Peru’s indigenous people take battle over gas exploration to court

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Health, Human Rights, News
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http://m.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/jan/03/peru-indigenous-people-gas-exploration Peru’s biggest indigenous federation, the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (Aidesep), intends to use the courts to halt the planned $70m (£43m) expansion of the country’s largest natural gas reserve further into territory set aside for isolated Amazon tribes. Aidesep said the plans by Peru’s energy and mines ministry to increase exploration and drilling in Block 88, the largest gasfield leased by the Camisea consortium, risk the existence of nomadic groups living in “voluntary isolation” in the Nahua-Kupakagori indigenous reserve, 23% of which overlaps the gas block in the country’s south-eastern jungle. The expansion within the part of Block 88 has already been approved. It includes 18 new drilling sites and intensive seismic testing. Before Camisea became operational in 2004 – and ever since – indigenous and environmental groups have lobbied international lenders to prohibit further expansion within the reserve. However, Ivan Lanegra, the ministry of culture’s vice-minister for intercultural affairs, said the prohibition applies only to new projects. The Camisea consortium, led by Argentinian oil firm Pluspetrol and including Hunt Oil, a US firm, and Spain’s Repsol, can continue to drill new wells in the part of the gas block that overlaps the reserve, subject to approval by his ministry. Julio Ibanez, a lawyer for Aidesep, which serves as an umbrella group for 67 indigenous federations, said he will file a lawsuit against the Peruvian state in January because it has breached the “inviolability” of the reserve and threatened the “physical and cultural survival” of the “isolated peoples” who live in it. That could lead to their “extermination”, he said. The risks of “unwanted” contact are well-documented. Around 60% of the isolated Nahua people died during a series of epidemics after their first contact with outsiders soon after oil company Shell discovered the gasfields in 1984. Read the full report via UK guardian

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