Oil project on communal reserve given green light
Indigenous groups say they are giving US oil company an ultimatum to leave their lands in Peru´s southern jungle.
An indigenous federation representing native peoples, who reside on lands that coincide with a government-granted oil concession, says it is giving the company an ultimatum: get off our lands or we will kick you out.
Peru´s state-run oil licensing agency, Perupetro, granted US-based Hunt Oil Company the 3.5 million acre-concession in 2006, even though parts of it overlaps with the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in the Madre de Dios department.
On Oct. 12, Adan Corisepa Neri, president of the association representing the indigenous communities on the reserve, issued a video-taped statement, saying that the native groups would kick Hunt Oil off their lands if they did not respect their decision to reject the project.
“What else can we do if the company doesn´t respect anything,” he said in the recording.
Hunt Oil, which is also a parter in the massive Camisea natural gas project, the pipeline consortium Transportadora de Gas Peruano (TgP), which transports the gas, and member of PeruLNG, a company formed to export excess gas from the fields, had reportedly offered to build schools, roads and other basic infrastructure for local communities. But the community has rejected the offer.
On Sept. 11, the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and Tributaries, sought legal protection against the operations of Hunt Oil and its partner, Spain´s Repsol YPF.
The federation “hopes that with this legal action, the company stops all activities in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and no longer puts in danger the lives of the indigenous peoples of Madre de Dios”, said the group´s director, Jaime Corisepa, in a statement. The federation added that the oil companies´ operation on the reserve also violates the International Labor Organization´s Convention 169 that states indigenous groups must be previously consulted on projects that affect them.
In a press conference Oct. 21, Perupetro´s president, said that even if they are previously consulted, the indigenous communities´ rejection of the project is not binding. According to Peruvian law, extractive industry is only banned on national parks, not on protected areas or indigenous reserves, where the state is still permitted to grant concessions.
Extractive industries such as oil, gas, logging and mining in the Madre de Dios have alarmed environmentalists and indigenous advocates, who say the damage could be irreversable to both the inhabitants and their environment.
In June, clashes between indigenous protesters and police over since-repealed investment decrees that demonstrators said would open their lands to damaging industries, left more than 30 people dead. –Latinamerica Press.