Peruvian Amazonian Leaders to Warn Oil Companies: “Don’t Trespass on Our Lands!”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 7, 2008

Peruvian Government Breaks Promises, International Laws with Plans to Sell Oil Concessions Overlapping Indigenous Reserves

See below for photo op. and media briefing details. Interviews, photos and B-Roll footage from Amazon available on request.

HoustonIndigenous leaders from the Peruvian Amazon will this Friday personally deliver a message to oil companies gathered at a concession road-show organized in Houston by Perupetro, Peru’s hydrocarbon licensing agency: “Don’t trespass on our lands!”

Robert Guimaraes, Vice-President of AIDESEP, Peru’s national federation of native Amazonians, will also be demanding an explanation from Perupetro and the Peruvian government why clear promises to avoid indigenous lands have been broken. The Perupetro road-show is part of the 2008 North American Prospect Expo (NAPE).

The concessions include four highly controversial concessions, 132, 133, 136 and 139, which have each failed to win any bidders in the past as the oil industry became aware that local indigenous communities would oppose any operations there.

The concessions would also violate international indigenous rights laws as well as the international human rights benchmark of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, contained in the recently approved UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In particular some of the last communities living in voluntary isolation anywhere in the Amazon, inside dedicated Territorial Reserves declared to protect them from contact with outsiders, are highly vulnerable due to their lack of imde munity to diseases.

Of the Amazonian blocks now being offered by Perupetro:

  • Four overlap titled indigenous lands;
  • Three intrude on Territorial Reserves for indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation;
  • Two overlap proposed Territorial Reserves for indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation;
  • One overlaps a Natural Protected Area.

Mr. Guimaraes said: “Our message to interested companies and their investors could not be clearer; you are not welcome here. We will do everything we can to stop you drilling on our territories and devastating our lands, communities and health. Please, for the good of your own companies, stay away.”

Perupetro’s roadshow comes as international investors grow increasingly concerned about the risks associated with oil extraction in remote areas of the Amazon. Last year, oil major ConocoPhilips voluntarily gave up part of an oil concession in the northern Peruvian Amazon because of unified opposition from the indigenous Achuar people.

Photo op. and media briefing

Featuring Mr. Guimaraes in traditional attire, outside the Petroleum Club, 800 Bell Street, downtown Houston, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm CST, Friday February 8.

Background

The latest sell-off comes despite assurances from Perupetro and the Peruvian government that it would respect indigenous rights and lands. In February 2007, the Peruvian government formally agreed that Perupetro would redraw its proposed oil concessions to avoid official territorial reserves. In April, according to AIDESEP, Perupetro also agreed to inform bidders that the Peruvian state would create the “necessary mechanisms” to ensure that the winning companies would not intrude onto the proposed reserves, until Peru’s indigenous agency INDEPA had completed an evaluation.

Friday’s roadshow is the latest chapter in the Peruvian government’s scramble to concession off the nation’s highly biodiverse Amazonian rainforests, roughly twice the size of California, to the oil industry. In roughly two years, the proportion of the Peruvian Amazon zoned into hydrocarbon blocks has risen from 13 percent to roughly 70 percent, despite the widespread toxic contamination and negative social impacts left by previous oil companies, such as Occidental Petroleum, Hunt Oil and Pluspetrol in Peru’s rainforests. For background on the campaign to protect the human rights and collective territories of the Peruvian Amazon’s indigenous peoples, visit www.amazonwatch.org.