Everything that is precious to the Achuar is under imminent threat from oil drilling and exploration in their ancestral territory.
The Peruvian government has divided up the Amazon into oil blocks and signed contracts with oil companies without consultation or the free, prior, and informed consent of the local indigenous population, whose lives are likely to be changed irrevocably by such operations. These actions contravene ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, of which Peru is a signatory.
Block 64, which overlaps most of Achuar territory, was first created in 1995. The Achuar have made clear their opposition to oil drilling and have successfully forced five international oil companies to withdraw from the block, most recently Talisman Energy from Calgary, Canada. Despite this the Peruvian State still does not recognise the Achuar’s decision and continues to offer this, and other new, neighbouring blocks, to interested companies.
The Achuar of the Pastaza’s resistance to petrol developments comes from their desire to protect the environment on which their lifestyle and identities depend. They are determined not allow a repetition of the tragedy which has befallen the land of their relatives, the Achuar of the river Corrientes, where the rivers and forests have been polluted and the local ecosystem destroyed by almost forty years of petrol operations. Given that their existence depends entirely upon the water, flora and fauna, any damage to these will inevitably have serious implications on their own wellbeing.
They are particularly worried about the health of their children. Clinical tests carried out by the Ministry of Health have shown that most of the children living in the petrol affected areas of Corrientes have dangerously high concentrations of lead in their blood.