Pacific Energy Worried after Indigenous Federation Action

On Friday, October 12, Humberto Sampayo, president of ORDIM (Organization for the Development of Indigenous People of Masisea – district branch of AIDESEP), received a call from the Pacific Energy company to come to a meeting in their office in Pucallpa. When he arrived, two women greeted him who he was told were specialists in community relations. They said that they had were concerned about things they had been hearing on the radio and on the internet that ORDIM was responsible for organizing a workshop in Santa Rosa de Tamaya Tipischca in opposition of the oil company. They said that they were worried because they had offered to give ORDIM money for a laptop and printer, and now they weren’t so sure if ORDIM was going to be on their side and that it seemed that they were “stabbing them in the back.”

To which Mr. Sampayo replied, “The ONLY responsibility of ORDIM is to protect and defend the communities that we represent. Your company said that there would not be any negative impacts, but you haven’t even begun drilling, and families are already having to move out of their houses because of the noise from your helicopters. We held the meeting in Santa Rosa to inform the people of their rights and to listen to them and we will continue to do so. You cannot keep us quiet over a laptop, better yet, we reject your offer, and we are closing the doors to your company.”

The community relations specialist at Pacific were talking about the recent workshop organized by Alianza Arkana, Earth Rights International and ORDIM as a response to the oil company’s entrance into the Abujao River, a tributary of the Ucayali River. The aim of the workshop was to inform the communities of their rights, share experiences with communities who have already had years of experience with oil companies, explain oil company strategies to gain entrance into communities,  and create unity between the indigenous and non-indigenous villages in the Abujao River Basin.

The offering of money, equipment like laptops and other incentives to indigenous leaders is just one of the dirty tricks companies utilize to create division as they encroach upon indigenous territores. But it would seem that this time their plans backfired.

Pacific is currently hiring community members in the Abujao Basin to begin seismic testing, a environmentally damaging process that involves detonating explosive charges in the ground to detect the presence of petroleum.

Deborah Rivett, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

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