Indigenous Peruvians shut down Amazon oil facility

Rainforest in Southern Ecuador
Rainforest in Southern Ecuador

The Native Federation of the Corrientes River (FECONACO) has shut down Pluspetrol's Amazon oil facilities in protest at water contamination.

Submitted by Sorry. on October 12, 2006

Seven hundred Peruvians have occupied oil facilities in the rainforest territories of Loreto, on the border with Ecuador, halting production. After 30 years of drilling, protesters are demanding that steps be taken to stop the Argentinian company Pluspetrol from continuing to dump one million barrels of untreated toxic waste each day.

The protestors claim that their health has been affected by pollutants, such as lead and cadmium, from the oil work. A survey carried out by Peru's Ministry of Health earlier this year found that cadmium levels in the blood of more than 98% of the local Achuar people exceeded safe levels and more than 66% of children had dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

The protests were organised by the Native Federation of the Corrientes River (FECONACO), who issued the following demands.

"1. That for more than 10 years we have been asking the government to pay attention to the environmental contamination that has been going on in our Corrientes River.

2. Due to the mockery that the Minister of Energy and Mines and the other Peruvian authorities made of us, today we begin a peaceful protest to demand ours rights.

3. Thus we request guarantees to our life, as we have been informed through the media that the police and armed forces in large contingencies have traveled to the Corrientes river under orders proceed by force if it is necessary, that is to say to shoot to every human life.

4. We demand a serious dialogue, of equal to equal, with our native authorities that legitimately represent in order to discuss the immediate measures for the halting of contamination and to attend to our population, ill from the contamination of lead, cadmium and other toxic substances from the petroleum operations.

Furthermore, we demand that the Government stop granting petroleum concessions in our lands. We do not accept the start of the new operations of Burlington [ConocoPhilips] oil company in block 104 and of Petrolíferas in block 106, recently granted by the government.

We ask that all the towns and organizations of the world support our just demands and support our right to live in our territory healthy and in peace.

We will not permit that the valuable life of our people continues to be in danger: "Who saves a life saves the entire humanity."

We therefore seek solution to our demands:

A. 100% re-injection of production waters in both Blocks by October 2007, with monitoring by FECONACO.

B. Financing of the Central Health Plan, elaborated and approved by the Regional Health Office (DIRESA) of Loreto. 40 million Soles are needed for 10 years. Monitored by FECONACO.

C. Temporary food stocks and the provision of potable water for the 31 communities.

D. Remediation of the environmental damages in both blocks, with monitoring by FECONACO.

E. No more oil concessions and oil drilling in blocks 104 and 106, in the Corrientes river basin.

F. Effective and complete health insurance.

G. Construction of a river motor ship for the communities."