Through a public statement, the indigenous association CHIRAPAQ indicated today that the demands of the indigenous inhabitants of the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM) must be heard in order to strengthen the defense of their territories against the presence of terrorist groups and drug trafficking.
With this statement, CHIRAPAQ supports the request of the indigenous organization Central Ashaninka of the Ene River (CARE), which demands to redirection the strategies and involve indigenous peoples themselves to fight violence in the area. This statement follows the brutal murder of 16 people last Sunday, whose main victims were women, adolescents, and girls.
CHIRAPAQ’s indigenous activist and president, Tarcila Rivera Zea, recalled that the Amazonian and Andean Quechua peoples who coexist in the VRAEM have settled in the area fleeing internal armed conflict in their regions or in search of livelihoods. “They all survive in a place where violence and crime prevail, and where justice and human rights do not exist,” she said.
According to the Official Database of Indigenous Peoples of the Ministry of Culture (BDPI), VRAEM is the ancestral territory of the Ashaninka, Kakinte, Matsigenka, Nomatsigenga peoples. In addition to this, the waves of migrants coming from Ayacucho, Apurímac, and other Andean regions that today make up 60% of the population of the area self-identify as being of Quechua origin.
“Indigenous peoples have suffered for twenty years from the consequences of the internal armed conflict,” Rivera Zea recalled. For this Ayacuchana advocate and woman, Peruvians must regain our humanity, overcome racism, and understand that those who are dying in the VRAEM are also citizens. Likewise, these indigenous peoples “are part of a multicultural and diverse country to which they contribute from their ancestral knowledge and defense of the territory”.
CHIRAPAQ’s public statement also calls on citizens to unite “beyond political rivalries” in the face of these violent acts, and to respect the dignity of victims and their families by urging that their image should not be used to polarize the population soon to the second round of elections.