Eye on the Amazon

Péas Péas Ayui, Interview with an Achuar leader

 Péas Péas Ayui, president of FENAP During a recent visit to Peru, Amazon Watch Peru Program Coordinator Gregor MacLennan spoke to Péas Péas Ayui, the recently-elected president of FENAP. FENAP is the largest Achuar organization in Peru composed of 48 communities from the Pastaza and Morona river basins in the northern Peruvian Amazon. The FENAP communities live, hunt and fish in a territory that spans the majority of Oil Block 64, which Canadian oil company Talisman Energy is currently drilling in search of oil. Péas Péas explains the Achuar’s opposition to oil drilling in their land:

Why do the Achuar people reject oil drilling in their territory?

We have seen how oil drilling causes contamination and foments divisions between families, it doesn’t bring development. The Achuar people have chosen to defend our territory so that our children and future generations can live peacefully on our lands. That future is what the Achuar people have been fighting for for many years as oil companies try to drill on our land.

Talisman Energy says that they only operate with the agreement of communities affected by their operation.

The company has not consulted any of the Achuar people on the Huitoyacu, Manchari or Huasaga river basins, and they do not have any agreement with us that they can enter Block 64 and our ancestral territory.

But Talisman Energy says that it is not operating in your territory, and it has agreements where it is working.

This is not true, and they say this without even consulting us. Talisman is working in a place that is very important for the communities on the Huitoyacu River and it belongs to them. We have hunting camps there and it is an important watershed, source of many rivers that run through our territory. Oil exploration in this area risks contaminating the whole river basin.

Talisman says they have the agreement of FASAM. Who is FASAM?

FASAM is an organization that represents Achuar from the Morona River, and it’s true that they have an agreement with this organization, but Block 64 is within and affects our territory.

Can you tell us about the court case the Achuar have filed against Talisman for provoking conflict in the region?

We lived here peacefully before the oil companies came. But when certain small organizations signed agreements with Talisman and Oxy, oil companies entered our territory. We went to protest this decision, but our own brothers, who were in favor of the oil company, tried to defend themselves with guns transported in a helicopter by Talisman. How are we going to solve this problem if they try to create a war between brothers? This problem is not going away if there is no solution to this issue.

How do you know that Talisman transported guns to this confrontation?

Because we saw it with our own eyes! I was there and I know very well what happened because of the transport of weapons.

What do the Achuar want Talisman to do?

In a recent meeting of Achuar chiefs and traditional leaders we prepared a document asking Talisman to withdraw from this place – the headwaters of the Sekuanga and Chapuri – to avoid further problems. These places are important for us. If Talisman doesn’t leave, if it doesn’t leave this place, then we are going to organize and decide how to respond to the continued presence of Talisman.

 

A letter to Talisman CEO John Manzoni from the Achuar Federation, FENAP – the largest Achuar organization in Peru – condemning planned expansion and demanding that Talisman respect the Achuar people's rights can be read here (in Spanish - English translation here).

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