Monday, May 08, 2006

Visit to the Lower Urubamba Valley Part 2

Summary of our trip for the Amazon Update (Amazon Alliance Newletter):

From April 23-25, 2006 a delegation organized by Oxfam America and including the Wallace Global Fund, the US Catholic Bishops' Conference, World Wildlife Fund Peru, Escuela para el Desarrollo, the Consejo Machiguenga del Rio Urubamba (COMARU), the Central de Comunidades Nativas Machiguengas (CECONAMA) and Amazon Alliance visited the Camisea Project including the installations of PlusPetrol at Malvinas and three Machiguenga communities: Chocoriari, Timpia, and Shivankoreni.

The delegation found disagreement between the company claims of strong environmental protections and social sensitivity and the reports from indigenous community members that the project that had contaminated their water sources, affected nutrition, and left little local benefit. Machiguenga communities in the area complain that the project has left them without fish in the rivers to eat and disrupted their traditional lifestyles.

The communities also expressed great dissatisfaction with the process of negotiating with companies for the use of their territories. They were particularly critical of pipeline consortium, Transportadora de Gas del Peru (TGP) and described being pressured into signing agreements with which they were not satisfied. The Machiguenga community of Timpia, which is receiving $65,000 for a 33 year easement of their territory for the pipeline, found themselves out-negotiated by the company’s trained lawyers. Neighboring community, Chocoriari will receive $60,000 for 33 years use of their territory which amounts to approximately $20 per family per year. After several pipeline spills in less than two years of operation, communities are worried about further contamination and feel that they have not been adequately compensated.

The presence of federal government regulation in the project is weak and is perceived by local communities as unfairly supporting company interests. Meanwhile, health and education needs are unmet in the Lower Urubamba region. Company personnel and Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines are quick to blame local and regional government officials for not investing more of the project’s royalties in the region. Communities however, are looking to their indigenous federations and non-governmental allies for assistance and objective support in evaluating the project and its impacts on their territories.

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