Prime Minister Apologizes to the Amazon´s Indigenous

Apology follows rights abuses during 40 years of oil exploitation in Loreto

Translated from an article published in Info Region on 8th May.

“I apologize on behalf of the government,” Prime Minister Juan Jimenez Mayor said to the chiefs of indigenous federations whose communities have been damaged by 40 years of oil exploitation and pollution in Loreto.

The meeting was attended by the federations FECONACO, FEDIQUEP, FECONAT and ACODECOSPAT1, as well as the Minister of Energy and Mines, Jorge Merino, and Congresswoman Marisol Pérez Tello.The delegation of environmental monitors and chiefs of the Achuar, Quechua, Kichwa and KoKama Kokamilla people, who have recently initiated several meetings with the executive and legislative power of the State, expressed their opinions clearly and honestly to the Prime Minister.

“The State must regain the people´s confidence and get closer to the community,” commented the FECONACO president Andres Sandi. “We are not against development or investment; rather, we protest the oil company´s poor attitude and its failure to do their job responsibly, as well as a State that fails to monitor this.”

“For a long time we´ve needed to sit here and talk together as leaders” added FEDIQUEP president Aurelio Chino, referring to the long-awaited meeting with the Prime Minister. The leader also emphasized the urgent need for their complete territory to be recognized and for communities to receive legal titles.

“We are not poor: we have been impoverished and our territories ruined,” indicated the indigenous leaders. “We´re here to reclaim our rights,” commented Froilan Pizango, Vice President of FECONAT, then added, “We want to be recognized as a people, not only as communities.”

ACODECOSPAT President Alfonso Lopez highlighted the importance of activities in lot 8x, which falls within the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, ancestral land of the Kokama Kokamilla. “There is oil in the reserve, and the company says they´ve got every right to take it because oil extraction began before the State declared the zone a reserve. They forget that we´ve been there since before the State existed and they fail to recognize our rights.”

Juan Jimenez Mayor listened to each of the leaders before apologizing for the situation faced in these communities, adding “the national government will be committed to helping them.” The next meeting between the state and indigenous organizations was scheduled in 30 days time. It was agreed that all sectors involved in activities that affect the Pastaza, Corrientes, Tigre and Marañon basins would participate in this meeting.

1FECONACO: Federation of Corrientes Native Communities, FEDIQUEP: Indigenous Quechua Federation of the Pastaza, FECONAT: Federation of Alto Tigre Native Communities, ACODECOSPAT: Cocama Association for Development and Conservation of San Pablo Tipishca

Posted by Deborah Rivett, Friday, 10 May 2013

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