Last weekend, April 28th to May 1st, more than 1,600 participants met in Tarapoto, Peru for the VIII Pan-Amazonic Social Forum (FOSPA). FOSPA is a regional and thematic forum, within the World Social Forum, that meets every two years. The participants comprised of representatives of civil society from eight Amazon basin countries. The Forum concluded with 24 proposals written to protect forests, water, lands, and indigenous peoples’ rights.
An important result of the FOSPA was a product of the work made by representatives from social movements, indigenous leaders, and academics in the creation of the Tarapoto Declaration. The declaration’s purpose is “to denounce and fight the corruption associated with the extractivist model and extractive megaprojects in the Amazon and Andes regions”. The focus of the agreement was on the corruption and impact made by the Brazilian companies investigated in the Lava Jato operation. The Lava Jato operation included companies from a dozen countries in Latin America and Africa including Odebrecht construction giant. The investigation shows that these companies made large bribes to high-level public officials in order to gain work contracts in the Amazon region. Odebrecht confessed to spending almost 800 million dollars in bribes from 2001 to 2016. The United States Department of Justice reported that the bribes made by Obebrecht alone profited the company three billion dollars. The representatives at FOSPA created the proposal to report and act upon such corruption.
Other important takeaways from the FOSPA included a report on the number of environmental activists murdered in 2016. CPT recorded 61 activists killed during 2016 in Brazil, including 47 from the Amazon region. From this report and others like it, representatives at FOSPA created a proposal to work towards ending violence in their communities. The importance of indigenous peoples’ collective rights and ancestral knowledge was brought to the FOSPA. One of the FOSPA proposals declares it is the responsibility of the states to defend the knowledge of community elders, as well as respect the ideas of young people and children. This was emphasized in terms of protecting the environment.
Since 2008 RP have been present in San Martin Province working closely with Chipaota community located in the upper Amazon basin adjoining the northwestern border of Cordillera Azul National Park in Northern Peru. When we start working with Chipaota community we faced an unsustainable harvesting and overexploitation of the Piassaba palm species (Aphandra natalia) that led to reduction in their population. We helped 40 families from the community to create Ecomusa, a community-owned business which produces and markets brooms from the fiber. We develop this business model based on a 5-year sustainable management plan which has been approved twice, in 2009 and 2015. At this point, RP continues to be promoted this project as a model for sustainable development to be replicated in other forest communities, by the local government.
To read more about the Lava Jato investigation: http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/02/corruption-brings-down-an-empire-odebrecht-in-brazil/
RP Latin America Director of Projects being part of FOSPA Peru.