First, thanks for all your efforts to give indigenous leaders the opportunity to voice their opposition to petroleum development in the Amazon at the Houston Petroleum Club. The trip was quite successful. National and international allies staged an important protest outside the venue, while the vice president of AIDESEP (the Inter-ethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Amazon), Robert Guimaraes, took the opportunity to speak to potential investors and let them know the risks of investing in oil development in the Amazon.
Unfortunately, two of the three Shipibo delegates were not able to make the trip because their visas were denied by the US government. In many respects, this symbolizes the obstacles that indigenous people face in participating in global dialogue that are crucial in exercising the right to determine their own “development” path.
The good news is that Robert Guimaraes was able to deliver a powerful message to potential investors and to Perupetro, Peru’s hydrocarbon licensing agency. Quoting Robert Guimaraes, “We request that you exclude those blocks that overlap communal indigenous territories. More that 80% of the population in Corrientes river, mostly children, have cadmium and lead in their blood. Just as for you there are things that cannot be negotiated, for us some things, like indigenous land, cannot be negotiated.” The cadmium and lead that Robert refers to is the result of over 30 years of Oxy Petroleum operations in Northern Perú, where the Achuar people have been severely affected.
The Peruvian government’s latest efforts to place the Amazon region in the hands of oil developers puts the entire Amazon at risk, especially indigenous people in voluntary isolation, and clearly violates international rights benchmarks such as Free, Prior and Informed Consent, contained in the recently approved UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (of which Peru is a signatory). It is precisely the Peruvian government’s rather shameful attempt to manipulate, distort, and even suppress indigenous opposition to oil development that makes it so important to support indigenous leaders efforts to make their voices heard at international venues such as Perúpetro’s Houston road-show. Otherwise, potential investors not only get a distorted view of indigenous opinion, but local indigenous people are excluded the global decision-making process that directly affect their lives.
Given that two of the delegates weren’t able to come to Houston, we would like to continue with our efforts to support these types of crucial interventions. Perupetro is planning another event in August, again designed to divvy up the Amazon for even more oil development. With your continued support, we would like to help these delegates make their presence at this event as well. And hopefully the impact will be even greater.
The Village Earth Team
Kristina Pearson <firstname.lastname@example.org>