Peru: Leader wins Goldman Prize for defending uncontacted tribes

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(Official press release from Survival International)

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Julio Cusirichi Palacios has gained worldwide attention for his efforts in protecting Peru’s native tribes who live in Peru’s Amazon jungle. Above: The Condor Mountain Range
 
© Andina

Indigenous leader Julio Cusirichi Palacios has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his work defending the rights and lives of uncontacted tribes in the Peruvian Amazon.

‘It is my responsibility to defend the rights of indigenous peoples, especially those living in isolation who have no voice, and are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet,’ said Mr Cusirichi, a Shipibo man who has worked closely with local indigenous organization FENAMAD. ‘I need to inform the politicians who are making decisions that affect these peoples, nationally and internationally, and propose viable alternatives.’

Mr Cusirichi is currently involved in a legal struggle in the USA against the American government and three US timber importers in an attempt to halt illegal logging in a reserve set aside for the uncontacted tribes. Mr Cusirichi played a key role in the creation of this reserve in 2002.

In total it is estimated there are about 15 uncontacted tribes in Peru, living in some of the most remote parts of the rainforest. Highly vulnerable to any form of contact because of lack of immunity to outsiders’ diseases, their territories are under huge threat from oil exploration and illegal mahogany logging. 90% of the mahogany is exported to the USA.

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Many congratulations to
Mr Cusirichi and FENAMAD. His prize should go a long way to raising further international awareness of the uncontacted tribes’ existence and concern for their plight. They are, as Mr Cusirichi says, ‘the most vulnerable peoples on the planet’, and they will continue to be unless others follow his example.’
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