Peru: indigenous opposition to Chinese gas project

bloc 58

A new coalition of Amazonian indigenous groups and environmentalists has come together in Peru to demand oversight and accountability in the development of a huge new hydrocarbon exploitation bloc in the rainforest. The¬†China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)¬†won exploitation rights in 2017 at¬†Bloc 58, in the¬†Upper Urubamba zone of Cuzco region, after explorations revealed¬†some 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, enough to increase Peru’s total gas reserves by nearly 28%. But Bloc¬†58 overlaps with the traditional territories of the¬†Ash√°ninka and Matsigenka (Machiguenga) indigenous peoples, and is near the indigenous communities of¬†Tangoshiari, Kirigueti, and Kochiri. It additionally overlaps with the “buffer zones” (zonas de amortiguamiento) of the Ash√°ninka¬†Communal Reserve, the¬†Machiguenga Communal Reserve,¬†Megantoni National Sanctuary¬†and¬†Otishi National Park.

The¬†regional indigenous organizations ORPIO, CORPI, ORAU,¬†COMARU¬†and AIDESEP¬†have joined with the Lima-based group¬†Law, Environment & Natural Resources (DAR) to form the¬†Amazon Indigenous Platform for Monitoring Chinese Investment in Peru. Its first priorty is¬†Bloc 58, demanding that exploitation proceed there only in compliance with the¬† internationally recognized¬†right to “prior and informed consent” of impacted indigenous peoples, as officially guaranteed by¬†Peru’s Prior Consultation Law. In a¬†letter¬†to the Chinese Embassy in Lima last October, the new Platform called for revisions to China’s¬†Free Trade Agreement with Peru recognizing the right to prior consultation in any development activity.¬†(Global Voices, June 7; GREFI, April 2020)

CNPC,¬†one of the world’s largest¬†oil and gas companies, and has a growing footprint in Latin America, with operations in¬†Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil.

Photo via Andina