New Internationalist

The big clash - indigenous v multinationals

The big clash - indigenous v multinationals

If you thought that Peru's government might be having second thoughts about sacrificing the lives of its people to the needs of multinational oil companies, think again.

Just 13 days after what Survival International is calling 'Amazon's Tiananmen' in which more than 30 indigenous people were massacred, Alan Garcia's government has given the green light to the Anglo-French company Perenco to drill for oil.

The project, located on land inhabited by two tribes of un-contacted Indians, is believed to be Peru's biggest oil discovery in thirty years. The company, Perenco, a major gas supplier to the UK, has in the past denied any un-contacted Indians live there.

Until recently, Perenco had been blocked from entering the area by local indigenous protesters. With help from Peru's armed forces, the company managed to break through the blockade on at least one occasion. 

For the full story see Survival International on

And for a view on what the indigenous struggle means for all of us, see this piece by seasoned Peruvian activist Hugo Blanco, which appears on Derek Wall's blog:

In The Indigenous struggle for humanity, Hugo Blanco writes:

'The increasing damage to indigenous and rural people is sharpening the contradiction between big business and the mass of humanity both urban and rural.
In an indigenous community, when an individual endangers others, the solution is collective, not individualistic.
If the action of a company harms the people, the people must act, not the ‘authorities’ or the company.
While capitalism does what it wants with money, regardless of the damage to nature, whether it is damaging to humanity or not, the extinction of our species will be certain, the environmental measures as a palliative will be negligible to the scale of the problem.
With the logic of the indigenous community, the human community at large, rural and urban, indigenous and non-indigenous, must determine the behavior of mankind with nature and not big business. Decisions to build or to not build mines, factories, hydroelectric plants, airports, dams, should be decided by the community and not by companies.
Or with capitalist individualism the decision will destroy the whole of humanity including the capitalists.'

Hugo Blanco, March 2009 (translated by Derek Wall)

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About the author

Vanessa Baird a New Internationalist contributor

Vanessa Baird lived and worked as a journalist in Peru during the tumultuous mid-1980s, and she maintains a passionate interest in South America. She joined New Internationalist as a co-editor in 1986 and since then has written on everything from migration, money, religion and equality to indigenous activism, climate change, feminism and global LGBT rights. She also edits the Mixed Media, arts and culture section of the magazine.

Vanessa’s books include The No-Nonsense Guide to World Population (2011), Sex, Love and Homophobia (2004), The Little Book of Big Ideas (2009) and, People First Economics (2010). In 2012 she won a prestigious Amnesty International Human Rights Media award.

Read more by Vanessa Baird

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