Written by Andrew Miller, D.C. Advocacy Director for Amazon Watch
Indigenous peoples of Peru’s Amazon are responding to the recent spate of oil spills along the Northwestern Peru Pipeline. Primarily, they are pressing the Peruvian government – which runs Petroperu oil company responsible for the pipeline – to urgently attend to the affected communities, to remediate the contaminated rainforest, and to halt use of the pipeline until long-delayed upgrades are carried out. Local indigenous leaders have traveled to Lima to press government officials, the national federation AIDESEP organized a protest last Friday in front of the PetroPeru headquarters, and the national and international press have included many statements of indigenous spokespeople in their coverage of the spills.
Almost one month following the initial spill along the Chiriaco River, the situation remains shockingly unresolved. Petroperu has taken to Twitter, touting its actions to Peruvian and international journalists. But many appear woefully inadequate. For example, the company claims to have assumed medical help for a minor who was seen on television recovering oil. However, according to journalist Barbara Fraser, “Provincial health authorities have a list of 204 people who did the same, 82 of them children and adolescents under age 19. Why one and not all?”
Religious leaders from the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesiastical Network issued a statement on February 23rd demanding urgent assistance to the communities affected by the oil spills. Their key demands are for the Peruvian authorities to compensate impacted community members for damages, to clean up the pollution, to monitor water quality into the future, and to keep community members informed.
Fundamentally, Peru’s government has demonstrated a lack of political will to take preventative actions that would protect indigenous people’s lives and the fragile rainforest in which they live.
How Can You Help?
One, join over 8,000 people in sending an email to the Peruvian Prime Minister, urging the cabinet to listen to indigenous peoples and take immediate corrective action.
Two, make a donation in support of humanitarian aid and indigenous advocacy within Peru. Amazon Watch is hosting the fund, but 100% of funds received will be sent to indigenous federations that are working at both national and local levels to address this crisis. Their three priorities right now are clean water, food (primarily proteins to replace their fish diet), and health care.
Please take action today on behalf of the affected communities and the Amazon rainforest of Peru.
(This article originally appeared on Amazon Watch. It has been reprinted here with permission.)