Monday, May 13, 2013

Canadian oil company threatens the survival of Peru’s ‘Jaguar people’

Sarah Gilbertz in the Ecologist: The Yaquerana River in the Amazon rainforest marks the border between Peru and Brazil, but to the Matsés tribe, who live on both sides of it, this international border is meaningless. To them the streams, floodplains, and white-sand forests make up an ancestral territory that is shared by the entire tribe.

Today they are at risk of losing their land to a Canadian oil company which plans to cut hundreds of miles of seismic testing lines through their forest home and to drill exploratory wells.

There are around 2,200 Matsés living on the Peru-Brazil frontier in the Amazon rainforest. They hunt, fish and grow crops in their gardens; little is imported into their communities and most of what they need for survival comes from the rainforest. These communities live close to the riverbank, and every morning before the children go to school, they will join their parents and to catch the day’s fish.

....In 2012, the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales began to explore for oil on part of the Matsés’ ancestral land. The $36 million project will see hundreds of seismic lines cut through 700 sq km of forest, and wells drilled in search of oil, affecting the headwaters of three major rivers that are essential to the Matsés’ livelihoods.

The Matsés are worried about the future of their forest and their own survival. In a rare interview with Survival International, Antonina Duni Goya Nesho, a Matsés woman, said “Oil will destroy the place where our rivers are born.  What will happen to the fish?  What will the animals drink?”...

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