‘Scare the uncontacted tribes or tell them to go home,’ advises Perenco

May 8, 2010

Evidence of uncontacted tribes in south-east Peru. A lot of evidence for the tribes has also been found in the region where Perenco hopes to work. © C Fagan/Round River Conservation Studies

This page was created in 2010 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Oil company Perenco has released a plan revealing how its workers would react if they meet any uncontacted Indians.

Perenco, chaired by one of France’s wealthiest men, is hoping to build a pipeline into one of the remotest parts of the Peruvian Amazon.

The plan outlines potential scenarios and describes how its workers would react if contact is made:

• ‘Our workers will speak in loud voices, in a peaceful way, in order to establish friendly communication (with the uncontacted tribes).’
• ‘They would use gestures, or draw on the ground, or use other methods to make themselves understood.’
• ‘It is important to persuade them to return to their settlements.’
• ‘If attacked, the native guides will use flare-guns or smoke canisters, firing into the air in order to scare and repel them.’

The area where Perenco is working is one of the most biodiverse regions in South America and home to at least two of the world’s last uncontacted tribes. Perenco denies the tribes exist, but it has been requested to prepare a plan in case of contact by Peru’s Energy Ministry. The Ministry has sent the plan to the government’s Indigenous affairs department, INDEPA, for its consideration.

Perenco’s plan was made public on the Energy Ministry’s website. The pipeline it hopes to build is expected to be 207 kms long and affect the rainforest for 500 metres on either side.

The aim of the pipeline is to help transport huge oil deposits, declared commercially viable several years ago, from the remote Amazon to Peru’s Pacific Coast. Spanish-Argentine oil giant Repsol-YPF and ConocoPhillips are currently hoping to explore for oil in the same region.

Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘It’s difficult to know what’s more disturbing about Perenco’s plan: the fact that it still claims the uncontacted tribes don’t exist, or its extraordinary admission its workers will deliberately scare the tribes or tell them to go home. The Indians simply want to be left alone, and have that right.’

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru