from Weekly News Update on the Americas
On Sept. 30, residents of the districts of Atalaya, Sepahua and Tahuania in the Peruvian Amazon held a 24-hour strike protesting the contamination of the region’s rivers by the Camisea natural gas project. The same day, thousands of Ashaninka, Yine Yame and Shipibo indigenous people, armed with spears and arrows, set up a river blockade in the districts of Tahuania and Sepahua, preventing ships serving the Camisea project from passing through the zone. The indigenous people, backed by Atalaya mayor Dante Navarro and the regional government of Ucayali, are demanding that the government allot 12.5% of the Camisea royalties to Ucayali to compensate for the damages the gas project causes. “We have waited eight months and we have received no response, so the dialogue has run out,” said Edwin Vasquez, president of Ucayali region.
Navarro said the blockade would go on until the government agrees to the royalty demand. “The contamination of the Ucayali and Urubamba rivers has left us almost without fish, the main food source for our people,” said Navarro. Ucayali Natural Resources Manager Edgar Tapia says the increase in river traffic and pollution caused by ships bringing supplies to Camisea has reduced aquatic species in the Ucayali and Urubamba rivers by 60%. “Our rivers have become a trash dump, and the result is that our people are poisoned and with skin diseases,” said Sepahua mayor Nicolas Salcedo.
In less than nine months Camisea’s liquid gas pipeline has ruptured three times. A rupture last Dec. 22 contaminated the Urubamba river and prompted a protest by Machiguenga communities in the area. A Sept. 16 leak in the pipeline in Ayacucho–which followed an Aug. 29 leak in the same region–contaminated the Chunchubamba river and forced the government to declare all Camisea operations in a state of emergency and to evacuate more than 200 families from the community of Tocatten. (Servindi, Oct. 4)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct 9
On Oct. 16 residents of the town of Atalaya took control of the airport there. The communities have also blockaded the new highway linking Atalaya to Satipo. The indigenous people of the region say they will seize the main camp of the Camisea gasfields if their demands for compensation are not met. (Adital, Brazil, Oct. 18)
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct 23
Weekly News Update on the Americas
See also WW4 REPORT #113
See also our special report on the Camisea project:
Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Nov. 1, 2005
Reprinting permissible with attribution