Toward the World Conference Against Racism and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

on June 17 thru 21, 2001 in the district of Acopia, Department of Cuzco, Peru.

Encounter was conducted in Quechua with Spanish and English translations.

near Acopia lake

From Program:

"Dicho evento tiene por finalidad que Communidades Alto-Andinas del Cusco, converjan en un encuentro que tambien es un reencuentro, donde puedan conjuncionar costumbres, tradiciones y rescatar lo que nuestros antepasados no llegaron."

This event was planned in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

From a letter by Mr. Bacre W. Ndiaye, Director, NY Office OHCHR addressed to Yachay Wasi president Luis Delgado Hurtado in Cuzco:

“…This event will be an occasion to discuss issues of concern to indigenous peoples and to raise awareness of the work accomplished by the United Nations in that regard. The outcome of the discussions will also be constructive in view of the forthcoming establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.”

A representative from OHCHR NY office addressed the event. Yachay Wasi had also invited officers from UN DPI, WIPO and UNESCO to participate, but letters of encouragement were received instead.

This Encounter was to gather, for the first time in the Andean village of Acopia, representatives from Tawantinsuyu, the ancient Inka Empire, in order to inform them of the work of the United Nations on behalf of Indigenous Peoples and to have them consult on issues of interest to them.

Communities represented included Q’eros, Ollantaytambo, Q’iqu Grande, Chechacupe, Pitumarka, Santo Domingo and other villages in the vicinity of Acopia, and of course, Cuzco and Acopia.


These balanced gender delegations from these faraway villages included the "varayoc" (leader) of the village and holder of the official stamp which accompanies their signatures, making this a valuable and true first Encounter.

International visitors were Inga Hansen, Inuit journalist from Greenland; Indigenous representatives from Taiwan: Jason Pan, Journalist, Rev. Namoh Ising and Tzu-Ming Liu; Rachel Groux, representing the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Marie-Danielle Samuel, Yachay Wasi, both from NYC.

Some of the meetings took place in the City Hall of Acopia with its Mayor in attendance.

Every details of Encounter were well prepared by Luis and his associates: badges, posters, packages of information with notebooks and pens given to all 60 attendees.

Informative material had been contributed by UN OHCHR on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples and the upcoming World Conference Against Racism (which was also the subject of material contributed by UN DPI). WIPO had given recent info on its first Meeting on Traditional Knowledge and UNESCO WHC had also contributed literature.

Themes of discussion were: Cultural Identity, Intellectual Property, Environment and Bio-Diversity, Indigenous peoples and Human rights, Education, Health and Nutrition, Work of the United Nations. working group

Significantly, as MOST issues were NEW to the official Indigenous delegations, they were not prepared to select a candidate for Permanent Forum. So no action was taken on this.

Various resulting documents were the reports of the Working Groups, a message to UNESCO World Heritage re. status of Machu Picchu which was faxed to Mr. Herman van Hooff, official in charge of Peru at UNESCO WHC, who acknowledged receipt by phone.

A room in the house of Luis’ family in Acopia was dedicated as a "biblioteca", library, during Encounter - featuring a computer (adapted to Spanish language) donated by Eliane Lacroix-Hopson, Yachay Wasi, and a bookcase partially filled with donated books. Internet capabilities are not possible in Acopia for the time being. This dedication was the symbolic first step toward the Cultural Center which will be established there in coming years.

A memorable comment from Tzu-Ming Liu, environmentalist from Taiwan, was: "One of the assets of this Encounter was that it took place in a village where participants experienced the actual living conditions of the peoples. It did not take place in a city where Indigenous representatives are brought in, as it is usually the case."

Sadly, the additional altitude in Acopia badly affected some of the international visitors who had to return to Cuzco prematurely and be under a doctor care.

On a secondary note, our trip to Machu Picchu and attendance of Inti Raymi revealed the horrors of class segregation resulting from excessive commercial tourism.

near Acopia