An indigenous Amazonian tribe in Peru seized a grounded military helicopter and kidnapped eight public officials last Sunday, after two recent oil spills on their ancestral land.
The “Wampis” are holding the officials hostage until the government agrees to clean up their polluted land and rivers.
Hostages include three employees of Petroperu (the state-owned energy company responsible for the spills) four officials with the OEFA (Peru’s version of the American EPA) and one official from the Energy and Mines Ministry.
The government-owned pipeline has sprung two leaks in the last two weeks, dumping 3000 barrels of oil onto the Wampis’ land, in Mayuriaga, and into at least two rivers, including a tributary to the Amazon River.
These are not the first spills caused by Petroperu. Environmental regulators have ordered the company to replace parts of it’s 40-year-old pipeline after repeated leaks over the last several years.
“Though officials refer to the second leak as ‘the Mayuriaga spill,’ because it took place in Mayuriaga, the government did not include the community in an official list of affected groups that would receive emergency supplies and attention,” The Daily Mirror reported.
Deputy Culture Minister Patricia Balbuena said a local government compiled the list, and it was not clear why it excluded Mayuriaga. “It’s a mistake that should be corrected as soon as possible.”
Perhaps, they’ll think twice before they make that mistake again. But then again, it’s not the first time the Peruvian government has overlooked the Wampis.
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