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In their rush for land in Peru, investors and local officials are grabbing land from poor villagers and contributing to deforestation in the Amazon. Communities are defending their land rights with the help of Oxfam’s determined local partners.
What happened in Santa Clara de Uchunya?
Conflict in Santa Clara de Uchunya - in the Peruvian Amazonia - started in 2015, when villagers gathering wild fruit and medicinal plants in the forest on the west side of the Aguaytia were confronted by security guards from a plantation that was suddenly cutting down the forest. “They asked us who we are, where we are going,” says Manuel Diaz, a former village chief. “We used to go there to hunt and fish; now we can’t anymore.”
According to Diaz, the guards worked for a company now known as Ocho Sur P, which is part of an international agribusiness. The company acquired land title through the regional government to raise oil palms. Its claim lies partly in forestland Santa Clara de Uchunya villagers say has been theirs for generations.
The Federation of Native Communities of Ucayali, known by its Spanish acronym FECONAU, is working with Oxfam’s support to survey and demarcate Santa Clara de Uchunya’s territory, and file claims in local courts to get an official title. They have also requested that the government stop the oil palm plantation’s operations and expansion.