Take physic, pomp

The Peru Amazon indigenous oil situation: a primer

I haven’t posted on this story much, but now that it’s becoming big it’s high time I got my finger out and said at least something.

The basic story is:

  • The Peru government sells Amazon basin exploration lots to international oil companies (Petrobras, Repsol, Talisman, Perenco, Petrolifera)
  • Indigenous locals are not consulted on the sale or the presence of foreign oil companies on what they consider ancestral land.
  • Peru government ignores the locals
  • Locals demand their legal right to consultations on the development and the right of veto on the projects as per Peruvian law
  • Peru gov’t ignores locals, announces to the world development for $1bn with this company, $2bn for that company etc
  • Locals protest, organize marches, petitions etc
  • Peru gov’t ignores locals, but wiser oil companies such as Petrolifera defer spudding timescales (from mid 2008 to “some time in 2010”) in order not to upset local populations
  • Local protests become more militant, block transport routes (typically rivers and waterways in the region), take over local plants etc
  • Peru gov’t declares a 60 day state of emergency, calls in the army, states that all laws and rights are suspended
  • Gov’t and locals sit down to negotiate
  • Gov’t says “stop protesting or we’ll crush you”
  • Locals give gov’t the seriously large finger.
There’s lots more to it, of course (for example the threat to supposedly protected indigenous communities that are watching their right to isolation get trampled upon), but that’s where we are today, people. Here’s a BBC World report that has the latest from a region that will never (and I repeat never) allow oil companies to operate. The combo of massive rejection of the oil business and the extreme isolation of the region makes it almost impossible for companies to operate successfully over a longer time period. The thing is that the oil companies have gone into these deals mainly in good faith; they’ve been promised that “the locals will behave” by Twobreakfasts and now the fat arrogant bastard is losing face with the international business community. This does not bode well for the safety of the locals when Alan sends the army in, sad to say.

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