Alberto Pizango is still facing 20 years in a Peruvian prison for trumped up charges of insurrection and sedition—you’d think he has enough on his mind. Now, he’s become the first indigenous person to run for president in Peru.
True, his election run is a long shot. But Peru has suffered from two decades of right-wing administrations eager to throw open its borders to corporate exploitation, placing the federal government at odds with Peru’s indigenous peoples, who make their living on the land. So it’s no surprise that more than 1,300 indigenous communities are supporting Pizango’s candidacy.
Pizango, as president of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest, spent nearly a year in self-imposed exile in Nicaragua after the Peruvian government charged him with “advocating revolt and sedition.” The charges stem from an incident in which federal troops opened fire on a massive protest against the government’s continued efforts to lease oil and gas concessions to foreign companies, despite decades of environmental and human rights abuses by those very same companies.
Pizango had called for non-violent protest all along and was hundreds of miles from the site of the protest when it went awry, but he has been charged nonetheless.
The world is increasingly paying attention to what’s happening in Peru, however, and a new film, When Two Worlds Collide, is poised to get Pizango’s message out far and wide.
A few weeks ago, I asked one of the filmmakers if she thought Pizango had a real shot at winning. Here’s how she responded:
While Alberto was in exile, indigenous leaders across the Amazon region were collecting signatures for him to be elected. Since his return in May they had enough signatures to launch the political party Alianza para la Alternativa de la Humanidad (APHU). If they get enough interest from across all regions in Peru, he may well stand a very good chance, as he is reaching out to the people beyond Lima. Anything is possible if you believe in something and the Indigenous Amazonians certainly do believe and have the courage and will power to make this happen.
You can help get Alberto Pizango’s story and message out by providing some badly needed funds to help the filmmakers behind When Two Worlds Collide travel with Pizango as he visits “indigenous Andean mountain communities, Rainforest tribes, and the rural peasantry, along with urban Peru.” According to the film’s IndiGoGo page, where you can make a donation now, “The Amazonian’s say their voices will only be heard if they enter the world of politics and work alongside government officials.” This film is how their voice can reach the global stage.
Film has long been a powerful medium for motivating people to take action for social change. When Two Worlds Collide could make a huge impact on the struggle for indigenous rights in Peru. You can make a difference by donating some spare coin now.
Image credit: Yachaywasi Films