Top-level talks with indigenous leaders over Block 192

21 September 2015

As we went to press, preparations were under way for a top-level meeting between the government and the leaders of indigenous groups from the Pastaza and Corrientes river valleys in northern Peru over remediation for damages caused by oil exploitation in the area. The high-level delegation was expected to include the prime minister, Pedro Cateriano, and the ministers of energy and mines, economy and finance, agriculture, defence, health, education and culture. Arrangements for the meeting were being brokered by Aidesep, an NGO with longstanding and close ties to Amazonian indigenous peoples.

Arrangements for the meeting followed the occupation by indigenous groups of oil fields and the local airport at Andoas in protest at what seemed like backsliding by the government on previous agreements to fund a comprehensive clean-up of environmental damage from Block 192. This has been run until recently by the Argentine company Pluspetrol, but its concession expired last month. Which company will succeeed Pluspetrol is still a matter of some doubt. For a comprehensive background to this long-running dispute, see PSG article.

Aidesep demanded as condition for talks the withdrawal of troops sent to Andoas following the occupation of the airport. It promised to guarantee the safety of the government delegation. The main items for discussion include the territorial claims of indigenous peoples in the area and the creation of both a development fund and an environmental remediation fund.

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