New Film that Documents Oil Contamination on Corrientes River

As the Achuar people of the Corrientes River fight a legal battle to force Argentinian oil driller PlusPetrol to clean up their waterways and pay for damages, a new film documenting their long struggle is sure to bolster their case.

Released this week, the short film “Unidos,” produced by Alan Fabregas and Xenia Sole, charts the historic contamination of the Corrientes over 40 years of the industry in the Peruvian Amazon.

“All the plants are drying up, the trees are drying up; they are disgracing our community,” said the apu (chosen leader) of the Achuar community of Nuevo Paraiso in a recent gathering of apus in the port city of Iquitos.

The filmmakers followed Andres Sandi Mucushua, president of the indigenous federation FECONACO, and other apus in their pursuit of legal strategies and direct action to bring justice to the organization’s 35 communities in the Corrientes River basin, which include Achuar, Urarinas and Quichua peoples.

August_spill_-_1_2Vidal Coa, a lawyer for FECONACO from Alianza Arkana’s legal partners PDDI — the Program in the Defense of Indigenous Rights — said many studies now support the Achuar’s claims that they’ve been continuously poisoned by a string of oil companies since the 1970s, including Peru’s national oil company Petroperu, U.S. driller Occidental Petroleum and, now, Argentinian firm PlusPetrol — called “the most intransigent” company operating in the Amazon by a prominent researcher from the Catholic Church.

Citing one such study from the Peruvian public health agency DIGESA, Coa says some two-thirds of the infant population on the Corrientes suffers from lead poisoning, and more than 99 percent of the population has been contaminated by cadmium.

Not only seeking damages, FECONACO recently raised the stakes by suing PlusPetrol for the historic use of their ancestral land, air and water in its pursuit of oil.

“Unidos” is available for viewing on Youtube


Deborah Rivett,Thursday, 17 May 2012