from Weekly News Update on the Americas

Residents of the Machiguenga and other indigenous communities of the lower Urubamba river area in Peru’s Ucayali region began a 72-hour strike on Dec. 2 to protest the government’s failure to address the problems caused by gas spills on the Camisea pipeline. The strike was prompted by a spill of at least 5,000 barrels of condensed liquid gas on Nov. 24 in the Machiguenga Communal Reserve near the Vilcabamba mountain range in Echarati district, which has affected the communities living in the Urubamba and Ucayali river basins. It was the fourth spill from the 430-mile long Camisea pipeline in less than a year. (El Diario del Cusco, Dec. 6 via Amazon Alliance; Dallas Business Journal online version, Dec. 8; Regional Indigenous Organization of Atalaya-OIRA, Nov. 30)

Edward Bendezu Palomino, general secretary of the Federation of Residents of the Lower Urubamba, said the situation of the indigenous communities in the area is desperate, since they can no longer eat local fish or drink the water. Residents are demanding that the government declare a state of emergency for the gas pipeline and halt all activities of the Transportadora de Gas del Peru (TGP) consortium until it offers security guarantees to prevent future spills. As a first step, the communities are demanding that a high-level commission with decision-making powers arrive in the zone within a week. Bendezu said the indigenous communities don’t trust the promises of the government or the company, since after the third spill it was promised that measures would be taken to prevent similar incidents. (EDdC, Dec. 6) TGP is a joint venture between the Dallas, Texas-based Hunt Oil, the Argentine company Techint and five other shareholders. (DBJ, Dec. 8)

On Dec. 5, members of the indigenous federations of the Lower Urubamba COMARU, CECONAMA and FECONAYY met in the indigenous community of Nuevo Mundo and resolved to continue their strike and blockade along the Urubamba river until Dec. 12. The groups are demanding a meeting in the community of Kirigueti between the indigenous federations, the managers of the TGP and Pluspetrol companies, and authorities from the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Supervisory Organization of Investment in Energy (OSINERG), along with district-level, provincial and departmental officials and members of the media from Lima and Cusco. The federations have 14 demands to be addressed at the meeting, including that the causes of the gas spill be determined; that the entire route of the Camisea gas pipeline be visually inspected; that the damages in indigenous communities be repaired, and all the affected communities compensated and provided with adequate medical services to monitor the impact of the spill on residents’ health; that self-sustaining fish farms be created in all the communities of the area in order to restore residents’ primary food supply; that the region be provided with electrical service and a gas distribution facility; and that indigenous workers on the Camisea project be paid wages on a par with the project’s foreign workers. (Joint communique from COMARU, CECONAMA, FECONAYY, Dec. 5 via Amazon Alliance)

Jeremias Sebastian Sandoval, president of the indigenous community of Miaria, said police committed acts of violence against his community on the first day of the strike, Dec. 2. Sandoval accused TGP of paying police agents to attack the indigenous protesters. (EDdC, Dec. 6)

According to Amazon Watch, a Washington, DC-based organization, the Nov. 24 spill has prompted a joint commission from Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and OSINERG to begin an emergency review of the Camisea pipeline situation. “We will have the results of an audit of the Camisea pipelines [soon], and these could lead to fines and even to the operator losing the concession if it failed to comply with the technical norms of the contract,” said Gustavo Navarro, director of the state oil and gas company Hidrocarburos de Peru, in an interview with Reuters. (DBJ, Dec. 8)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 11


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also WW4 REPORT #115

See also our last update on Peru:


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Jan. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution