• Indigenous peoples in Peru

    Indigenous peoples in Peru

    There are 4 million indigenous peoples in Peru, who are comprised by some 55 groups speaking 47 languages. In 2007, Peru voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Indigenous Peoples in Peru

There are 4 million Indigenous Peoples in Peru, who are comprised of 55 groups speaking 47 languages. Peru voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and has ratified ILO Convention 169. However, the country’s indigenous population are still struggling with extractive activities, such as oil spills and oil palm cultivation, on their territory.

Indigenous Peoples in Peru

According to the 2007 Census, Peru’s population includes more than 4 million Indigenous Persons, of whom 83.11% are Quechua, 10.92% Aymara, 1.67% Ashaninka, and 4.31% belong to other Amazonian Indigenous Peoples. The Database of Indigenous or Original Peoples notes the existence in the country of 55 Indigenous Peoples who speak 47 indigenous languages.

21% of Peru’s territory consists of mining concessions, which are superimposed upon 47.8% of the territory of peasant communities. Similarly, 75% of the Peruvian Amazon is covered by oil and gas concessions.

Peru’s Constitution stipulates that the official languages are Spanish and, in areas where they are predominant, Quechua, Aymara and other aboriginal languages. According to the Ministry of Culture, there are 47 indigenous and native languages in the country. Almost 3.4 million people speak Quechua and 0.5 million Aymara. Both languages are predominant in the Coastal Andes area.

Main challenges for Peru’s Indigenous Peoples

Extractive activities, such as oil spills and oil palm cultivation, and climate change, such as drought and forest fires, are the main threats to native communities and the huge variety of ecosystems and a great wealth of natural resources in Peru.

Currently, 21% of Peru’s territory consists of mining concessions, which are superimposed upon 47.8% of the territory of peasant communities. Similarly, 75% of the Peruvian Amazon is covered by oil and gas concessions.This overlapping of rights to communal territories, the enormous pressure being exerted by the extractive industries, the lack of territorial cohesion and absence of effective prior consultation are all exacerbating territorial and socio-environmental conflicts in Peru.

Watch how the road expansion into the Madre de Dios region in Peru and the following invasion of illegal loggers, miners and plantations is affecting Indigenous Peoples living in the area as the deforestation and pollution are destroying their traditional way of living. 


Case: Wampis sovereignty

Despite the fact that indigenous peoples have not been at the heart of public debate recently, some encouraging news came in 2016 the form of the consolidation of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation (GTANW). The project first saw the light of day in November 2015 with a collective demonstration for autonomy from the Peruvian state on the part of the Wampis people. The Wampis nation achieved jurisdictional sovereignty over their territory of 1,300,000 hectares of land located in the Loreto and Amazonas regions, which they are protecting from outside interest in their natural resources.

The case formed a milestone in indigenous sovereignty as the constitution of this autonomous government forces the Peruvian state to recognise their independence within their own territorial boundaries. Now, the Kandozi and Chapra peoples have announced similar plans.

Watch are short movie about The Wampis Nation and the making of their congress here  


Photo: National strike in Peru, Pativilca-Huaraz highway. Credit: John Commandment

Expectations and uncertainties for Latin America's Indigenous Peoples as a new year begins

The end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 finds Indigenous Peoples in Latin America shaken by an escalation of political and social conflicts that threatens the effective implementation of their rights. We examine some of the main events that have taken place over the last days and weeks in Brazil, Peru and Colombia, their implications for Indigenous Peoples and the resistance agenda of Indigenous movements and organisations in the face of intensifying conflicts in the region.

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Awajún community justice


The people of the Peruvian Amazon have the goal of building an autonomous and intercultural justice system that reincorporates customary law and the dialogued sanctions applied by the wise men and elders. To this end, the Awajún Autonomous Territorial Government is trying to limit monetary reparations and the deprivation of liberty in prison cells that are not prepared for prolonged stays. The challenge lies with the members of the community to rely on their justice system and to stop resorting to the ordinary justice of the State.

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Indigenous women of Peru demand repeal of the law that arms civilians


Under the pretext of fighting against terrorism and drug trafficking, Congress approved, by insistence, Law 31.494, which promotes the arming of civil society groups as a form of self-defense. Indigenous women warned that these armed bands could be used by extractive companies or illegal economies to repress or intimidate the population. The law was passed without the consent of the Indigenous Peoples, violates our autonomy and would overlap with the peasant and rural patrols.

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New Mashuin elected for the Shawi Autonomous Territorial Government  


On the 4th and 5th of November more than 500 Shawi leaders gathered in the community of Nueva Vida, on the banks of the Paranapura River, to elect the new Mashuin, or President, of the Shawi Autonomous Territorial Government. Reninmer Huiñapi Cardenas, from the community of Inchiyac, was elected by popular vote and became the second Shawi Mashuin, for the period 2023-2027. "We are going to defend our territory and consolidate the great dream to have our integral territory recognised," said the new leader.

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The destruction of the Cenepa River in Peru


In the middle of the Awajún territory, the permanent dredging activity and the use of mercury in gold mining activities generate constant contamination of the river and therefore, the water is no longer fit for human consumption. However, the inhabitants of the basin continue to eat the contaminated fish, which directly affects their health. The latest studies reveal that one out of every three children is anemic and has high rates of chronic child malnutrition. Faced with this worrying situation, the Awajún communities are trying to find solutions in an organized manner.

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Peru: the spiral of a never-ending crisis


The crisis we are experiencing is not new. It would seem that we had already hit rock bottom and that we could not fall any lower. However, the days go by and the misgovernment grows stronger. After five different presidents in five years, the only permanent and lasting features in Peru seem to be police repression and an economic model based on the exploitation and export of raw materials.


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