Canadian oil company signs deal to explore uncontacted tribes’ land

May 13, 2009

Petrolifera logo © Survival

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A Canadian oil company has signed a deal with Peru’s government allowing it to explore land inhabited by one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes.

The company, Petrolifera, has reached an agreement to explore almost four thousand square kilometres of a remote part of Peru where uncontacted Cacataibo Indians live. Two local organisations, the Instituto del Bien Comun (IBC) and FENACOCA, have previously asked the government to turn the area into a reserve for the Indians.

The uncontacted Cacataibo have been split into two groups by a highway that connects the remote Amazon to Peru’s capital city, Lima. The highway was built in the 1940s and since then it is believed that the two groups have been unable to meet each other.

Petrolifera already has a license to work in land nearby where uncontacted Cacataibo also live. They have conducted seismic tests using dynamite there, and the IBC and FENACOCA have appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to stop them. Despite this the Petrolifera CEO, Richard Gusella, has described his company as a ‘poster child’ for companies interacting with local communities.

According to an IBC spokesman, Petrolifera’s seismic tests led to a number of sightings of uncontacted Indians by company workers.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Despite so much publicity about uncontacted tribes in the world’s press over the last year, Peru continues to turn a blind eye to the rights, lives and livelihoods of its most vulnerable citizens.’

Watch Survival's short film 'Uncontacted Tribes'

For more information and images please contact Miriam Ross on (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]

You can also contact IBC on [email protected]

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru