Since time immemorial, the Wampis and Achuar peoples have preserved, protected and defended their territories from external threats. Today the situation is not different. The integral territory of the Wampis Nation covers 1.3 million hectares of forests and water sources in the northern Amazon region of Peru, along the Santiago and Morona rivers, in the Amazonas and Loreto regions. In total, there are 85 communities represented by the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation (GTANW). The integral territory of the Achuar people, represented by the Federation of the Achuar Nationality of Peru (FENAP), covers a total of 802,000 hectares in the northern part of the Pastaza river and its tributaries (Huasaga, Manchari and Huitoyacu), as well as parts north of the Morona. FENAP is the coalition of three Achuar organizations that together represent 45 communities in the north of the Loreto region.
In 1995, oil lot 64, which overlaps with Achuar and Wampis territories, was created. Since then, both nations are fighting to stop the economical interests of the Peruvian State and the oil companies. In 2014, the lot was granted to Geopark, an oil company with headquarters in Chile. Its oil exploitation project, called “Morona / Situche Central”, implies the transport of crude oil, by means of a pipeline, from Achuar territory to Wampis territory, to then be transferred in barges along the Morona river to the pumping station no.4 of the North-Peruvian Pipeline.
Faced with this environmental threat and the violation of internationally recognized indigenous peoples rights, FENAP sued the Peruvian State and demanded the annulment of lot 64. In 2017, a court issued a favorable ruling to their demand, however, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture made an appeal. As the Peruvian government insisted on imposing the oil project in Achuar and Wampis territory, in 2018, FENAP and the GTANW decided to join forces and propose joint strategies to stop the threats to their territories.
In 2019, the Wampis Nation and the Achuar people succeeded in having the Peruvian authority SENACE, in charge of issuing environmental certification, observe the Environmental Impact Assessment presented by Geopark. As a result, the company had to withdraw its request for an environmental permit to operate lot 64.
Despite the fact that the Wampis and Achuar have been emphatic in their rejection of the Morona / Situche Central oil project in Lot 64; the company remained in their territories, even after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, on May 26 the GTANW filed a complaint against the company, demanding its immediate withdrawal, to avoid contagion of COVID-19.
Photos: Jacob Balzani