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Peruvian jungle: There are already 19 forest defenders killed during the pandemic.

Although there are no official figures, in the last 9 years mafias have killed 89 leaders in the Peruvian jungle. Narcos, loggers, and illegal miners are the biggest threat.

Ulises Rumiche Quintimari, manager of Native Peoples of the Municipality of Pangoa, was found dead this morning. Last Tuesday night, the indigenous leader Ulises Rumiche Quintimari, 39, was returning to his house on his motorcycle in the middle of the Junín jungle. He was going from San Martín de Pangoa to the native community of San Antonio de Sonomoro, where he lived. Suddenly, he was ambushed and shot in the head. Only at dawn, the next day was his body transferred by the authorities to the Satipo morgue.

Rumiche was a member of the Asociación Unión Asháninka y Nomatsiguenga del Valle de Pangoa and had been working since January 2021 as manager of the Original Peoples of the District Municipality of Pangoa, in Junín. He was murdered hours after meeting with the Deputy Minister of Vulnerable Populations, Grecia Rojas Ortiz, in his region.

This crime is the latest in a long list of indigenous leaders and defenders of the Peruvian Amazon who have died at the hands of drug trafficking mafias and illegal logging and mining. Since the pandemic began, there have already been 19 victims in the jungle, including Rumiche. Earlier this month, the president of the Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples, Environment and Ecology Commission of Congress, Margot Palacios, asked the prosecution and the Ministries of the Interior and Justice for a detailed report on the investigations after these murders.

Going back to 2013, the number would rise to 89 murders of environmental defenders and indigenous leaders in the country. This is an estimate from various NGOs since there is no detailed official record.

The report "Global Witness's Last Line of Defense" specified that in 2020 six environmental defenders were murdered in Peru, and illegal logging was one of the main causes. They are: Arbildo Meléndez Grandes, Gonzalo Pío Flores, Jorge Muñoz Saavedra, Lorenzo Caminti, Roberto Carlos Pacheco and Santiago Vega Chota.

He added that the number of murdered forest defenders would be much higher since a large part is not accounted for by the different State agencies. “I can confirm that there are many defenders who die protecting their lands, their forests. They are the ones on the front line, the ones who cannot have access to file complaints, so they cannot appear before the competent authorities,” she declared.

From Arbol International, we strongly reject this fact and raise our voice of protest to demand speed in the investigations. Likewise, we ratify our commitment to continue working for the integrity and well-being of indigenous peoples.

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