The indigenous communities Camentsa and Inga and other indigenous groups in Putumayo suffer anguish and worry because of the plan to construct a new segment of a road that crosses a strategic area which produces water in the Colombian Amazon region called Vinchioc, which in Camentsa language means Place of Winds. This is the same area that contains their Sacred Places, where their Spirits make water, the source of life, in an area that is transitional between the Andean and Amazon regions, and which was declared a Biosphere region by UNESCO.
In 1996 the Ministry of the Environment denied to INVIAS ( the National Institute for Road Construction) the environmental license to build this road. However, to the total shock of the indigenous residents of the Sibundoy Valley, in December 2008 the same Ministry issued the license. The planned road not only threatens the indigenous communities with extinction but also will cause immense damage to the environment in both Higher and Lower Putumayo. According to technical studies made by INVIAS, 15,000 hectares of original native forest will have to be cut, in order to construct 27 kilometers of road. This road is financed by loans from the Inter American Development Bank ( IADB)/ Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo ( BID). The initial phase will cost US$53 million and the total cost is to be US$203 million.
The Camentsa and Inga communities worry about declarations by government officials saying they were consulted, since the communities were not properly consulted. Many of them do not understand Spanish. Both nations are original from that territory, born from Mother Earth in the Sibundoy Valley. But as a consequence of this road, which they expect will virtually dry up their sources of water and which is designed to facilitate entry of multinational mining companies’ projects in the valley, they are afraid of disappearing both physically and culturally from the face of the planet. This road project runs contrary to the Colombian Constitutional Court’s Decision # 004 of January 26, 2009, which orders the protection of 32 indigenous communities of the Amazon region of Colombia.
Both the Camentsa and the Inga presented before a judge a Popular Action requesting to be consulted and suggesting that instead of constructing a new road, the Colombian Government should improve the existing road, leaving the forest intact.
Indigenous communities and now engaged in obtaining environmental and engineering studies which will demonstrate the feasibility of improving the existing road.
Please write to the following :
Director of INVIAS Carlos Rosado- Zúñiga email@example.com and Jose Ignacio Muñoz- Director of CORPOAMAZONIA to firstname.lastname@example.org asking them that the communities be consulted and the existing road be improved and modernized instead of destroying the native forest.
Victoria Marquez – Mees, Executive Secretary Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (IADB/ BID) MICI@iadb.org, email@example.com requesting approval to stop disbursement of funds for this road project, since a legal action is pending.
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