Unlike the interests of big oil companies, the Wampis revere the sanctity of the forests and mountains in which they live.

On November 29, 2015, the Wampis nation, an Indigenous community of Peru, declared plans to become an autonomous government. Now, Peru's first self-governing Indigenous community has won a major victory toward having their autonomy officially recognized.

From now on, if the Peruvian government disagrees with decisions made by the Wampis government, it will have to take the Indigenous community to court, The Independent reported on Friday. This includes decisions involving oil extraction in regions inhabited by the Wampis, who are critical of multinational oil companies destroying their environment.

Earlier this week, Peru's Commission of Indigenous Peoples was approached by the Wampis, seeking assistance to formally legalize their autonomy with the Peruvian government. Having their autonomous government formally recognized will also afford the Wampis greater protection for their ancestral territory, traditional, sustainable ways of living, food security and a cooperative coexistence with "Pachamama," or Mother Earth.

Having established their own Indigenous government, the Wampis are exercising their rights to fend off major oil companies who threaten to rob their land.

An initial victory was won in March when Lima's Fourth Constitutional Court ruled that a private oil company that had previously been granted permission from the Peruvian government to conduct surveys on Wampi land could no longer continue their work without the approval of self-governing indigenous community. The company halted their work without undergoing consultations.

In an email to the New Internationalist, Andres Noningo Sesen, Waimaku (Wampis Visionary), said that, “We will still be Peruvian citizens but now we will have our own government responsible for our own territory. This will allow us to defend our forests from the threats of logging, mining, oil and gas and mega dams. As every year goes by these threats grow bigger.”

Noningo Sesen added that, “This unity will bring us the political strength we need to explain our vision to the world and to the governments and companies who only see the gold and oil in our rivers and forests. For them, too often we are like a small insect who they want to squash. Any activity planned in our territory that will affect us will now have to be decided by our own government which represents all our communities.”

The Wampis, who describe themselves as being "Forest Peoples," revere the sanctity of the forests and mountains in which they live in.

 

Photo: EFE

 

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