HOUSTON, Jan. 31 — Indigenous leaders from the Peruvian Amazon, environmentalists and human rights groups today called on the Peruvian government to suspend its tendering of oil concessions that threaten to devastate a vast swath of pristine tropical rainforest and the native communities that live there.
They arrived in Houston today to speak out as Perupetro, Peru’s state- owned oil company, launched its 2007 roadshow in Houston timed to coincide with the NAPE Expo, the oil prospecting industry’s semi-annual trade show. Perupetro plans to tender 11 Amazonian blocks, covering approximately 22 million acres of intact primary tropical rainforest.
Three of those blocks intrude upon official reserves set up to protect some of the last native peoples still living in isolation anywhere in the Amazon. Three overlap protected areas and nine intrude upon titled indigenous lands.
In none of the blocks has Perupetro obtained Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), an internationally recognized human rights benchmark intended to protect the rights of indigenous communities whose lives and lands stand to be affected by extractive mega-projects such as oil drilling.
The new blocks mean that approximately 70 percent of the Peruvian Amazon, one of the largest areas of tropical rainforest anywhere in the world, will be carved into oil concessions.
Huge areas of Peru’s rainforest have already suffered severe impacts as a result of drilling for oil and gas. So far, the Peruvian state has shown little sign of learning from these disasters.
Today’s call for suspension of the auction was led by AIDESEP, an umbrella group representing Peru’s many indigenous Amazonian communities. Perupetro’s roadshow comes as investors grow increasingly concerned about the high risks of hydrocarbon activities in remote areas of the Amazon. Occidental Petroleum recently pulled out of Peru and ConocoPhillips says its investments are “under review.”
AIDESEP, AMAZON ALLIANCE, AMAZON WATCH, DERECHOS AMBIENTE Y RECURSOS,ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE, OXFAM AMERICA, RACIMOS DE UNGURAHUI, SAVE AMERICA’S FORESTS
Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.