The highway will connect Puerto Esperanza (in southeastern Peru) with the interoceanic route through Peru and Brazil. Thus, according to the NGO, the journey will invade a part of the so-called "Amazonian Border of the Uncontacted", a region that is located along the Peruvian-Brazilian border and has the highest concentration of isolated indigenous peoples in the world.
"If the road goes ahead, it will destroy isolated indigenous peoples and their 'development' will end forever," denounced Survival International director Stephen Corry, who asked the Government of Peru for "respect for fundamental human rights and for compliance with the law".
Despite the fact that the Peruvian Congress rejected the construction of the highway in 2012, the works have continued illegally during these years, and now the project has been proposed again by Carlos Tubino, from the Fuerza Popular political party.
In addition, the new route has the backing of Miguel Piovesan, a controversial Catholic priest who has described the indigenous peoples of the region as "prehistoric" and who has lashed out at international NGOs for expressing their concerns about this plan.
In fact, in his parish bulletin, the priest declared: "We do not accept the idea of isolation as a natural desire of them. We do not verify it. They are entelechies of those who only know the indigenous peoples by visiting or by research based on hypotheses that never they are checked in the field. "
However, according to data from Survival International, around 80% of the 3,000-4,000 inhabitants of the area are indigenous, and most are opposed to this project. The NGO estimates that there are around 15 uncontacted tribes in Peru, many of whom are in the region where the road would be built.
For Emilio Montes, president of the indigenous organization FECONAPU, this highway does not benefit the indigenous people, "but rather the illegal loggers, miners and oil workers and also drug traffickers." "Attempts against the lives of our isolated brothers, like the Mashco-Piros (…) We need other types of development with sustainable management of our resources," he concluded.
Photo: Uncontacted Mashco-Piro Indians in 2011. They are one of many tribes that could be impacted by the road © Jean-Paul Van Belle