Indigenous Communities Strike for 3 Weeks in Peruvian Amazon

The Achuar Indigenous people in Peru are protesting against foreign oil companies/Photo: Reuters/Archive
Indigenous Communities Strike for 3 Weeks in Peruvian Amazon

The groups are demanding consultation over the renewal of the oil license for Block 192 as well as compensation for several oil spills.

16 Indigenous communities from the Peruvian province of Loreto have been on strike for three weeks – their action over oil has paralyzed the region.

In August, Indigenous people living on Peru’s largest oil field seized some facilities operated by Frontera Energy Corp to demand that the government apply an Indigenous rights law before signing a new contract with the Canadian company.

According to a prior consultation law passed in 2011, it requires the government to seek input from the communities before approving any development plans which might affect them. But according to the Indigenous leaders in Frontera’s Block 192, the government refused to go through the consultation process even though it was negotiating a new contract with the energy company.

Since the beginning of the protests, the communities have received the support of other Indigenous organizations, including Fediquep, Feconacor and Opikafpe.

The groups are demanding consultation over the possible renewal of the oil license for Block 192 as well as compensation for several oil spills in the Pastaza, Tigre, Corrientes and Maranon rivers over the last 40 years.

The communities have promised keep up their strike action until the government agrees to carry the consultancy, but the government says it is not required because Frontera Energy is entitled to continue the work until February 2019.

The contested 2015 consultation,it allowed Frontera Energy (then called Pacific Energy) to take over the site from Pluspetrol Norte.

But Indigenous communities denounced alleged irregularities during the process.

After visiting Peru between July 10-19 this year, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples urged the Peruvian government to suspend the negotiations for the renewal of the exploitation license of Block 192 until it addressed the environmental contamination.

Protests against the oil exploitation at the site date back from the previous mandate of President Ollanta Humala, resulting in three agreements in which the government committed to guaranteeing the access to basic services like education and health.

However, communities in the region still don’t have drinking water or property rights on their ancestral lands.


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