The oil development in Loreto known as Block 192 has long been a source of contention, involving local indigenous communities in the four river valleys affected. Recently, conflict has flared over the government’s efforts to award a new contract. The need for a new contract has been the result of the withdrawal of the Argentine firm Pluspetrol in 2015.
The Canadian company Frontera Energy has a two-year contract to operate the site, but has not produced any oil since the Achua, Quechua and Kichwa peoples took control on 18 September.
The communities have been insisting on a response to their demand for appropriate consultation. They claim that they have suffered the downside of oil exploitation in Loreto for 45 years. On 31 October, a new agreement was reached and signed in Loreto between the government and the Federations representing the communities, following negotiations in Lima. The government has committed to implementing the ‘indigenous rights’ law before awarding any contract. The law enshrines the communities’ most insistent demand – their right to prior consultation. The government has also promised an emergency health care programme and the creation of a commission to direct environmental clean-ups. Frontera will be summoned to take part in dialogue.
Breakdown has followed progress before, most recently in August this year. We cannot be too optimistic, but this time it needs to be different.