The Citizens’ Committee for the Defence of the Water Supply for the City of Iquitos and the Head of the Allpahuayo Mishana Nature Reserve have both raised the alarm regarding the appearance of three gold dredging boats near indigenous communities along the Nanay River in the buffer zone of the reserve. Gold dredging activities not only threaten the environment but also the quality of the water supply to the city of Iquitos which draws water from the river.

They are asking the authorities to take steps to expel the dredgers from the area, as they did some eight years ago when faced with a similar threat.

José Manuyama of the Water Committee warns that, if allowed to operate, the dredging boats will threaten the quality of the water and, if gold mining becomes established, it will bring to the area social problems, such as theft, people trafficking, prostitution, organised crime, drug trafficking and corruption, as has occurred in other areas.

He is appealing to the police, the navy, environmental prosecutors, the National Parks Service and the Loreto regional Government to take action, arguing that “we seek development in the Amazon that is open to economic activities that do not collide with the present and future ecology of our peoples, that conserves nature and the best of our ancestral cultures.”

Protests have been staged in front of the Nanay police station and the Nanay naval station.

The head of the nature reserve, Herman Ruiz, has informed that the National Parks Service has registered the illegal presence of dredgers near three indigenous communities and has informed the Environment Ministry. It appears that the dredging operators had approached the three communities to offer economic compensation for their activities, but the offer was rejected.

The reserve authorities have also offered the Navy the use of their control posts to enable them to maintain a permanent presence in the area.