to the community lands of Mayuriaga
and to our collective territory as a people."
Reuters/Antonio Escalante )
An Indigenous community
at the epicenter of the devastating oil spills in the Amazon
has taken 8 hostages in an attempt to force
the central government to pay attention to its plight
After learning that they would be excluded from an official state of emergency declared in the wake of two catastrophic oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon, members of the Wampis community of Mayuriaga stopped a helicopter from taking off late Sunday evening and held 8 officials hostage to force the government to respond to their desperate pleas for help.
More than a month after the spills devastated many Indigenous communities' water supplies, there is little end in sight to the suffering of those most affected.
Peru’s environmental regulator said
Petroperu’s two most recent spills had polluted at least two rivers,
including a tributary of the Amazon river.
Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP
The official state of emergency was declared by the central government on February 29th.
The spills contaminated the food and water supplies of 20 communities, a local Indigenous group reported, but the central government initially offered emergency assistance to only 16.
The grounded helicopter belonged to the Peruvian military, and it was transporting government and Petroperu officials to the region to inspect the damage from the spills.
It remains unclear whether officials have spoken with the tribe directly.
As of Tuesday, there have been no further reports regarding what meetings took place.
The state-owned oil company Petroperu was responsible for the pipeline breakages that led to the horrific spills that poured 3,000 barrels of oil into Amazon tributaries, causing "incalculable damage" to one of the most biodiverse areas of the tropical forest, according to Scientific American.
The Peruvian environmental regulator has stated that the recent spills were "not isolated incidents," RT reported, and that the oil company had failed to respond to 20 smaller spills from its pipelines in the Amazon since the regulatory body was formed in 2011.
One of the Petroperu officials taken hostage told the Peruvian news outlet RPP while he was being detained that the native community was respectful and peaceful.
He noted that the Mayuriaga community is simply attempting to ensure a meeting with government officials so that the tribe is finally provided the assistance it feels it is owed.
Despite the peaceful nature of the group's action, local non-profit news agency Servindi warned that Peruvian activists and humanitarian organizations fear,