Belo Monte :
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The Amazon forest is in danger : gas extraction progresses in spite of a decree and threatens isolated tribes

The Amazon forest is in danger : gas extraction progresses in spite of a decree and threatens isolated tribes

© Survival

In 2003 a decree signed by the government and the firms operating on the Camisea site forbade the development of gas operations. In the next few days the government (should) will disregard that decision, thus jeopardizing local tribes, especially those living in complete isolation.

Around twenty people met in London on April 23rd 2013 to send a letter signed by over 120,000 people to the Peruvian President, Ollanta Humada. For what purpose? To ask for all gas operations to be stopped in Camisea, in the southwest of Peru.

A consortium led by two Argentinian firms (Tecpetrol and Pluspetrol), along with four other international firms, intends to  conduct seismic testing and drill twenty wells in the rainforest. These ambitions could be fatal for (autochtonous) indigenous tribes. “These indigenous peoples are currently the most vulnerable in the world. They are not immunized against ordinary diseases. Actually the slightest contact can be lethal for them”, says Rebecca Spooner from Survival International, the NGO in charge of the London demonstration. According to her, during the first exploration stage in the 80s, “half the Nahua tribe disappeared”. “Besides diseases, these tribes depend on  land and wildlife which are severely disturbed, particularly because of water and air pollution.”

In March 2013, a letter sent by the UN to the Peruvian government emphasized these problems, indicating that the expansion of the project in Camisea “threatens the physical and cultural survival of the indigenous people living there.”

It also underlined the fact that (that) this project would affect the heart of the Nahua-Nanti reserve, created to protect the land and lives of local people, some of them living in “voluntary isolation” or “in initial contact” with the rest of the country.

It will be noted that on January 16th 2013, Pluspetrol, which manages the consortium in Camisea, was fined by the Peruvian government for an amount of 29 million soles (over €8 million). That fine was ratified for failure to comply with environmental obligations in the Amazon reserve of Pacay Samaria in the northeast of Peru.

- by Hugo Maltese / translation by Nadia Kadry

Date : 02/05/2013