LIMA (AFP) – An isolated Peruvian village in the Amazon rainforest that came under attack by indigenous people wielding bows and arrows is being evacuated by boat, authorities said Wednesday.
Last week some 200 members of the Mashco-Piro ethnic group assaulted Monte Salvado, a small village near Peru’s border with Brazil.
The Mashco-Piro attacked twice, killing villagers’ pets and livestock and carting off food, machetes, pots, pans and rope, according to the government.
There were no reports of injuries but frightened villagers have since been sheltering in a lookout post, prompting authorities to evacuate Monte Salvado and the nearby village of Puerto Nuevo.
“The evacuation of the entire population of the communities of Monte Salvado and Puerto Nuevo to the city of Puerto Maldonado is necessary to protect lives and the security of both the residents and this isolated indigenous group,” the culture ministry said.
Monte Salvado has 39 inhabitants, including 16 children, and Puerto Nuevo has 22.
The government said the interior and defence ministries had coordinated an air evacuation, but heavy rains across the Peruvian Amazon had made it impossible to fly into the area.
The authorities instead dispatched boats to travel by river to the two villages and evacuate them.
The boats will arrive Thursday and are expected to reach Puerto Maldonado on Friday, the culture ministry said.
It said the Mashco-Piro were still lingering around the outskirts of Monte Salvado.
Indigenous peoples’ federation FENAMAD said the invasion was likely an act of desperation caused by the encroachment of illegal loggers and drug traffickers on native people’s lands.
The organisation called on the government to protect the Mashco-Piro and other isolated indigenous peoples living in the Brazil-Peru border region.
“This situation will repeat itself unless urgent measures are taken,” said FENAMAD director Cesar Augusto Jojaje in a Facebook post.
He also urged the government to ban tourist trips to visit the Mashco-Piro, saying isolated indigenous groups risked contracting diseases from outside visitors.