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Open Letter: AIDESEP repudiates Ocho Sur palm oil group intimidation, demands buyers step up to protect human rights and forests

National Amazonian Indigenous Peoples’ organisation AIDESEP has issued a further public letter in response to an open letter published by the Ocho Sur palm oil group on 27 June 2022 via the website Agroperu.pe. Read AIDESEP’s original open letter, which demanded urgent actions from the Peruvian State, Ocho Sur's international palm oil buyers, the RSPO and international civil society, here.

AIDESEP's public letter about the communication sent by the Ocho Sur business group.

07/07/2022

The Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), a national Indigenous organisation representing 9 regional organisations, 109 federations and 2439 native communities, categorically rejects the letter of the Ocho Sur oil palm business group of 28/06/2022, which with intimidatory purposes seeks to conceal its "divide and rule" strategy, affecting the self-determination and self-government of the Amazonian Indigenous peoples of Ucayali. AIDESEP exposed a series of verifiable truths regarding the company's bad practices. In this sense, we reiterate and go into greater detail regarding Ocho Sur:

  • The Constitutional Court (TC), in its ruling in case No. 03696-2017-AA of 28/02/2022, neither denies nor confirms the legality of the certificates of possession and title deeds that make up the current Tibecocha estate, owned by Ocho Sur. It did not rule in favour of the company, as the public was led to believe, but rather the TC decided that the discussion of the merits of the case should have taken place in another court. On the contrary, this court pointed out that "there are serious arguments that would allow for the accreditation of considerable environmental damage in the area where the disputed territories are located", in relation to Ocho Sur, which is why it referred this case to the Environmental Evaluation and Oversight Agency (OEFA).
     
  • Operates without environmental certification (confirmed by the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation through letter No. 0582-2022-MIDAGRI-SG/OACID-TRANSP, dated 7/06/2022). Intensive agricultural palm oil production is carried out in the so-called Fundo Tibecocha, of about 6,845.43 hectares, without having an environmental management instrument approved by the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation. It is false when Ocho Sur states in its letter that it "acts in compliance with the law, with the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility". Its agroindustrial operations lack any environmental viability as they have affected natural forest ecosystems in Nueva Requena. Even the TC itself has indicated that there are arguments that would allow it to accredit considerable environmental damage in the area and has asked the Environmental Evaluation and Oversight Agency (OEFA) to determine the company's responsibility. It is also recalled that MIDAGRI rejected the company's Environmental Adaptation and Management Programme (PAMA) (RDG057-2020-MINAGRI-DVDIAR-DGAAA of 23 January 2020).
     
  • According to the Sector Project Management Executing Unit (UEGPS) of MIDAGRI, in the framework of the development of the Project Cadastre, Titling and Registration of Rural Land in Peru Third Phase (PTRT3), the company has activities linked to land-trafficking in the Amazon. The State entity even developed a study on land trafficking highlighting this case: "The case of the company Ocho Sur P (formerly Plantaciones de Pucallpa) in Ucayali, in the district of Nueva Requena, is the most emblematic case of the connection between palm oil and land-trafficking. The form of access to land was a precursor to the widespread phenomenon of land-trafficking that exists today in Ucayali".
     
  • They have investors with a dark past for Amazonian forests. Anholt Services USA Inc and Amerra Capital financed Plantaciones de Pucallpa and Melka's operations for the deforestation of thousands of hectares of Amazonian forests and later became the controllers of Ocho Sur, through Peruvian Palm Holdings.
     
  • The Indigenous organisations alerted the investors Amerra Capital Management LLC, Anholt Services (USA) Inc, Compass Diversified, Conti Street Partners, Shareable Asset and SH UOL Administrative Agent Ltd during 2020 and 2021, asking for direct communications and not through Ocho Sur. It is false to say that "Ocho Sur has an open door policy". The silence of their investors proves otherwise.
     
  • Ocho Sur seem to have forgotten in their letter that the judge of the Fourth National Preparatory Investigation Court declared as well founded the Public Prosecutor's request to incorporate the company as a defendant in the criminal proceedings against Melka and 30 other people for the commission of environmental crimes, in the form of crimes against forests or forest formations, and organised crime, to the detriment of the native community of Santa Clara de Uchunya and the Peruvian State.
     
  • In our opinion, they seek to have a strategy of social legitimisation through the division of Santa Clara de Uchunya, a fact that is proven by the intimidation and public recrimination by lawyers representing the company against community members of Santa Clara de Uchunya in June 2021, for communicating with their investors abroad. Likewise, we cannot overlook the accusations against the company for influencing the recent and irregular elections that took place in the community, as well as its influence to prevent our entry into Santa Clara de Uchunya by blocking the entrance gate.

Finally, AIDESEP calls on Ocho Sur's international buyers to reiterate that you have an obligation to exercise due diligence before purchasing palm oil from this company, as the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that your palm oil supply chain sources are not implicated in human rights abuses and the deforestation of tropical forests.

Read the letter on AIDESEP's website (in Spanish).

    Posted by: Tom Younger
  • Icon-world  AIDESEP
  • 07 Jul 2022

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