One of the most special aspects of Peru is its native people and the important role they play in the culture still today. Recently a 37-year-old indigenous activist, Ruth Buendia, helped saved her community in the central Amazon region of Peru called Ashaninka. A project had been planned to dam Peruvian rivers in order to provide Brazil with electricity and Buendia put a stop to it. Now the United States is rewarding Ruth Buendia with the Goldman Environmental Prize and $175,000 for her hard work. She is the fourth Peruvian to receive this reward since it was created 25 years ago.
Without Buendia´s efforts the Paquitzapango hydroelectric project would have flooded her traditional land, occupied by 8,000 to 10,000 people. The former presidents of Peru and Brazil made this agreement in 2010 to export electricity and create jobs in poor, rural areas. They made this pact without advising the Ashaninka community that they would be affected. Buendia argued that this violated an international law that Peru signed about indigenous rights, so she took the case to the local and international court. It was a very peaceful battle as they used the law to support them and defend their land. Thankfully her motivation and hard work stopped the plan from becoming reality and the Ashankinka community is still standing strong.