On Jan. 27 a group of academics, musicians and human rights activists said they were planning an emergency visit the next day to two indigenous Chilean prisoners to try to find a political solution that could end a hunger strike the prisoners started on Nov. 14. The prisoners--Héctor Llaitul Carillanca, the leader of the militant Mapuche organization Arauco Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), and CAM activist Ramón Llanquileo Pilquimán--were convicted in 2011 of arson and of attacking a prosecutor; this is their third hunger strike to demand a reduction of their sentences. They are now being held in a prison in Concepción, in the central Biobío region.
Rafael Arcangel Quispe Flores, leader of the Bolivian Aymara organization CONAMAQ this month denounced President Evo Morales before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and also before the seat in that city of the International Labor Organization (ILO), whose convention 169 outlines the responsibilities of states to indigenous peoples. Quispe especially stressed the situation at the TIPNIS indigenous reserve on the edge of Bolivia's Amazon, threatened by a pending road project. (De-Bolivia, Dec. 5)
The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled Nov. 19 that a cluster of disputed islets off Central America's Caribbean coast belong to Colombia and not to Nicaragua—but drew a demarcation line in favor of Nicaragua in the disputed waters. The move immedaitely sparked protests in cities across Colombia, including Medellín, Cali and Cartagena. Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos flew to the island of San Andrés, the seat of the disputed archipelago, to support protests there. Slogans included "The fatherland is not for sale," "Why should we quit our sea?," and "ICJ, how much did the multinations give you for this ruling?"
The government of Indonesia this month responded to UN recommendations to recognize the rights of its indigenous peoples by claiming that none live in the country. In a response to the UN's Universal Periodic Review, a four–year human rights check-up for all countries, Indonesia said, "The Government of Indonesia supports the promotion and protection of indigenous people worldwide… Indonesia, however, does not recognize the application of the indigenous peoples concept… in the country."
The UK's Daily Mail this week, citing a letter from indigenous leaders obtained via Brazil's Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), reported that en entire tribe of the Guarani people—consisting of 50 men, 50 women and 70 children—have threatened to commit collective suicide if they are evicted from their traditional lands. The Guarani-Kaiowa tribe are currently camped on lands claimed by a rancher in Brazil's southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and local Judge Henrique Bonachela upheld a petition by the rancher to have the Guarani evicted—dimsissing their claim that they have lived on the land for centuries and it includes ancient burial grounds. Bonachela reportedly imposed a fine equivalent to $240 for every day that the tribe remains on the land, on the banks of the Rio Joguico. The Spanish news agency EFE later cited both CIMI and the Brazilian indigenous affairs agency FUNAI as denying that the Guarani-Kaiowa had threatened mass suicide. A statement on the CIMI website says there are "different interpretations" of the letter issued by the Guarani-Kaiowa community, called Kue Pyelito, in which they denounced the eviction as tantamount to their "collective death." (EFE, CIMI, Oct. 25; Daily Mail, Oct. 24; Combate ao Racismo Ambiental, Oct. 10)
The Inter-ethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) on Oct. 17 issued a "Plan for the Full Life of the Amazon," calling for indigenous-directed development projects, with the necessary funds to be provided by companies that exploit resources in the Amazonian regions. But the document, which was presented to the executive and legislative branches of the Peruvian government, draws a hard line against numerous existing and planned exploitation projects. It states that forests are threatened by 26 hydro-electric projects, particularly naming the Inambari project in Madre de Dios region and the Tambo 40 project in the Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE); that hydrocarbon blocs cover 70% of the Peruvian Amazon, with mineral blocs of an additional 10 million hectares; and that an "inundation" of new roads into indigenous territory constitutes a "grave threat to the autonomous peoples," especially naming the controversial Purús-Iñapari highway in Madre de Dios. The statement called upon Peru's government to comply with International Labor Organization Convention 169 and halt projects that have not been approved in prior consultation with impacted indigenous peoples. (AIDESEP, Oct. 17)
As of Aug. 31 six Mapuche activists were on hunger strike to protest what they consider the Chilean government's repression of struggles by the indigenous group, the country's largest. The strikers include five prisoners in Angol, in the southern region of Araucanía, and Pascual Catrilaf, a machi (healer and spiritual authority) who lives in Temuco, also in Araucanía. A seventh striker, Mewlen Huencho, a werkén (spokesperson) for the Mapuche Territorial Alliance, ended her six-day fast at the Santiago offices of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) after speaking to UNICEF officials on Aug. 31.
A group of judges from Brazil's Regional Federal Tribunal (TRF1) suspended construction of the Belo Monte dam project on the Amazon's Xingu River Aug. 14, finding that indigenous people had not been properly consulted prior to approval of the project. The ruling upheld an earlier decision that declared the Brazilian Congress' authorization of the project in 2005 to be unconstitutional. The decision finds that the Brazilian constitution and ILO Convention 169, to which Brazil is party, require that Congress can only authorize the use of water resources for hydroelectric projects after an independent assessment of environmental impacts and subsequent consultations with affected indigenous peoples.