By Ronald Suarez, Network of Peruvian Indigenous Communicators, Ucayali
Over 400 villagers in the Native Community of Canan de Cachiaco in the Ucayali region of the Peruvian Amazon have taken control of nine oil wells, belonging to oil company, Maple Gas, in oil lot 31B.
Community members took over the oil wells on September 2nd, and continue to hold them as a result of 37 years of oil contamination in their territory by the company.
The community leader, Basilio Rodriguez Venancio, said the action was made necessary because the company did not consider the environmental impact assessment carried out by an independent consultant.
The community is demanding that the company pay them compensation for the use of their lands and for the environmental damage they have suffered for 37 years. Such damage includes the contamination of their rivers, their only source of drinking water, and the contamination of their soils due to the company’s use of chemicals and heavy minerals, which the population says has significantly affected the productivity of their land.
Several community members testified that they have become sick due to the company’s negligence and contamination of their drinking water. There have been several instances in the past years of cancer and ¨unknown deaths¨ that the community attributes to company abuses.
The community awaits the arrival of state representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Mines and Ministry of Environment, scheduled for Thursday, September 13th, to resolve this conflict.
Meanwhile the villagers are still stationed in the camp until authorities settle their claims.