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Peru: Amazon Officially Inaugurated as Nature's Wonder

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

On Monday, August 13, 2012, the city of Iquitos was the scene of colourful celebrations marking the Official Inauguration of the Amazon as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, promoted by the New7Wonders organization. On November 11, 2011, the organization announced the wonders of nature, as previously reported by Global Voices.

The celebrations were staged at the confluence of rivers Itaya and Nanay. Important Peruvian political figures were there, such as President Ollanta Humala and Peruvian Ministers of Foreign Trade, Environment and Culture. The Regional President of Loreto was also present.

Subsequently, Bernard Weber, President of the New7Wonders Foundation, unveiled a 120-kilo brass sheet at 28 de Julio Square, to perpetuate this acknowledgement.

This is what some bloggers had to say about the news.

Republishing an article from newspaper La República [es], the blog Chiclin [es] reports on what President Ollanta Humala said in the ceremony:

El presidente Ollanta Humala agradeció por el reconocimiento que recibió la Amazonía como una de las Siete Maravillas del Mundo Natural por parte de New Seven Wonders.

[...] “Lucharemos por la igualdad, por el desarrollo rural a través de las vías de comunicación y el medio ambiente. También trabajaremos a través de los proyectos sociales”, señaló.

President Ollanta Humala thanked the acknowledgement given to the Amazon as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World by New7Wonders.

[...] “We will fight for equity, for rural development through means of communication and environment. We will also work through social projects,” he pointed out.

Amazon, Peru. Photo by Matt Wootton (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Amazon, Peru. Photo by Matt Wootton (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The blog Enlace regional [es], serving as a liaison between regional and local governments, shared the words of Yván Vásquez Valera, the Regional President of Loreto:

[...] el propósito de esta iniciativa es que “toda la región participe y se involucre en el certamen, será un día de fiesta”, anotó.”Las actividades se realizarán en las siete capitales de provincia, siendo Iquitos la sede central. Cada capital, de manera simultánea, va a desarrollar diversos certámenes y se van a movilizar estudiantes y la población en general”, manifestó.Refirió que se llevarán a cabo alegorías, homenajes, verbenas, concursos de canto y poesías dirigidos el Río Amazonas/Bosque Tropical.

[...] this initiative aims for “the whole region to participate and get involved with the event, it will be a day for celebration,” he noted. Activities will be held in the seven provincial capitals, with Iquitos as headquarters. Each capital, simultaneously, will put in practice various events, students and the general population will be mobilized, he stated. He also said that there will be allegories, tributes, festivals, singing and poetry contests dedicated to the Amazon River and the Tropical Rainforest.

Meanwhile, based on the note published by state news agency Andina [es], the blog Mejor hablar de ciertas cosas [es] reviewed Bernard Weber's words as he unveiled the brass sheet:

Weber afirmó que “estamos viviendo un momento histórico”. “Nunca antes en la historia de la humanidad ha sido posible tener un voto global, tener un consenso en todo el mundo y nunca antes la naturaleza ha alcanzado la misma consideración global como las siete maravillas construidas por el hombre”, resaltó.

Dijo que el resultado de la convocatoria del concurso de las Siete Maravillas Naturales del Mundo revelan la participación activa de los ciudadanos en cada uno de sus países y de todas las personas que los apoyaron alrededor del mundo.

Weber stated that “we are living a historical moment”. “Never before in the history of humanity has it been possible to count on a global vote, to have a worldwide consensus and never before has nature reached the same global considerations as the built-by-men seven wonders,” he highlighted.

He also said that the result of the Seven Natural World Wonders contest reveals the active participation from the citizens in each country and from every individual that supported them all over the world.

Amazon Boat Ride, Iquitos, Peru. Photo by Sam Blanco (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Amazon Boat Ride, Iquitos, Peru. Photo by Sam Blanco (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

On CaribeNoticias [es] there are some optimistic projections for the tourism sector, as it republishes a note from El diario de Yucatán [es]:

El director de la fundación New7wonders, Jean Paul de la Fuente, la cual tiene sede en Suiza, consideró que tras este reconocimiento habrá un excelente impacto turístico en la selva peruana.

‘Se espera que haya un crecimiento de 10, 20 o 30 por ciento de la afluencia turística cada año’, precisó en declaraciones a una emisora local.

Actualmente la región Loreto recibe unos 250 mil turistas y se espera que en este año aumente en 25 mil turistas más.

Switzerland-based New7wonders Foundation Director Jean Paul de la Fuente, considered that after this recognition, there will be an excellent tourism impact on the Peruvian Rainforest.

‘An increase of 10, 20 or 30 percent on the yearly tourist influx is expected,’ he declared on a local radio station.

Today, Loreto Region gets about 250 thousand tourists and it is expected that this year that number will grow in 25 thousand extra tourists.

Benzo Gaspar Reategui Ruiz in the web page Amazonia [es] compares this recent recognition with what happened in Mexico some years ago:

El turismo es una actividad compleja que para su éxito requiere el concurso de todos, empezando con la educación de calidad con currículo orientado a esa actividad, tal como hizo México con Cancún, que hace cinco décadas era una isla desierta que pocos conocían. Fue el presidente Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, que propulso un Plan de desarrollo turístico y ahora es lo que es, un famoso destino turístico mundial de América.

La declaratoria de Maravilla mundial, es un buen inicio, para el necesario punto de quiebre que la gestión del Gobierno regional de Loreto requiere a gritos.

Tourism is a complex activity, and for its success depends on everyone's involvement, starting with high quality education with a program focused on that activity, as Mexico did with Cancun, which five decades ago was a deserted island known only by few people. It was President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz who pushed a Plan for tourism development and now it is what it is, a world famous touristic destination in America.

This recognition as wonder of the world is a good starting point, for the needed breaking point that the regional administration in Loreto so urgently requires.

But not everyone was happy, and Twitter users had their share of opinions too.

User Selva Trágica (@SelvaTragica) [es] addresses the mayor of Maynas, province where Iquitos is located:

@SelvaTragica: No pueden pintar el Boulevard de Iquitos con toda esta publicidad del Amazonas? Pffff al alcalde!!

@SelvaTragica [es]: Can't the Iquitos Boulevard, with all those Amazon ads, get some paint on it? Pffff the mayor!!

While user @primerafuente [es] speaks to President Humala:

@primerafuente: #EstimadoPresidente Esta en iquitos metiendo un floro que no se entiende y en cajamarca solo necesitan que diga una palabra: PAZ.

@primerafuente [es]: #EstimadoPresidente [Dear President] You are in Iquitos wind-bagging while nobody understands and in Cajamarca all they need is for you to say one word: PEACE.

During the last months, Cajamarca has been experiencing strikes, riots and turmoil due to antimining protests.

Amazon, Peru. Photo by Pearl Vas (CC BY 2.0).

Amazon, Peru. Photo by Pearl Vas (CC BY 2.0).

On the other hand, user Grinder (@BestiaStoner) [es] sends an inclusive message:

@BestiaStoner: @SickboyRawrs @PercyMeza Iquitos es también la población que, pese al descalabro local solo atina a bailar por lo del rió amazonas.

 @BestiaStoner [es]: @SickboyRawrs @PercyMeza Iquitos is also the population that, in spite of the racket, can only dance for everything about the Amazon river.

And he also tweets about the Regional President:

@BestiaStoner: @PercyMeza Estan mostrando las cifras de accidentes y muertos gracias a la empresa china que contrato Ivan Vasquez? eso tb es Iquitos ah.

@BestiaStoner [es]: @PercyMeza Are they showing numbers of accidents and death toll thanks to the chinese corporation hired by Ivan Vasquez? That's Iquitos, too.

The NAPA blog [es] shares this final reflection:

Todo chévere con esto, pero ¿tenemos que esperar que un concurso internacional haga que valoremos nuestra Amazonía? Y es que en el Perú, son 13 familias etnolingüísticas que hablan más de 60 lenguas y muchas de ellas están olvidadas por el Estado.

Muchos no adultos indígenas sufren en carne propia este abandono. Ocho de cada 10 niñas y niños menores de 5 años ashánincas, por ejemplo, presentan desnutrición crónica.

Everything is cool with this but, do we have to wait for an international contest to make us appreciate our Amazonic Region? In Peru, there are 13 ethnoliguistic families speaking more than 60 languages and most of them have been forgotten by the State.

Many indigenous minors suffer directly from this neglect. Eight out of ten Askaninka children under 5, for instance, have chronical malnutrition.

The post adds:

Además más 15 mil habitantes de los pueblos Wampis y Awajun en Amazonas son afectados por los trabajos de la minera Afrodita que no respeta su medio ambiente y daña el agua de los ríos. Y son 103 empresas mineras que realizan trabajos en la Cordillera del Cóndor y ponen en riesgo la salud de adultos y no adultos de comunidades indígenas de la selva.

Encima, muchos indígenas Candozi mueren por hepatits B al contagiarse de trabajadores de empresas que llegan a sus territorios. Y el Estado hace poco por atenderlos. ¿Podemos celebrar con todo esto?

Besides that, over 15 thousand inhabitants from Wampis and Awajun peoples are affected due to the works on Afrodita mining, that disrespects their environment and damages the river water. And there 103 miner corporations working on the Cordillera del Cóndor that jeopardize the health of adults and minors from indigenous communities from the region.

Moreover, many Candozi indigenous die of Hepatitis B when they get infected from the workers that get to their territories. And the State does so little for them to get attention. Can we celebrate with all this?

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

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