Last update:
2019-05-17

Chinchero Airport, Peru

A long-delayed airport project has stoked divisions between indigenous Chinchero communities. Critics raise concerns over environmental, economic and cultural impacts and the project has been mired in financial controversy over the construction contract


Description:

The tourism industry is a leading proponent of an airport in the town of Chinchero. Perching on a plateau high in the Andes, Chinchero overlooks the Sacred Valley of the Incas with spectacular views of snow-capped mountains towards the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Peru’s most visited tourist attraction. Situated on the road linking Cusco, Peru’s main tourist hub, with Macchu Picchu, the rationale for an airport in Chinchero is to increase the number of tourists and provide easier, more convenient access. But the project has stoked division and conflict since it was first proposed, in the 1970s. Supporters say it  will bring much needed employment and prosperity. But there are critics  concerned over the socioeconomic and sociocultural impacts . Chinchero retains its traditional farming and weaving industries as well as maintaining long-established social structures, customs and practices such as traditional medicine to a high degree in spite of increasing connections with the wider world.[1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Chinchero Airport, Peru
Country:Peru
State or province:Urubamba
Location of conflict:Chinchero District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Tourism services
Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

In 1978 COPESCO - Plan Turístico y Cultural Perú-UNESCO (Peru-UNESCO Tourist and Cultural Plan) selected a plateau of land in Chinchero for as the preferred site for a new airport.[18] . Groundworks preparing for construction of the airport commenced in January 2019 and construction of a major international airport with a 4 kilometer runway is scheduled for completion in 2023.

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Project area:350
Level of Investment:530,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:500- 10000
Start of the conflict:1978
Company names or state enterprises:Kuntur Wasi - Awarded contract to build Chinchero Airport in 2014, contract cancelled by government in January 2018
Valle Sagrado Consortium - Awarded contract for supervision of engineering studies and construction of Chinchero Airport in 2015
ProInversion from Peru - Reponsibility for contractual arrangements for Chinchero airport including award of tender to Kuntur Wasi
Relevant government actors:Government of Peru
Ministry of Transport and Communications
Cusco regional government
OSITRAN - Supervisory Board for Investment in Public Transport Infrastructure
COPESCO - Plan Turístico y Cultural Perú-UNESCO, Peru-UNESCO Tourist and Cultural Plan - https://www.plancopesconacional.gob.pe/index.php
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Confederación Nacional Agraria - https://www.cna.org.pe/
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Desertification/Drought, Oil spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsReport in local newspaper of people refusing to sell their land for the airport receiving death threats[3]
Destruction of archaeological sites
Land speculation
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Corruption
Migration/displacement
Repression
Cancellation of construction contract awarded to Kuntur Wasi consortium and assumed by the government
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Chinchero Airport has displaced people from three communities and triggered social division and unrest. Fertile farmland has will be lost to the airport, weaving livelihoods are at risk and archaeological and cultural treasures will be damaged.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[8] Pablo Garcia, Ruins in the landscape: Tourism and the archaeological heritage of Chinchero, Journal of Material Culture, April 9, 2017
[click to view]

[9] Andrea Delgado, iSumaqKawsay, Allin Kawsay: Conceptions of Well-Being among Quechua Female Vendors in the Face of Change in Chinchero, Peru, Vanderbilt University, 11 May 2018
[click to view]

[18] Mark Charles Rice, Selling Sacred Cities: Tourism, Region, and Nation in Cusco, Peru, May 2014, Stony Brook University
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Blessing or Curse? The Chinchero Airport, Cultural Survival, 13 February 2014
[click to view]

[2] Country Notes: Chinchero, the Airport in the Clouds, Peruvian Times,31 January 2013
[click to view]

[3] Cusco’s new international airport – a step too far?, escapetoperu.com, 16 May 2013
[click to view]

[4] Chinchero Cusco International Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)
[click to view]

[5] Problema social complicaría aeropuerto en Chinchero, Diario Correo, 23 October 2014
[click to view]

[7] Perú : CNA alerta sobre impactos de la construcción del aeropuerto internacional de Chinchero, Via Campesina, 6 January 2017
[click to view]

[12] Chinchero Airport Enters in Doubt, cuzcoeats.com, 26 May 2017
[click to view]

[13] Chinchero Airport Fandango Slips on New Banana Skins as it Crumbles into Costly Confusion, Peruvian Times, 25 January 2018
[click to view]

[15] Airport construction threatens unexplored archaeological sites in Peru, Science, 5 February 2019
[click to view]

[16] Salvemos Chinchero, patrimonio cultural de la humanidad, change.org,
[click to view]

[10] Chinchero — Lost in the Clouds of Poor Engineering, Bad Finance, Peruvian Times, 26 January 2017
[click to view]

[11] 1000s of Peruvians Protest Machu Picchu Airport Construction, Telesur English, 1 February 2017
[click to view]

[6] Machu Picchu is getting an airport. Will it ruin the ruins?, THE STAR, 6 July 2014
[click to view]

[14] Kuntur Wasi consortium says will sue Peru over airport contract, Reuters, 7 February 2018
[click to view]

[17] It would destroy it': new international airport for Machu Picchu sparks outrage, The Guardian, 15 May 2019
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

"Si hasta mi piel es color de la tierra, ¿cómo me voy a ir de esta casa?", Confederación Nacional Agraria CNA, 6 January 2017
[click to view]

Other documents

Artist’s rendition Artist’s rendition of Chinchero Airport. Source: The Moodie Report
[click to view]

Mountain view from Chinchero View from Chinchero, looking out over the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Source: escapetoperu.com
[click to view]

Indigenous girl speaks out Quechua indigenous girl Rocio Ccjuiro speaks out to demand protection of the cultural and natural heritage of Chinchero. Source: Via Campesina
[click to view]

Ruins of an Incan estate The ruins of an Incan royal estate in Chinchero. Source: Felix Lipov/Alamy Stock Photo
[click to view]

Chinchero farmland The town of Chinchero is surrounded by farmland. Source: cuzcoeats.com
[click to view]

Protest against Chinchero Airport Social unrest in 2014, banner translation - indigenous people will oppose Chinchero Airport if their rights are not upheld. Source: diariocorreo.pe
[click to view]

Traditional weaving Traditional weaving survives in Chinchero and is a hallmark of the town’s identity. Source: Cultural Survival
[click to view]

Chinchero Airport location Map showing location of Chinchero Airport site. Source: ProInversion.gob.pe
[click to view]

Chinchero Airport sign Sign announcing preparation of land for Chinchero Airport. Source: tech2.org
[click to view]

Clearing construction site Bulldozers clearing millions of tonnes of earth for construction of Chinchero Airport. Photo: Jorge De La Quintana. Source. The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/may/15/archaeologists-outraged-over-plans-for-machu-picchu-airport-chinchero
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected], Raquel Reyra
Last update17/05/2019
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