A court in Peru’s Loreto region on Jan. 22 issued an order blocking all oil exploration or exploitation within a vast area of the Amazon rainforest along the Brazilian border, citing the presence of isolated or “uncontacted” peoples in the zone and the impossibility of obtaining their “prior consultation.” The order affects Lots 135, 138 and 31B, which lie within Sierra del Divisor National Park, straddling the regions of Ucayali and Loreto. The case was brought in 2017 by the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Oriente (ORPIO), challenging the move by state agency PeruPetro to auction leases for the designated blocs.
“This ruling is historic because it is the first in favor of indigenous people in voluntary isolation against oil companies. Almost 98% of the territory of the indigenous people in voluntary isolation was above three oil lots,” said Maritza Quispe, a lawyer for Peru’s Legal Defense Institute (IDL), which represented ORPIO in the case.
ORPIO and allied anthropologists documented the presence of indigenous peoples in isolation or initial contact (PIACI) within the Sierra del Divisor. They are believed to be of the Shipibo, Conibo and Isconahua ethnicities. Under Peru’s Prior Consultation Law, their informed consent is necessary before any development proceeds within their territory, yet their isolated status must be respected. PeruPetro may appeal to Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal. (Gestión, Reuters, Jan. 22; CounterVortex interview with IDL)