IDECA, Institute for the Study of Andean Cultures
The abbreviation IDECA stands for "Instituto de Estudio de las Culturas Andinas". As an institute, IDECA researches Andean culture, promotes critical reflection, openness to diversity and decolonization, and advocates intercultural dialogue.
IDECA was founded in 2007 by committed individuals from Catholic progressive circles. Co-founder was the Belgian Benedictine monk Simon Pedro Arnold, who led the institution during its first years. Today, Boris Rodriguez Ferro, a young Peruvian lawyer with an indigenous background, heads IDECA. Most of the staff are also Peruvians with indigenous roots. In addition to education, IDECA is also active in supporting communities struggling with the negative impacts of the mining industry.
The Puno region has a high percentage of people of indigenous origin. Especially the Quechua and Aymaras are strongly represented. Although the Peruvian government today recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples on paper, in practice this happens only partially. A good example of this is the mining activities promoted by the state in areas inhabited by Aymara and Quechua speakers. The state does not recognize them as indigenous communities, thus denying them their right to self-determination, collective ownership, use and control of their lands. Indigenous communities should be allowed (according to UNDRIP)* to give their voluntary and informed consent in the planning of projects that affect their property or territory. These often lead to environmental conflicts, social tensions and great mistrust of the indigenous population towards state authorities. The latter have a lack of interest in the concerns of the indigenous communities and therefore do not succeed sufficiently in entering into a genuine intercultural and interreligious dialogue with the indigenous population.
Mission 21 supports the IDECA project "Kullakanaka Sartawipa" (the walking of the sisters), which targets members of the Aymara indigenous women's organization Bartolina Sisa, OMABASI. Bartolina Sisa is now considered one of the few female heroic figures in the Andean region, honored in many communities in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile for her efforts to gain independence under Spanish colonial rule. Mission 21 supports IDECA with a project that strengthens the cultural identity, political participation opportunities and self-confidence of indigenous Aymara women of the rural provinces of Puno.
* United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.