More About Achuar
Across Peru, headlines have been dominated by the presidential elections. Deep in the Amazon, however, the ongoing trauma caused by oil pipeline spills seeps on. Almost three months following a 2,000-barrel spill in Chiriaco followed by another just days later near Mayuriaga, indigenous communities continue to confront the daily reality of poisoned water, fish and crops.
Around 82 families from the community of Nazareth benefited from the arrival of emergency supplies of essential food and water. The assistance was delivered by ORPIAN President Edwin Montenegro, thanks to the help of everyone who joined the Everyone For the Amazon (#TodosxLaAmazonía) campaign. This initial delivery was also carried out on the Morona River, another area damaged by the oil spills.
The saga of Peru’s Amazonian oil spills continues, more than a month after the first rupture in Chiriaco. The fight for clean-up and accountability went to a new level on Monday, as Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio spoke out for the cause to his 35 million social media followers.
The Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP) will meet today with representatives of Petroperu to demand from the company an immediate solution through an effective action plan to the environmental disaster resulting from the most recent spills in Chiriaco and Morona, caused by lack of maintenance of the Northern Peruvian Pipeline.
Children and adults, including some nursing women, immersed themselves in oily water with no protective gear. Before long, many were complaining of headaches, dizziness, blurred vision or nausea. Some still have skin lesions. And although they'd hoped to earn money for school supplies, as classes are due to start in early March, many say they received only the equivalent of a dollar or two for the oil they collected.
Indigenous peoples of Peru's Amazon are responding to the recent spate of oil spills along the Northwestern Peru Pipeline. Primarily, they are pressing the Peruvian government – which runs Petroperu oil company responsible for the pipeline – to urgently attend to the affected communities, to remediate the contaminated rainforest, and to halt use of the pipeline until long-delayed upgrades are carried out.
History is repeating itself in the northern Peruvian Amazon, where three oil spills have been reported along the Northern Peruvian Pipeline since January 25th.
Fish, vegetation and rivers are covered with black spots. According to estimates by Petroperu, about 3,000 barrels spilled into two sectors of Loreto and Amazonas. The spill has reached the Chiriaco River, a tributary of the Maranon, and the people of nearby communities are afraid to consume those waters.
A wave of sadness has surged forth from the Amazon rainforest, washing over many who have supported indigenous rights in Peru. Yesterday we learned that the long-time Achuar leader Jiyukam Lucas Irar Miik had drown in the Pastaza River, as he returned to his home community of Puerto Rubina. As reported by his son, his boat hit a log and capsized as it traveled up-river deep in the night. Lucas was last seen sleeping on the journey.
The Amazon rainforest can seem unimaginably vast. Similarly, the fight to defend it from the onslaught of industrial-scale threats like oil drilling, logging, and huge dams can appear overwhelming. But across the region, local indigenous peoples and our work to support them is making the difference and protecting the lands they have known for centuries. In 2015, these five snapshots of success gave us hope that the Amazon has a chance to avoid ecosystem collapse, but only if we support its indigenous guardians.