Success for the Wampís as Geopark withdraws its participation from oil field on Wampís territory

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On Wednesday July 15th, Geopark announced they were canceling their contract with State-owned Petroperú for the exploitation of Lot 64, a 761,501 hectare oil field stretching across the territories of both the Wampís and neighbouring Achuar Indigenous People in the northern Amazon, Peru.

This success is the result of many years of campaigning by the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampís Nation (GTANW) and the Federation of the Achuar Nationality of Peru (FENAP) who recently launched the Atsá Geoparkka campaign, meaning No To Geopark.

Back in April, as the risk of COVID-19 spread across Peru and the Amazon, the Wampís took affirmative action to close their territory in order protect the health and integrity of their 85 communities. They also asked all extractive activities and workers to leave their territory. Size of Wales signed Amazon Watch’s Statement of Solidarity, along with 200 other Indigenous and international organisations, calling for governments to heed the wishes of Amazonian Indigenous Peoples and halt all extractive activities including mining, oil and logging.

Despite these efforts and the Peruvian government’s strict lockdown measures, the project maintained its presence in the Morona River basin, Loreto. Wampís community reported that Geopark staff also continued to travel into their territory from nearby towns San Lorenzo and Iquitos that already had confirmed cases of COVID-19. Geopark denied these allegations.

The Wampís and EarthRights International filed a criminal complaint against the oil company GeoPark Peru S.A.C on 25th May 2020 for continuing its operations during the health crisis, on the grounds that it was endangering Indigenous populations by increasing the risk of contagion of COVID-19.

The Wampís Nation and Achuar People also claim that the lot in question had not received the free, prior and informed consent required of both Indigenous groups. Furthermore, it had not received the necessary permits from the Peruvian Government, nor had a satisfactory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved. With this, and continuous other difficulties to progress the extraction of the oil field, Geopark withdrew their participation.

Whilst the lot is a priority of the Ministry of Energy and currently is not cancelled, its future is looking uncertain. Geopark held 75% of the project, with Petroperú holding the remaining 25%. State-owned Petroperú have 30 days from the day of Geopark’s announcement – 15th July – to decide if they will assume the full operation and take on the remainder of the investment.

Size in Wales, in partnership with Forest Peoples Programme continue to support GTANW at this critical time. In the era of climate change, it’s essential that destructive oil extraction and other harmful extractive industries like mining and logging need to cease in the Amazon, along with other commodity-driven drivers of deforestation. Furthermore, actions and policy measures that threaten the rights of the Wampís must cease, and instead, efforts should be made to support their continuing action to realise their rights and collective control of forests, rivers, and other natural resources within their ancestral territory.

At a press conference held on 22nd July 2020, Wrays Pérez, the Pamuk (president) of the GTANW said:

“What we want to do is to defend nature, our source of life. Not just our source of life, but for all humanity and future generations. We have international commitments, where everyone agreed to stop using fossil fuels so that’s what we’re doing and we want them out of our territory…The territory that everyone calls the lungs of the earth. These lungs are getting sick.”

We will keep you posted regarding Petroperú’s decision. But for now, please join us in sending your congratulations and solidarity to the Wampís and the Achuar for protecting their forest, their home and their people.

Kathia Carrillo

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