Friday, October 09, 2009

Peru Indian tribes join forces to fight off Amazon sale to oil companies

Times Online/UK, Oct 9, 2009

Achuar elders in Washintsa, Peru. The Government plans to auction off 75 per cent of the Amazon to companies

Ramita Navai in Washintsa, Peru

They emerged from the thick, green jungle clenching their spears: a long file of barefoot chiefs and elders, their faces painted with their tribal markings and crowns of red, blue and yellow parrot feathers.

They had been summoned by the chief of Washintsa village for a meeting to discuss an oil company’s efforts to buy the rights to their land. Most had travelled for hours, padding silently through the dark undergrowth.

They came from Achuar Indian communities scattered along the Pastaza River, one of the most remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon near the border with Ecuador.

These men are part of a growing resistance movement crystallising deep in the jungles of Peru. For the first time isolated indigenous groups are uniting to fight the Government’s plans to auction off 75 per cent of the Amazon — which accounts for nearly two thirds of the country’s territory — to oil, gas and mining companies.

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