Indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon have detained a group of Peruvian and foreign tourists, including citizens of the United Kingdom and the United States, in protest at the lack of government assistance following an oil spill in the region.
“[We want] We have foreigners and Peruvians, about 70, to get the government’s attention with this action,” Watson Trujillo, the leader of the Cuninico community, told RPP Radio.
Citizens of France, Spain and Switzerland are also among the tourists detained while traveling on river boats.
Trujillo said his group would take “drastic measures” to pressure the government to send a delegation to assess the environmental damage caused by the September 16 spill of 2,500 tons of oil into the Cugninico river. ‘, he said.
Detainees will spend the night on board while waiting for the situation to be resolved, he added. Trujillo said he would consider returning to the boat on Friday to see if he could be released.
The government and police have not commented on the incident in a tributary of the Maranhão River.
Indigenous communities had already blocked the passage of all ships on the river in protest of the spill caused by the rupture of the Norperuano oil pipeline.
On September 27, the government declared a 90-day state of emergency for the region. The area is home to the communities of Kuninico and Uralinas, home to approximately 2,500 indigenous people.
Owned by state-owned company Petropel, the 800-kilometer Norperuano pipeline was built 40 years ago to transport crude oil from the Amazon region to the coastal Piura.
According to Petroperu, the spill was the result of an intentional 21cm cut in the pipeline.