it was her group in Congress which opposed this most vociferously. Not surprisingly, Alan García’s government programme makes no mention of consulta previa.
The fact that the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) meets next week in Lima for its Seventh International Conference (24 and 25 February) may help raise the profile of environmental degradation as a public policy issue in Peru. The Peru Support Group will be there alongside various international and local organisations to argue that EITI needs to heed more the voice of civil society in its deliberations. As Gran Angular puts it “governments should not only inform about the use of economic resources in the exploitation of their natural resources, but also promote transparency in their environmental policies: mitigation, reparations and/or compensation for environmental impacts”.
We will be reporting from EITI in Lima next week.