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Peru: Contesting Oil's Legacy

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[♪ Peruvian Music ♪] Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal For thirty years, Occidental Petroleum had the largest oil operation in Peru. Now a group of indigenous Peruvians has filed a class action lawsuit in the United States charging Occidental with contaminating the environment. In this segment we take a look at the region, the people, and the allegations behind this case. [bug noises] Contesting Oil's Legacy - Long OutPost, Inc. in association with Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. [female speaking Spanish] The Peruvian Amazon occupies three-quarters of Peru. Lily La Torre - Attorney The Amazonian region also has the most important hydrocarbon reserves. And there, as a matter of fact, 35 years ago in a zone called the Corrientes River on the border with Ecuador at the north of the Peruvian Amazon, they developed the first most important petroleum extractions in Peru. where they have, for 35 years, extracted 65% of the petroleum we consume in this country. In these lands live the indegenous tribe called the Achuar. [whacking ] have lived in harmony with nature. But in this zone, this community was gravely impacted by the petroleum extracting activities. Before, when this wasn't an oil drilling zone, we used to live happily. Abel Nango - Jose Olaya Community I was able to hunt huangana, sajino, paujil. Here are some plants that animals ate. but because of Occidental's contamination, there aren't any more animals. Now when we go hunting, our children wait at home thinking we will bring them animals. and so they get happy when we leave, but many times we don't find any animals now so we go home empty-handed. Repulic of Peru - School at Antioquia [bug noises] [teacher speaking spanish] Both animals and human beings need to breathe clean air. teacher>>What thing is contaminating the air? students>>Aiplane...Airplane. teacher>>What else? students>>Cars. teacher>>Since the animals breath the contaminated air, they, too, are effected. That is why, day-to-day, we want to improve our environment. When we do good things, we never arrive at negative results. Yes? Good... [birds chirping] [male speaking spanish] There wasn't any contamination. There were all kinds of fish here. Now there aren't any fish, everything has died. Termaron Azendavos - Environmental Monitor That's why we're complaining about what Occidental has done. Look here. There's nothing but crude oil: black, warm and steaming. We're being contaminated through the air, through the water, and the ground, too. They say, "We're not contaminating." They say, "This water is clean." "This is what they call "clean water." [bug noises] Welcome to Providence [female speaking spanish] I know very well that the Corrientes River is contaminated. Ana Hualinga - San Cristobal Community But, I still drink it because we don't have any other rivers with uncontaminated water. I feel the pain in my bones, over all my body. in my arms, legs, back, but above all, my bones. And my stomach hurts a lot. I can't walk like I did before I was sick. Many peole have died without the company ever taking responsibility. [bug noises] [male speaking spanish] When I was a child, I went to the farm with my parents. I saw how the crops grew well, how the fruits and the plants grew well. Tomas Maynas - Plaintiff, Occidental Lawsuit When I was young and was not the Apu (spiritual leader), I saw the oil workers arrive but I didn't know what was going to happen with the contamination. Look at this yucca, this hard one. It's impossible to eat it. Like the trunk of that papaya, the yuccas and the bananas are also dying. Before Oxy came, the fruits and the plants grew well. But since the company started operations, the plants began to die. Occidental arrived at a time when we didn't have knowledge of our rights. They told us the land wasn't ours - it was the State's and the oil company owned the subsoil. They said we had no rights to anything. Oxy has returned to the United States but I remain here, ill, and with my farm destroyed. I sued Oxy for contaminating my land. I want the case to stay in the United States. I don't believe in Peruvian justice. I've heard that they favor the powerful. The whites and mestizos (mixed races) discriminate against us because we're natives. Justice has always favored them despite the fact that we also have rights like theirs. Still, they never pay attention to us. Here, Peruvian justice doesn't respect us, the Achuar. [bug noises] [male speaking spanish] The oil companies think that when they destroy the forest or cut the trees that nothing happens and no damage occurs. As an Achuar, I don't think that way. Every large tree of the forest has its spirit, and those spirits guide us. Walter Kuji - VP, ATI (Indigenous Federation) If they destroy them, how are we going to be guided? That is what worries me about the destruction of the forest. It is horrible to think how we will live then. [bug noises] [♪ Peruvian Music ♪] Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal Massacred in the Mountains - Almost 70,000 people were killed in Peru's civil war between 1980 and 2000. Victims of the military and guerillas were largely poor peasants from the central highlands.(source: BBC) Alberto Fujimori, president from 1990 to 2000, is on trial for ordering two massacres. Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal Contesting Oil's Legacy - Producers: Duncan McLean, Sean Weber-Small, Kelly Hearn Produced in association with Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting "Foreign Exchange" is produced by Azimuth Media © Copyright Lone OutPost, Inc., 2008

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 26 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Director: Kelly Hearn
Views: 159
Posted by: pulitzercenter on Apr 24, 2008

As featured on Foreign Exchange. For 30 years, Occidental Petroleum conducted the largest oil operation in Peru. Now a group of indigenous Peruvians has filed a class action lawsuit in the United States, charging Occidental with contaminating their environment. In this segment, we take a look at the region, the people and the allegations behind this case.

Produced by Kelly Hearn, Duncan McLean and Sean Weber-Small.

Produced in association with Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

© Copyright Lone OutPost, Inc., 2008. For more information, visit www.pulitzercenter.org/showproject.cfm?id=32.

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