Isolated indigenous peoples in remote areas of Peru’s Amazon rainforest are being ‘bribed’ with painkillers and pens, as industry giants seek to open up their land to explore for gas, according to Survival International. The UK-based group say it has learned that even members of INDEPA, Peru’s indigenous affairs agency, have put pressure on communities so research can be carried out in the reserve where they live. Enrique Dixpopidiba Shocoroa, a Nahua leader, said his tribe have been given medical equipment, stationery, and promises of temporary work. Workers from Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol have recently been into the Kugapakori-Nahua Reserve to conduct environmental tests on the land’s suitability for exploitation. The reserve was created in 1990 to protect the territorial rights of vulnerable tribes.
These charges ironically coms as Peru’s President Ollanta Humala has just approved an historic law designed to guarantee indigenous peoples the right to prior consultation about any projects affecting them and their land. An estimated 15 indigenous groups have chosen to resist contact in the Peruvian Amazon, and several are believed to be inside the reserve. All face extinction if their lands are opened up, Survival asserts. Some half of the Nahua died after their land was first opened up by Shell for oil exploration in the 1980s. Today, uncontacted tribes still living in the region are at extreme risk of succumbing to diseases brought in by outsiders.
Survival’s director, Stephen Corry said, “Oil and gas drilling in uncontacted tribes’ reserves make a mockery of Peru’s new law. It also risks jeopardizing the government’s promise to protect uncontacted tribes, who are especially vulnerable.” (Survival International, Sept. 14)