Communities from seven Indigenous federations in the region of Loreto, northwest of Peru, continue their blockade of the the Marañon River, a main transportation route.
Oil Spill Hits Peru's Amazon — Again
The protest on vessels has which started at the beginning of September looks to force the national government to negotiate a series of demands from the communities, including the end of contamination and oil spills in the area and a fair share of profits for the communities in the area.
On Sunday, the Indigenous leaders of the communities known as Apus reached an agreement with the government to enter into dialogue with either President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski or Prime Minister Fernando Zavala. In a letter addressed to the prime minister, the Apus stated, “we are carrying forward a just struggle to peacefully push a platform of fair social development that guarantees the right to a safe environment and water that sustains our people.”
The latest oil spill took place on Saturday in the district of Urarinas, although the amount spilled and the damage to the area has not yet been estimated.
The state company in charge of the broken pipe, Petroperu, said third parties are purposely causing the spills, and issued a press release demanding “the people who are causing the spills to stop because you are putting the health of people in the area at risk as well as affecting the surrounding environment.”
The government has already launched an operation to clean up the contamination.
Protesters demand greater measures are needed to protect the environment. These include repairing or replacing the Petroperu pipeline, the remediation of the site from previous oils spills as well as compensation for those affected. Protestors are also calling for an independent monitoring system and a commission to study the impacts of oil extraction in the area.
In addition to the environmental damages caused by the oil spills in the area, the communities are struggling with reduced budgets from the taxes of petroleum extraction.
La República newspaper estimates that in Urarinas, the income from taxing oil companies has been reduced from US$790,000 to US$75,000, with other communities similarly impacted.