Eye on the Amazon

Helping the Achuar Say #AdiosGeoPark

A new chapter has opened in the Peruvian Achuar effort to keep their Amazonian territory free of oil companies with the official launch of the #AdiosGeoPark campaign.

Since 2003, Amazon Watch has helped publicize the outcry of Achuar communities against multinational oil companies trying to enter oil Block 64, most of which overlaps their ancestral territory. First, the Achuar issued statements against Occidental that we translated, shared, and posted online. Then, we accompanied Achuar leaders and communities as they led a five-year advocacy initiative to oust Talisman Energy, which culminated successfully in 2012 when the company announced its decision to cease oil exploration activities in the Peruvian Amazon. Last week, we took the fight to GeoPark's headquarters in Chile.

An important tool in this new campaign is the short but powerful video above, produced by Vagabond Films in conjunction with filmmaker Charles Gay. The images were recorded during a May visit to Achuar sacred territory, coinciding with an assembly of several dozen communities.

Circulating the video via email and social media in the days prior to GeoPark's annual shareholder meeting in Santiago, Chile, we encouraged international friends of the Achuar to send a short message to GeoPark's senior management team. Thousands responded, and we sent their emails to company officials the morning of their meeting. We don't know exactly what happened inside the meeting, but we hope the issue of Achuar opposition to their plans was discussed and debated, as it will be an increasing liability for the company.

In addition to catalyzing grassroots pressure, the video helped garner international press. An article written by the Spanish news service EFE was reproduced by news websites across the region. Several Chilean media outlets, including one run by Mapuche indigenous communicators, ran articles or radio interviews. AJ+ en Español is finalizing a video news report for publication in the coming days. This increasing international profile helps build public support for the Achuar and sends a clear message to GeoPark that getting into a fight with indigenous peoples is a significant risk to their corporate reputation and outlook.

Thank you again for watching the video, taking action, and standing with the Achuar! This is but a first step in this latest campaign to defend Achuar territory, and we hope you will continue saying #AdiosGeoPark until they announce their departure.

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