, Ashaninka threatened, prepared to take action Ashaninka threatened, prepared to take action
, Ashaninka threatened, prepared to take action
Cultural Preservation Story 138

Ashaninka threatened, prepared to take action

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, Ashaninka threatened, prepared to take action
August 29, 2007
 

On a recent expedition to supervise the Peru-Brazil border, the Brazilian Ashaninkas received death threats from a task leader of the Peruvian company Venao Forestal—raising concerns about the possibility of violent clashes in the future. Venao is also manipulating and creating conflict among the Ashaninka, exploiting them for wood.

Venao is one of many companies that illegally crosses into Brazil to log trees like mahogany and cedar.

The Ashaninka Society of the Rio Amônia sent out a notice of concern regarding the actions of Venao, and is calling for immediate action by the government to end the petty and irresponsible conduct of Venao (who, according to OlyEcology, “is infamous in Ucayali, Peru for their indifference to laws, indigenous people, and the rainforest environment. They have built an illegal, non-state sanctioned logging road from the banks of the Ucayali to the Juruá basin on the Brazilian border. This is no small skid trail, but a network of roads whose main trunk extends over 120 kilometers”.)

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The Ashaninka have also warned that they will take action to stop the advancement of exploitation with the intention of appealing to “international courts to protect Brazilian sovereignty, their territory, the preservation area, and the still existent biodiversity of the region.”

Further, the Ashaninkas demand they be consulted. They point out that Venao, who was FSC certified by SmartWood in April of this year, have not received permission to be present on their lands, and so they also hope to have the certification cancelled.

Three months ago, The Ashaninka Society began a blog, called Apiwtxa (in Portuguese, but here’s an english translation). You can get further information there.

From Global Voices Online – The Ashaninkas are the largest indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon and differently from the majority of the South American original dwellers, their cultural identity is greatly preserved. Apart from being among the native nations of the continent connected with the traditional use of Ayahuasca, the Ashaninkas are specially known for their use of beautiful cotton robes, or cushmas, which are woven by the Ashaninka women for the men of their tribe. Cushmas are an Ashaninka’s most prized possession and there is a very long tradition of giving and exchanging cushmas and cloth with nyomparis (or trading partners) which linked distant Ashaninka villages into cycles of meetings, collaboration and resource sharing.

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Accounts from the beginning of the last century tells about some Ashaninka groups that escaped from the Peruvian “caucheiros” [rubber tappers], and today a few hundred of them live on the Brazilian side of the border. There are stories about the braveness of the skilled warriors who expulsed the wild Amahuakas from the area around the Amonia River in the Upper Juruá. These few groups achieved the ownership of their land in the 90s, after many decades of struggle against the successive waves of colonization, and nowadays they strive to engage in activities that can help them to communicate with the world, and better defend their land and their culture from their current enemies. {…}

It’s been a month since the blog of the Ashaninka Society of the Rio Amônia (Apiwtxa), has been decrying that workers from the Peruvian company Venao Forestal had illegally crossed into Brazil, and were now logging mahogany and cedar there. On a recent expedition to supervise the border, the Brazilian Ashaninkas were received with death threats from a task leader of the Peruvian company, which raised some worries about the possibility of violent clashes in the region. The power of the Internet and the blogs for outreach and networking have recently been discovered by some of the young leaders of these communities, and this fact is surely making a difference in the present struggles faced by their people. {…}

The blog from the Ashaninka Society of the Rio Amônia (Apiwtxa) has been the instrument for announcing that the group would “take immediate action to stop the advance of this exploitation”, and the intention to “appeal to international courts to protect Brazilian sovereignty, their territory, the preservation area, and the still existent biodiversity of the region.” It is important to follow what will be done in a certification system which certifies a company deserving the blacklist. (source)

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