Ashaninka of Rio Amônia and Saweto against illegal loggers at border Peru-Brazil

On 1 Sept 2014 Edwin Chota and three Asháninka leaders were murdered. Ashaninka communities in this Brazil-Peru border region have long been struggling against illegal logging invasions but received public recognition for their environmental activism.


The Brazil-Peru border has increasingly become confronted with a series of socio-ecological conflicts that augmented pressure on indigenous communities: the advancing of road construction, oil and gas extraction and other mega-projects in the Alto Juruá region, but also, and perhaps most pressing, ongoing deforestation and invasion of loggers into indigenous lands. Indigenous groups in the region, for example Ashaninka communities of the Kampa Rio Amônia Indigenous Territory in the very southwest of Acre, Brazil, and in the village of Saweto across the border are particularly affected and have started to mobilize against threats to their livelihoods.

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Basic Data
NameAshaninka of Rio Amônia and Saweto against illegal loggers at border Peru-Brazil
ProvinceAcre (BR) - Ucayali (PE)
SiteMarechal Thaumaturgo (BR) - Masisea (PE)
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesTimber
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAs outlined above, the Peru-Brasil border has been target of illegal logging, thus not many project details are available. Some of the involved actors: Cameli family of Acre and Venao Forestal from Peru who both entered the TI Kampa do Rio Amônia, and Eco Forestal Tamaya Ucayali SAC from Peru which manages one of the concessions in Saweto and was involved in facilitating access for illegal loggers. The Rainforest Alliance who FSC-certified Venao wood with its Smartwood program. Frauds in forest inventories, timber licensing and the distribution, management and monitoring forest concessions are part of the problem and are common practice in Peru.
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1,500 - 3,000
Start Date01/07/1981
Company Names or State EnterprisesVenao Forestal from Peru - condemned for illegal logging invasions in Ashaninka territory
Madeireira Cameli from Brazil - accused of illegal logging
Rainforest Alliance from United States of America - its SmartWood program certified illegally logged wood with FSC
Eco Forestal Tamaya Ucayali SAC from Peru - manages one of the concessions in Saweto, accused of facilitating illegal logging and corruption
Relevant government actorsFederal Supreme Court Acre

FUNAI (National Indian Foundation) and IBAMA (environmental agency) in Brazil

Local administration and police / military; Peruvian government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersApiwtxa - Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia


Grupo de Trabalho Transfronteiriço para a Proteção da Serra do Divisor e Alto Juruá (Brasil – Peru)

SOS Amazônia


Instituto de Bien Común

Centro de Trabalho Indigenista

Comitê para Democratização da Informática

Organização dos Povos Indígenas do Rio Juruá (OPIRJ)

Comissão Pró Índio do Acre (CPI-AC)

Organização dos Povos Indígenas do Acre, Sul do Amazonas e Noroeste de Rondônia

Upper Amazon Conservancy

The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Active patrolling and monitoring of the area against loggers, including photo documentation
Speech at UN and other public statements
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Fires, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Potential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Violent targeting of activists
Land demarcation
Development of AlternativesStronger regulations against illegal logging as well as trade with and certification / false documentation of illegal wood; stop corruption in forest concessions; consider stop of trade with noble wood at all; protect indigenous communities in the area; apply regulations against logging and associated crimes and violence
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Not yet. The fight still goes on and illegal logging has not been stopped - and might be even increasing throughout the region, leading to insecurity, deforestation and the so-far unpunished assassination of four indigenous activists. Institutions remain weak and companies have not been punished for past socio-environmental crimes, fake certification, etc.. Nevertheless, the environment activism of the two communities has received international and regional recognition, and it seems that this has contributed to more support for the communities, indigenous rights and environmental justice.
Sources and Materials

19. Actualidad Ambiental (2014): Continúa búsqueda de asháninkas asesinados por madereros ilegales en Ucayali. 12.09.2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

6. Schertow, J. (2007): Ashaninka threatened, prepared to take action., 29.08.2007. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

16. Servindi (2014): ¿Qué sucedió en Alto Tamaya-Saweto? (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

25. Upper Amazon (2014): Peru Promises to Title Saweto in Response to the Murders. September 2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

1. Fellet, J. (2012): Na fronteira Brasil-Peru, índios se mobilizam contra obras binacionais. BBC Brasil, 23.04.2012. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

2. Caretti, G.; de Haro, I. (213): Asháninka, treinta años de resistencia indígena en Perú por conservar la tierra. RTVE, 01.11.2013 (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

3. Thenório, I. (2008): Pressionados por madeireiras, índios peruanos fogem para o Brasil. G1 Globo Amazônia. 10.10.2008. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

5. Fellet, J. (2012): Funai alerta para risco de genocídio de índios isolados no Acre. BBC Brazil, 19.04.2012. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

20. Actualidad Ambiental (2014): Asháninka asesinado había denunciado amenazas de taladores ilegales pero autoridades no le hicieron caso. 09.09.2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

23. BNDES (2015): BNDES approves R$ 6.6 million project from the Amazon Fund to the Ashaninka Indigenous People in Acre. Brazilian Development Bank, 26.02.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

18. Luna, N. (2014): Cuatro viudas contra el tráfico de madera. OjoPúblico, 10.12.2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

10. Chaves, L. (2018): Foi o pior exemplo da nossa história”, diz Ashaninka sobre desmatamento ilegal praticado por empresa dos Cameli. Página 20 Online, 27.05.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

8. Piyako, B. (2018): The appeal of the Ashaninka People of the Amazon. Statement by Benki Piyako at the UN in Geneva, published at Shan Newspaper Online Magazine. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

24. ProPurús (2013): ProPurús y la comunidad nativa Alto Tamaya – Saweto participan en encuentro binacional. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

17. García, F. (2017): Familiares de líderes nativos asesinados en Saweto exigen agilizar investigación. El Comercio, 21.09.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

21. APIWTXA (2008): Aldeia Apiwtxa, Terra Indígena Kampa do Rio Amônea, 12 de agosto de 2008. Public letter. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

4. Instituto Socioambiental (2014): Ashaninka. Instituto Socioambiental, Online Portal. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

22. APIWTXA (2008): Reunião Transfronteiriça para a Proteção da Serra do Divisor e Alto Juruá (Brasil-Peru). Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia, 14.10.2008. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

7. APIWTXA (2018): Carta aberta da APIWTXA sobre decisão judicial que afeta a Terra Indígena Kampa do Rio Amônia. Blog of the Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

9. CPI Acre (2018): Apoio aos Ashaninka da Terra Indígena Kampa do Rio Amônia. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

14. Schertow, J. (2011): Brazil: Funai suspects hunting of indigenous peoples by drug traffickers from Peru., 09.08.2011. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

11. APIWTXA (2009): O desmatamento no Peru já chegou à Fronteira brasileira. Blog of the Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia, 04.12.2009. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

13. FSC-Watch (2007): Certification of Forestal Venao, Peru: another FSC credibility disaster, courtesy of SmartWood and WWF. FSC-Watch, 20.07.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

12. Thenório, I. (2009): Peruanos invadem parque brasileiro na Amazônia para roubar madeira nobre. Globo G1, 13.03.2009. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

15. Carvalho, E. (2014): Índios ashaninka do Peru pedem ajuda a 'irmãos do Brasil' após mortes. Globo G1, 04.12.2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

26. Upper Amazon (2017): Saweto Receives Soros Foundation Award for Environmental Activism. November 2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

Media Links

“If not us then who? Our fight” (Awarded short documentary - Saweto environmental activism)
[click to view]

TV Report about Venao Forestal invasions
[click to view]

"Entrevista com Edwin Chota" (Interview April, 2013 - Spanish)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Denuncia por Tala Ilegal Saweto Ucayali (PDF, 2014)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMax Stoisser
Last update09/11/2018