Indigenous people take over a pipeline station in the Peruvian Amazon

The Indigenous people of the Loreto region in the Peruvian Amazon are demanding environmental remediation against numerous oil spills. They also seek infrastructure guaranteeing basic services in the region

October 08, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Since October 4, more than 200 Indigenous people from the Peruvian Amazon have taken over a pipeline station to demand social and environmental support for the region. Photo: Petroperú

Since Monday, October 4, more than 200 Indigenous people of the Awajún community have taken control of station number 5 of the North Peruvian Pipeline (ONP) in the Manseriche district, in the Loreto region, in the Peruvian Amazon. The measure of protest is part of the ‘Amazon Strike’ called for by the Awajún Río Apaga Native Federation (FENARA) and the Peoples Affected by Petroleum Activity (PAAP), to demand social and environmental support for the region.

The protesters are demanding compliance with the agreements reached a long time ago in environmental remediation and guarantees for basic services. They are seeking the creation of a trust fund to finance the decontamination of the areas impacted by oil operations that began decades ago, as well as the construction of adequate infrastructure to guarantee essential services such as health and education in the region.

According to official data, at least 37 oil spills from the pipeline were recorded between 1996 and 2016.  According to the environmental protection group, EarthRights International, the Indigenous communities have been affected by contaminated drinking water and major declines in crop yields. The communities have reported a number of health problems stemming from the contamination.

The protesters have set up camps inside the facilities and have announced that they will continue the measure until the newly elected government of President Pedro Castillo addresses all their demands.

The strike has received the support of the Indigenous Association for the Development and Conservation of Bajo Yurimaguas (AIDCBY) and the Indigenous Association for the Development and Conservation of Lower Puinahua (AIDESEP). Additionally, Indigenous people associated with the Federation of Indigenous Peoples of the Five Basins of the Marañón, Corrientes, Pastaza, Chambira and Tigre rivers have also announced their support.

Meanwhile, the state-owned company Petroperú reported that the seizure has paralyzed the hydrocarbon pumping and transport operations of one of the largest plants in the country. The ONP transports crude extracted from the northern jungle to the refinery on the Pacific coast of the country.

In August 2020, three Amazonian Indigenous people were killed and 17 others were injured after the Peruvian security forces violently repressed a protest against Canadian energy company PetroTal, demanding that it halt its operations due to high levels of contamination.