Anglo-French oil company threatens uncontacted tribes in Peruvian Amazon

August 18, 2022

François Perrodo, chairman of Perenco, with one of the cars from his extensive personal collection. © Facebook

Anglo-French oil company Perenco is lobbying Peru’s government to scrap a proposed reserve for uncontacted tribes – because it wants to continue drilling for oil there.

If the campaign is successful, it would place the uncontacted Indigenous peoples living in the proposed Napo-Tigre reserve in the northern Peruvian Amazon in extreme danger.

Perenco, headed by amateur racing driver François Perrodo, one of France’s richest men, has for years faced serious allegations of environmental and human rights abuses in Africa and Latin America, and its operations are notoriously secretive.

In Peru, Perenco has a long-standing history of opposition to the creation of the Napo-Tigre reserve for uncontacted tribes. Its recent action – filing a legal injunction objecting to the creation of the new reserve – is not an isolated action: The company, along with the authorities in the Loreto region, and powerful oil and gas interests, is also involved in a public campaign against the creation and protection of Indigenous reserves.

In April, they asked the government to repeal the National Law for the Protection of Indigenous Peoples in Isolation (known in Peru as the PIACI Law); they consistently deny the existence of uncontacted peoples; and in early August, the regional governor of Loreto wrote to the government requesting the “scrapping of the entire PIACI process.”

Francois Perrodo meeting then-President of Peru Alan Garcia. © Sepres

Peruvian Indigenous organizations ORPIO and AIDESEP, together with Survival International, have voiced dismay at these attacks:

“Perenco is violating the human rights of our uncontacted brothers and sisters,” said Apu Jorge Pérez, President of AIDESEP, the Indigenous organization of the Peruvian Amazon.

Aerial images of malocas (communal houses) of uncontacted people in Napo-Tigre Indigenous Reserve, 2019. © ORPIO

On July 25, the official Commission in charge of creating the Reserve finally recognized the existence of uncontacted Indigenous peoples in the Napo-Tigre area, after a long campaign by Indigenous organizations. This vital step towards their protection had taken almost 20 years.

But Perenco’s lawsuit, and the regional government’s campaign, are aimed at undermining the process before it’s complete, and would once again endanger the survival of the uncontacted tribes, the most vulnerable peoples on the planet.

Survival International researcher Teresa Mayo said today: ’Peru’s government has finally recognized the existence of the uncontacted tribes of the Napo-Tigre territory – it mustn’t turn its back on them now. The Peruvian state now has an obligation to act swiftly to create and protect the reserve. We won’t allow it to give in to pressure from big corporations, no matter how powerful they may be.”

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru