American democratic representatives call attention to the indigenous people situation on Oil Block 192 in the Peruvian Northern Amazon Rainforest
A letter to US Ambassador in Peru, Mr. Krishna R. Urs, has been sent by a group of democratic congressmen and women calling attention to the health and social rights issues affecting indigenous peoples for decades through the oil production and pollution on Block 192, Peru’s largest Northern Amazon oil field.
In the letter, the representatives express their concern on the results of a new toxicology study that found that “many youth and elderly community members have dangerously high levels of heavy metals in their blood”; as well as the environmental damages that still now take place in their lands. “Peru’s environmental monitoring agency OEFA recorded over 40 spills just in the last three years since the Canadian mining company Frontera began operating the block.”
The letter also highlights the need to guarantee a proper Free Prior Consultation Process (FPIC) as a new 30-year license for the Block will soon be given to Petroperu, a Peruvian state-owned company. “It has been brought to our attention that the Peruvian government announced that it expects to issue a new, 30-year license for the block to Petroperu within the next two or three months, but has not begun the prior consultation process with communities as required by law.”, the letter reads.
Indeed, the indigenous organizations that represent the communities of the Corrientes, Pastaza, Tigre and Marañon river basins (FECONACOR, FEDIQUEP, OPIKAFPE and ACODECOSPAT) sent a communication, dated july 17th, to Perupetro, the state agency in charge of issuing licenses for oil companies to operate in Peruvian territory. In this communication, they demand a meeting to coordinate with their communities on how and when an FPIC will be implemented, and thereby ensure their rights are guaranteed for the next 30 years.
“We want to guarantee our collective rights. We are guardians of the Amazon Rainforest and we are left with very few resources to live because of pollution. We need secure life for future generations; not just ours, but humanity as a whole”, says apu David Chino, vice president of the Pastaza Quechua Indigenous Federation (FEDIQUEP).
Democratic representatives Raúl Grijalva, Hank Johnson, Barbara Lee, José Serrano, Jan Schakowsky, James McGovern and Mark Pocan, ask ambassador Urs to set a meeting with Peruvian Prime Minister Villanueva in hopes that “the Peruvian government will take swift action to initiate a participatory, good-faith, and gender-inclusive consultation process with communities in block 192.”
The indigenous federations salute this gesture from the representatives and express that they continue to be willing to establish a dialogue in good faith with the Peruvian Government so as to prevent any social conflict.
As we should recall, in October 2017, the government signed an agreement with the communities after a large period of peaceful rally called by the indigenous communities of FEDIQUEP, FECONACOR and OPIKAFPE in order to get to common terms on the issue of Prior Consultation. One of the compromises taken by the Peruvian government was to guarantee a proper Free Prior Consultation Process by discussing and taking into account the social and environmental demands that come from the communities. This should be done before the contract is formulated.