Crossed spears left by uncontacted Indians in the region where Perenco is working.
Crossed spears left by uncontacted Indians in the region where Perenco is working.
© Marek Wolodzko/AIDESEP

A gunboat belonging to Peru’s armed forces has broken through an Indian river blockade in the northern Peruvian Amazon.

The gunboat, together with at least one boat belonging to Anglo-French oil company Perenco, broke the blockade at 5:15 am on 4 May. The blockade, organised by local indigenous people, is on the Napo river, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon.

Peru’s indigenous organisation, AIDESEP, condemned the use of a boat belonging to the armed forces, describing it as a ‘use and abuse of their power’. The blockade forms part of Amazon-wide protests by Peru’s indigenous people against government policies and the invasion of their territories by multinational companies. The protests have been going on for almost a month.

Perenco holds the licence to work in a remote part of Peru known as Lot 67, accessible via the Napo River. It is an area inhabited by at least two of the world’s last uncontacted tribes – the company is under increasing pressure to withdraw from the project.

Less than a fortnight ago Perenco’s chairman, Francois Perrodo, met Peru’s president, Alan Garcia, in the presidential palace in Lima, pledging to invest US$2 billion in Lot 67. Just days later the government passed a law declaring Perenco’s work a ‘national necessity’.