On the morning of July 27, 2022, a small coalition of Shipibo fishers and local farmers living inside a protected area in the Peruvian Amazon steered their boats across a still and glittering lake. They were bound for the town of Junín Pablo, where the regional government had installed a guard post several years prior as a base from which to monitor the area. Upon arrival, they set up camp along the shore beside the offices, with signs reading “No more corruption” and “Don’t fine us for defending our rights.” Over the course of a week, hundreds of people joined from the surrounding towns to peacefully demand the exit of the park administration.
“It was the only way to get anyone to listen,” said Jeremías Cruz Nunta, a member of the Shipibo-Konibo Indigenous community and head of the Indigenous and Peasant Defense Front for Imiría and Cauya Lakes, a committee formed to protect the local waters. Since the toma, or the taking of the post, nine months ago, the group has monitored the entrance to the lagoon with a rotating shift of guards to restrict the entry of government officials. “We had to do something drastic to get people to pay attention.”