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Major protest in Peru involving Canadian oil company

Canadian company Pacific Exploration & Production was recently granted a concession to oil block 192 in the Peruvian Amazon. Residents in the region of Loreto have since staged a series of protests including a two-day regional strike. While many in Loreto, including the regional government, are angry that the state oil company was excluded from the concession, indigenous people affected by the oil block raise other concerns. Previously, Argentine company Pluspetrol operated the concession, leaving behind air, water and soil pollution. Moreover, indigenous organizations complain that they have not been adequately consulted regarding the concession.

Read the statement of the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Oriente below.

Until recently, Pacific Exploration & Production was known as Pacific Rubiales. Workers and communities in Colombia have long denounced the company.

In 2014, Export Development Canada provided Pacific Rubiales with $50 to $100 million in financing. The Canadian Pension Plan currently holds $4 million in company shares.

The Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Oriente (ORPIO) condemns the state’s obstinate and disrespectful attitude towards the request from the Federation of Native Communities of the Corrientes River (FECONACO), the Federation of Indigenous Quechua of the Pastaza River (FEDIQUEP) and the Cocama Association for the Development and Conservation of San Pablo de Tipishca (ACODECOSPAT) to continue the dialogue process for block 192. Indigenous communities are surprised by the state’s decision to declare the conclusion of the Intercultural Dialogue Stage, which is part of the consultation process for block 192 (25.08.15). They have at all times prioritized dialogue in their effort to find realistic and binding answers to the environmental and social damages incurred by oil activity during the last 45 years. Despite the systematic siege laid by the state, they have maintained their resolve. Further, Indigenous communities participating in the process have not exhausted all options in their search for a safe course of action, so as to avoid further abuses to life and to the environment in the areas of block 192 that are directly and indirectly affected.

The impertinent conclusion of the dialogue stage for block 192 clearly reflects the state’s true intention in relation to valuing prior consultation and the goal of “reaching an agreement or consent between the state and Indigenous Peoples […] though an intercultural dialogue that would ensure their inclusion in the state’s decision-making processes and the adoption of measures that respect their collective rights.” The state has only partially, and dishonestly, considered the guiding principles of good faith, flexibility, and lack of coercion or restrictions, as well as the right to prior consultation in the consultation for block 192, and this attitude casts doubts on the effectiveness or potential of the Prior Consultation Act [Ley de Consulta Previa] to promote the country’s development without negatively impacting collective rights in an area where oil exploitation has taken place with no supervision, no regard for Indigenous Peoples (Achuar, Kichwa, Quechua, Urarina, Kukama), using inferior technology and with the consent of a corrupt state that only cares for the spoils over the many piles of dead bodies.

At this time of crisis for Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the Loreto regional government should take responsibility for and seek the implementation of the main demands: granting of land titles, compensations, reparations, remedy, redress, and access to the benefits of social development. Nevertheless, it has only succeeded in coating the agenda of Indigenous Peoples with the colours of settler political maneuvering, boasting that it had their support, and seeking to establish a regional dialogue process, in its attempt to access funds worth millions to be used with no accountability, no transparency, and without the knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples of the Loreto Region.

In conclusion:

  • The Peruvian state must move towards reconsidering the dialogue stage in the consultation process for block 192 as a step towards peace and development respecting collective rights.
  • The Peruvian state must advance in the implementation of the agreements adopted in various dialogue processes (with communities from the four tributary rivers) as well as the agreements reached by our brothers and sisters in Tigre River through the consultation for block 192.
  • The Peruvian state cannot make decisions by force, or overpower the just demands of Indigenous communities using the force of arrogance, to benefit economic powers. The Prior Consultation Act is not to suffer the stigma of inhumanity.
  • The Loreto regional government must define its true intention with regards to the holistic agenda of Indigenous Peoples involved in block 192, and not foster divisions and a deepening of the crisis.

Iquitos, September 2, 2015