Categories Global environmental change, Newsflash, Peru, Territorial integrity, community wellbeing, Video stories

Video: Interview with Julio Cusurichi about the Defense of the Territory in the Amazon

First published on 12/06/2019, and last updated on 03/27/2020

Video made by Ashish Kothari, Member of ICCA Consortium Council of Elders, during the fifteenth General Assembly of the ICCA Consortium, in December 2019 in Udaipur, India.

In this conversation, Ashish Kothari interviews Julio Cusurichi, indigenous leader of the Shipibo people of the Peruvian Amazon, President of the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and Tributaries (FENAMAD) and winner of the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize. FENAMAD represents several communities of indigenous peoples, including peoples living in isolation. The organization is a member of the ICCA Consortium and IUCN.

Julio Cusurichi explains the struggles to protect the Amazon and its Indigenous peoples from mass destruction by “development” (mining, roads, dams, etc.). “The first point on our agenda is territory, because if you don’t have territory as an indigenous person, you are in the air,” says Julio Cusurichi.

Faced with various threats (roads, mining, migration to indigenous territories), FENAMAD has adopted a position of dialogue, defending firmly the rights of Indigenous peoples. So far, FENAMAD has managed to secure 500,000 hectares of territory belonging to the communities and 402,000 hectares in a communal reserve. However, beyond these, there are around 800,000 hectares that are territories of peoples in isolation and more than 2 million hectares that also are indigenous territories, which are now included in natural protected areas, so the main challenge is the issue of governance by Indigenous peoples.

The Peruvian government, far from supporting the communities in their development plans and alternative life plans, promotes a destructive development model. In this context, FENAMAD promotes the development of alternative proposals, such as RIA (REDD+ Indígena Amazónica), an alternative to the REDD+ initiative that commodifies natural resources. Through RIA, AIDESEP (Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Forest) and FENAMAD seek to encompass all the existing resources in the territory and propose a model of governance and management of resources for life, including the issue of water and food security.

On a more global level, Julio Cusurichi calls on the world, recalling that the responsibility for mitigating climate change is not only in the hands of Indigenous peoples, but also in the hands of all the people of the world, and in particular of large industries. He recalls the importance of supporting and strengthening the governance initiatives of Indigenous peoples, communities, all ICCAs at the global level.

The video is in English and Spanish. The translator is Daniel Rodríguez, advisor to FENAMAD since 2003 and active in the ICCA Consortium, IUCN and other international networks.

If you want to know more about FENAMAD, we recommend you visit FENAMAD’s website and read the article Fenamad Celebra 38 años de Lucha por las Reivindicaciones Indígenas.

Featured image: Julio Cusurichi at 2019 ICCA Consortium General Assembly © Teddy Baguilat.