Overview

Peru

Decades of struggle set the stage for Peru’s Indigenous Peoples to attain legal title to their lands and forests

Heavily forested Peru has made important progress over recent decades in the legal recognition of the land and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples. But titling these collective rights on the ground has been patchy and poorly resourced. The consequence is that lands and livelihoods often remain at the mercy of long-standing threats —tourism, mining, illegal logging, and infrastructure projects. Threats that have often fuelled Peru’s bitter, protracted civil conflicts and insurgencies.

The government has struggled to meet legal obligations to recognise new territorial and communal reserves; to title indigenous territories at the village level; and to complete the demarcation and cadastral updating of more than 1,000 native communities. The situation is compounded by a lack of capacity within regional governmental institutions and among the local communities themselves. More than 20 million hectares of the Peruvian Amazon claimed by Indigenous Peoples remain untitled.

The Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA) is today working to redress these deficiencies with two national government ministries, two regional governments, and several federations of indigenous organisations. The initiative builds on an innovative partnership piloted by the Tenure Facility in 2015 in the Madre de Dios region of Peru.

 

Who are the Indigenous Peoples of Peru?

The indigenous population accounts for 14% of Peruvians – more than four million individuals – divided between 55 peoples: 83.11% Quechua, 10.92% Aymara and 1.67% Asháninka; with other Amazonian Indigenous Peoples making up the final 4.31%. This last group comprises 51 or more different ethnicities living in almost 1,800 communities in the Amazon.

A visual history of Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ land rights in Peru

1535

The king of Spain claims title over all lands in Peru and grants his representative unlimited authority over the native population.

1535

The king of Spain claims title over all lands in Peru and grants his representative unlimited authority over the native population.

1825

Peru declares independence from Spain.

1825

Peru declares independence from Spain.

1909

Peru enacts a law transforming into state property all lands not already granted under concessions to foreign colonists.

1909

Peru enacts a law transforming into state property all lands not already granted under concessions to foreign colonists.

1957

Through Supreme Decree No. 03, Peru creates 114 indigenous reserves over 155,763 hectares, granting use rights, but the reserves remain state property.

1957

With Supreme Decree No. 03, the government creates 114 indigenous reserves covering 155,763 hectares, granting use rights, but retaining state ownership of the territories in question.

1970s

A boom in gold production fuels conflict between Indigenous Peoples and holders of mining concessions.

1970s

A boom in gold production fuels conflict between Indigenous Peoples and holders of mining concessions.

1979

Indigenous Peoples create the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP).

1979

Indigenous Peoples create the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP).

 

1984

The Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon found COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon River Basin) to defend their land rights, cultures and the environment.

1984

The Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon found COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon River Basin) to defend their land rights, cultures and the environment.

 

 

1991

The Government's proclamation of the Law for the Promotion of Investments in the Agricultural Sector leads to the development of a national cadastre

1991

The Government’s proclamation of the Law for the Promotion of Investments in the Agricultural Sector leads to the development of a national cadastre.

2009

33 die at Bagua when indigenous protesters clash with police and armed forces.

2009

33 die at Bagua when indigenous protesters clash with police and armed forces.

2013

Peru delegates responsibility for titling indigenous communities to regional governments, but progress is slow because the process is complicated, and regional governments lack resources and capacity.

2013

Peru delegates responsibility for titling indigenous communities to regional governments, but progress is slow because the process is complicated, and regional governments lack resources and capacity.

2015

FENAMAD and the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA) begin work with the Tenure Facility.

2015

FENAMAD and the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA) begin work with the Tenure Facility.

2017

FENAMAD, SPDA, and GOREMAD pioneer a unique partnership among an indigenous federation

2017

Five indigenous communities in Madre de Dios advance collective title for lands covering 64,000 hectares, thanks to training and legal support from FENAMAD. Shiringayoc receives title while Puerto Luz, Boca Pariamanu and Shintuya are ready for official registration of theirs. Tipishca geo-references 40% of its territory.

2017

FENAMAD and SPDA publish a ground-breaking report on land tenure, and together with GOREMAD pioneer a unique partnership among indigenous federations .

2017

FENAMAD and SPDA publish a ground-breaking report on land tenure, and together with GOREMAD pioneer a unique partnership among indigenous federations

2018

Achuar people’s victory against Chilean oil company Geopark sets legal precedent

2018

A legal precedent is set by the Achuar people’s victory against oil company GeoPark.

2019

SPDA support helps secure the registration of the first three reserves established in favour of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact.

2019

SPDA support helps secure the registration of the first three reserves established in favour of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact.

2019

Peru’s president promises to eliminate the gap in the titling process for native territories by 2021.

2019

Peru’s president promises to eliminate the gap in the titling process for native territories by 2021.

2020

The most recent SPDA-led project strengthens legal rights over more than 3.

2020

The most recent SPDA-led project strengthens legal rights over more than 3.5 million hectares of indigenous territories nationwide. The government recognises publicly, however, that 669 native communities still lack title.

1438

The Incas build the largest empire in the Americas, centred in Cuzco and extending over a vast region from present day Ecuador to Chile.

1438

The Incas build the largest empire in the Americas, centred in Cuzco and extending over a vast region from present day Ecuador to Chile. Their dominance over the Amazon and its peoples is limited.

1824

Independence leader Simón Bolivar proclaims the right of Indigenous Peoples to own their land.

1824

Independence leader Simón Bolivar proclaims the right of Indigenous Peoples to own their land.

1893

Peru passes a law encouraging the settlement of the Amazon by foreign colonists.

1893

Peru passes a law encouraging the settlement of the Amazon by foreign colonists.

1920

In response to peasant uprisings, Peru’s first constitution is promulgated.

1920

In response to peasant uprisings, Peru’s first constitution is promulgated. It lays a foundation for the later recognition of indigenous community rights.

1968

General Juan Velasco Alvarado seizes control of Peru in a military coup, and introduces a new agrarian reform law in June 1969.

1968

General Juan Velasco Alvarado seizes control of Peru in a military coup, and introduces a new agrarian reform law in June 1969. This saw large land estates formed into cooperatives, both to preserve traditional communalfarming systems, and to prevent the emergence of unproductive minifundia. The cooperatives had very mixed success, and the majority were converted into individual private holdings during the 1980s.

1970s

The government recognises the first indigenous communities in Madre de Dios—Palma Real and...

1970s

The government recognises the first indigenous communities in Madre de Dios—Palma Real and Shintuya – passes important legislation, and formalises property rights for 1,200 indigenous communities in the Amazon, covering 11 million hectares and 17% of the national rainforest.

1982

Indigenous Peoples of the Madre de Dios region form the Native Federation of the River Madre de Dios and Tributaries (FENAMAD) to defend their rights.

1982

Indigenous Peoples of the Madre de Dios region form the Native Federation of the River Madre de Dios and Tributaries (FENAMAD) to defend their rights.

1985

Indigenous communities in Madre de Dios region clash with invading miners, and a 16-year-old indigenous youth is killed in San José de Karene the following year.

1985

Indigenous communities in Madre de Dios region clash with invading miners, and a 16-year-old indigenous youth is killed in San José de Karene the following year.

1993

Peru dismisses two judges and forces a land-grabbing invader to vacate the lands of the indigenous community of Barranco Chico, after FENAMAD brings a case before the Supreme Court.

1993

Peru dismisses two judges and forces a land-grabbing invader to vacate the lands of the indigenous community of Barranco Chico, after FENAMAD brings a case before the Supreme Court. The same year, FENAMAD wins landmark International Labor Organisation case against gold miner Michael Dianda.

2011

Peru passes the Law of Prior Consultation of Indigenous or Original Peoples, requiring these to be consulted before legislation or other actions are taken that could affect their rights.

2011

Peru passes the Law of Prior Consultation of Indigenous or Original Peoples, requiring these to be consulted before legislation or other actions are taken that could affect their rights.

2013

Infierno receives clear title to its communal territory with support from FENAMAD—a first in Madre de Dios.

2013

Infierno receives clear title to its communal territory with support from FENAMAD—a first in Madre de Dios.

2016

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) establishes a new category of...

2016

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) establishes a new category of membership for Indigenous Peoples’ organisations, recognising the important role they play in the conservation of the planet.

2017

FENAMAD and the Ministry of Culture agree to strengthen defences of Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation.

2017

FENAMAD and the Ministry of Culture agree to strengthen defences of Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation. FENAMAD also ensures the boundaries of indigenous territories can be easily looked up.

2018

SPDA scales up innovative partnership to build capacity of national and regional governments to title the lands and forests of indigenous communities.

2018

SPDA scales up innovative partnership to build capacity of national and regional governments to title the lands and forests of indigenous communities. FENAMAD and SPDA sign agreement to further the development of Indigenous Peoples in Madre de Dios.

2018

SPDA and the Ministry of Agriculture agree to work together to formally recognise the land titles of indigenous communities.

2018

SPDA and the Ministry of Agriculture agree to work together to formally recognise the land titles of indigenous communities.

2019

An innovative legal formula, developed by the SPDA and Ministry of Agriculture, leads to landmark guidelines demarcating territories in communities found in Natural Protected Areas.

2019

An innovative legal formula, developed by the SPDA and Ministry of Agriculture, leads to landmark guidelines demarcating territories in communities found in Natural Protected Areas.

2019

Representatives of the Peruvian Society of Environmental Law and the Ministry of Agriculture sign an agreement with SPDA

2019

An innovative legal formula, developed by the SPDA and Ministry of Agriculture, leads to landmark guidelines demarcating territories in communities found in Natural Protected Areas.