Lima Peru, March 28, 2022–“In 2020, the Federación Nativa del Río Madre de Dios y Afluentes (FENAMAD), an organization that defends the life and territory of the Indigenous people of Madre de Dios, highlighted that in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peruvian State allowed the company Caneles Tahuamanu to resume cutting down timber in the territory of the Mashco Piro people, a community that lives in voluntary isolation. 

“FENAMAD and its allies urged the Ministry of Culture to take action to protect the Mascho Piro people, whose culture and safety was put at risk by the logging activity. The Ministry of Culture declined to respond to FENAMAD. Due to the silence of public authorities, FENAMAD published a public statement denouncing the situation. 

“With this public alert, FENAMAD fulfilled its role of defending the life and integrity of people living in isolation, as it has been doing for more than two decades. FENAMAD has also submitted a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect Indigenous peoples living in isolation.

“In response to the public statement that FENAMAD issued, the logging company sent a notarized letter to FENAMAD, which not only urged the group to rectify its complaint but also demanded that FENAMAD admit that it had been aiding illegal logging. FENAMAD declined to issue a statement, affirming that it can prove all its claims against Canales Tahuamanu, clarifying that it had never helped an illegal logging operation. Canales Tahuamanu sued FENAMAD through an injunction, alleging that FENAMAD violated its honor, reputation, and public image.

“In 2021, a court in Madre de Dios reviewed the case but neglected to evaluate the evidence provided by FENAMAD, siding with the logging company and in some points, parroting its talking points. In turn, FENAMAD filed a legal complaint and is still awaiting a response. 

“While FENAMAD has experienced ongoing criminalization, the courts have not responded to requests for protectionary measures for the Mashco Piro people, which are still urgently needed. On February 21, the First Civil Court of Madre de Dios declared that FENAMAD must comply with earlier orders and publish a retraction letter as requested by the logging company. 

“As the courts side with a company harassing FENAMAD, Earthrights will continue to support its work to defend the human rights of Indigenous communities in the Amazon region.” 

Kate Fried, EarthRights International
(202) 257.0057