People’s Permanent Tribunal condemns the actions of these multinationals
Dozens of NGOs and organizations defending the rights of indigenous people have accused three big oil companies of disregarding the rights of the indigenous peoples of the North of the Peruvian Amazon. The explorations and projects that these companies are carrying out in the so-called Blocks 39 and 67 of the Peruvian Amazon threaten the integrity of both the indigenous population and the workers of the oil companies themselves.
The US company Conoco-Phillips, together with its Spanish partner company Repsol-YPF, has asked the Peruvian Ministry of Energy authorization to open 454 kilometers of seismic lines and build 152 heliports in Block 39. If drilling is successful, they would require also a pipeline to transport crude oil to the Pacific coast of Peru. This region is home to at least two uncontacted tribes, which could become extinct if they make contact with the companies’ workers, since the indigenous people do not have immunity against diseases that the foreigners may introduce. This forest, apart from being one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world, has been proposed as an indigenous reserve.
The safety of the oil companies’ workers is also put at serious risk: there is the possibility that in previous works several workers may have been killed local tribes in the Yasuní National Park, located on the other side of the border with Ecuador. In previous explorations carried out by Repsol in this area workers were advised to protect themselves with a megaphone from the possible attacks of the tribes.
These actions in the Peruvian jungle have been granted Repsol-YPF the first place in the 2010 “Top 5 of the Hall of the shame”, a list created by the indigenous organization Survival International, which says these companies are the ones threatening the integrity of indigenous people the most in whole world. The oil company Perenco, which operates in a nearby area, shares the first place with the Spanish one.
Perenco, with similar projects
The Anglo-French company Perenco also has great interest in the region. It is estimated that the reserves of the so-called Block 67 are some 300 million barrels, and the company affirms that these fields could produce about 60,000 barrels a day. Despite the opposition of indigenist organizations, in April 2009 the development of Block 67 was declared a project of national need and interest, which allows the development of these projects without having to submit environmental impact studies.
The company has requested the Ministry of energy permission to build a 200 kilometers long pipeline that will cross the country and will impact 500 meters of forest on each of its sides.
Survival International, through its director, Stephen Corry, has accused these companies of neo-colonialism and has called for their withdrawal. “They perfectly represent what Columbus symbolizes today: the pursuit of money and profits at the expense of people who only want to be left in peace, in their own land. 518 years after Columbus arrived to America and its indigenous population was annihilated, isn’t it time to start treating the indigenous people of the world with a little respect?”
Tried and convicted by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT)
Within the Peoples’ Summit ‘Linking Alternatives IV’, held in Madrid on May 14 and 15, 2010, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) tried and sentenced the multinational Repsol-YPF corporation for its actions against the rights of indigenous people.
With a symbolic character, and a difficulty to actually bring these and other multinational corporations to justice, the “Court of opinion” condemned Repsol- YPF for “plundering and degrading the territories of the indigenous communities”. During the process, the “Court of opinion” highlighted the fact that the policies of Repsol in Peru “endanger the survival of isolated indigenous groups such as the Waorani, Tagaeri, Taromenane, Pananujuri, Arabela, and Aushiris”.
The creation of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) was inspired by the so-called “Russell Tribunal”, formed in 1966 by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell and seconded by Jean-Paul Sartre, French playwright and philosopher. This Court was established to judge the crimes committed by the USA during the Vietnam War. The PPT has pronounced sentences of consultative character on the Western Sahara, Eritrea and the Armenian genocide. More recently, the PPT has ruled against multinationals such as Repsol, Endesa and Enel; banks such as BBVA; and even the European Union, which are considered accomplices to the multinational corporations that violate the civil, economic, social and environmental rights of Latin Americans.
Survival International, “Repsol, en el ‘top 5 de la vergüenza’ de Survival por el Día de la Hispanidad” (Repsol, in Survival’s ‘top 5 Hall of shame’ in the Hispanity Day), October 11, 2010, http://www.survival.es/noticias/6569
Kaos en la red, “Perú: La selva de los indígenas no contactados, objetivo de Repsol-YPF” (Peru: the jungle of the uncontacted indigenous tribes, the target of Repsol-YPF), April 25, 2010, http://www.kaosenlared.net/noticia/peru-selva-indigenas-no-contactados-objetivo-repsol-ypf
Agencia Servindi, “Internacional: Califican a empresa Repsol líder en violar los derechos indígenas” (International: Repsol is named a leading company in the violation of indigenous people’s rights), October 14, 2010, http://servindi.org/actualidad/33395
Quién debe a quién; “Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos (TPP) sobre Empresas Transnacionales Europeas” (Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on European transnational companies), November 17, 2009, http://www.quiendebeaquien.org/spip.php?rubrique73
Diagonal, “Las prácticas sucias de las multinacionales” (The dirty practices of multinational companies), May 26, 2010, http://www.diagonalperiodico.net/Las-practicas-sucias-de-las.html
Voltairenet.org, “Depredación en tierras amazónicas” (Depredation in Amazonian lands), March 21, 2011, http://www.voltairenet.org/article169002.html
Ecologistas en acción; “Fallo del Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos” (Judgment of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT)), May 2010, http://www.ecologistasenaccion.org/article17567.html
Enlazando alternativas, “TPP: El Tribunal de las marcas” (PPT: The Tribunal of the brands), http://www.enlazandoalternativas.org/spip.php?article114
Europa Press, “Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos acusa a las multinacionales de violar los DDHH y a la UE de ‘cómplice’ (Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal accuses multinational companies of human rights violation and the EU of being an ‘accomplice’ of this), March 27, 2011, http://www.europapress.es/latam/sociedad/noticia-ue-alc-tribunal-permanente-pueblos-acusa-multinacionales-violar-ddhh-ue-complice-20100517141210.html
Alberto Ardèvol Abreu (University of La Laguna)
Ciro Enrique Hernández Rodríguez (University of La Laguna)
Cruz Alberto Martínez Arcos (University of London)
Samuel Toledano (University of La Laguna)