Indigenous People Send Ultimatum to Ray Hunt: ‘Get Your Oil Company Out of Our Protected Areas’

November 17, 2009

As deadline approaches, tensions rise again in the Peruvian Amazon

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In a recent letter to Hunt Oil Company President Ray Hunt, the Native Federation of the Rio Madre de Dios (FENAMAD) gave Hunt until this week to leave the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in the southern Peruvian Amazon as a condition to continuing any further talks.

“Having peacefully exhausted all protest, without receiving any answer, we hereby communicate that we have agreed to a fifteen-day period for you to definitively withdraw from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve since you do not have the indigenous community’s consent,” states FENAMAD’s letter.

Hunt Oil is starting seismic exploration in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in oil block 76. The company is constructing 166 exploration camps with heliports and over 1,000 workers will clear eighteen seismic lines with 20,000 detonation points in the most sensitive areas of the reserve.

The Amarakaeri Reserve — encompassing the headwaters of several important river basins, and in the buffer zones of Manu and Bahuaja Sonene National Parks — was first established in 2002 to protect the rainforest area of the vast Madre de Dios and Karene watersheds and to provide protected zones for the Harakmbut indigenous peoples to live, fish, and hunt.

The Reserve was opened up for oil drilling by Hunt when the Peruvian National Service for State Protected Natural Areas changed the reserve’s “Master Plan” to eliminate the area’s designation as a “Strict Protection Zone,” calling it instead a “Wild Zone.”

Ten indigenous communities live around the reserve, which is their ancestral territory. They were never consulted by the Peruvian government or Hunt Oil and oppose the operations. FENAMAD has repeatedly protested the company’s operations and recently filed an injunction against Hunt based on the potential damage to the watershed and the lack of consultation.

“First we want you to leave our home, then we will invite you to talk,” stated a local indigenous leader.

“After the horrific events in Bagua last June, indigenous leaders and the Peruvian government have made progress at the discussion table. Now the government is pushing ahead to drill for oil in some of the most sensitive regions of the Amazon once again without consulting the indigenous peoples living there,” said Gregor MacLennan, Peru Program Coordinator at Amazon Watch.

SOURCE Amazon Watch

Source: newswire

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