On Oct. 9, the US Supreme Court declined to hear Chevron corporation's bid to block global enforcement of a $19 billion judgment by a court in Ecuador, a victory for 30,000 rainforest dwellers who brought litigation over the pollution of their lands. Chevron had asked the high court to uphold an injunction imposed in March 2010 by US Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York that would have barred worldwide enforcement of Ecuador's judgment. That injunction was overturned in January by the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the oil company could challenge the Ecuadoran judgement "only defensively, in response to attempted enforcement," which the rainforest dwellers had not attempted and might never attempt in New York. The Supreme Court's rejection of the case lets the Second Circuit decision stand.
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on Oct. 12—recognized in Latin America as Día de La Raza—issued an official apology to indigenous communities in the Amazon for deaths and destruction caused by the rubber boom beginning a century ago. From 1912 to 1929 the Peruvian firm Casa Arana, led by rubber baron Julio César Arana with British backing, exploited rubber near La Chorrera in what is now Colombia's Amazonas department. Up 100,000 people were killed and communities devastated in the operations, with indigenous rainforest dwellers forced into slave labor and slain or displaced if they resisted. The situation was brought to the world's attention following an investigation by British diplomat Roger Casement, who had previously documented similar atrocities in the Belgian Congo.
Peru's National Police Anti-Drug Directorate (DIRANDRO) claimed a blow against the resurgent Sendero Luminoso guerillas after intercepting a plane loaded with 350 kilograms (770 pounds) of cocaine in plastic-wrapped bricks when it landed at a clandestine airstrip in a jungle area of Oxapampa province, Pasco region, Sept. 18. The crew of the Bolivian-registered Cessna put up armed resistance before fleeing into the jungle. A manhunt to apprehend them is now underway. DIRANDRO said the cocaine originated in the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), a jungle zone just south of Oxapampa where the "narcosenderista" brothers Víctor, Jorge and Martín Quispe Palomino—known by the respective code-names "José," "'Raúl" and "Gabriel"—are said to control coca production. The cocaine was believed to have been brought to Oxapampa by back-pack along jungle trails, and was to be flown to Bolivia for re-export to Brazil in an operation overseen by wanted Bolivian kingpin William Rosales. (RIA-Novosti, La Republica, InfoSur Hoy, Peruvian Times, Reuters, Sept. 18)
Peru's official human rights ombudsman, Defender of the People Eduardo Vega, is set to convene the first "prior consultation" with Amazonian indigenous peoples on oil development in their territory, under terms of a new law passed earlier this year establishing protocols for the process. The consultation concerns a planned new round of oil contracts planned for Bloc 1AB, currently held by Argentine firm Pluspetrol, in the watersheds of the Pastaza, Corrientes and Tigre rivers in the northeast of Loreto region. The Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the East (ORPIO), with an office in the city of Iquitos, it to represent the impacted indigenous peoples. Vega pledged the process will be executed "with the utmost clarity so that rights of the indigenous peoples will be respected and the same process can serve for other consultations that will subsequently be carried out."
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish), a body of the Organization of American States (OAS), issued a statement Sept. 5 urging Venezuelan authorities "to conduct a thorough investigation" into assertions made by representatives of the Horonami Yanomami organization that an isolated Yanomami community in southern Amazonas state was massacred by outlaw gold-miners who came across the Brazilian border. The statement came days after Venezuela's Minister for Indigenous People Nicia Maldonado and Justice Minister Tareck el Aissami both said that teams sent to the region had found no evidence of a massacre. The IACHR called on both Venezuela and Brazil to pursue a deeper investigation, and report back their findings to the international body.
Venezuelan officials investigating a reported mass killing of Yanomami indigenous people say the have found no evidence of the attack. Minister of Indigenous Peoples Nicia Maldonado said a team travelled to the area by helicopter and failed to locate the bodies witnesses had described finding. "No evidence of any death was found," Maldonado said on state TV. "There is no evidence of murder or fire in either houses or shabonos [communal dwellings] in the communities where the alleged crime took place." Gen. José Eliecer Pinto of the National Guard told Ultimas Noticias newspaper that he had visited four indigenous communities along with other officials and that "everything is fine there." Officials expressed skepticism at claims that outlaw gold miners came across the border from Brazil to attack the settlemet from the air by helicopter. "It would be extremely hard to do," said Gen. Rafael Zambrano, commander of the Venezuelan army unit responsible for the region.
Bolivia's lower house Chamber of Deputies on Sept. 4 voted to extend until Dec. 7 the process of consultation with impacted indigenous communities on the controversial highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), days after the deadline for the consultation process ran out. The Aug. 26 deadline was set by Law 222, passed in February to establish a framework for the consultation—above the protests of indigenous communities opposed to the project.
Amnesty International reports that 45 families from the Quilombo Pontes community in Pirapemas municipality, in Brazil's northeastern Maranhão state, are being systematically threatened and intimidated by gunmen who are patrolling the area. The gunmen are employed by local ranchers who are trying to push the community off the land. Crops and property belonging to the community have been destroyed, and its members are now struggling to provide food for their families. The Pontes community was officially recognised as a quilombo territory—communities of descendants of escaped slaves—in December 2011, but the authorities have not intervened to guarantee the integrity of their land.