Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 The research
 The regional context of Loreto
 The physical environment and Ribereñho...
 Markets, habitats and institutional...
 Social heterogeneity and use of...
 Gender and resource use in San...
 Appendix A: Survey
 Fishing and hunting pressure
 Biographical sketch

Group Title: Differentiated use of wildlife resources by Riberenho families in the Northeastern Peruvian Amazon
Title: Differentiated use of wildlife resources by Ribereñho families in the Northeastern Peruvian Amazon
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00056231/00001
 Material Information
Title: Differentiated use of wildlife resources by Ribereñho families in the Northeastern Peruvian Amazon
Physical Description: xvi, 279 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Espinosa Ch., M. Cristina
Publication Date: 1998
Subject: Wildlife management -- Peru -- Amazonas (Region)   ( lcsh )
Wildlife resources -- Peru -- Amazonas (Region)   ( lcsh )
Conservation of natural resources -- Peru -- Amazonas (Region)   ( lcsh )
Anthropology thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 1998.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 270-278).
Statement of Responsibility: by Maria Cristina Espinosa Ch.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00056231
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002427356
oclc - 41875773
notis - AMD2458

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    List of Tables
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
    List of Figures
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page 1
            Page 1
        Goals of the study
            Page 2
            Page 3
            Page 4
        Organization of the chapters
            Page 5
            Page 6
    The research
        Page 7
        Research questions
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
            Research sites
                Page 11
            Units of study
                Page 12
            Study scope
                Page 13
            Data analyses
                Page 14
        Conceptual framework and method
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Gendered political ecology
                Page 17
                Page 18
                Page 19
            Feminist political ecology
                Page 20
                Page 21
            Rural households and market dynamics
                Page 22
                Page 23
                Page 24
                Page 25
                Page 26
                Page 27
            Gender and intra-household analysis
                Page 28
            Livelihood strategies
                Page 29
                Page 30
                Page 31
            Gender ethnicity
                Page 32
                Page 33
                Page 34
                Page 35
                Page 36
                Page 37
        Ethnicity of ribereñhos
            Page 38
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
    The regional context of Loreto
        Page 44
        Regional history
            Page 44
            Colonial period
                Page 45
                Page 46
                Page 47
            The early republic
                Page 48
                Page 49
                Page 50
                Page 51
                Page 52
                Page 53
            The construction of the Amazon space and capitalist development at the national level
                Page 54
                Page 55
                Page 56
                Page 57
                Page 58
                Page 59
                Page 60
                Page 61
                Page 62
                Page 63
                Page 64
                Page 65
                Page 66
                Page 67
                Page 68
                Page 69
                Page 70
                Page 71
                Page 72
        The contemporary situation for conservation and sustainable development: people, markets, and the environment
            Page 73
        Legal and institutional framework for natural resource management
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
        Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (PSNR)
            Page 79
            Page 80
            Page 81
            Page 82
            Page 83
            Page 84
        The Tamshiyacu-Tahauyo Regional Communal Reserve (TTCR)
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
        Projects in the protected areas
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
    The physical environment and Ribereñho livelihood strategies
        Page 95
        The milieu
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
        Ribereñho livelihood strategies
            Page 101
            Page 102
            Page 103
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 109
        The case of the communities of San Martín and Buenavista
            Page 110
            San Martín
                Page 110
                Page 111
                Page 112
                Page 113
                Page 114
                Page 115
                Page 116
                Page 117
                Page 118
                Page 119
                Page 120
                Page 121
                Page 122
                Page 123
                Page 124
                Page 125
            Page 126
    Markets, habitats and institutional frameworks: use of natural resources in San Martín and Buenavista
        Page 127
        Livelihood strategies
            Page 127
            Page 128
            Page 129
            Page 130
            Page 131
            Page 132
                Page 133
                Page 134
                Page 135
                Page 136
                Page 137
                Page 138
                Page 139
                Page 140
                Page 141
                Page 142
                Page 143
                Page 144
                Page 145
                Page 146
                Page 147
            Other extractive activities
                Page 148
                Page 149
            Domestic organization
                Page 150
                Page 151
                Page 152
                Page 153
                Page 154
                Page 155
            Page 156
            Page 157
            Page 158
            Page 159
    Social heterogeneity and use of wildlife resources within the communities of San Martín and Buenavista
        Page 159a
        Natural resource use and wildlife extraction
            Page 159a
            Page 160
            Page 161
            Page 162
            Page 163
                Page 164
                Page 165
                Page 166
                Page 167
                Page 168
                Page 169
                Page 170
                Page 171
                Page 172
                Page 173
                Page 174
        Access to means of extraction, personal skills and preferences
            Page 175
            Page 176
            Restricted access to commercial means of extraction
                Page 177
                Page 178
            Does limited access to means of extraction prevent further resource extraction?
                Page 179
                Page 180
                Page 181
                Page 182
                Page 183
                Page 184
                Page 185
            Are commercial extractivists economically better-off in the village?
                Page 186
                Page 187
                Page 188
                Page 189
                Page 190
            Page 191
            Page 192
            Page 193
    Gender and resource use in San Martín and Buenavista
        Page 194
        Gender, division of spaces and relation with nature
            Page 194
            Page 195
            Page 196
            Page 197
            Page 198
            Page 199
        Gender roles and division of labor: Subordination and complementarity
            Page 200
            Page 201
            Page 202
            Page 203
            Page 204
            Page 205
            Page 206
            Page 207
            Page 208
        Sexuality, gender identities and reproductive health
            Page 209
            Page 210
            Page 211
            Page 212
            Page 213
            Page 214
            Page 215
            Page 216
            Page 217
            Page 218
        Knowledge, perceptions, decision making and relation with the environment
            Page 219
            Page 220
            Page 221
            Page 222
            Page 223
            Page 224
            Page 225
            Page 226
            Page 227
            Page 228
            Page 229
            Page 230
        Gender, socioeconomic differentiation and traditional cultural backgrounds
            Page 231
            Page 232
            Page 233
            Page 234
            Page 235
            Page 236
            Page 237
            Page 238
            Page 239
            Page 240
        Page 241
        Study findings and implications for consevation management
            Page 241
            Page 242
            Page 243
        Soceioeconomic differentiation among households and wildlife resource uses
            Page 244
            Page 245
        Different users of natural resources, different needs
            Page 246
            Subsistence fishermen
                Page 247
            Commercial fishermen
                Page 247
            Commercial hunters
                Page 248
                Page 249
        Factors affecting wildlife resource pressure
            Page 250
            Diversification of livelihoods
                Page 251
            Conservation and development
                Page 251
                Page 252
            Community-based management
                Page 253
        Gender and traditional cultural backgrounds shape social dynamics and resource use
            Page 253
            Page 254
            Page 255
        Lessons learned regarding conservation, market dynamics and Ribereñhos
            Page 256
            Page 257
    Appendix A: Survey
        Page 258-266
    Fishing and hunting pressure
        Page 267-269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
    Biographical sketch
        Page 279
Full Text







Copyright 1998


Maria Cristina Espinosa Ch.

To my daughters, Cristina and Marcela, the sunshine of my life, whose generous
encouragement, understanding and sacrifices have made it possible for me to return to
school after many years and fulfill a part of my dreams. To all the beautiful human
beings I have met through the years in Gainesville, my dear friends, who will be
forever in my heart, sharing the vision of an alternative way to relate to this sacred
planet, and among men and women, young and elder, poor and rich, white and
colored, transcending the illusions of our separation.


The fieldwork that made this study possible was funded in 1996 by the

Tropical Conservation and Development (TCD) Program at the Center for Latin

American Studies, the Tinker Foundation and the Charles Dickenson Fund. The

MERGE (Managing the Environment with Gender Emphasis) program funded my

fieldwork in 1997, as part a comparative research project funded by the North-South

Center. In addition, my participation with Katie Lynch as MERGE trainers in the

Summer Field Course on Tropical Wildlife Management, organized by the TCD

Program and UNAP, Iquitos, facilitated my entrance into the upper Tahuayo

communities. I am also thankful to Dr. Jose Lopez Parodi, who allowed me to stay

in the PPS project house in San Martfn del Tipishca, to interact with the PPS team

and to gain many insights based on their experience. I have to thank many people in

Iquitos, such as R.P.J. Joaquin Garcia, Director of CETA, Hans Heydra, Director of

the SNV office in Iquitos, Arq. Eduardo Duran, country adviser for TNC and Pro-

Naturaleza, Ing. Luis Benitez, Director of the Papaya-Samiria National Reserve, Dr.

Miguel Donayre, legal adviser for PPS and SNV projects, for their time, information

and interest in the study. Special thanks go to Donha Petronila, the owner of "La

Pascana" Hostal, who made me feel a little at home every time I was in Iquitos.

Thanks go to Julia Flores and Angel Sanchez in Buenavista, who offered their house,

valuable contacts and information, their precious friendship and lots of fun.

Appreciation goes to Ing. Marcial Trigoso, a friend of mine since 1991, who

introduced me to Julia and Angel and the rest of the community, and shared with me

his field experience in the region. I must particularly recognize the generous and

patient contribution of each member of my committee, not only to this dissertation,

but to my academic training in general. Their expertise and academic and

professional excellence provided constant inspiration. They are truly energetic,

beautiful, warm, sensitive, humorous and down-to-earth human beings. Special

thanks go to Dr. Peter Hildebrand for helping me with the data analysis, to Dr.

Sandra Russo for the editorial reviews of every draft, and to Dr. Marianne Schmink,

my chairperson, for the freedom and trust she gave me, for the successive reviews of

my drafts, and for critical encouragement that provided the necessary feedback to

improve this dissertation. I must also mention James Penn, a graduate student at the

Center for Latin American Studies, whom I met in Iquitos in 1991. Through his 13

years of fieldwork experience, he is, in my opinion, the "outsider" who best knows

the local people of Loreto. Special thanks go to Jim who read the last draft of the

dissertation, making important comments. Last but not least, no words can express

my appreciation and my thanks to the men and women in San Martin and Buenavista,

for their patience, their openness and trust, and their sense of humor (I still remember

them teasing me every time I had to step into a canoe or to use a machete). I share

their suffering, their hopes and strengths, as well as their sadness and impotence. I

have tried to express their experiences and their interests in this study, in terms which

can be understood by the academic community. I envision, however, a day in which

they will not need any "translator" or researcher. They will be able to write their

own books, make their own science, define their own agendas and speak with their

own voices.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ...............................

LIST OF TABLES ....................................

LIST OF FIGURES ....................................

ABSTRACT .......................................


1 INTRODUCTION ................................

Context ..................................
Goals of the Study ............................
M ethodology ...............................
Organization of the Chapters .....................

2 THE RESEARCH ................................

Research Questions .
Methodology .....
Research Sites
Units of Study
Study Scope .
Data Analyses

Conceptual Framework and Method .......
Gendered Ppolitical Ecology .......
Feminist Political Ecology ...... ..
Rural Households and Market Dynamics
Gender and Intra-Household Analysis .
Livelihood Strategies ...........
Gender and Ethnicity ...........
Ethnicity of Riberefihos ...............

. .


3 THE REGIONAL CONTEXT OF LORETO ................ 44

Regional History ................ ... .......... 44
Colonial Period .................. ....... 45
The Early Republic ...................... 48
The Construction of the Amazon Space and Capitalist
Development at the National Level ............ 54
The Contemporary Situation for Conservation and Sustainable
Development: People, Markets, and the Environment ..... 73
Legal and Institutional Framework for Natural Resource
Management .............................. 74
Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (PSNR) ........ ..... 79
The Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Regional Communal Reserve (TTCR) 85
Projects in the Protected Areas .................. .. 89
Summary ................................. 93

STRATEGIES .................................. 95

The M ilieu ................................ 95
Riberefiho Livelihood Strategies ................... 101
The Case of the Communities of San Martin and Buenavista 110
San M artin ............................ 110
Buenavista .................. .......... 119
Summary ................................. 126


Livelihood Strategies .......................... 127
Fishing .................. ............ 133
Hunting .............................. 137
Agriculture ......................... 144
Other Extractive Activities .................. 148
Domestic Organization ................. ... 150
Summary ................................. 156


Natural Resource Use and Wildlife Extraction ........... 159
Fishing .................. ............ 164
Hunting .............................. 170


Access to Means of Extraction, Personal Skills and Preferences 175
Restricted Access to Commercial Means of Extraction 177
Does Limited Access to Means of Extraction Prevent
Further Resource Extraction? . . . ... 179
Are Commercial Extractivists Economically Better-off
in the Village? ........................ 186
Summary ................................. 191

BUENAVISTA .................................. 194

Gender, Division of Spaces and Relation with Nature ...... 194
Gender Roles and Division of Labor: Subordination and
Complementarity ............... ............. 200
Sexuality, Gender Identities and Reproductive Health ...... 209
Knowledge, Perceptions, Decision Making and Relation With
the Environment ........................... 219
Gender, Socioeconomic Differentiation and Traditional
Cultural Backgrounds ......................... 231
Summary ................................. 237

8 DISCUSSION ................................... 241

Study Findings and Implications for Conservation Management 241
Socioeconomic Differentiation Among Households and Wildlife
Resource Uses ............................. 244
Different Users of Natural Resources, Different Needs ..... 246
Subsistence Fishermen ..................... 247
Commercial Fishermen .................... 247
Commercial Hunters ...................... 248
Factors Affecting Wildlife Resource Pressure ........... 250
Diversification of Livelihoods ................ 251
Conservation and Development ............... 251
Community-Based Management ............... 253
Gender and Traditional Cultural Backgrounds Shape Social
Dynamics and Resource Use ................. ... 253
Lessons Learned Regarding Conservation, Market Dynamics
and Riberefihos ............................. 256



A SURVEY .... ........... ................... 258

B FISHING AND HUNTING PRESSURE ................... 267

REFERENCES ................................... 270

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................... 279


Table Page

3.1 Evolution of the Amazon Population 1940-1972 .............. 61

3.2 Demographic Indicators for Loreto ................. ..... 65

3.3 Indigenous Population Within Rural Population of the Peruvian
Northern Amazon .................. ............... 71

3.4 Wildlife Species Allowed to be Hunted ................... 76

4.1 Flood Cycles of Main Rivers in Loreto ................... 96

4.2 Seasonal and Spatial Patterns for Hunting and Fishing .......... 97

5.1 Yearly Seasonality of Activities and Events, San Martin del Tipishca 130

5.2 Yearly Seasonality of Activities and Events, Buenavista ......... 131

5.3 Most Prevalent Species Fished in San Martin and Buenavista ...... 136

5.4 Most Prevalent Species Hunted in San Martin and Buenavista ...... 139

5.5 Average Total Weight, Meat and Prices for Main Game Species
in San Martfn and Buenavista .......................... 142

5.6 Average Cost of Hunting Expedition ................. ... 144

5.7 Average Prices for Agricultural and Some Wildlife Products ...... 149

5.8 Time Allocation for Productive Activities, by Gender and Age,
San Martin ...................................... 152

5.9 Time Allocation for Productive Activities, by Gender and Age,
Buenavista ..................... ............... 153

5.10 Reproductive Activities in San Martin and Buenavista, by Age
and Gender .................... ............... 155

Table Page

6.1 Age, Time of Residence in the Village and Commercial Fishing Catch 156

6.2 Family Size, Fish Consumption, and Commercial Fishing ........ 157

6.3 Perceptions and Attitudes, and Commercial Fishing ............ 159

6.4 Age and Time of Residence Associated with Hunting ........... 161

6.5 Family Size and Game Meat Consumption, Associated with Hunting 163

6.6 Perceptions and Attitudes Associated with Hunting .......... .. 166

6.7 Self Perceived Factors Related to Hunting and Fishing .......... 178

6.8 Main Families Identified by Villagers in San Martfn as Being Better-off 180

6.9 Main Families Identified by Villagers of Buenavista as Being Better-off 182

6.10 Criteria that Differentiate Wealthier Families from the Rest ....... 184

7.1 Gender Division of Labor for Extractive Activities ............ 194

7.2 Gender Division of Labor for Reproductive Activities .......... 194

7.3 Gender Division of Labor for Agriculture .................. 196

7.4 Activities Considered Most Important for Family Consumption ..... 214

7.5 Activities Considered Most Important for Family's Cash Income .... 215

7.6 Hunting Activity as Perceived by Male and Female Informants ..... 216

7.7 Subsistence Fishing as Perceived by Male and Female Informants 217

7.8 Commercial Fishing as Perceived by Male and Female Informants ... 217

7.9 Decision-Making on the Fishing Catch, as Perceived by Male and
Female Informants ................................ 219

7.10 Reasons Associated With Commercial Extractivism in San Martin ... 219

7.11 Reasons Associated with Commercial Extractivism ............ 220

Table Page

7.12 Perceptions on the Status of Natural Resources (%) .... . ... 221

7.13 Attitudes Related to the Status of Natural Resources . . .... 222


Figure Page

2.1 Loreto's Region, Peru (Altarama, 1992) ................... 40

3.1 Sociodemographic and Territorial Patterns in Loreto ........... 69

3.2 Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (INRENA-M, Agricultura, 1989) 80

3.3 Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Regional Communal Reserve (Bodmer et al., 1995) 82

4.1 Land Forms in Loreto (Padoch, 1988) ................... 100

4.2 Distribution of Households, Institutional Buildings and Plots
(Fieldwork, 1996) ................................ 112

4.3 Distribution of Households, Institutional Buildings and Plots,
Buenavista (Fieldwork, 1996) ........................... 121

6.1 Commercial Fish Catch and Net Access, San Martin del Tipischa ... 181

6.2 Commercial Fish Catch and Net Access, Buenavista ........... 181

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Maria Cristina Espinosa Ch.

August 1998

Chairperson: Marianne Schmink, Ph.D.
Major Department: Anthropology

This study addresses the importance of factors in the natural and economic

environment and broader regional context, and those differentiating social groups

within communities, that affect wildlife resource use and the potential for sustainable

management by local people. The study compares livelihood strategies of two

communities near protected areas in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon, one of which

participates in resource management planning. Members of the participating

community were found to have significantly greater awareness and understanding of

conservation issues and regulations, and to express greater willingness to organize

around conservation issues. However, their actual resource use patterns, as measured

by the amounts of fish and wild game harvested for sale, were higher than those in

the other community. Findings of the study suggest that besides natural habitat

differences, market influences in the participating community, which is more

accessible to local markets, may override their greater conservation awareness. The

unfavorable terms of exchange faced by both communities limit the viability of

innovative conservation approaches to influence resource use patterns. Within each

community, differences were found both among and within families in the amount of

fish and game they harvest to sell and in their attitudes toward conservation. Men

who have access to tools for commercial extraction, and cash to finance hunting and

fishing expeditions, and whose participation in agriculture is limited, harvest more

wildlife resources. The wealthiest families, however, are not the commercial

extractivists, unless they have additional sources of cash. Poverty seems to be a

factor inhibiting over-use of resources. Skills and preferences are also factors behind

the choices of hunters to be heavily involved in hunting. While women do not

participate directly in hunting and fishing, they are knowledgeable about these

activities and often participate in decisions about resource use. They appear to be

more concerned than men about conservation. However, female subordination is

expressed in their lack of control over income generated by commercial extraction,

affecting the purchase of food and basic goods for family needs, and the food security

and well being of these families. These findings suggest that conservation programs

might focus their efforts on improving agriculture and other alternatives for income

and should work with specialized hunters and fishermen, incorporating women into

designing management efforts.



In a context of increasing concern for tropical ecosystems conservation, local

populations are becoming more important for research, as the role they play in natural

resource use and conservation becomes better understood (Little, 1994; Robinson and

Redford, 1991). The works of Hiraoka (1985), Denevan and Padoch (1988),

Schmink and Wood (1987; 1992), Posey and Balee (1989), Anderson et al. (1995),

Brondizio et al. (1994), and Rudel (1995), among others, has emphasized the

significance of Amazonia's local people to policy makers and conservationists. Many

conservationists now accept the idea that preservation requires not only protection, but

also involves sustainable use of resources by local people (Robinson and Redford,

1991; Bissonette and Krausman, 1995). However, due to the high degree of

complexity and diversity of social groups within the Amazon region, research on

socioeconomic and cultural dynamics influencing local resource use is still a challenge

(Rodriguez et al., 1990; Little, 1994; Murphee, 1994; Kleymeyer, 1994; Strum,

1994; Kamaruzaman and Majid, 1995; University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1995).

This is especially true for the "Riberefihos," the local people who inhabit the

northeastern lowlands of the Peruvian Amazon, and who represent 85% of this

regional rural population. Even though they have been the focus of several studies



In a context of increasing concern for tropical ecosystems conservation, local

populations are becoming more important for research, as the role they play in natural

resource use and conservation becomes better understood (Little, 1994; Robinson and

Redford, 1991). The works of Hiraoka (1985), Denevan and Padoch (1988),

Schmink and Wood (1987; 1992), Posey and Balee (1989), Anderson et al. (1995),

Brondizio et al. (1994), and Rudel (1995), among others, has emphasized the

significance of Amazonia's local people to policy makers and conservationists. Many

conservationists now accept the idea that preservation requires not only protection, but

also involves sustainable use of resources by local people (Robinson and Redford,

1991; Bissonette and Krausman, 1995). However, due to the high degree of

complexity and diversity of social groups within the Amazon region, research on

socioeconomic and cultural dynamics influencing local resource use is still a challenge

(Rodriguez et al., 1990; Little, 1994; Murphee, 1994; Kleymeyer, 1994; Strum,

1994; Kamaruzaman and Majid, 1995; University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1995).

This is especially true for the "Riberefihos," the local people who inhabit the

northeastern lowlands of the Peruvian Amazon, and who represent 85% of this

regional rural population. Even though they have been the focus of several studies


since the 1970s (see Chapter 3), which have contributed to a better understanding of

their economy, most of these studies focused on Riberefiho agriculture, with less

attention to the use of wildlife resources (the exceptions being Barham, Coomes,

Craig and Tarasoff, 1995; Coomes, 1992; and Bergman, 1990). These studies were

more focused on the ecological and economic aspects of Riberefiho practices and

livelihoods, with little attention to gender or ethnic differentiation, nor to the

reproductive aspects of livelihood strategies.

Wildlife extraction is important within Riberefiho livelihood strategies, for both

income and family subsistence. The interaction of gender, class, markets and

ethnicity shapes differential use of wildlife resources in Loreto. This study analyzes

the use of wildlife resources at the household and community level taking into account

the regional political ecology.

Goals of the Study

The goals of this research included:

1. To understand the regional political ecology as the context which explains

the current use of resources by local people, and frames and limits conservation and

development initiatives and possibilities.

2. To explore to what extent, when markets and economic environments are

dynamic, the participation of communities in conservation management can decrease

the pressure on wildlife resources, as compared to communities with no participation

in conservation management, but in a less dynamic economic environment. For this


purpose, use of wildlife resources, in terms of amount and species caught, was

compared for the two selected communities of the study.

3. To understand the economic and cultural rationality of wildlife resource

extraction within Riberefiho livelihood strategies, and the factors shaping different

resource use among families in each community, and between the two selected


4. To explore the role of gender, socioeconomic differentiation and traditional

cultural backgrounds, as well as other socio-demographic variables, in the structuring

of social differentiation in regard to resource uses. To then explore the way these

ideologies affect the knowledge, perceptions and identity of men and women.

Traditional cultural backgrounds and the discussion of ethnicity was not an

important element of the original research design. Similar to other research, it was

assumed that studying the mestizo Riberefiho families did not require specific attention

to ethnicity and/or traditional cultural backgrounds. However, the field experience

revealed that traditional cultural background was an important element to

understanding Riberefiho livelihood strategies, use of resources, and gender

hierarchies, since mestizaje1 is not a uniform and finished process but one full of

contradictions and still on-going.

1Mestisaje in this study refers to the historic process of racial and cultural mixture that
began in the context of economic, political, religious, spatial and cultural
subordination imposed by the Spanish to indigenous populations; mestisaje also refers
to the assimilation of native populations into a dominant society. However, this study
suggests that this process is not linear or uniform, but ambivalent, and allowed
individuals and social groups to elaborate responses and redefine their own identity.
This term does not refer to the process of racial mixture in general, but in the
particular context drawn in this study.


The study was based on information gathered during two fieldwork phases

conducted in the summers of 1996 and 1997, in two Riberefiho communities of

Loreto, which are within the territory or at the border of protected areas: San Martin

del Tipishca, located within the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve; and Buenavista, in

the periphery of Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal Reserve. This case-study was

based on 59 surveys applied in the summer of 1996 to men and women from 30%

and 38%, respectively, of the households of San Martin and Buenavista. In addition,

informal, in-depth and focus-group interviews were conducted in both communities,

during 1996 and 1997. The small size of the sample and the coverage of the study

are among the limitations of this study. Others limitations derive from the limited

time frame of the study, since changes in Riberefiho livelihood strategies are

associated with good or bad agricultural cycles of three or more years. For instance,

1996 and 1997 were particularly bad years for agriculture in the Tahuayo basin, and

families in the lowlands were still recovering from the devastating floods of 1993 and

1994. To what extent this might increase the importance of extractive activities as

compared to "good" agricultural years is an issue that requires long-term research.

However, it is opportune to keep this time frame issue in mind. An additional

limitation of the study comes from the "outsider" status of the researcher. Despite the

statistical significance of the data and the methodology (discussed in Chapter 2), this

study explicitly recognizes the subjectivity present in any study, as represented by the

assumptions and sentiments of the researcher.

Organization of the Chapters

Chapter 2 presents the statement of the problem, research questions,

methodology and the theoretical framework that has guided this study, including a

review of the most relevant literature related to the region and the research questions.

Chapter 3 discusses the regional context in terms of the historical evolution

that has shaped the economic and socio-demographic structures, and the current

institutional and legal frameworks that rule natural and wildlife resources. This

chapter includes a description of the two protected areas where the study was

conducted: Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal


Chapter 4 describes the ecological context of the lowlands, and the

characteristics of the communities of San Martin and Buenavista, while Chapter 5

characterizes the livelihood strategies adopted by Riberefiho families in San Martin

and Buenavista. This chapter also includes an analysis of the wildlife use in each

community, in terms of quantity, productivity and species caught.

Chapter 6 analyzes the role of different economic and socio-demographic

variables to explain differences among households in terms of wildlife use, with

special emphasis on the social access to means of extraction for the case of

commercial fishing, and skills, preferences, and attitudes, in the case of hunting. The

interactions between wildlife extraction, poverty and improved standard of living are

analyzed for each community.


Chapter 7 explores the gender hierarchies and ideologies in their interactions

with gendered division of roles and spaces, and how these affect the use of natural

resources. Subordination, conflict, and cooperation within families are analyzed. In

addition to gender roles, female access to knowledge of male extractive and economic

activities was used as a proxy to measure gender communication and cooperation

between couples. The process of decision-making regarding resource use and ways to

meet family needs was used to explore gender conflict and cooperation.

Chapter 8 discusses the major results of the study and their implications for

further research as well as for conservation and development initiatives in the region.


In recent years, the importance of indigenous and local peoples as stewards of

tropical rainforests, on which their survival relies, has been recognized. This concern

has led to community-based conservation management initiatives. One of the issues

that emerged from the discussion of this experience is the awareness that communities

are complex and heterogeneous entities, whose internal differentiation in terms of

class, gender, and ethnicity, influences the use of resources and the dynamics of

community-based management (Western et al., 1994; University of Wisconsin, 1995;

Bissonette and Krausman, 1995). On the other hand, communities are part of local,

regional, and national contexts that affect their economy, society, and culture,

including the use of resources. Among these contextual elements, institutional

frameworks and market dynamics have been identified as key issues to understanding

community behavior (Coomes, 1992; Murphee, 1994; Strum, 1994). Natural

resource use is part of complex, variable livelihood systems that change over time,

according to habitats and market integration, life span, and gender, among other

variables. Individuals within communities are situated within age, gender,

socioeconomic, and cultural groups that give them different power and social access

to natural resources, and whose ideologies affect the views, perceptions, and attitudes

related to resource use and conservation. This study attempted to discern different


resource uses as part of livelihood strategies that are affected by market dynamics, as

well as shaped by gender, socioeconomic differentiation, and traditional cultural

backgrounds, within and between households.

In the northeastern Peruvian Amazon region, the protected areas include a

National Reserve, Pacaya-Samiria, created in 1972, and a Regional Communal

Reserve, Tamshiyacu Tahuayo, created in 1991. Research conducted in both areas

(Bodmer et al., 1994; Soini et al., 1996) has addressed the need for further biological

research to complete an inventory of wildlife populations and their demographic

dynamics in order to establish sustainable harvest levels of wildlife extraction.

Studies have also addressed the need for additional socio-economic research to better

understand the rationality of resource uses by local communities within and around

the protected areas. This study contributes information and analysis on social

differentiation affecting the use of resources.

Research Questions

The first set of research questions addressed in this study emerged from

previous research in the region, which suggested the importance of market dynamics

in shaping specific livelihood strategies as well as resource uses (Agreda and

Espinosa, 1991; Espinosa, 1994). A similar concern was expressed by Coomes

(1995) after presenting a regional environmental history from Western Amazon with

special focus on the Tahuayo Basin. Coomes (1995) called attention to the "dynamic

economic environment" and the forces of markets that are "beyond the influence of


local groups, whether they be patrons or communities" (117). In addition, Hiraoka

(1984) defined Riberefihos as a social group that has been able to adapt traditional

strategies to market dynamics. Several studies (Chibnik, 1987; de Jong, 1987;

Padoch, 1988) have established the importance of market dynamics for Riberefiho

livelihood strategies, either in terms of agriculture, non-timber products, and/or

extractive activities. Other studies have identified the economic importance of

specific activities for Riberefiho communities according to their physical and

economic environment (Agreda, 1991; Barham et al., 1995). However, the

interactions between community participation in conservation management and market

dynamics have not been explored as they affect the use of resources.

The question derived from the existing research is whether the institutional

framework for community participation in conservation management can overcome

the potentially negative impacts of market articulation. In other words, can

communities involved in community-based conservation, while at the same time being

embedded in a more dynamic economic environment, make more sustainable use of

natural resources, especially wildlife? How do their resource use patterns compare

to those in communities which do not participate in conservation management but

which are in a less dynamic economic environment? The study explores this issue by

comparing the quantity and species of wildlife harvested by families of Buenavista and

San Martin, each community representing one extreme of this dichotomy.

Differences in resource use, between the two communities, are discussed in Chapter


6. As an introduction to this topic, a description of livelihoods in both communities

is provided in Chapter 5.

The second set of research questions is as follows: What is the degree of

differentiation among families in regard to natural resource use, especially in terms of

wildlife resources? What are the factors, processes, and variables associated with the

differential use of resources? While linkages with the market have been addressed by

several researchers, few studies have focused on the connections between market

dynamics and internal differentiation, especially in regard to resource use. On the

other hand, some studies have addressed the importance of intra-gender differences as

well as perceptions and attitudes in regard to resource use and internal differentiation

(Bonnard and Scherr, 1994; Warner et al., 1995). This study explored the role of

socio-demographic variables, as well as class, ethnic, and gender differences in regard

to different resource uses. In addition, the study aspired to relate the role of wildlife

extraction to the process of social and economic differentiation within each

community. Do those families who extract more wildlife have a higher standard of

living in their communities or are they among the poorest? Is poverty preventing

local people from extracting resources in a more intensive way or is poverty pushing

them into more extractive activities? Chapter 6 is focused on this exploration.

The third research question contemplated the way gender intersects with

socioeconomic differentiation and traditional cultural backgrounds to shape the way

men and women relate to each other, to the environment, and what perceptions,

knowledge, and attitudes are associated with these hierarchies and ideologies.


Chapter 7 discusses the connection between traditional world views and gender

hierarchies and division of spaces and roles in the context of cultural and social



Research Sites

San Martin del Tipishca, within the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, and

Buenavista, near the border of the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal Reserve were

selected as the two communities in which to conduct the study. Considering the high

degree of heterogeneity among communities in this region, the enormous territory,

and the communication problems in terms of cost, availability, and security, the

reasons these two communities were selected was quite simple. First, their location

in regard to market dynamics and to research logistics was ideal. Market dynamics

were an important component of the first research question. Therefore, it was

necessary to compare two communities with very different types of articulation into

market dynamics. San Martin represents a case of relative isolation, whereas

Buenavista represents integration into a dynamic economic environment. The second

reason was that these two communities presented advantages in terms of the research


'San Martin was one base for the Programa Pacaya-Samiria (WWF-AIF/DK) and they
offered to allow me to stay at their project house; technicians travel in and out of San
Martin with some regularity; therefore, there is a small motor boat that periodically
connects that remote community with the main route of the large public boats,
something important to consider when traveling by myself to an unknown remote area


Chapter 7 discusses the connection between traditional world views and gender

hierarchies and division of spaces and roles in the context of cultural and social



Research Sites

San Martin del Tipishca, within the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, and

Buenavista, near the border of the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal Reserve were

selected as the two communities in which to conduct the study. Considering the high

degree of heterogeneity among communities in this region, the enormous territory,

and the communication problems in terms of cost, availability, and security, the

reasons these two communities were selected was quite simple. First, their location

in regard to market dynamics and to research logistics was ideal. Market dynamics

were an important component of the first research question. Therefore, it was

necessary to compare two communities with very different types of articulation into

market dynamics. San Martin represents a case of relative isolation, whereas

Buenavista represents integration into a dynamic economic environment. The second

reason was that these two communities presented advantages in terms of the research


'San Martin was one base for the Programa Pacaya-Samiria (WWF-AIF/DK) and they
offered to allow me to stay at their project house; technicians travel in and out of San
Martin with some regularity; therefore, there is a small motor boat that periodically
connects that remote community with the main route of the large public boats,
something important to consider when traveling by myself to an unknown remote area

Units of Study

The study considered households as important units linking individuals with the

community and with regional structures, centralizing resources and decisions and

instrumentalizing the livelihood strategies. For that reason households played an

important role in this study. However, since households are differentiated units, the

study chose individuals as the basic units to collect information, applying the survey

and interviews to both men and women at each household, as much as possible.

Women were first interviewed alone for the questionnaire or for interviews, and their

husbands were interviewed later. This was done in order to avoid biases in women's


This disaggregation of the sample facilitated a comparison of male and female

information for every question of the survey. The first draft of the questionnaire was

developed based on previous research experience among Riberefihos, readings and

discussions held in courses related to tropical resource use, and as part of the design

of the gender and community component of the Summer Field Course on Tropical

Wildlife Conservation, organized by TCD/MERGE/UNAP in the Tamshiyacu-

Tahuayo Communal Reserve. During this course, we had the opportunity to test the

instrument, to reformulate it, and test it again until it worked smoothly. A sample of

the survey is included in the final appendix. Each interview took between 1.5 and 2

with a limited budget. Buenavista is one of the four communities which participates
in the management of the TTCR and the next community close to the Communal
Reserve, after Chino. In addition, a technician I knew since 1989 was working in
Buenavista and had agreed to introduce me to the families and to the communal


hours, since the questionnaire was not directly applied, but filled out more in the way

of an informal conversation.

When the field work started in each selected community, I had the chance to

introduce myself and my study at communal meetings. That was very beneficial in

obtaining collaboration of the local populace. In addition, before the interviews

began, the goals of the study were explained again and permission was requested to

ask "a few questions," a euphemism used by all researchers. The survey was applied

to 29 individuals in San Martin, representing 30% of the households, and to 30

individuals in Buenavista, representing 38% of the households. The sample was

randomly selected, based on the Communal List. Since in San Martin, this list of

families followed a geographical order (from the first house in the northern limit of

the village to the southern last house), the same geographical pattern was maintained

to organize the list and select the sample in Buenavista.

Study Scope

The limited coverage of the study and the small size of the sample make this a

case study. The exploration of gender, class, markets, and ethnicity affecting the use

of resources at the community and household level, with a gender-disaggregated

sample had no empirical antecedent for the region, and required in-depth interactions

and observations. It was decided to sacrifice the statistical representativeness, which,

due to the large number and high degree of heterogeneity of communities in the two

protected areas, would require a large sample, a team of surveyors and a special

budget to mobilize and feed. I wanted to be able to remain longer in a single place,


instead of spending time traveling or supervising other people applying my survey. I

wanted to analyze information that I collected and to take advantage of every

interaction and opportunity to make observations. Due to this characteristic of the

study, results cannot be inferred for the whole region; they can be taken as

implications for discussion among people and institutions dealing with conservation,

gender, and/or sustainable development in the region. Findings of this study also can

serve to design further research to test and expand the preliminary results.

Data Analyses

Statistical tests of significance are included in the tables in Chapters 6 and 7,

to provide additional information regarding the data and analysis provided in this

study. The data base was analyzed using Quatro-Pro for Windows. The statistical

analyses included common indicators of distribution, such as average and standard

deviation. For the nine selected variables presented in Chapter 6, regression analysis

was used to explore the association between variables. In addition, the Kruskal-

Wallis test was run to evaluate the statistical significance of the data. This test uses

the ranks of the observations rather than the actual values and was selected because

(1) data distribution appeared to be non-normal, and (2) the sample2 size was smaller

than normal.

2Kruskal-Wallis test was used instead of chi square and F-test, since both are used
assuming normality in the distribution of the values (chi-square is used to compare
two variables and F-test, more than two), and the data showed a non-normal
distribution with a high variation within each group. The Kruskal-Wallis test assesses
statistically significant differences when the p-value is less than 0.05.


Conceptual Framework and Method

The conceptual framework and method that guided this study was known as

gendered political ecology as discussed and developed within the MERGE program

since 1992, and within the MERGE Student Research Group, between 1996 and 1998

(Schmink, 1997). This approach resulted from the confluence of the political ecology

of natural resource use (Redclift, 1987; Schmink and Wood, 1987; Peet and Watts,

1993) and the gender analysis developed within the frame of gender and development

(Poats et al., 1988; Feldstein and Poats, 1989).

A political ecology approach recognizes that political, social, and economic

processes and institutions mediate interactions between humans and the environment

(Bryant, 1992; Peluso, 1992; Schmink, 1997). Gendered political ecology

acknowledges the importance of power structures at the public and private spheres,

market dynamics and patterns of capital development on regional and global scales, as

well as the interactions of class, gender, and ethnic hierarchies affecting the use of

resources at local macro and micro levels. Even though the focus may be at the local

level--as in the case of this study--it is necessary to take into account the larger

picture, the social relations that shape local practices in regard to natural resources,

and the whole set of social, economic, demographic, and political processes at the

regional level, affecting local practices and interactions. This approach perceives

local people neither as passive victims of degradation nor as pure environmentalists,

rather it encompasses the whole set of contradictions that affect local behavior in


regard to natural resources, including a true concern for natural resource depletion

while facing the need to make a living based on their extraction.

Asymmetric power, resistance, and competition3 are key features of the social

context in which local actors relate to each other and to natural resources, in a

process of bargaining, resistance, making alliances and competing. As Schmink and

Wood (1987) show in the case of Brazil, a complex and changing context offers

different conditions at different historic moments, for social movements to resist the

power of dominant groups. What seemed impossible in the 1970s--the creation of

extractive reserves for local people--was achieved in the 1980s, when the global and

national context and economic crisis had eroded the power and legitimacy of the State

and its support to dominant groups, and international environmental concerns,

economic pressures, and criticism of deforestation and cattle ranching could no longer

simply be portrayed as imperialist intrusion. Beyond the will of social actors at the

local level, there are forces acting at the macro level that, in turn, are not monolithic

blocks, but dynamic alliances and contingencies of power that may change in the

course of time.

This approach is extremely important to understanding the underlying forces of

unsustained uses of resources and the structural limits to sustainable alternative uses

of natural resources. These forces and trends have to be targeted in order to

3Schmink and Wood (1987:14) define competitive conflicts as those occurring between
members of the same power stratum, while resistance is the attempt made by
members of the subordinate group to challenge attempts or ways of resource use
imposed by the dominant group.


overcome the current vicious circle of poverty and resource degradation. The logic of

capital accumulation and the law of decreasing profit that obliges capital to constantly

search and expand new markets are maintaining the patterns of uneven and

unsustainable economic growth, as analyzed by Redclift (1987).

Political ecology (Schmink and Wood, 1987:13-14) defines social groups as

collectives of people sharing similar access to productive resources and similar social

relations to make a living. These common material grounds shape shared visions and

perceptions in regard to their own situation and the way to improve it, and these

elements of daily life are what allow concerted actions and the transformation of

individual actors into political collectives. This definition goes beyond a corporative

or formal notion of social group, in the sense that explicit recognition or belonging is

not a prerequisite for the existence of a given social group, but rather the existence of

common forms of access to resources and similar social relations. There are a variety

of social groups within the Amazon social space. Schmink and Wood (1987:13-15)

divide them into dominant or subordinate strata, with distinct degrees of power--

understood as their capacity to impose their will on another group--based on physical,

economic, political, or ideological resources. These different bases of power allow

the establishment of dominant groups that are not homogeneous, as well as

subordinate groups that are highly heterogenous.

Gendered Political Ecology

For the identification of social heterogeneity among local people as users of

natural resources, gender analysis provides an additional entrance to look at the


community and household level. Gender, identified as social constructions shaping

the interactions between men and women (Poats et al., 1988; Feldstein and Poats,

1990) was a conceptual step that partially helped to overcome the limitations of the

WID approaches (either the welfare, efficiency or equity approach as addressed by

Moser, 1989). While the focus of WID had been to increase the participation of

women and make development more effective, the gender and development approach

(GAD) often looked for the potential in development initiatives to transform unequal

social and gender relations, including in the analysis, the re-examination of social

structures and institutions affecting projects and gender hierarchies. However, the

focus of gender analysis sometimes has been on instrumentalizing gender inclusion

and evaluation in projects, and there is a tendency to limit gender analysis to the

project scope and life. As GAD became institutionalized in the 1990s among most

bilateral agencies and NGOs, this trend to operate within the institutional framework

of development agencies has limited the critical capacity of GAD to review the

regional and global context affecting gender, among other hierarchies (Braidotti et al.,


The use of gender analysis within the framework of political ecology makes it

possible to recapture the more radical nature of gender as an initial theoretical

formulation and as a tool to identify gender hierarchies and ideologies not only among

the subjects of research, training and/or gender planning, but also between them and

the researchers, trainers, and planners. This approach questions the whole set of

power relations established in those processes and the nature of institutions in charge


of development (Kabeer, 1994:64-304). The political ecology approach can provide a

powerful tool to analyze power based on economic and political structures and

interests at the regional level as they affect gender and class dynamics at the local

level. This analysis enhances the understanding of the processes and structures

affecting gender and the underlying project's scope and dynamics.

In this study, gender is understood as a social construction that is transmitted

by the immediate social group through the process of socialization. Therefore, gender

ideologies that legitimize gender hierarchies are deeply rooted in the unconscious and

may justify gender hierarchies as "natural" rather than socially constructed. This

social construction shapes the behavior, roles, identity, expectations and power

relations and interactions between men and women in the productive and reproductive

spheres, and besides the economic level, at the social, psychological, sexual, political

and cultural levels including interactions within the household, community and the

larger society. The gender construction in terms of hierarchies and ideologies may

vary according to the family situation in class and ethnic structures, and it is also

recreated or redefined at the individual level, according to personal history, in terms

of access to formal education and income, primary and secondary socialization agents,

as well as personal characteristics and choices. While gender ideologies and

hierarchies might have common elements for a social group, each individual

experiences her or his gender in a particular way. This study focused on

understanding the ways gender, class and ethnicity intersect and shape the use of

natural resources and affect the equity and effectiveness of Riberefiho livelihood


strategies. In this sense, the exploration of gender is limited to its more instrumental


Feminist Political Ecology

The gendered political ecology (GPE) as briefly presented, differs from

feminist political ecology (FPE) (Rocheleau et al., 1996) in which the latter brings a

feminist perspective to political ecology. That is, it refers to the interests of women

in a context of female subordination, as a key focus point. Feminist political ecology

addresses three main topics for analysis: gendered knowledge, gendered

environmental rights and responsibilities, and gendered environmental politics and

grassroots activism. The word genderedd" is primarily used to stress the situation

and interests of women in regard to environmental issues, instead of focusing on the

interactions of men and women among them and with the environment.4

Even though many common elements are present in both gendered political

ecology and feminist political ecology, such as the integration of global perspectives

with local experiences, the issue of power mediating the interaction of men and

women with the environment, among others, the FPE is committed to a feminist point

of view and, for that reason, more open to include epistemological and philosophical

critiques, for example challenging dominant ways of producing knowledge and of

understanding "nature" and recovering the "science of survival." It also is more

connected to other feminist traditions, such as feminist environmentalism, socialist

4The main literature presented or included as references in Rocheleau et al. (1996) is
definitively focused on women instead of gender.


feminist and feminist poststructuralism, and more closely situated within a tradition of

feminist studies. The FPE acknowledges the insights from feminist cultural ecology,

political ecology, feminist geography and feminist political economy. This feminist

perspective leads FPE to treat gender as a "critical variable in shaping resource access

and control, interacting with class, caste, race, culture and ethnicity to shape

processes of ecological change and the struggle of men and women to sustain viable

livelihoods ." (Rocheleau et al., 1996:4). "While there are several axes of power

that may define people access to resources, their control over their workplace and

home environments and their definitions of a healthy environment, we focus on

gender as one axis of identity and difference that warrants attention" (Rocheleau et

al., 1996:5, underline is mine).

The GPE is more flexible in not pre-establishing the main contradiction for a

given situation, using gender analysis as a way to open the exploration of the whole

set of social contradictions affecting the use of resources and the interactions between

men and women, recognizing that it may be or not the main focus of conflict, and

therefore, of research. More participation by economists, sociologists,

anthropologists, and biological scientists in developing this approach has kept it more

in the limits of what is sometimes referred to as a positivist and reductionist approach

to science. These two last characteristics make this approach more suitable to the

research questions of the study, the formal requisites of a dissertation and the


necessary freedom to go to the field without a predetermined research agenda.5

Within MERGE we are strongly considering the interconnections among gender, class

and ethnicity in every case study; however, we recognize that in some cases gender

may not be the main focus of the research, and women may not always be the most

appropriate social category for analysis.

Rural Households and Market Dynamics

Very important concepts linking the macro and micro level of analysis are the

notions of family and household. Family and household are intermediate institutions

which situate individuals in specific class, gender and ethnic hierarchies. Families are

in charge of the socialization process that prepares individuals to accept and legitimate

these different hierarchies as well as their roles within the household, the community

and the larger society. The notion of family and the notion of household are not the

same, even though they may perform similar roles. Family is a group of people

bonded by blood and kinship ties, while household is a group of people who share a

common pool of resources, such as living under the same roof, sharing food supply

and preparation and usually labor, to achieve their material reproduction (Schmink,

5The nexus established by the Feminist Political Ecology with environmental
feminism, feminist poststructuralism and deep ecology among others do resonate and
appeal to me at a more personal level, as part of the search for linkages between my
own spirituality, daily life practice and the critique of social structures underlying
gender, class and ethnic hierarchies, including the violence exerted toward nature.
The feminist critique of the production of knowledge and the challenged role of
researchers were very present in my mind during the fieldwork. However, I find it
difficult to conduct research based on those frameworks, and difficult to transcend my
own empirist-reductionist academic framework that over more than 20 years has left
its imprint on me.


1974:89). A family can be a nuclear family that is formed by only the parents and

their children, or can be an extended family when other members such as the

grandfather or grandmother, sister or brother in law, nephews or grandchildren are

part of the family group and part of a single household. Household is a category that

is usually used to refer more to the economic aspects of group livelihood, while

family refers to socialization, roles and authorities.

The interactions between households and markets have been conceptualized in

different ways by the most important paradigms used to study rural households.

Households are considered by neoclassical economics as corporate units which behave

as any other economic agent, making rational decisions in order to maximize their

utility. According to this model, households choose the alternative that gives them

the most benefit, value or satisfaction, in a context of limited or scarce resources

which have alternative uses. In this context conflict and subordination are not

considered in the interaction of households and markets (Folbre, 1989; Plattner,

1989). Rural households are considered by neoclassical economics as atomized and

homogeneous units, responding to market dynamics in order to maximize benefits or

low costs.6 Internally, they are considered to be corporate units in which the interest

of the members are not in conflict (this assumption will be discussed in the next

section, gender and intra-household analysis). This neoclassical paradigm is based on

the assumptions that people are calculating cost and benefits of their options--that is

6The rational decision-maker will use factors or inputs to the point where marginal
value equals marginal cost, which is where profit is maximized (Plattner, 1989).


they have the information, the capacity and the willingness to calculate their

alternatives. Typical neoclassical studies neglect the reproductive aspects of

household dynamics and focus on monetary aspects of livelihood strategies. They

also tend to ignore the constraints on small scale livelihood systems in which

household is an integral part of the system.

The assumptions that markets operate within perfect competition, and that

economic agents are homogenous, neglect the fact that competition in real markets is

never perfect. Economic agents that compete in markets have different control over

market conditions, as well as different productive conditions and locations. That is

the reason that markets are mechanisms that accentuate differentiation among

economic agents, reproducing and aggravating their differences. For instance,

producers of urban basic goods establish their prices, usually operating as

concentrated enterprises that control national markets, as in the case of two

enterprises that produce canned milk for the whole Peruvian market. By contrast,

rural households are atomized and numerous. They do not control the prices for their

products, and usually they cannot hold their products and wait for better prices. That

is one of the reasons why terms of exchange are so unfavorable to farmers. In

addition, rural households have different locations, yields, type of products, seasonal

supplies, etc., that make them compete in the markets with different returns. As the

peasant economy becomes more monetarized or more linked to the markets, the

process of differentiation among rural households increases.


The Marxist-Leninist paradigm (Lenin, 1899) understood peasant households

in their subordination to markets. Its analysis focused on the process of economic

differentiation within peasantry, characteristic of capitalist development, that would

eventually convert peasants either into proletarians or bourgeoises. The focus of this

analysis was on the linkages peasants as a class kept with the larger society, especially

the commoditization of the economy that subordinated peasants to markets, affecting

land rents and increasing technification of agriculture and its costs. These processes

created increasing differentiation among peasants. This analysis did not take into

consideration processes and differences internal to families and households.

The persistence of peasantry in the third world in the 1960s and its increasing

impoverishment challenged both paradigms in their predictions and facilitated a

revision of the theoretical assumptions and limits of both models. The translation and

"rediscovery" of Chayanov in the late 1960s (Thorner et al., 1966; Shanin 1973) and

his focus on the internal rationality of peasant families, together with the work of

Schultz (1953) opened the field of peasant studies, in which economists, sociologists

and anthropologists tried to understand the complex logic behind economic behavior

of peasants. Chayanov focused on the demographic dynamics of peasant families that

was variable through their life span, in terms of family consumption and provision of

labor, affecting their use of resources and their economic behavior. The

consumer/worker ratio within families was used to explain differentiation among

peasantry in terms of temporary adjustments to family needs. A wide debate followed

the rediscovery of Chayanov, and its discussion goes beyond the limits of this


chapter. However, it is important to recognize Chayanov's contribution to the notion

of internal economic rationality to explain economic behavior of peasant families.

The weakness of Chayanov analysis, however, was the lack of consideration of

market dynamics as an element contributing to the internal differentiation of farmers.

He conceptualized peasants as isolated from markets and larger society and also

ignored the demographic pressure limiting land availability, among other issues.

After the 1970s debate between campesinistas y decampesinistas,7 as increasing

globalization expanded market integration of rural people, and as empirical studies

exposed the diversity and complexity of peasants throughout the world, consensus was

achieved on the need to understand both the internal dynamics of families and

households, as well as the linkages they establish with market dynamics and broader

contexts, and their mutual interactions (Plattner, 1989). Economic anthropology has

made use of both neoclassical and Marxist theories, and as empirical research has

been developed, the usefulness and limitations of both paradigms to explain specific

phenomena in non-Western and Western societies have become more clear. At the

same time, the limits of non-critical use of distinct paradigms and the lack of a

stronger methodological design for anthropologists have been pointed out by Gladwin


7A debate in the 1970s around the prediction made by Marx and Lenin that the
peasantry would disappear as a class, challenged by those who agreed that it would
remain as a distinctive social and economic category (called campesinistas) (de Janvry
and Deere, 1979).


Regarding the interactions between rural households and the markets, one of

the contributions of Marxist theory is its central concept of production, as a social

process of transformation of nature through specific patterns of social relations that

include production, circulation, distribution and consumption. This way production

and reproduction become linked, the same way forces of production (the relations

people establish with nature) are linked with relations of production (the relationship

people establish among themselves).

How are these abstract notions related to the interactions between households

and markets? They provide holistic understanding of the different dimensions of

livelihood strategies, understanding the connections between monetary and non-

monetary aspects of family reproduction; between circulation (commercialization) and

distribution (access to surplus or economic benefit); between technology and social

access to it. Some studies tend to focus on the role of different activities including

the extraction of natural resources in the formation of household income but ignore

the whole cycle of circulation, distribution, and consumption, especially the

reproductive aspects of livelihood strategies. This study tried to incorporate the role

of extraction for family reproduction, including subsistence and income needs. For

example, analyzing income provided by hunting activities, without considering the

dependence of hunters on buying food supplies due to their lack of involvement in

agriculture, would lead to different results, than an analysis that considers monetary

and non-monetary needs, productive and reproductive dimensions of livelihood

strategies. On the other hand, understanding forces of production not only as


technology but as social relationships with nature helps to elucidate the ways social

differentiation may affect access to tools and means of production and extraction, and

this way, may affect the process and the results of either production or extraction.

This approach calls attention to the effects of market dynamics on the internal

differentiation of social groups, based on their access to resources, means of

production and extraction, and economic benefits derived from these activities. This

is an important issue explored by this study and is related to the notion of livelihood


Another important element to consider in the interaction between households

and markets is the effect market dynamics have on the internal organization of

households and their livelihood strategies. These issues are explored in the next


Gender and Intra-Household Analyses

One of the main breakthroughs of gender studies has been to overcome the

assumption that households and families are corporate units in which common

interests coincide with the interests of each member. Gender studies have

documented for many different regions, and within different types of families and

households, how inequalities are present in terms of labor allocation and access to its

benefits among others, mostly in terms of female subordination (Bruce, 1989; Folbre,

1989; Katz, 1992). There are also several studies showing the limits of gender

analysis, when it is restricted to gender roles in terms of who does what. Mayoux

(1995) critiques the implicit assumption that incorporating a gender perspective into


participatory development will contribute to the equity of the project's impact, calling

attention to the need to link local participants with wider movements for social

change. Bonnard and Scherr (1994) question the importance of gender alone as a

useful variable to understand agroforestry practices in Kenya, showing marital status

of women as a variable differentiating species choice, tree product marketing and soil

conservation, and fertility practices, which are not clearly differentiated by gender.

Warren et al. (1996) analyze the case of northern Ghana in the context of traditional

kinship structures and roles; they also provide a case study in which marital status and

seniority of women are very important in explaining the different work loads of

women in reproductive tasks and their possibility to be involved in market activities

and to access cash.

There is an increasing emphasis on the need to expand the notion of gender in

order to include its complexity associated with class, kinship, life span and ethnicity

at the local level, while linking the household dynamics with the larger economic,

social and political context.8

Livelihood Strategies

An important notion used within GPE as discussed in the MERGE Student

Research Group, is the notion of livelihood strategies.9 It refers to the articulation of

many different activities by different members of the household, in order to make a

8This concern has been present in the MERGE discussions, and this study tries to
incorporate the intersections of gender, class and ethnicity in shaping the use of
natural resources.

9Known in Spanish as Estrategias de Supervivencia.


living. This notion originally was used to describe the ways urban poor found a way

to make a living, as a structurally marginal social segment. The concept of survival

strategies recognized their active role in creating their own jobs and income,

overcoming the portrait of poor and passive "victims" (Torrado, 1981; Jelin, 1982).

This notion also allowed researchers to examine differential responses of different

social groups and individuals facing similar structural conditions (Schmink, 1984). It

was later used and expanded to understand the rationality of family goals and behavior

within the farming systems approach (Brush, 1988; Mayer, 1979).

Disaggregation in terms of gender, generation, marital status, role within

kinship and/or community structures, among other variables, has contributed to a

better understanding of the concept of livelihood strategies as a phenomenon that is

not restricted to economics. For the case of Peruvian farmers, Aramburu and Ponce,

(1987) compared different regional contexts of market dynamics, access to land and to

formal education, and found that associated with economic strategies tending toward

either productive diversification or specialization, are demographic strategies tending

either toward family fission (family members emigration) or fusion (family members

remain and some relatives are added). Some results for Riberefiho families at the

Napo River suggest (Espinosa, 1994) that families located in more distant villages

rely more on subsistence agriculture, fishing and hunting, with high rates of

emigration and more complementarity and female involvement in agriculture. By

contrast, villages more integrated into market dynamics show less emigration of

family members and families rely more on commercial agriculture and commercial


extraction of natural resources done by males. Women are more specialized in

income-generating activities such as domestic livestock and handicrafts, have more

independent income, and have more weight in the domestic economy management.

Agreda and Espinosa (1991) found that associated with the differential importance of

specific activities according to different habitats and access to land forms, the

household composition seemed to play an important role, for Ribereiihos in the upper,

middle and lower Napo River. While most households headed by males focused

either on agriculture, fishing or hunting as main activities, domestic livestock were

more important in those areas with more prevalence of women headed households.

There is always a strong articulation of the economic, demographic and social

dimensions of livelihood strategies, and there are also different discourses or

ideologies validating specific patterns of access, control and benefits, for family and

household members, in terms of gender, age, seniority, access to formal education

and so on. What cannot be generalized, but rather must be discovered for every

particular setting, is the logic of livelihood strategies, the asymmetries and the

conflicts, and the base for cooperation and solidarity between men and women, and

among families, since conflict and cooperation are both present. This study uses a

gendered political ecology instead of a feminist political ecology approach and,

therefore, does not assume that gender asymmetries are always the most important

element to be addressed.

Gender and Ethnicity

The connections between gender and class have been more incorporated into

GPE than have the interactions of gender and ethnicity. For that reason, a review of

some literature addressing these interconnections is presented in this section. In

general, there is a mutual exclusion of ethnicity as part of the gender analysis

mainstream, while discussion of ethnicity does not incorporate a gender perspective.

Many researchers consider that ethnicity in regard to natural resource use is relevant

only when studying indigenous people. The following literature review will reveal

the need to use a more inclusive and flexible notion of ethnicity and of the process of

social and individual construction of identity.

Within anthropology, two major deterministic approaches to ethnicity can be

identified: one which considers ethnicity as somehow intrinsic, something one is born

with and which remains, even though one may de-emphasize or downplay it.

Ethnicity is the product of basic (primordial) feelings of common descendence

(Epstein, 1978). The other perspective of ethnicity is more instrumentalist and

considers that ethnic groups are collectives of people who share some patterns of

normative behavior, who belong to a larger population, in a context of competition

for scarce resources; ethnicity is a way to better organize the struggle for certain

resources. In this perspective (Cohen, 1974) states that what is important is not the

content of ethnicity but its capacity to organize and mobilize people. The question is,

according to Barth (1969), why groups or individuals want to distinguish themselves

from other groups. The establishment and maintenance of boundaries and the


rationality of activating (or deactivating) their ethnic allegiance is associated with a

certain utilitarian rationality of maximizing the benefits of belonging or not to their

ethnic group. In this perspective, ethnicity plays an important role in structuring

behavior, particularly in new contexts. The analysis of both Barth and Cohen operate

at the level of social groups, assuming their internal homogeneity.

Webster (1991) analyzes the case of the people of Thongaland, in the border

of Mozambique. He provides an alternative approach, in which gender differentiated

attitudes toward their Thonga origins--spurned by men and embraced by women--are

explained at the individual level, as part of their gender struggle. His analysis shows

how ethnic roles are changing and flexible according to certain social contexts and

certain social interactions: for example people play Thonga roles within the

community, but use Zulu to deal with the outside world, sensing that somehow, being

Thonga is inferior. With increasing male emigration and integration into labor

markets and public domains there is a trend among the Thonga to identify more with

the dominant Zulu and to deny their Thonga roots.

Instead of analyzing "who the people really are," Webster describes a situation

in which people have a "repertoire of ethnic features to draw upon and they make a

skillful and sometimes imaginative use" of them (Webster, 1994:249). The fact that

Thonga culture offers more status and power to women than does Zulu, explains why

women prefer to use Thonga kin terms to define and control any social encounter,

while men try to impose their own version, usually in Zulu idiom. Gender


differentiated interests may allow different subcultures to exist, and different members

of a family to have a different ethnic affiliation.

This notion of changeable roles is also presented by Paulson (1996) for the

case of Bolivian Andean women and Mizquenho families. Paulson understands the

interactions between gender and ethnic hierarchies as part of the dynamic construction

of identity in the midst of the tension between modernity and tradition, the last

understood not as a frozen heritage but as an ideological construction that is used in

different spaces and moments. Diversity and mobility of Mizquenhos families, and

the absence of a corporative identity, challenge concepts of ethnicity as ascribed or

characteristic of a given group.

The redefinition of ethnicity as a dimension of identity experienced by people

in their specific situation in class, gender and other hierarchies may help to

understand the complex identity of people in the Third World, taking into account

what is significant to them, even though it has been marginal to many studies and

policies. Asher (1996) focuses on the mutual exclusions existent in both the gender

and the ethnicity approaches to identity, as she discusses the notion of identity as

something that is not just the result of social structures but something that also is

constructed, changed and modified by social actors. Asher focuses on the importance

of women in the transmission of ideologies of ethnicity, and in the fact that men and

women might have different ethnicity in terms of experience and discourse. Gender

and ethnicity should be approached as part of how people experience and reshape

their identity as a set of strategic responses to their socio-economic conditions, and as


a process of negotiation that is subjective, conflictive and depends on contingencies,

rather than teleologic and linear. The "multiplicity of differences" limits the use of

single categories to define something complex such as identity; at the same time this

multiplicity of differences allows a bridge between gender and ethnic identities and an

understanding that an individual can have more than one identity or can use them

differently in different contexts. Paulson (1996) reports that Bolivian peasant women

play different ethnic roles within and outside the community changing their dressing

code, body language, spoken language and social behavior. She addresses the

instrumental way in which women use these different ethnic roles to obtain better

results in their tasks of harvesting and selling their potatoes.

Webster (1991), Asher (1996), and Paulson (1996) agree not only in that

different ethnic identities can be used by men and women in different social contexts,

but in the dynamic rather than passive role of individual actors, not defined by rigid

structural limits. De la Cadena (1992) explores the role of ethnicity and gender

hierarchies shaping internal differentiation in a community of the Peruvian highlands,

analyzing the subjective and objective practices of men and women either in personal

interactions or in regional and national social and political movements. Since ethnic

identities are built within social interactions according to attributes that are recognized

and fixed in the relationship, it is no surprise that the Indian in one relationship

becomes the Misti or mestizo in another relationship and viceversa. This volatility of

ethnic roles coexists with the notion of inferiority of Indians in relation to the Mistis

and is intertwined with gender hierarchies that convert women to the last element in


the chain of subordination, dependent on marriage and men to start their own ethnic

upper mobility. Hence, the phrase "women are more Indian" came into existence.

Patriarchal chiefs of extended families control a network of resources within the

community and decide the marriage of their kin; however, increasing migration and

the influence of urban and market dynamics is changing their base of power,

facilitating mestizaje for women through the acquisition of urban knowledge.

Some studies also have called attention to the gender and ethnic inequities that

exist at the community level. For example, in the case of Nepal, Thomas-Slayter and

Bhatt (1994) report that projects might contribute to increasing differentiation between

two ethnic groups: the Bhamin and Tamangs. For the Andes, similar conflicts over

resources exist between Indians and Mestizos or Mistis (De la Cadena, 1992; Paulson,


These studies present two major issues, (1) the linkages between gender and

ethnicity as hierarchies of domination, and (2) the mobility and interchangeableness of

ethnic roles according to the social context, the advantages for the individual and the

type of personal interactions. These findings imply the need to uncover the specific

ways in which gender and ethnic hierarchies and ideologies reinforce each other, or

conflict, in a context of class subordination. Additionally, there is the need to

recognize the dynamic role of social actors in redefining and using multiple ethnic

roles as part of their livelihood strategies. There is also the need to redefine the

tension between modernity and tradition, not only according to the dynamic of Third-

World capitalist development, but also to the personal choices of individuals.


Something that is not considered in the literature is the way ethnic ideologies and

world views affect gender hierarchies and division of spaces and roles in regard to the

environment. What are points of confluence and conflict between ethnicity, gender

and the environment? Another point that needs to be addressed is structural limits

that frame the way individuals experience and redefine ethnic and gender identities

and hierarchies. It is important to consider the objective process in which this

struggle is framed.

Even though this study is interested in the intersections of gender and

ethnicity, it uses the notion of traditional cultural backgrounds instead of ethnicity,

when referring to families under study, since Riberefiho ethnicity is not clearly

defined. Even though the study found that traditional cultural elements were

important in daily life events, gender, and interaction with the environment, not

enough evidence was found to define specific ethnic groups of Riberefiho families.

The lack of common language and heritage, as well as self-claimed ethnic identity

limited their reference as Cocamas. In the exploration of the intersections of gender

and traditional cultural backgrounds, this study considers the economic limits to

modernization and assimilation that explain the persistence of traditional ways of

living, creating ambiguity in objective and subjective terms. This study explores how

traditional cultural backgrounds reinforce gender hierarchies and ideologies, in terms

of direct and indirect use of resources, access to the benefits extraction of resources

generates and how these elements affect the effectiveness of livelihood strategies, in

terms of food supply and well being of family members. While recognizing that


gender and cultural identities are not rigid and homogenous, but experienced and

redefined by individual actors, the study explores the possibility of traditional

institutions limiting individual choices.

Ethnicity of Ribereiihos

The ethnic identity of the Riberefihos of the Amazon lowlands has been

neglected by researchers. In the Amazonian Library in Iquitos, there are hundreds of

ethnographic studies on different native groups that inhabit the Amazon basin, but

there are less than 30 about the Riberefihos, most of them focused on the economic

aspects of their livelihoods, including their traditional agroforestry and agricultural

practices and their scientific and economic value (Hiraoka, 1984; Denevan, 1988;

Padoch, 1988; Chibnik, 1990 and 1994; Coomes, 1991 and 1995; Bergen, 1994;

among others). These studies have contributed to overcome the "invisibility" of

Riberefihos within Amazon populations10 and to better understand the economic

rationality of their livelihood strategies. However, they do not consider the ethnic or

the gender hierarchies within families, communities and the regional systems.

Of the few studies discussing ethnic identities of Riberefihos, Altarama (1992)

briefly describes the historic process of subordination of native populations since the

first explorations in 1542 and their conversion from natives to Riberefihos through

mestizaje that he defines at the racial, social and economic levels, as the changes

experienced by their immersion in market dynamics and the dominant culture and

10 As Hiraoka (1984) pointed out, anthropologists in the past were overly attracted to
the more exotic tribal indigenous peoples, ignoring the fact that Ribereiios represent
85% of Loreto's rural population.


society (Figure 2.1). Garcia (1994) defines three elements of the indigenous identity,

resistance, continuity, and change. He understands identity as an assertive process of

self-affirmation starting from a common element, language and a set of common

meanings, including the way to relate to their environment, their territory and

"cotidianeidad" (daily life). Identity does not exist as a finished product, since

tradition is not conservation of an invariable content, but a constant reinterpretation of

the past; therefore, it becomes a dynamic element that is constantly transforming

itself. While identity is the assertive valuation of a group and its historic project,

mestizaje is seen as the process of loss of this identity. Garcia presents a review of

the historic process which includes the contemporary scenario, in which he addresses

the importance of indigenous social organizations as well as the impact of the Western

media reaching the remote places of the Amazon. Stocks (1981) documents the

historical process that shaped the self-denial of the ethnic identity of the Cocama-

Cocamillas, whom he refers to as the "invisible natives," a group of people who do

not recognize themselves as natives, but still have not been assimilated by the national

dominant groups.

A new debate was opened in relation to Riberefiho ethnic identity when

Chibnik (1991) introduced the notion of quasi-ethnic group, different from the

mestizos and different from the indigenous groups. His contribution was based on the

work of Stocks (1981) who pointed out the existence of a cholo group in the Amazon

lowlands, using the concept of cholo and cholificacion as developed by Quijano

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(1980) for Peruvian national society." Mora (1995) challenged this approach, based

first on the specific characteristics of the Loreto economy, which has remained based

on mercantilist capitalism and extraction of natural resources. The region has been

unable to develop an industrial productive base to facilitate a process of occupational

change and social mobility for larger segments of the regional population, a process

that has been critical in the formation of cholo groups among large segments of

migrants recruited in Andean mines, coastal fisheries, and urban-industrial sectors.

The second element, not present at the regional level in Loreto, is the process of

grouping that characterized the development of the cholo social group, and their

identity redefinition. This lack of grouping is part of a characteristic of the immature

process of building the Amazon social space, as addressed in Barclay et al. (1991).

Finally, Mora reviewed the case of the Cocamilla of the lower Huallaga, who after

1981 (based on Stock's study), started to claim their ethnic identity for instrumental

reasons. They sought better conditions to claim and obtain titles on territorial land,

access to credit, and exclusive right to use forests, rivers, and lakes within their

territory. They formed an indigenous organization, the Federation de Cocamilla

Communities, affiliated to the regional indigenous organizations. While his critique

nQuijano addresses the process of social mobility made possible by new occupational
roles, emigration and urbanization that allowed a process of detachment from Indian
peasants that were not totally assimilated by the dominant groups, and who formed a
new social and ethnic group called cholos, who were able to group themselves at the
local and regional level, keeping some traditions and values, and in the later decades
have been able to permeate the whole national society (which is called the
cholificacion of the Peruvian society, based on their demographic weight and their


of the notion of cholification in Loreto is clear, Mora does not directly address what

ethnic identity consists of in this region.

This study agrees with Garcia (1994) in recognizing the dynamic process

inherent to ethnic identity. Most Riberefihos are in a transitional moment; even now,

after so many centuries of ethnic subordination and assimilation, some elements of

their own ethnic identity are still present, that might be claimed, accepted and

redefined within their social and economic integration in the markets and larger

society, under the appropriate conditions. Otherwise, the process of ethnic self-denial

will continue, in the name of progress and development, as these concepts are

currently transmitted by the State, the media, and most development and conservation


This study explored the ambivalence and contradictions that the objective

assimilation of Riberefihos into market dynamics and socio-political dominant

structures creates, and the assimilation that coexists with the persistence of traditional

cultural elements, in a context dominated by the discourse of modernization.

In this study, ethnicity is understood as a social construction that situates

individuals and groups within a hierarchy that is related to cultural backgrounds. For

the case of Peru, this ethnic hierarchy results from the subordination of indigenous

societies into dominant structures established by Europeans, which created different

sub-groups as a continuum of subordination. Since indigenous societies were

disrupted and redefined, the elements that "survived" this assimilation have been

redefined according to changing contexts, mostly losing their connection with forms


of social and economic organization that are disappearing or already gone. Ethnicity

is an element that results from the situation of an individual in specific groups, such

as indigenous, mestizo, cholos, or whites, that are defined not by race or class, but

by elements that relate to their descendence from and/or mobility to specific groups of

the continuum Indian-whites.

However, the concept of ethnicity, as used in anthropology cannot be used

when studying social groups that do not belong to specific ethnic groups. For this

reason, the study used the notion of traditional cultural backgrounds to refer to the set

of traditional ways of thinking and practices that affect social interactions and

perceptions, that derive from indigenous heritage but that cannot be traced to specific

ethnic group membership. The inclusion of these traditional cultural backgrounds and

their effect on the social interactions with the environment within conservation and

development initiatives affecting local people in Loreto is extremely important.

Without romanticizing ethnicity and traditional world views, there are still some

elements of traditional knowledge that might be lost forever, unless a conscious effort

is made to support their rescue and reconstruction. It is also important to recognize

the ethnocentric orientation of most development and conservation initiatives, and the

need to make room to include and validate traditional cultural backgrounds as part of

their social identity.


The Northeastern Peruvian Amazon is situated in the eastern part of Peru,

adjacent to the Andes. Isolated from the rest of the country by this monumental

natural barrier until recent decades, it has experienced a process of social redefinition

of its space, that is referred to by researchers as the construction of the Amazon space

(Barclay et al., 1990; Rodriguez, 1991). Historical processes, as well as the

ecological characteristics of Loreto, have shaped the current patterns of natural

resource use, at regional and local scales. This region has experienced uneven

development, in spatial and social terms, responding basically to external demands for

forest goods. Unless this pattern of market integration is changed, there are no real

conditions for sustainable use of resources within the region. Therefore, in order to

understand the current use of natural of resources by local people, it is necessary to

review the historical processes experienced by this region.

Regional History

Peruvian Amazonia experienced an early penetration of Europeans since

Spanish expeditions in search of El Dorado started a process of colonization of this

region in the first part of the 16th century. However, the rate of integration and

development of this region into national and global economies has been comparatively


The Northeastern Peruvian Amazon is situated in the eastern part of Peru,

adjacent to the Andes. Isolated from the rest of the country by this monumental

natural barrier until recent decades, it has experienced a process of social redefinition

of its space, that is referred to by researchers as the construction of the Amazon space

(Barclay et al., 1990; Rodriguez, 1991). Historical processes, as well as the

ecological characteristics of Loreto, have shaped the current patterns of natural

resource use, at regional and local scales. This region has experienced uneven

development, in spatial and social terms, responding basically to external demands for

forest goods. Unless this pattern of market integration is changed, there are no real

conditions for sustainable use of resources within the region. Therefore, in order to

understand the current use of natural of resources by local people, it is necessary to

review the historical processes experienced by this region.

Regional History

Peruvian Amazonia experienced an early penetration of Europeans since

Spanish expeditions in search of El Dorado started a process of colonization of this

region in the first part of the 16th century. However, the rate of integration and

development of this region into national and global economies has been comparatively


slow, due to ecological constraints that limit profitability of major investments, and to

the socioeconomic and political characteristic of the Peruvian State. As a result, in

the 1990s, the economy of this region still remains based on natural resource

extraction done mainly at small scale by local people, centralized in the city of

Iquitos, commercial and service center for the region. Lack of industrialization, high

costs of transportation, low prices and lack of support for agricultural and wildlife

products are the main factors that keep stagnation and poverty in the rural villages

and in the main cities, making the search for sustainable use of natural resources

more difficult. The following historical review will suggest the elements that have

shaped the main bottlenecks to development and conservation of natural resources that

this region experiences.

Colonial Period

In 1536 the Spanish explorers, conquistadores and missionaries began to

penetrate the Northeastern Peruvian Amazon, changing the uses of this landscape

made by indigenous tribes and imposing a new pattern to benefit the distant crown

and the local dominant groups who served and profited from the colonial power

structure. During colonial domination, the Spanish established encomiendas,

reducciones,1 and founded towns to reduce indigenous populations into a system of

1The Spanish created several institutions to reorganize native populations.
Reducciones: were the first political, administrative and territorial units created by the
Spanish in order to reduce natives at three levels: geographically, from their dispersed
settlements in the forest into spatially concentrated units; religiously, through their
conversion into Christian faith; and socially, by destroying their own culture, religion
and social organization, as subordinated labor. Reducciones took the form of
missions until the expulsion of Jesuits and Franciscans. The encomienda replaced the


domination oriented to extraction of goods, such as turtle eggs, waxes, honey, vanilla

and medicinal plants, as tributes to the Spanish crown (Coomes, 1995:110). Indians

also provided unpaid labor for mission construction and maintenance, guides and

canoe men for soldiers, agricultural production, transportation and trading.

Relocation of indigenous people from the upland forest toward the river banks, and

their concentration into villages was imposed by the Spanish in order to facilitate

control (San Roman, 1975:35-52; Stockes, 1981:6). It has to be said that missions

protected indigenous people from the bandeirantes2 and from the encomienda system

that had a more devastating effect on Indians than working for the missions. The

success of missionaries in attracting Indians has been attributed to their possession of

steel tools (axes and machetes) which totally altered the relationship of Indians with

their forest. However, missionaries also had the additional support of armed

expeditions called entradas to recruit those unwilling to join the missions. This

period was characterized by forced recruitment, flights and rebellions until 1680 when

rebellions were finally crushed (Stocks, 1981:8). Indian mortality was high, due

mainly to their exposure to new diseases and to the disruption of their social

organization. For example, between 1644 and 1652, fifty percent of the Cocama

reducciones and they were temporary concessions of territory and Indians given to a
private person, who was in charge of collecting taxes for the Spanish crown, having
the right to free Indian labor. This system of encomiendas set no limits to protect
native population from the ambition of encomenderos who sought to increase their
profit at any cost.

2Expeditions coming from Brazil to capture Indians as slaves. Portugal allowed
slavery within its colonies, while the Spanish did not.


population "reduced" or recruited into the mission system, were reported to have died

(Regan 1983:49).

Missions were productive units that aimed to be self-sufficient. Indians could

farm their own land and raise domestic animals. They also had to farm community

land, oriented to support priests and children attending schools. Their periodic duties

also included hunting, fishing and searching for turtle eggs (San Roman, 1975:51-67).

Jesuits taught natives to speak Quechua--used as a lingua franca in their territory--and

introduced them to artisan skills. To a great extent, missions controlled the entrance

of new settlers into the region, being extremely selective. For this reason, during this

period the region did not experience massive immigration while population growth

was disrupted by high mortality among natives.

The Church monopoly over extraction and trade was broken with the expulsion

of the Jesuits and Franciscans in 1768. Power passed to civilian and military sectors

and the linkages with Quito were replaced by linkages to Brazil, through the presence

of Brazilian traders. In this period, the aim was to maintain concentrated native

populations to support the growing white-mestizo local groups. Debt-peonage,

encomienda, mita3 and forced military service were the institutions that allowed this

subordination, under the local power of governors and encomenderos supported by

military troops. Indians had to work to pay a never-ending debt, to provide mitayo

3Mita was the mandatory service that citizens of the Inca Empire provided to the state.
Spanish established mita as regular obligations that the indigenous population had to
provide to the Spanish crown. Mita is the word to refer to the service, mitayo refers
to the product of this service (in this region, the species hunted or collected) and
mitayero is the person who does the service.


on a daily basis instead of the rotating system established by the missions and to serve

military duties (It is interesting that fresh game meat and hunting are still today called

mitayo). This extraction of cash and goods from native populations was reinforced by

the development of local and regional markets. Petty river traders came from Brazil,

exchanging manufactured goods such as steel, porcelain and clothing for salted fish,

wood resins and barks, balsams and wax. The regatones4 and habilitadores5

engaged native people in an unequal and abusive system of exchange. This

commercial penetration was enhanced by the introduction of steamships in 1853.

Native languages and customs were prohibited and the initial strategy of Indians was

to escape to the forests or to periodically rebel; however they were later assimilated

into the market dynamics (San Roman, 1975:93-105; Stocks, 1981:93-105; Chibnik,

1994:28-34; Coomes, 1995:110).

The Early Republic

The new Peruvian republic, born in 1821, created in 1865 the first regional

government in the Peruvian Amazon, to encourage agricultural production and

establishing it as a duty-free zone for twenty years. The first economic boom of the

Peruvian Amazon was the export of Panama hats produced in the eastern highlands

and traded through Yurimaguas and Nauta, on the Maranhon river, to Iquitos and

4Regatones were small traders usually recruited and funded by large traders in Iquitos,
who traveled to the small villages, offering urban goods in exchange for game meat,
fish and other forest and river products.

sHabilitadores were people who financed hunting and/or collecting expeditions, setting
the price for the products obtained in the expedition.


then via the Amazon river to Brazil. To consolidate territorial sovereignty, the

national government supported transport and trade in the Amazon, creating a naval

base at Iquitos in 1862. This support was interrupted by the debt crisis of the 1870s

(Coomes, 1995:110)

The new national government created laws to protect indigenous people,

recognized as Peruvian citizens. Their land rights were acknowledged and the

practice of forced labor was prohibited. However, these laws were never enforced at

the local level, since Indian labor was required for trading and governors were the

main merchants of the region. After the introduction of steamships in 1853, the

Peruvian government subsidized nationals and foreigners willing to settle in the

Amazon region, reinforced the military presence and provided some basic services,

and as a result, colonists began to be established in the region (Chibnik 1994:34-36;

San Roman, 1975:119).

The debt peonage system that characterized labor relations in the region in this

period started during the colonial times, after the expulsion of the Jesuits. Merchants

taking advantage of the Indian need for tools and other basic goods, offered them

credit in exchange for fish, game meat and forest products. Due to uneven terms of

exchange, Indians ended up with exorbitant debts that were transferred to their

families after their death. For example, in this period an Indian usually worked a

whole month to pay for an axe (Raimondi, 1862 as cited in Chibnik, 1994:37). The


patrons6 who operated extractive and agricultural businesses, based on the labor

obtained through debt-peonage, provided money or goods in advance for labor.

These exchange relations were recreated through paternalistic interactions, such as the

consumption of alcohol to seal agreements, and compadrazgo7 relationships (Chibnik

1994:34-35). When these mercantilistic relationships expanded, regatones appeared

as middle men for urban traders, who provided them with merchandise to exchange to

Indians for forest products (Chibnik, 1994:37). These trade networks increased the

pressure on natural resources, due to the low prices for forest products and the

coercive nature of the contract. Products sold to Indians were imported from Brazil:

iron objects, wheat flour, alcoholic beverages, woolen and cotton goods, clothing and

munitions. The most important exports at that time were: sassparilla, copal,8

Panama hats, salted fish and wax, as well as balsam, turtle eggs and fat, hammocks,

tobacco and quinine. These exports were causing significant depletion of natural

resources in the Peruvian Amazon, as suggested by Regan (1983:76). In 1859, the

local government established rules first limiting the production of sarsaparilla and

6Patrons were state owners, or any person with the power to engage native and
mestizo people in labor relations of exploitation.

7A mechanism of asymmetric reciprocity, compadrazgo in this case refers to a patron
or trader becoming the godfather of his subordinated's child, which supposedly
obliges him to act on behalf on the child's well-being. The relationship also can exist
between equals establishing strong bonds between them. Compadres and comadres
refer to two adults (males for compadres and females for comadres) related by one
being the godfather or godmother of one's child.

8Sassparilla or sarsaparilla is a viny plant used as a flavoring, for example in the
preparation of root-beer; copal is a natural resin extracted from the bark of different
tropical trees, that is used as sealant, especially in boat construction,


later banning its export, but these laws were ignored due to the attractive price and

demand for this product in Brazil (San Roman, 1975:101-105; Chibnik, 1994:36-37).

Iquitos, a center of artisan production and trade formed after independence, remained

as a small village until the rubber boom that changed the social structure and political

ecology of the region. Even though rubber had been used by indigenous people since

pre-Columbian times (San Roman, 1975:126), its commercial "discovery" and

demand in the late 1800s dramatically changed the social landscape of the Peruvian

Amazon. It attracted large waves of fortune-seekers, from diverse origins

(Europeans, Brazilians, Colombians, Peruvians from the highlands and the coast) that

displaced native access to land and created estates fundso) that remained after the

rubber boom collapsed, all based on native labor. The importance of rubber was

great, since it became Peru's second major export between 1902 and 1906. In 1910

Loreto exported 4,500,000 kilograms as compared to 2,088 kilograms exported in

1862 (San Roman, 1975:130-131; Chibnik, 1994:39). The system of exploitation was

collection of rubber from scattered natural trees existing in the rainforests. This

system was different from the plantation system developed in British Asian colonies

that would later displace Amazonian rubber (San Roman: 1975:131-132).

The rubber estates required a labor force familiar with tropical forests and

with a dispersed settlement: they recruited natives displaced and dispossessed from

their own land. The same exchange system was used to recreate debt-peonage into

forms that resembled slavery. The debt was not only transferred to their families in

case of death, but in-debt workers were sold as part of the funds when a patron


decided to sell his property. The other system of labor recruitment, called correrias

used force to move entire indigenous tribes living in the inter fluvial zones into the

rubber exploitation system, under the same debt-peonage system. Due to the

inhumane working conditions, mortality was high, and some voices of protest made

this situation known internationally. This scandal coincided, however, with the

decline of the rubber boom in 1912 due to the competition first of rubber plantations

in British Asian colonies and later of synthetic rubber (Chibnik, 1994:38-42). The

city of Iquitos, with 150 inhabitants in 1847, grew to 14,000 habitants by the end of

the rubber boom. Connected to the main markets of Liverpool and New York

through oceangoing steamers, it was the second most active port in Peru and had

resident consuls from ten foreign countries (Chibnik, 1994:43).

The impact of the rubber boom was tremendous, since it changed the ethnic,

social and demographic structure of the region, leading to tribal disruption, mestizaje

and ethnicide and consolidation of white-mestizo dominant groups. It also allowed

penetration of capitalism beyond the sphere of exchange, into the land tenure system

and social relations of production. Besides the rubber estates, a large number of

estates were raising cattle, producing sugar cane and aguardiente.9 After the rubber

boom, most fundos or small estates moved to other extractive activities, extending the

depletion of resources. For the case of the Tahuayo basin, Coomes (1995:112)

reconstructs a century of resource depletion consisting of the collection and export of

vegetable ivory or tagua, a latex called balata, timber, fuelwood for steamers and

'Aguardiente is the alcohol distilled from the sugar cane juice,


tannin ofpashaco trees, through the same systems imposed by the patrons of these

fundos. As they depleted one resource, they moved into the next. While major

fortunes created by the rubber boom fled from Iquitos after the rubber boom declined,

many enterprises remained, establishing networks to obtain and export forest

products, such as timber, gums, resins, essential oils, natural insecticides, medicinal

plants, barbasco10 and ornamental fishes. The construction of a sawmill in Iquitos

in 1918 promoted the export of cedar and mahogany. Between 1925 and 1940 Loreto

exported from six to ten thousand metric tons of wood (San Roman, 1975:172).

These activities, however, never reached the level of the rubber boom due to

the on going resource depletion as well as decreasing demand due to competition

coming from synthetic products (Chibnik, 1994:43). The environmental impact of

these activities was significant and they also maintained the social structure of

dominance over Indians and poor mestizo groups, trapped under the system of debt-


A slight increase of rubber exports was experienced during World War II and

stopped at the end of the war due to competition of Asian rubber plantations and

synthetic rubber. Oil exploration started in 1938 and would become important in the

next decades.

'oBarbasco is a natural poison used by local people to fish, and was used as an input
to make industrial pesticides.


The Construction of the Amazon Space and Capitalist Development at the National

As mentioned earlier, the Northeastern Peruvian Amazon is separated from the

rest of the country by the Andes. It is more easily connected to Brazil and even

Colombia, through the Amazon and other navigable rivers, than to the rest of the

country." The lack of articulation into the national economy and society has been

parallel to the lack of integration within the region, in terms of communications,

social identity and the struggle for its own economic and political interests.


The 1940s has been identified as a decade that accelerated and modified the

process of social construction of this Amazon space, basically in terms of the

insertion of this region into the dynamic of capitalist development at the national level

(Rodriguez, 1991:103) and also in terms of the establishment of demographic, social,

ethnic and economic differentiation. A new geopolitical consideration started

influencing Peruvian state policy toward the Amazon after 1941: an undeclared war

with Ecuador leading to a peace protocol warrantied by five hemisphere countries

including the USA, vindicated Peruvian territorial rights to this region. It became

necessary to integrate this territory into the Peruvian economy and society in order to

secure military sovereignty. The reinforcement of military presence came with an

"Even in current times, the only way to connect directly from Iquitos to Lima and the
coast is by plane. There is no road connecting this region to the Peruvian coast or
highland. However, it is possible to navigate through the Maranhon or Ucayali river
to reach the cities of Yurimaguas or Pucallpa and from there to access roads to the
highlands and coast. Such a trip usually takes more than a week.


increasing presence of the state through primary schools in the rural villages, health

services, and the creation of UNAP (National University of the Peruvian Amazon),

the IAP (Research Institute of the Peruvian Amazon), and representation of the

principal national ministries at the regional level.

Education has been extremely important in the diffusion of Spanish as the

current language, the recognition of native people as Peruvian citizens and the process

of negotiation between native/mestizo groups and the state. It has contributed to the

consolidation of Spanish as the language of domination and the white-mestizo culture

as the dominant culture. The discourse of integration indeed hid the real process of

assimilation of native populations. Assimilation is the process of subordination of one

group into a larger one that remains dominant, while the new group is expected to be

dissolved in it, losing its own ethnic identity. By contrast, true integration is a

process of reciprocal adaptation and co-existence of populations that are ethnically

different (Darcy, 1971). Therefore, behind the discourse of integration of the

Amazon into the Peruvian economy and nation, the process was one of subordination

of the region into the national society, and subordination of the native culture within

the national culture, predominantly white-mestizo, urban and Western. Many native

peoples tired of the experience of subordination and marginalization--the so called

"invisible natives" (Stocks, 1981)--decided to deny their own roots, stopped speaking

their language and no longer defined themselves as natives. This process was

facilitated by the increasing expansion of markets and the media influence through


small battery radios that connected isolated villagers to Iquitos and other cities of

Peru, Colombia and Brazil.

At the national level, this period was witness to a tremendous effort to connect

the Northern, Central and Southern Amazon with the highlands and the coast through

roads and some airports. The completion of the road between Lima -Tingo Maria-

Pucallpa, Cusco-Puerto Maldonado and Chiclayo-Jaen-Bagua facilitated the integration

of the whole Amazon region, since people in the Amazon could reach these cities by

boats and then connect to the coast through roads. This terrestrial connection started

in 1943 and was expanded in the 1960s, making it relatively easier to send products

to the Peruvian coast than to Brazil. However, while the upper Amazon became

more integrated to the coast, due to its proximity to the highlands and their increasing

agricultural importance, the lower Amazon did not, starting a process of economic

and demographic differentiation between the upper and lower Amazon (Rodriguez,


Despite this increased integration into the national economy, the productive

patterns of the Loreto region did not change significantly. While the upper Amazon

was more oriented to agricultural production and coastal markets, the lowlands

remained focused on extraction of forest products. Extraction of forest products

continued to support the regional economy, in a context of stagnation. Rosewood oil

generated a new fever of extraction during the 1950s but it did not last. Later, in

1954, the export of ornamental fishes experienced a peak but it did not last either

(Coomes, 1995).


As part of a process of modernization, the State took a more important role in

promoting capitalist development for the region. This process took place within a

new geopolitical approach to the Amazon borders, focused on populating and

civilizing the region rather than just reinforcing the army positions (Barclay et

al.,1991:47-55). Parallel to the investment in building connecting roads, the state

directly promoted colonization and immigration through the military colonies created

in 1946 and the settlement of the workers in charge of the maintenance of the

connecting roads. In 1951 the Technical Colonization Units were created to stimulate

professionals to settle in the region. However, the main stream of colonist

immigration was spontaneously produced by highland peasants in search of land who

followed the new connecting roads (carreteras de penetracion). Colonization policy

was established in order to alleviate the land conflict in the coast and highlands as

much as to develop the Amazon region, especially the upper Amazon (Rodriguez,

1991:109-116). Another important goal at that time was to increase food production

in order to reduce food imports and to achieve a more balanced distribution of the

national population, highly concentrated in the coast and the highlands and not in the

Amazon (Barclay, 1991:61-62).

The Amazon region in general and Loreto in particular have experienced a

different demographic pattern as compared to the rest of the country. The Amazon

region comprises 60% of the Peruvian territory. Its population in 1862 represented

only 5.6% of national population and in 1940 was 8% of the national population

(CICRED, 1974:142-144; INE, 1981:35; Valcarcel, 1991:163). It has exhibited a


slower growth rate and lesser density per square kilometer: 0.5 inhabitant per square

kilometer in 1940 to 2.5 in 1980, compared to increasing density at the national level:

from 4.8 inhabitant per square kilometer in 1940 to 13.8 in 1980 (INE, 1981:29).

The region's low density indigenous population was not properly included in many

censuses due to their patterns of mobility and territory use that were neither

understood nor acknowledged.

Because of this relatively sparse and invisible population, since the 1940s the

region has been considered an isolated, unpopulated and socially empty space, filled

with abundant and easy-to-exploit natural resources, and available to redistribute the

highly concentrated population in the highlands and the coast (Prado, 1941;

Bustamante and Rivero, 1945; as cited in Valcarcel, 1991:167). These assumptions

underlie the main policies that affect population dynamics in the whole Amazon

region. The myth of El Dorado was underlying many programs aimed to convert this

region into the national despensa or food supplier, ignoring its fragile ecology and

indigenous groups' territorial rights.

The state goal in this period was to integrate Amazon resources into the

process of capitalist expansion occurring at the national level. The Corporacion

Peruana del Amazonas was created in 1942, basically to supply rubber for a

subsidiary of the Goodyear Company producing tires in Lima. The Companhia

Petrolera El Oriente and the Empresa Petrolera Fiscal and later in the 1960s foreign

firms such as Mobil Oil were established in the region. The importance of these oil

companies was not too great, since they contributed only 2.3% of national production


for the period 1950-59 (Barclay et al., 1991:59). The Industrial Development Law

issued in 1959 aimed to promote industrialization in the Amazon through tax

exemptions that were supposed to act as incentives to promote regional industrial

development. At this time the region was considered a way to consolidate national

security not only in terms of external threats, but in terms of solving internal conflicts

(Barclay et al., 1991:65-67). Besides the growth of administrative structures and

services, national policies promoting agriculture in the lowlands started in the 1950s

and 1960s, restricted to some short cycle cash-crops such as rice and maize, and later

jute, grown primarily on the mudflats of the lowlands. However, the land tenure

systems and social relations affecting labor, as well as the high prices of transport,

were barriers to these initiatives. Many laborers left the funds and moved further

into the interior to start independent villages, expanding the frontier and combining

subsistence and commercial agriculture, fishing, hunting and collection of other forest

products (Chibnik, 1994:49-50).

Even though national policies did not achieve the goal of promoting capitalist

development and industrialization, and did not change the productive pattern of the

region, they had an impact on the social relations over the rural landscape.

Intensification of river transportation and commerce eroded the monopoly of patrons

and regatones and the control they had over local labor, and favored the free

exchange of goods and labor (Padoch, 1988; Barclay et al., 1991:71). Local people

could escape from the patronage system, but they could not escape from the market

dynamic, since they already needed cash to buy goods that had become part of their


basic needs (kerosene, salt, oil, sugar, batteries, munitions, health and educational

expenses). And since the prices for their products were low, they needed to

supplement their income with wage labor (Chibnik, 1994:50).

Between 1940 and 1961 the Amazon population experienced an annual growth

rate of 3.56%, well above the national average rate of 2.25%. For the same period,

the migration rate for the region went from 3.0 to 6.1. Mobility was duplicated

toward the region and within the region (Rodriguez, 1991:113-114). This

demographic growth and the trend toward urbanization would become stronger in the

next decades.

1960-1970: Demographic growth and urbanization

During the 1960s, the Amazon region experienced demographic growth and

increased its importance in regard to the national population, going from 8.7% in

1961 to 9.6% in 1972. In 30 years, as shown in Table 3.1, Amazon population

evolved from 381,028 to 1,328,354 (a growth of 350%), while Loreto's population

went from 158,597 to 375,007 (an increase of 236%). After the development push

beginning in 1940, the Loreto region started a process of growth, due to the reduction

of mortality rates and the highest fertility rate of the country: Gross Fertility Rate for

the Amazon in 1961 was 62.6 per thousand, while the national rate was 46.35 per

thousand. The Gross Reproductive Rate for the Amazon was 3.5 children per woman

while the national rate was 2.99 children per woman (CICRED, 1974:80). In

addition to the highest rates, Amazonian women initiate their fertility at earlier stages

than do women in the rest of the country (Ferrando, 1985). This further spurred


population growth in the region. Migration has been important more in the

redistribution of Loreto's population than in its growth: most migrants come from

within the Amazon region, even from Loreto's remote zones or from the upper

Amazon. This is a particular phenomenon, as compared to the case of the upper

Amazon, whose population has received large contingents of migrants from the

highlands (Rodriguez, 1991).

The upper Amazon has been more populated than the lower Amazon, Loreto

representing 72.6% of the lower Amazon in 1972 and 28.2 % of the whole Amazon

region, as seen in Table 3.1. While in the upper Amazon the main demographic and

economic changes were immigration, colonization and the development of agricultural

activities, in the lowlands the pattern was the internal mobilization of population

without changing the economy, based on extraction of natural resources. Rural

Table 3.1. Evolution of the Amazon Population 1940-1972.

1940 1961 1972

Whole Amazon 381,028 835,895 1, 328,354

Upper Amazon 207,467 483,911 811,543

Lower Amazon 173,561 351,984 516,812

Loreto 158,597 272,933 375,007

SOURCE: Rodriguez, 1991:146.


people became more integrated to market dynamics, as suppliers of forest products

and as buyers of basic goods and services. This process explains the enormous

growth of the cities of Iquitos and Pucallpa, due to the creation of the first college in

the Amazon (UNAP), and state incentives to develop industrial and commercial

activities (Rodriguez, 1991:117-122).

1970-1990: State reforms and population growth

In the 1970s, under the reforms implemented by the Military Government, the

remaining fundos in Loreto were expropriated as part of the National Land Reform.

In this period colonization was not supposed to avoid land tenure reform but to

complement it. In order to energize regional markets and agricultural production, the

state took over the monopoly of some products, either those important for urban

populations, such as maize and rice, or as a source of foreign currency through

export, such as coffee. The creation of public enterprises in charge of purchasing

agrarian production and providing inputs and credit, such as EISA, EDCHAP and

ENCI,12 gave the State a direct stake in the revenues from this commercialization.

These policies coincided with promotional credit for small farmers, which established

cash crops such as rice, maize and jute as important sources of income for Riberefihos

(Barclay et al., 1981:73-74; Chibnik, 1987).

12These are names of successive public enterprises in charge of centralizing
commercialization of inputs and some agricultural products; due to corruption and bad
management, once one was declared deactivated and under investigation, another
similar one was created, until in the 1990s the State stopped playing an active role in
economic planning.


Loreto did not participate in the boom of agricultural development experienced

by the upper Amazon in terms of coffee, tea, rice, maize, cattle, etc. Rice and maize

became important as cash crops during the 1980s, but except for jute, agricultural

products grown in Loreto did not reach markets beyond the region (Chibnik,

1994:58). The extractive activity has been focused more on nontimber products, such

as gums, resins, wild fruits, medicinal plants, barks (Padoch, 1988; Coomes, 1991,

Chibnik, 1994) compared to the region of Pucallpa where timber extraction has been

predominant (Santos, 1991; Valcarcel, 1991). However, the lumber industry was

responsible for 45% of 1975's industrial gross product in the department of Loreto

(Villarejo, 1979:283). Drug trade Cocaa leaves processing and transportation) has

been an important source of fortunes that are invested in commerce and tourism

(Chibnik, 1994; Fieldwork, 1997). There is no detailed information available on this

activity nor its impacts in the region.

PETROPERU, the state oil enterprise, was an important presence in the region

in the 1970s, with the building of the North Peruvian pipeline and the oil exploration

and exploitation that converted the Amazon into the main oil producer at the national

level. In Loreto, oil investment was 87% of public investment in 1984 (Barclay

1991:75). The construction of the pipeline and the exploration activities attracted

large contingents of labor, many of whom settled as Riberefihos or as small colonists

in the Carretera Iquitos-Nauta Colonization Project of the 1980s. Another important

component of public investment in the 1970s was agricultural promotion, agrarian


reform and rural settlements, through state institutions like INIPA and the Agrarian

Bank among others.

The Agrarian Reform and populist policies of the 1970s changed the class

structure, taking the estate owners out of the picture and beginning the process of the

recognition of territorial rights of indigenous tribal groups, but those policies got in

the way of the development plan that the government had for the Amazon, and never

were fully applied. The policies favored de-ruralization of Riberefihos, and

proletarization, mainly through the oil boom of the 1970s, and the development of

urban sectors associated to services and public service (Rodriguez, 1991:130-131).

After the oil boom the proletarians became marginal, since the city of Iquitos was not

a center of productive capital. This growth of the urban population of Iquitos in a

context of marginalization, and the lack of defined borders among social classes, can

explain the peculiarity of the social movement that occurred in the region in the

1970s: the Frente de Defensa Regional. This broad multi-class organization was

formed by merchants, professionals, inhabitants from urban marginal settlements,

street vendors and the school teachers's union. They demanded from the central

government an increased budget for the region through the Oil Canon (Canon

Petrolero) (a percentage of the revenues of oil exploitation that remains in the region

from which the oil is extracted). After that successful experience, the social

movement did not continue in the 1980s and 1990s, mainly because one of the key

elements, the SUTEP (school teacher's union) experienced a process of contraction,

as did most national social movements in the context of political violence.


In this period population growth continued with increasing urbanization; even

though fertility rates have been declining, they still remained high. It is important to

note the differences in fertility rates for rural and urban populations, as shown in

Table 3.2. Higher fertility rates in rural areas are associated to higher illiterate rates,

higher for women than for men. The median age of the population reveals the effects

of Loreto's demographic trends.

Table 3.2: Demographic Indicators for Loreto.

Variable Loreto region Rural Loreto Urban Loreto
1972 1981 1989 1981 1981
Fertility rates 7.5 6.2 5.3 8.0 5.1
Infant mortality' 93.5 108.9 78.9
Death rates2 14.8 12.4 N/A N/A
Median age of 15.1 N/A N/A
Life expectancy2 53.0 55.0 N/A N/A
Illiterate 15% 27.2% 6.4%
women 39.0% 9.5%
men 18.1% 3.3%


'Ferrando (1985:45), Webb & Fernandez Baca (1990:118), INEI

2Chibnik (1994:56).

3INEI (1993:419, 423).


Loreto's population in the 1990s represented 26.4 % of the whole Amazon

region. Its population had experienced significant growth between 1940 and 1981,

the province of Maynas and especially the city of Iquitos within Maynas being the

main poles of growth. Iquitos is the seventh most populated city of Peru, since the

1970s (INEI, 1993). This significant growth of Iquitos reflects urbanization and

centralization as predominant patterns of settlement (Rodriguez, 1991:124-125). The

growth of Iquitos has been due to its position as the main commercial and

administrative center for the region, and during the 1970s as the main labor market

for the oil operations in the region. Urbanization concentrates population in the main

city of Iquitos, and other minor cities such as Nauta, Tamshiyacu and Requena play

similar commercial and service supply roles. 3

However, in the rural scene, the type of predominant livelihood strategies for

the rural population, based on extraction of natural resources, led to increased

dispersion of settlements. Even though 52.12% of Loreto's population was urban in

1981, and Maynas province has 69.95% of its population in urban areas, this was not

the case for other provinces of Loreto, where urban population was not predominant:

only 39.23% for the case of Alto Amazonas, 19.60% for Loreto province, 13.20%

for Ramon Castilla, 38.33% for Requena and 29.16% for Ucayali. These provinces

were mainly rural, reflecting the big contrast between growing urbanization around

Iquitos and a predominantly dispersed rural settlement for the rest of Loreto.

The 1981 census reported seven towns larger than 2000 inhabitants, besides the
cities of Iquitos, Yurimaguas and Contamana, that were not registered as such in the
1940 census (Rodriguez, 1991:153).


Population redistribution within the region has meant a process of de-ruralization and

proletarization of the rural population of the lowlands. The main vehicles for these

processes have been rural-urban emigration of young members of rural families, and

the wage labor recruitment done by the oil operations. Because of the limits of the

capitalist process to absorb this labor force as wage laborers, the urbanization process

has often ended in marginalization, when these workers remain in Iquitos as street

sellers, informal traders or labor for construction, porters, etc. De-ruralization has

partially reversed into re-ruralization when ex-workers returned to settle as

Riberefihos or small colonists. This is the case of the small colonists settled in the

Carretera Iquitos-Nauta Settlement project of the 1980s. New waves of immigrants

continue to come to Iquitos in search of a better life. This process also expresses the

limits of the livelihood strategies of poor rural population to secure the sustained

reproduction of their families in the long term.

Differential access to formal education has not been reduced in terms of

rural/urban and gender differences. While Loreto's illiterate population dropped from

51% in 1940 to 15% in 1981, it was higher in the rural areas: 27.2% as compared to

only 6.4% for urban areas. Urban illiterate women were 9.5% vs. 3.3% of men, and

rural illiterate women were 39% as compared to 18.1% of rural illiterate men (INEI,

1993:419,423). Fertility reduction is associated with access to education and

income, as reflected in the 1991 national fertility rates: 7.1 children for women with

no access to education, 5.1 children for women with elementary education, 3.1

children for women with access to middle school and 1.9 children for women with


access to high school and college (INEI, 1993:375). Thus, this differential access to

education is partly responsible for the high fertility rates in the region.

It is very important to note that parallel to this process of de-ruralization and

the growth of Iquitos as a mega-city, the expansion of the frontier has continued. The

same socioeconomic structure that explains the urbanization and centralization of

population in Iquitos, explains the maintenance of dispersed patterns of settlement and

the expansion of the frontier through the creation of new settlements (see Figure 3.1).

That means that the interactions between demographic dynamics and pressure on

natural resources has to be studied considering both phenomena: the continued

dispersion of rural population and the urbanization/centralization of population in

Iquitos. These centrifugal and centripetal forces are part of the same dynamics and

the same problem. The emigration that alleviates pressure on natural resources in an

isolated village in the Amazon river is creating more pressure on natural resources

and the environment in Iquitos (pollution, waste, energy supplies etc.). Emigration of

family members has been reported (Espinosa, 1994, 1997) as an important feature of

demographic strategies of Riberefihos families, especially in those areas less integrated

to the market, and therefore less able to supply access to advanced educational, health

services, job and income opportunities.

In regard to the interactions between population growth and pressure on

natural resources, there are many elements to be considered. Even when

demographic growth plays an important role in the expansion of the frontier and the

increasing pressure on natural resources, there are other mechanisms mediating this

Figure 3.1 Sociodemographic and Territorial Patterns in Loreto.


interaction. It has been already presented how market dynamics can influence the

patterns of population settlement, Iquitos being the big pole of attraction due to its

important commercial, political-administrative and service supply role. There are

other processes that explain how, parallel to this concentration of population in

Iquitos, the expansion of the frontier has continued and will continue.

It is not the pressure for agricultural land that explains this continued

expansion of settlements, since land is not a restricted or scare resource among most

Riberefiho villages. People mainly move on looking for better hunting and fishing

resources. Livelihood strategies of Riberefihos require some degree of geographical

dispersion or limited pressure on natural resources, otherwise fishing, collection,

cropping and hunting activities, on which they rely for subsistence, are too difficult,

unproductive and time-consuming. Sometimes social conflicts play a role.

Associated with this is the search for administrative autonomy, the desire to be

recognized as an independent village with its own authorities and its own school.

However, in order to be able to be recognized as a village by the state and be

assigned a teacher paid by the state, they have to show a critical number of children

already attending school. Here begins the process of recruitment of relatives living in

other places; kinship networks of Ribereitho families extend far beyond the locality.

This is an important factor in explaining the mobility within the region and the

expansion of the frontier.

The indigenous population is estimated as 30.4% of Loreto's rural population

according to the 1981 census, the main ethnic groups being the Cocama-Cocamillas,


Amueshas, Shipibos and Witotos, among others. These results come close to the

estimation of Riberefihos as 85% of Loreto's rural population (Egoavil, 1992). For

the whole Amazonian region, the indigenous population has been estimated at 223,163

and represents 21.5% of its rural population; for other Amazonian departments, the

indigenous population respectively represents, 44.8%, 12.1% and 1% of the rural

population of Amazonas, San Martin and Huanuco (Rodriguez, 1991:123-124).

Table 3.3: Indigenous Population Within Rural Population
of the Peruvian Northern Amazon.

Whole Amazon Region Loreto1 Amazonas San Martin Huanuco
21.% 30.4% 44.8% 12.1% 1.0%

SOURCE: Rodriguez (1991:123-124).

KEYS: 'Loreto is the department where the study sites are located while Amazonas,
San Martin, and Huanuco are Loreto's neighboring departments.

The development of regional markets based on extraction of natural resources

has led to the alienation of indigenous people from their land and their culture, and

has supported the process of racial, ethnic, economic and social mestisaje. The role

of the church, markets, public education and the dominance of the white-urban-

western culture has facilitated the subordinated incorporation of indigenous people

into the mainstream society. In the name of progress, tribal structure was disrupted,

their land taken, their language and religion prosecuted and punished by Catholic

priests and the law. There are several stories collected from local elders about how,

until recent years, local practices were punished, and many shamans were put in jail.


Even when the word used by State, church and legislators was "integration," the

process was one of assimilation. This process of assimilation and racial mixing

among indigenous and mestizos explain the loss of indigenous identity among people

who descend directly from native groups. The Cocama-Cocamilla is the ethnic group

that suffered the earliest contact with "Westerners" due to their location at the upper

and lower Maranhon river. They were the first natives who accepted public education

(Rengifo, 1997). This group has been called the "invisible natives" by Stocks (1983),

referring to the process of ethnic denial in order to secure and/or improve physical

survival. However, this process is not linear but includes some ambiguity and

contradictions, and is not finished.

1990: Structural adjustment Program

The strong involvement of the State in the process of planning and promoting

development in the Amazon was interrupted in the 1990s, when structural adjustment

policies of President Fujimori eliminated the State Bank that provided promotional

credit to small farmers, as well as the state enterprises in charge of buying jute, maize

and rice. Without these cash-crops, local populations turned even more to extractive

activities in order to get the cash they needed (Agreda, 1993). INIPA was deactivated

and state services in training, credit, technical assistance, have disappeared, being to

some extent replaced by the NGOs. The attempt to develop commercial agriculture in

the region ended, affecting the future of sustainable use of resources. The regional

economy remained extractivist, based on oil, timber, nontimber and wildlife products,

and drugs (cocaine processing and distribution), with an expanded internal market


articulated around the city of Iquitos and through it to Lima and the coast. The

increasing importance of ecotourism has to be considered, even though its role has not

yet been studied. The same can be said for conservation and development projects in

the region. One might think that the growth of Iquitos could represent an attractive

demand for agricultural products. This was true to some extent, but main food

supplies for the city were directly transported from Lima by plane, raising their prices

and making Iquitos a very expensive city as compared to other interior cities of Peru.

In a context of neo-liberalism, the State role has been severely reduced,

allowing the market to regulate the economy. A recent attempt to dynamize the

lowland economy has been the introduction of camu-camu plantations for export.

Since 1997, through NGOs, the state is promoting lowland plantations of camu-camu,

an indigenous tree resistant to floods whose fruit has good demand and price in

external markets, due to its significant content of vitamin C. This process is still at

the initial stage, and although it shows ecological and economic advantages it is too

premature to be evaluated.

The Contemporary Situation for Conservation and Sustainable Development:
People. Markets and the Environment

The current situation for conservation and development initiatives is one

dominated by market forces, with reduced presence of the State to intervene in the

economy and society. Any attempt to promote sustainable use of resources has to fit

into this market rationale, where "open" markets maintain the conditions in which

different agents compete and interact. These differences are due to location,

production and/or post-production costs, information about markets, timing and


opportunity of the exchange, degree of dependence on the goods or income exchanged

in the markets, etc. In a context of no intervention of the state to minimize the

differences between economic agents competing in open markets, grassroots

organizations have a crucial role in the articulation of a process of negotiation

between the interests of local communities, conservation institutions and the State in

regard to policies and identification of alternatives that benefit local populations as

well as fit into conservation agenda. Grassroots organizations have to take on the task

of representing local populations in economic as well as in social, ethnic and political

terms. This task challenges the current role of grassroots organizations, limited to the

political and reivindicative action and without a larger picture of their role in long

term and regional perspectives. There is an important task of empowering grassroots

organizations, at the local and regional levels, so that they can lead a process of

articulation of a regional agenda, a social and economic program built by and through

social mobilization, where Riberefihos have a crucial role to play.

Legal and Institutional Framework for Natural Resource Management

The main characteristic of the legal framework affecting natural resources in

Peru is the lack of a well articulated and coherent legal body at the national level.

Different regulations issued in different years and with different objectives create an

ambiguous and sometimes contradictory legal framework. According to Peruvian

Environment Law (Codigo del Medio Ambiente), issued by the Congress in 1990,

wildlife and natural resources are considered the Nation's patrimony; for that reason,


the State is responsible for wildlife protection, through the Ministry of Agriculture

and the Ministry of Fisheries. The Nation's natural patrimony is defined to include

ecological, biological and genetic diversity within its territory, landscape and the

interactions among these elements. The Forestry and Wildlife Law (Ley Forestal y de

Fauna Silvestre), issued in 1975, establishes that forestry and wildlife resources are of

public domain and there is no private right to them. The use of these resources has

to fit the regulations established by the Ministry of Agriculture, the public entity in

charge of enforcing this law. Conservation of wildlife species, their ecosystems and

the germplasm of native species, are the responsibility of the State.

In regard to hunting, the law strictly regulates the places, people and

conditions of hunting. Traditional hunting is permitted only by local communities in

the Amazon and in the highlands, restricted to members of peasant communities, and

only for consumption. Commercialization of subsistence hunting is prohibited and the

limit of prey per expedition is one animal, or pieces not exceeding 50 kgs.

Prohibitions extend to hunting during the night, in levees where wildlife take refuge

during floods and during misty days. Traditional weapons are reserved for

subsistence hunting, in which only low fire power guns can be used. Commercial

hunting is an activity done for economic profit and can be done only by those who

have a licence, a contract, pay the fees and respect the quotas established by the

Regional Hunting Calendar. Commercial hunting within communities can be done

only by the communities' members (Varese, 1995).

Hunting of all Amazonian wildlife species has been indefinitely prohibited

except those 15 presented in Table 3.4:

Table 3.4 Wildlife Species Allowed to be Hunted.

Scientific name English name Local name
Mazama Americana Red Deer Venado rojo
Tayassu tajacu Collared peccary Sajino
Tayassu pecari White-lipped peccary Huangana
Tapirus terrestris Lowland tapir Sachavaca
Agouti pacca Paca Majaz
Dasyprocta variegata Black agouti Anhuje
Dinomys braniki Pacarana Pacarana
Hydrochaeris Capybara Ronsoco
Dasypus novemcinctus Nine-banded Armadillo
Penelope jacquacu Bird Pucacunga
Penelope spp. Bird Pavas de monte
Ortalis spp Bird Panguana
Crypturellus spp. Bird Perdiz de selva
Columbigallina spp. Bird Paloma de

Geochelone spp. Tortoise Motelos

SOURCE: Varese (1997), Bodmer (1993).

However, those species that are not prohibited cannot be sold in towns that

exceed 3000 inhabitants (Varese, 1997:82-83). Control on wildlife selling through


seizures of game is imposed on the hunter who is trying to bring his product to the

river boat or to the local markets, but not on the regional markets of Iquitos or Nauta,

where game meat is sold without problems. The argument given by game meat

vendors is that they obtained their meat from authorized commercial hunters and not

from community members, a reason that is not always true. It appears that laws are

against the hunters and not against the meat sellers. For example, Nauta--a town with

8,508 habitants in 1994--has been identified as an important market for wildlife

species extracted from the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Between May and

December of 1994, some 3,870 kg of meat were sold in the Nauta market, from 21

wildlife species. Nine of these species were in the category of threatened species.

Paca and black agouti were the most prevalent species being sold (Rodriguez et al.,


The Peruvian government created the National Institute for Natural Resources

(INRENA) in 1991 and within INRENA, DGANPF (General Direction of Protected

Natural Areas and Wildlife), the unit in charge of supervising the management of all

protected natural areas in Peru, such as the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in

Loreto. In 1995, an inter-institutional committee designed a nationwide conservation

strategy with the support of German funding. This strategy, known as the General

National Plan for Protected Areas (Plan Director Nacional para Areas Naturales

Protegidas), recommends the inclusion of participation by local populations and

acknowledges the right of local people to use natural resources, especially for the case

of National and Communal Reserves. However, the policy toward local populations


within protected areas is not clear and the National Plan has not been implemented.

While the National Plan has this openness toward local people's participation, the

previous Land Law (Ley de Tierras) holds the state as the only owner and steward for

natural resources, thus limiting the roles and rights of local people in protected areas.

Even when the law recognizes the right of local communities already established in

protected areas, it does not recognize any community that does not have legal

recognition prior to the establishment of the protected area. This technicality aims to

avoid the flow of immigrants toward the protected areas. Most communities existed

prior to the establishment of a protected area but do not have the legal titles, an

uncertain status and ambiguity that creates lots of tension.

The ambiguity is also expressed in that while INRENA authorities recognize

the right of local people to use the resources at a subsistence level, they do not allow

the selling of resources, even when it is part of their subsistence strategy.

Confiscations are the main source of conflicts and illustrate the lack of coherent state

policies: while selling wildlife resources is forbidden, there is no policy to support

agriculture or other activity in these areas, to provide alternative income. All

technical training and credit programs oriented to small farmers' cash crops like jute,

rice and maize have been canceled as part of the structural adjustment policies of the

1990s. Local populations are expected to observe regulations of conservation

management and to pay the cost of conservation. Even though they are authorized to

consume the resources directly, they are not allowed to get any cash in the context of

a depressed but monetarized local and regional economy.


Within the Loreto region, the regional government partially funds the

supervision and management of PSNR and is trying to promote an increasing

participation of local authorities as a way to include local populations in conservation

management. However, specific mechanisms to secure broad participation of local

people at the community level have not been officially created or recognized, and

conflicts still persist between local and outsider users, and between local users and

conservation authorities (AIF-DK, 1995).

There are two important protected areas within Loreto: the Pacaya Samiria

National Reserve created in 1972 and the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal Reserve

created in 1991 (See Figure 3.2). The PSNR and TTCR exhibit some differences in

terms of flood cycle and presence of natural levees that may affect wildlife

populations and the resources available in both places. Basically the existence of

more upland or levees in a place allow more trees and fruit trees to develop, which

attract and support wildlife populations. The Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Communal

Reserve has more upland forests and, therefore, is assumed to have larger populations

of wildlife (Bodmer, 1995; Extremadoyro, 1997).

Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (PSNR)

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve was created in 1972, through the

Decreto Supremo 06-72-PE and its territory was later expanded in 1982 to 2,080,000

has. The PSNR is the largest Peruvian conservation unit and one of the largest in the

whole Amazon basin (COREPASA, 1996). It is located in the lowlands of Loreto,

i qultSo

Figure 3.2 Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (INRENA-M, Agricultura, 1989).



between the Maranhon and the Ucayali rivers and includes the Pacaya and the Samiria

rivers that respectively flow into the Ucayali and the Maranhon rivers.

With most of its territory annually flooded, PSNR is one of the most important

areas for reproduction of many Amazonian fish species. The predominant soils have

little slope, poor drainage and medium to low fertility. The reserve is 51% flooded

forests (swamps, aguaje palm swamps and flood plains), 34% seasonal flooded

forests, 13% non-flooded forests, 1% converted forest and 1% rivers and lakes. The

predominant vegetation is tropical rain forest, and palm and swamp formations.

Abundance of lakes and water bodies characterizes PSNR. Wildlife is adapted to the

diverse conditions within the reserve. Birds, tropical aquatic mammals and reptiles

are notorious within PSNR (WWF-AIF/DK, 1993; Pro-Naturaleza-TNC, 1996).

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve includes the watersheds of the Pacaya

and Samiria rivers, the right margin of the lower Maranhon river and the left margin

of the lower Ucayali and of the Puinahua channel (See Figure 3.3); it encompasses

several streams, such as Yanayacu del Pucate, which is the most important. The

annual climatic pattern includes a long rainy season, from October to June and

another, relatively more dry season, from July to September. The flood peak is

between March and May and the maximum ebb between August and October (Soini et

al., 1996).

The PSNR is rich in biodiversity, but much of it still is not well known.

Between 1992 and 1993 an inventory and rapid assessment of wildlife and its use by

local people were conducted (Soini et al., 1996). From 648 species registered, 44

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