More than two dozen indigenous communities from Nuevo Alegría, in the Morona district of northern Peru, have issued a stern ultimatum to the Canadian oil exploration company Talisman Energy — warning them that they have until November 15th to withdraw from their territories or the communities will have no choice but to force them out.
To quote Cesar Zuniga Butuna, a local leader and president of the National Achuar Federation of Peru (FENAP):
“We do not want our forests, rivers and earth polluted, because this is our natural market.”
“We as the indigenous people reject the Canadian company Talisman. We do not want them working in our territory, we want the Peruvian state to respect us, and the armed forces must stop supporting the company.”
“If they do not want to leave we will force them out; this is the agreement that has been coordinated with theAwajún brother (people) and the Huambisas of the Amazon. It is time that the government listens to us and we will make them respect us.”
“We have proof that pollution already exists, damage to nature and to indigenous people in the communities where petroleum activities are developed. For 37 years in the Achuar brother communities of the Corrientes River, petroleum has not brought any development to them; on the contrary they are sick and poverty stricken.”
Talisman has casually responded to the ultimatum by stating they have no intention of leaving. “My understanding is we have all the agreements and consents we require from communities in the areas where we’re operating,” states David Mann, a Talisman official.
However, the communities paint a very different picture. They say Talisman did not make an agreement with them or even seek their consent as mandated by law. Instead, they say the company signed an agreement with two indigenous groups who… have no connection to the territory whatsoever. The communities suspect that the company bribed the groups to sign the agreement.
In any event, Talisman has now been placed on official notice from the people who actually live in the territory.
If Talisman — that is, the company’s Chief Executive — has any sense of integrity he will respect their wishes, own up to his company’s (deliberate) mistakes, and pull out of the region. Otherwise, ‘in the name of democracy, justice and history’ the communities will do it for them.
photo: Jeff McIntosh/AP
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