A Brazilian expert on Amazonian Indians has warned that uncontacted tribes in the most remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon "could disappear within three years," if nothing is done to protect them.
The dire warning was made at an emergency meeting about the tribes by Brazilian indianist José Carlos Meirelles. Meirelles was in a plane earlier this year when iconic photographs of uncontacted Indians were taken, wearing body paint and poised to fire arrows at the intruders.
During the meeting a government spokesman admitted that illegal loggers have invaded the uncontacted Indians' land, and revealed that he knew of 12 illegal logging camps. The admission comes after denials earlier this year that logging was affecting the tribes.
The meeting concluded with a powerful statement denouncing the weakness of the Peruvian government and a long list of demands. These include the removal of loggers who have invaded the Indians' land and the outlawing of "forcing first contact" with them.
"In Peru there is no government institution able to take responsibility for protecting and defending uncontacted tribes," the statement, called the "Declaration of Pucallpa", reads. "Important decisions about these people are taken by ministers, public bodies and companies who agree with the government's policies of resource exploitation."
The meeting was held in Pucallpa, a jungle town in Peru connected to the capital city by a highway that has split one of Peru's uncontacted tribes in two. It was organized by an indigenous federation specially set up to defend uncontacted tribes, CIPIACI, and Brazil's Center for Indigenist Work (CTI).
Survival International's (an organization dedicated to protect tribal peoples human rights) director, Stephen Corry, commented on the subject, "The admission by officials that they know of 12 illegal logging camps in just one of the areas inhabited by uncontacted Indians is startling, particularly after their previous denials that logging was having any impact at all. They must take action now to close them down."
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