Testimony of Father Diego Clavijo about Conflicts Caused by Talisman Energy's Operations

Read a blog post about this situation here.

My name is Father Diego Clavijo, Salesian missionary priest. I am here with Father Luis Bola working here, in northern Peru near the Ecuador border, with the Achuar and Wampisa Indigenous peoples. We work with the Wampisa of the River Morona in Datem del Marañon province.

The situation here has taken a turn for the worse since a month, two months ago, with confrontation between the Wampisa organization and Talisman. The Wampis complained that the river transport – Talisman's speedboats and tugs – have decimated the fish stocks. Several small canoes have been overturned and sunk by the huge wakes created when the boats pass by. The biggest impact of all, however, has been the division of the people. What was one organization [that represented the Wampisa people] has been divided in two, because of money and because of what Talisman's workers are doing. They have divided the organization in two, with one group supporting Talisman.

The [Wampisa] organization decided to stand up in protest against Talisman, but the situation was so tense it almost ended in conflict and shots being fired because the Achuar who are working with Talisman wanted to help Talisman, confronting their own Wampisa brothers with guns – with guns! – to resolve the situation. The Achuar [from FASAM] said the only solution was killing, they said, "we will take the blood of the Wampisa, "we will marry their wives when they die, "because only through killing can Talisman to continue working."

All this created an extremely tense conflict that in the end we managed to resolve, to some extent, through dialog. Representatives from Talisman and the Peruvian government arrived and they have reached a temporary truce, but the situation is not resolved, only postponed, to avoid spilling blood between the Achuar from the Morona from FASAM and the Wampisa from OSHDEM, who are already divided, and ORDEM.

The presence of Talisman is generating conflict between those who accept and those who don't accept the company, and a conflict like this here in the jungle runs the risk costing many lives. I think that Talisman is solely responsible for any accident or any deaths that may occur, because Talisman and their workers are driving the division of the organizations. What they are doing here [in the Pastaza river basin] with some ex-leaders is also dividing people, and it is going to cause death and destruction. We are on the verge of genocide, genocide between peoples, due to infighting over the presence of the company here.

There are many people in difficult situations, because Talisman's workers in San Lorenzo are using underhanded and deceitful means to convince people, to divide people, so that Talisman can enter this territory.

As Salesian missionaries we are extremely concerned about this situation. We want Talisman to respect, to respect people who do not want to work with them, and not try to buy off and deceive people with money. Their attitude creates a huge risk to the way of life here, of upsetting the natural balance of social organization amongst the Indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon.

As missionaries we are extremely concerned about how all this is fragmenting the [indigenous] organizations through division and conflict. Above all we are worried about the problems being created in organizations that work with Talisman. They take people to the cities and introduce them to a series of moral vices. They get involved with prostitutes and bring venereal diseases. In the Achuar area where Talisman is working venereal diseases have increased: Syphilis, gonorrhea, and there is the first case of AIDS, of AIDS. When we told Talisman about this problem, about the increased sexual promiscuity that is contaminating the population, they told us "that is why you are here, you need to solve this problem."

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