Transcript of Audio Recording of Unanounced Meeting between Pluspetrol and a Nahua Community Living in Voluntary Isolation

SHINAI SERJALI, LIMA

José Luis Carbajal (Community relations coordinator for Pluspetrol)
Today, I have come accompanied by Pluspetrol’s medic, our pilot Pedro and our cameraman, Alberto. The reason for us coming today was to introduce ourselves and explain to you what we do, what is the Camisea Project that is taking place on the Camisea and Urubamba rivers.

Yaminahua translator
This company is based in Camisea working with other native communities. These communities are receiving many benefits from the company, here too they are going to give us good things.

José Luis Carbajal
Today, we would like to get to know you, know what you think or understand about us and the Camisea Project. We can help to clear up any doubts you may have and on our parts we would like you to tell us about the reality of the headwaters of the Serjali river and its inhabitants.

José Luis Carbajal
Please, when anyone wishes to ask something, feel free to interrupt, please feel free to air any anxiety’s you may have. We are not going to be coming every day, today we have come accompanied by father Ignacio (from the local Dominican catholic mission in Sepahua). We asked the father to introduce us to you so that we could have this first meeting. In the future we can have other meetings but for today please remember to ask us anything you like.

Mario Huidiba, Community President
Community, today the company have come, what do they want from us? What do you think of these people that have come today, we have never seen them before. Community think well about these people we have never seen before. Think.

Yaminahua translator
Look señor, before the first ever company arrived (reference to the activities of Shell in the 1980’s), there was no coughing, there were no illnesses. But today there are many diseases, many. I believe that the company must help to save us in some way from these illnesses in our forests. Look señor, you must listen to us, you must see us, you must see that there is now diarreah, coughing, flu, before none, you must listen to my voice señor.

As for the Kugapakori you can find them up the Serjali river bordering our lands, but we don’t know how far away. One time last year, the evangelicals took me in a plane above this area and I saw 3 small houses

José Luis Carbajal
This is our first visit here and if you remember we work for pluspetrol, a company that has only been in this area for one year. If there were problems before with other company’s or institutions this is the responsibility of others. It is only recently that we are starting work here and we want to do it well. For this reason we are introducing ourselves to local people. We work on the Camisea river that is mainly matzigenka communities. There, we have permissions to work from various communities. It may be possible that we could have this kind of relationship with you as well. But this isn’t something we can arrange in a few days. This kind of thing takes time. But don’t worry there is plenty of time, we are here for 40 years. If the community have specific needs, in the near future we can talk about these needs.

José Luis Carbajal
And so, today is our first visit. We wish to make clear that Father Ignacio is here to introduce us to you. We are a petrol company and the Father doesn’t work for us. He is simply doing us a favour by accompanying us here and introducing us to you because I don’t know you and you don’t know me. Maybe if I came alone you wouldn’t have welcomed me. Now that we know each other, on another occasion we can return to talk and learn more about you, your needs and your concerns. At the same time, you can learn more about what we want. We want this type of face to face relationship with you.

José Luis Carbajal
Today we can talk about your lives. Something that is worrying us is the situation in the headwaters of the Serjali river. What we would like to propose to you is to form a group consisting of Yoras from here and visit the headwaters of the Serjali river. We would like you to tell us if this is ok, if we can do this or if we can’t, because you know and we don’t.

Yaminahua translator
Is it ok for them to visit the headwaters of the Serjali.

Community
Its fine.

Community President
Community think, we don’t know this company, maybe they will bring diseases for our children.

Yaminahua translator
Look señor. Travelling from here up the Serjali river in no time at all you arrive at Agua Hervida river and from there you can cross to putaya river. Our grandparents all lived there, this is our land , it is the land of our ancestors. For this reason, you must listen to us and be concerned.

José Luis Carbajal
We know that this is the Kugapakori/Nahua reserve. We are working on the Camisea river a part of which also lies within the reserve. This is state owned land reserved in favour of Nahua and Kugapakori populations, we know this well. In this light we are talking with the Peruvian government in order to work here and so that we can help you and the Kugapakori as well. We will be returning with state functionaries to talk with you we will let you know by radio. We want you to understand that Pluspetrol respects Nahua and Kugapakori territory. We never said anything before to you because we were talking amongst ourselves but now we are here and we are going to make an agreement between us and the Peruvian government in favour of Nahua and Nanti. But you must help us; by making this agreement with us we can work here and we can respect Nahua culture and Nahua territory.

President
Community think. I personally don’t want to see this company as they will bring us diseases, they aren’t doctors who can cure us, so think well.

Yaminahua translator
They are going to give us something big like they gave Camisea, maybe they will give us light.

José Luis Carbajal
We are in the process of starting operations, we are going to be doing something called seismic testing. This has already started and will finish in October. We are now in April so that’s 8 months of work. Part of the seismic work is going to take place in the headwaters of the Serjali river. What we would like is that before Varitas (company subcontracted to do the seismic work) arrive to start their work in the headwaters of the Serjali that you help us visit the area, anticipate this work and help us avoid any form of contact with other people. Because if we can prove that in this area there are people living, then we will leave, we will cut short our work. But we need your help to go and investigate this area before seismic testing starts.

Community member
When will this be?

José Luis Carbajal
It has to be as soon as possible, the end of April or the beginning of May.

President
Listen to me community. The company has never helped us, they have never made meetings with us before. They have never helped us like our gringos do with our maps and our land title. Some of you are saying yes we want the company, but for my part I don’t want them, I don’t want them, all I want is a title. But I can’t think alone for everyone, you must all think.

Yaminahua translator
José Luis you know very well that Shell worked here before. Look how we live here, we live here quietly far from anywhere, look how much gasoline it takes to get here. You the company are the biggest, you never need anything ever. Look, help us, we need light and a health post, listen senor.
You who are millionaires, we are the poorest, you must help us.

Shinai Serjali coordinator
Over the last few days we have been making many maps with the community helping them in the process of land titling. Through these maps we have learnt that the entire Serjali river is theirs it belongs to them. I want you to be very clear then that it is your proposal to work in their territory.
You must explain to the community how your work will effect the animals, the forest and the trees.

The community’s main problem at the moment is with illegal loggers because they don’t respect the reserve. They enter, cut trees and leave just like that. And there here in part because of the previous work of petrol companies like you. These company’s opened routes for loggers and promoted the colonisation of the logging town of Sepahua.
If, as you say, you are respecting the reserve I don’t understand how it is that you are working inside it? Moreover, how are you going to ensure that the reserve is protected ,are you going to create a system of control posts?

José Luis Carbajal
This is beyond us. Your concerns come from one angle and we have information from other sides. We are well advanced in our coordinations with the government of which you or others don’t necessarily have the right to be informed of. And for what its worth, you have an extremely narrow perspective, you are only looking at one side and not at the others. Your concerns come from the community but the scenario is much wider and more complex. There are many institutions and people, private and public sectors are involved in this for example you are from England coming here with legitimate concerns I believe. But these wider interests transcend local ones.

So what we want to do is not enter the reserve just yet, we are currently working with Matsigenka communities with whom we have agreements and permissions to work. But before we enter the reserve we are negotiating with the relevant institutions of the state. We are having an internal conversation in which third parties have no right to be involved nor informed. Despite this, we are coordinating with third parties and we are trying to design mechanisms that enable us to work yet generate a system of environmental control for the reserve. Additionally we hope to generate a fund that could be used to help the process of titling and help the integration of the Nahua and Nanti. We have spent some days with the Nanti and the Nanti have accepted this. But forgive me I have not come here to indulge in polemics, I have come to speak with them and not with you. For now I prefer to give the Nahua an opportunity to listen to their concerns I am here to listen to their concerns. Our relationship is a direct one with them and must not be mediated by anyone. If they want to have intermediaries they have the right to have them but until now they haven’t said anything.


José Luis Carbajal
I think that one meeting won’t be sufficient to explain to you what we are doing and what we would like to do. So, it would be great if we could arrange a second meeting and we could invite representatives of the community to visit our fieldbase, there we can give you a very clear explanation. Also, we can go to Lima and visit our Lima offices. What I want you to understand is that our work is not around here. Our work is in the headwaters of the Serjali river and it will only be temporary until October when it finishes. But before starting this work we wanted to speak with you and offer you and your representatives the opportunity to accompany us and receive explanations from us – what are we going to do and how are we going to help in conjunction with the state – an agreement between pluspetrol and the Peruvian government in favour of Nahua and Nanti. Slowly we are getting there, at the moment we are only speaking, but in the future we will be making commitments.

Curaca (Traditional Nahua authority having just returned from a fishing trip)
Look señor. What are your names? Why, why have you come here, how are you going to help my people? I am the Curaca, here the children with whom you are speaking don’t know anything, I have been to Lima, I went because people don’t respect us.

Look Senor, here my gringos are helping me with my land title, we are waiting for our title until we can work again. Here we are poor. Company’s have never helped us noone helps us. I myself went to Puerto Maldonado when the loggers threatened to kill me.

Señor Alejandro Toledo has never helped us, never has he helped us, there is no support from him. We are not living in the jungle we are a community, a people but noone knows this. Here my gringos have helped me; Cono, Gregorio and Olaf we are waiting for our title. Right now, many of our children have fevers, there are no doctors, we need doctors. When my son was ill, I had to go down to Sepahua where the doctors helped me.
Who are you? You want gasoline and petrol, why are you holding a meeting here. I am the curaca of the community why are you speaking to the children who know nothing, that is not respect.

José Luis Carbajal
Pluspetrol started work in January of this year. This means we have only been working for 3 months and doing seismic testing, thats it. We did not come here before because we were working with the Matsigenka. Now that we have agreements with the Matsigenka we have come here to talk with you. We have been with the Nantis, we have spoken with them and they have accepted our work and our help. This is our first visit here and we want to return with representatives of the government so that we can make an agreement with the Peruvian state in favour of the Nahua.

We haven’t given you anything because we are only just starting. We are going to be here for 40 years, this is the first year. We are going to be here for 40 years in the area, this is only the first year. There is a great deal to do but we want to do things well. For this reason we need to continue to coordinate and speak with you.

Curaca
Listen tocayo, listen to me. You have never helped me, why have you never helped me before. Only now that I know distant places do you come to help me but now I don’t want your help. Our children could get illnesses from you. If you wanted to come here, you should have spoken to me before coming here. But you didn’t speak to me, why didn’t you tell me about this meeting, now there won’t be another meeting.

Nobody sends me when I travel. I myself go. You have never invited me to meetings saying you are going to help, never. The other day we went down to Sepahua to collect a little of our money from the Father. But you have not given me anything, not a motor nor even a gun. You should have told me you were coming before you arrived.

Now that I know distant places like Lima I can’t be cheated. This here is our land all of the Mishagua and Serjali rivers, look we have made a map. On the other side are the Kugapakori, they too have their land.

Humberto Santillán (a logger from Sepahua) can’t pass us with his tractor, no one can pass, no one. Because of this, we want our title, the whole community wants our title, this is what we are waiting for.

I don’t want anything from you, I don’t want to know you and the illness you will bring here for our children and your helicopters that are like chainsaws scaring away our animals. We don’t want this.

Yaminahua translators (explaining the words of curaca)
Our leader is saying, you don’t have any right to be here making meetings, you haven’t given me a gun nor a land title.

My cousin is saying, before, when we didn’t know how to walk anywhere, in Lima or Puerto Maldonado, nowhere, when we didn’t know how to leave our forest you didn’t explain like this, you didn’t come here making meetings. But now that I know how to leave my home you want to give me things, but now no, we don’t want your help, alone we are going to live. We are not going to let the company pass.

Today in the morning, all of us had a meeting, we all heard about the helicopters that bring us flu, and tell me, who is going to help us with the remedies? To come here, you should have brought us remedies and nurses. This is what our leader is saying, I am only translating.

Shinai Serjali coordinator
The law says that you have to explain your environmental impact analysis to the Nahuas before you start work, isn’t that right?

José Luis Carbajal
Yes, yes, but there is also a legal issue here, the environmental report is approved. According to Peruvian law we can start work but we don’t want to do that without making an effort to communicate with local people. It’s difficult. On the one hand we are legally able to enter, but the law is generic it doesn’t account for specific local circumstances. And so we are coordinating with local people to know that our work isn’t effecting third parties. We are making overflights, we have been to the Nanti and we have found guides and interpreters. We are doing this so that we know that where we are working no one is living and if there are people living there, that we have their permission to work there.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
But you are working inside their reserve, inside their territory. I have read the independent study of your environmental impact assessment and its not complimentary.

José Luis Carbajal
We have never received comments from you, you had a workshop in Lima but you weren’t able to invite us?

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
Yes, but this meeting was not to look for solutions, but for options, it was designed for experts in indigenous rights.

José Luis Carbajal
But if you had conclusions from workshops you should have sent them to us so that we know there are other groups interested in this area and so that we can invite you to our events. But if there isn’t that basic level of communication.....

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
But we have already spoken with you, we left our card with you and details of our website where you can find all our reports as well as a map of the populations inside the reserve.

José Luis Carbajal
Yes, yes but I haven’t had the chance to look over it yet. I’ll look at it soon. In any case we are coordinating with the government, they also are interested. They need to come here, see and make commitments as well. The Peruvian government must be have a presence in these situations. It’s not only the responsibility of pluspetrol. Unfortunately, to date the Peruvian government hasn’t involved itself in these issues. Your opinions come from the outside. What we want is for the Peruvian government to get involved, the Peruvian government is responsible for representing these communities. Within pluspetrol there is a tremendous effort to receive everyone’s concerns and synthesise them.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
The next time, will you be here for longer?

José Luis Carbajal
Yes, that is the idea, not just 2 hours, this is only the first visit, nothing more.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
But shouldn’t you have been doing this before you even started work? The problem is that you have already started work before coming to speak to the Nahua and the Nanti.

José Luis Carbajal
Yes, yes, we started with the people that stand to be affected directly by our work, the Matsigenkas.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
Yes, but there are indirect impacts for the Nahuas, you are working on the frontiers of their lands where they have their farms and go hunting.

José Luis Carbajal
But look we will not be working close to this area

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
But you are going to work in the headwaters of the Serjali river and that is their land.

José Luis Carbajal
But there is the technical possibility to conduct this work in other places, we can move. But for this we need information, first hand information. For this reason we wish to form groups to be able to visit these areas. Based on this information, the technical team can conduct their work.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
The next time, will you be explaining the impacts of your work to the community?

José Luis Carbajal
Yes, the idea is that we explain seismic testing, what it means, the machinery used, the personnel involved, how it works, where paths will be opened etc

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
Will there be someone independent coming or only the company?

José Luis Carbajal
It is possible, we are investigating it. There should be a facilitator that does all this. We would like it if the technical people from Varitas come and explain just as we did with all the Matsigenka communities. Unfortunately, the technical calendar means we have to work in parallel with consultations but before we start work we must compile this type of information.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
When are you going to start seismic testing in the Serjali river?

José Luis Carbajal
It could be in July, in October they will leave.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
And you have been to Montetoni?

José Luis Carbajal
Yes, I have been to Montetoni and Malankiato

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
Do they speak Spanish there?

José Luis Carbajal
No, one person in Malankiato speaks a little. They speak Nanti and some speak Matsigenka as there are several mixed marriages between Nanti and Matsigenkas. They have been translating for us.

Shinai Serjali Coordinator
We would like you to know that the people who translated for you here are Yaminahua, they speak Yora as well but come from another community.

Curaca
Well tocayo, now my heart has calmed down a little, when I first arrived I heard that you were taking my land, now I am calmer.

José Luis Carbajal
I’d like to know if we can return again if we let you know we are coming?

Curaca
Yes, yes its fine, but let me know.

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