Indigenous communities reject Decree 1333 U-turn

13 May 2017

On 8 May, indigenous organizations forming the Pacto de Unidad, a coalition of six indigenous organisations with a national reach, voiced concern at attempts by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) to block an initiative in Congress that would have repealed Legislative Decree No. 1333.

The Kuczynski administration had issued the decree at the beginning of the year as part of its package of measures to promote private investment in infrastructure projects. Indigenous and human rights organizations raised concerns at the time about Decree 1333. They claimed it jeopardised the rights of indigenous communities to their ancestral lands.

In March, the Constitutional Commission in Congress resolved to quash the decree since it considered it infringed indigenous and peasant territorial rights. However, during plenary sessions on 4 May, Congress somehow omitted to debate and/or ratify the committee’s decision.

Communities now fear the decree will be implemented willy-nilly. They point to the lack of any prior consultation about the decree’s content prior to its enactment, notwithstanding the serious repercussions it would have for their livelihoods.

As we have mentioned before, Decree 1333 creates a “special project for access to land for priority investment projects” under the aegis of Proinversión, the agency in charge of promoting private investment.

The decree enables the agency to obtain legal control of territories (saneamiento físico legal) identified for private investment, irrespective of prior forms of possession. It allowed Proinversión to “define the need for the reallocation of communities, coordinate with the necessary entities, and to call for (communal) assemblies” Under the Peruvian constitution, communities alone have the right to convene such assemblies.
The Pacto de Unidad strongly criticised the way the MEF has dealt with the issue, bearing in mind that the government had publicly announced that it and indigenous organizations had reached agreement at a meeting on 28 April. No such agreement was reached, the Pacto claims. Indeed, it had specifically asked Congress to reconsider Decree 1333 due to its negative ramifications for indigenous territories.

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