Saturday, January 30, 2010

Indigenous People’s Exchanges Amongst Philippines and Peru Promoted by CBCD and ALDAW

Through A Christensen Fund grant “Linking Networks on Pastoralism and Mobile production systems”, Dario Novellino (research at the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) of the University of Kent and CEESP member) has facilitated the establishment of solidarity links between the indigenous communities of Palawan and those of Madre de Dios (Peru) who have resisted and are resisting mining for more than two decades.

The establishment of this linkage took place right at the time when indigenous peoples of the Amazonian Peru had began various forms of open resistance against hydrocarbon extraction in their traditional territories. The solidarity link between the IPs of Peru and Palawan is being consolidated through the collaboration of the Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW), the Peoples and Plants International (PPI) and, specifically, through the personal efforts of Dr. Miguel Alexiades (CBCD staff and PPI co-director). Such exchange promotes the sharing of experiences as a way of 1) fostering reflection and joint actions through the establishment of strategic alliances; and 2) addressing common problems regarding indigenous links, rights and claims over ancestral homelands and cultural landscapes.

The envisaged goal is to enable the production of jointly produced video materials that could be used to exert pressure at a national and international policy level.

Julio Cusurichi, representing the indigenous organization COINBAMAD (Consejo Indigena de la Cuenca Baja de Madre De Dios) and winner of the well-known award, the Goldman Prize - arrived in the Philippines on July 2009, leaving the country after 21 days. He traveled to Palawan (Philippines) accompanied by Dr. Novellino and the ALDAW (Ancestral Domain/Land Watch) staff. In Palawan, local indigenous organizations (Bangsa Palawan Philippines and NATRIPAL) facilitated the dialogue between Julio and different Palawan communities, while Dr. Novellino helped in the simultaneous translation from Spanish to Palawan language. During his stay, Julio met many indigenous leaders and communities’ members (including women and children) and shared his experience and lessons regarding the impacts of mining and other forms of commercial extractivism upon cultural landscapes and ancestral homelands. Participatory videos showing the impact of mining and oil extraction in Madre de Dios (Peru) have been shown also to the most isolated Palawan communities.

Through Julio’s visit, a process of direct exchange between grassroots indigenous mobilization in Madre de Dios, Peru and local indigenous anti-mining movements in Palawan has been initiated. Before Julio’s departure, this collaboration has been formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding. Video shootings made by Julio Cusurichi in Palawan have been taken back to Peru and will be shown to the Amazonian indigenous communities. A cross-visit of Palawan representatives to the Peruvian Amazon has been planned for the year 2010.

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