Tribal leaders threaten to halt Peru’s oil production over indigenous rights

World Today

Tribal leaders from the area around Peru’s largest oil field have threatened to paralyze production unless an indigenous rights law is applied.

The ultimatum is due to expire next week.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports.

If the tribal leaders are to be believed, the latest protests at oil block 192 are just a taste of what’s to come. They accuse the government of refusing to consult them even though it is negotiating a new 30-year lease for the oil field in their territories.

The so-called prior consultation law requires the government to seek free, prior and informed consent from indigenous people before approving any development plans that might affect them.

The tribal leaders said the last process was carried out in bad faith and are demanding a new one.

The government has refused to confirm if a new consultation process would be undertaken, stating that a 2015 process was. But the tribal leaders of four Amazon river basins-representing more than 30,000 indigenous people, said that’s not good enough.

They are waiting for several oil spills to be cleaned up and desperately need promised improvements in healthcare and education.

Those pending demands need to be dealt with, a senior United Nations official told said on a recent visit to Lima.

“The basis for consequent consultation that is based on good faith will have to deal with those issues and if those issues are not dealt with in the right way then of course I don’t think that we should expect indigenous peoples to just agree to another agreement,” Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Rights said.

Peru’s justice minister said those demands would be addressed with or without a new consultation.

The 192 block produces nearly a fifth of Peru’s oil but has not benefited the people who live around it, local leaders said. And after more than four decades, tribal leaders say their patience is wearing thin.