Indigenous Peoples in Peru Decry New Oil Concessions in their Amazon Territories

Perupetro Opens the Last Vestiges of the Amazon to Oil Drilling

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Houston – This week Perupetro is traveling to Houston and London to promote 25 new oil concessions which open the last vestiges of the Peruvian Amazon to oil drilling. Affected Indigenous peoples across the country have declared their opposition to new oil drilling and condemn Perupetro's attempts at consultation as divisive and manipulative. The International Labor Organization of the UN has called on the Peruvian Government to suspend new contracts until an adequate consultation process is in place.

Perupetro, the oil and gas licensing arm of the Peruvian government, launched the new bidding round last week after previous bidding rounds were cancelled due to conflicts with Indigenous peoples and corruption scandals that resulted in the resignation of the entire cabinet. With this new bidding round, over three-quarters of the Peruvian Amazon is now targeted for oil and gas drilling and exploration.

"Peru is opening some of the most remote regions of the Amazon to oil drilling, threatening some of the most biodiverse forests on the planet and the lives of the Indigenous peoples who depend on this forest for their livelihoods." said Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch Executive Director, "The current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a clear demonstration of the risks involved. An oil spill in the Amazon would create an ecological disaster."

CORPI, a regional Indigenous organization, rejected the new bidding round and the government's consultation efforts as grossly inadequate, divisive and manipulative. CORPI represents the Awajun, Achuar, Cocama Cocamilla, Kandozi, Quechua, Shapra, Shawi, Shiwilo and Shuar Indigenous peoples living in 27 million acres of tropical forest in the Loreto region of Peru who are affected by five of the new oil blocks (166, 165, 168, 177 and 186).

In the Putumayo River, the Secoya and Kichwa peoples affected by oil block 187 have also condemned the consultation process and denounced the government for auctioning the oil block without their consent.

In February 2010, the International Labor Organization of the United Nations asked the Peruvian government to "suspend the exploration and exploitation of natural resources which are affecting [Indigenous peoples]" until the government has developed consultation and participation mechanisms in compliance with the ILO convention 169 on the rights of Indigenous peoples.

"In its rush to sell off the Amazon, the Peruvian government has failed to address the underlying causes of the Amazon-wide protests last year. This new oil bidding round just serves to provoke further conflict." said Gregor MacLennan, Amazon Watch Peru Program Coordinator.

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