With the signing of a final act with Pluspetrol Norte SA last Saturday night, the indigenous communities of Nuevo Andoas and Capahuariyacu, supported by their indigenous federation FEDIQUEP, put an end to the peaceful occupation of Andoas’ airport, the pumping heart of Peru’s most productive oil block. Over 43 years of oil extraction in block 192 (ex-1AB) left the communities and their territories environmentally and socially damaged. In 2013 the area was therefore declared in state of environmental and social emergency, but so far Peruvian government is not able to provide any real solutions. The clear lack of political will demonstrated by the authorities in the so called Commission for Development, made the communities react and look for more immediate solutions through direct negotiations with the responsible company. The communities sent a clear message: if the state doesn’t provide a solution, they will take action into their own hands.
The occupation took six-days and the dialogue became difficult as tension grew, especially on Friday when the company refused to sign the agreement. On Saturday all communication with Andoas was limited due to a total stop of all electricity in the area.
Pluspetrol commits to accept that independent evaluations be part of the future technical debates on valid compensations for the use of land and quarries. The communities will also present evaluations for the environmental damages, especially for the Ushpayacu river and the Shanshococha lake. Pluspetrol promised to respect the indigenous institutions and to not interfere in their internal affairs, as it previously happened when the company negotiated directly with the communities, without the presence of any representative from Fediquep – the indigenous federation.
Lessons from the past
Pluspetrol was fined in November 2013 with circa 7 million dollars for irreparable environmental damage and the “disappearing” of the Shanshococha lake. The company appealed this decision in court and refuses to accomplish with the necessary clean-up work. This situation may raise questions over the reliability of the agreement signed in Andoas.
The hidden face
Oil companies are considered as important drivers of climate change and Lima is hosting in December the most important international gathering of the year, the Climate Change Conference (Cop20). Whilst preparing for the meeting, the Peruvian state is weakening the environmental standards and the
control over extractive activities. The indigenous peoples of Loreto keep on suffering from the severe contamination of their lands and they will certainly take the opportunity to show the hidden face of the current extractive economic model. The Cop 20 will shed light on the human and ecological disaster happening in the Peruvian Amazon.
Tuesday, 04 November 2014