Oil Company Sending Workers to Uncontacted Tribes' Territory

by January 7, 2009

The Anglo-French oil company Perenco has been given permission from the Peruvian government to drill for oil in a remote part of the Amazon, currently inhabited by uncontacted tribal peoples.

The company is now preparing to send more than 800 workers to the region, risking violent conflict and more likely decimation of the tribal peoples through disease brought on by first contact.

"Perenco denies the existence of uncontacted tribes in the area, despite confirmation of their existence by Peru's government, Ecuador’s government, the company that used to work in the area (Barrett Resources), and Peru’s indigenous organizations," notes a recent press release by Survival International. "Ecuador’s government has even allocated US$38,000 to protect the tribes, and Barrett admitted contact with them was 'probable.'"

"Peru’s national indigenous organization, AIDESEP, is opposed to Perenco’s plans. It has appealed to Latin America’s top human rights body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, urging it to help prevent Perenco working in the region."

AIDSEP, along with Shinai and other groups, has also proposed the establishment of reserves to protect uncontacted peoples, (possibly) including one for the region held by Perenco (who now owns Barrett).

Despite this, "Perenco seems determined both to push ahead with its mega-project, and also to deny that the uncontacted Indians even live there, says Stephen Corry, Survival’s director. "It ought by now to realise that the seemingly isolated jungle it is operating in is actually the ancestral home of several Indian groups, who will very likely see its workers as invaders. Everyone else has acknowledged this, including Perenco's predecessor.'

Photo by AP Photo/Gleison Miranda, FUNAI. To learn more about uncontacted tribes, visit Survival International

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  • BJ Douthwright
    February 22, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I started to jot my personal comment & then got distracted by several of the other posts here on Intercontinental Cry, and coming back to this story, the situation being another self-evident circumstance of indigenous rights being violated with threatened genocide already reported as likely to occur... just wondering about something perhaps unrelated, which is that so many of the posts on IC are about indigenous lands, displacement in the face of the environmental degradation and mining interests of "transnational corporations"~~~ I believe it is good & great to have this focus & yet just want to add in a mention about the serious issue of indigenous health care standards in "North America". Are readers aware of the way a current Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has been handling a complaint against Canada's Federal Government Agency 'Indian and Northern Affairs' INAC, concerning INAC's chronic underfunding of health care provided to aboriginals? Similarly the topic of Stephen Harper having made an announcement in Davos that Canada wants to provide generous funding to third world women's poverty issues while it under funds these same provisions within its own claimed territories, which amounts to racial discrimination to boot...


  • Billy Jack Douthwright
    February 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    It must be obviously true about Stephen Harper as well as the cadre of interested parties whom he is supported to be representing, though actually what is also even more seriously great in the turn of events caused by those interests is this complete U-turn having taken place among women's solidarity movements right here. The women, their fundamental rights and responsibilities to maintain society, the indigenous women's claim of title to the lands-territories, is suddenly politically more powerful as the legal framework realities set in, in large part has been achieved through the urgency of a necessary backlash against Harper led ideology-policy, so this is in the end great/was due/is a new day!
    Not to be sounding a tone of optimism that overlooks the critical realities & challenges though... I've since learned a most startling statistic which is that a recent study has found that pregnant Inuit women report smoking marihuana at a rate of 60(something-can't remember exactly)%, and above 50% consume alcohol, both statistics during pregnancy... wide use of marijuana in the high arctic? and alcohol? Who is responsible for it even being there?... I think that Canadian/colonial policy actions and/or inactions should aptly have a word definition change applied from a word like 'statistic' being more appropriately represented by 'sadistic'.


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