Indigenous groups in Peru seize oil wells, protest environmental damage

Global Business

A struggle in the Amazon rainforest is pitting hundreds of indigenous protesters against Argentine oil company Pluspetrol. The native communities are angry about pollution of their ancestral lands and have seized oil platforms deep in Peru’s northern jungle, halting production, and blockading roads and rivers. CCTV America’s Dan Collyns reported this story from Lima, Peru.

Indigenous groups in Peru seize oil wells, protest environmental damage

Indigenous groups in Peru seize oil wells, protest environmental damage

A struggle in the Amazon rainforest is pitting hundreds of indigenous protesters against Argentine oil company Pluspetrol. The native communities are angry about pollution of their ancestral lands and have seized oil platforms deep in Peru's northern jungle, halting production, and blockading roads and rivers. CCTV America's Dan Collyns reported this story from Lima, Peru.

The native Achuar and Kichwa communities have set up camp at 14 oil wells, halting production of more than 3,000 barrels-a-day.

They’re demanding that the Pluspetrol and Peru’s government pay them compensation for using their lands and for decades of contamination.

The governor of Loreto, Peru’s largest Amazon region, has also joined their struggle.

“We believe it is a just fight but it is my moral obligation to find a solution, and for that reason I have come to this place, the place where things are happening in order to learn about it and to tell the country that this is how our brothers from the Corrientes communities are living, that for years more than $20 billion was produced by petroleum in this basin and it is not fair that we are living the same or even worse than before because before there were animals, before the river was not contaminated, today they have nothing,” regional governor of Loreto Fernando Melendez said.

After four decades of oil pollution and scores of broken promises the native people of Peru’s northern Amazon and their supporters have brought their protest from the jungle to the oil company’s door in Lima.

Police guarded Pluspetrol’s offices and the company did not respond to CCTV’s request for an interview.

The native communities say water contaminated with heavy metals from oil drilling has caused sickness, and even death.

Oil spills in recent years have prompted the government to fine Pluspetrol and declare several environmental emergencies. But the company’s failure to act has caused protesters to now threaten to shut down even more wells.