An assembly of social organizations in the Amazonian region of Loreto voted Thursday to carry out another 48-hour strike starting Friday to protest the government's privatization move to allocate an oil lot to a Canadian company for two years instead of the country's state-owned company.
Lot 192 – which is the source of 17 percent of the national crude production – has been handed out to a “mafia-company,” said the region's president of Patriotic Front Americo Menendez, referring to the Canadian Pacific Stratus Energy.
Nevertheless, he added, the assembly also voted in favor of maintaining the talks with the government, in order to negotiate various demands, including the creation of a compensation fund of about US$112 million, in addition to an inversion of about US$625 million in the area.
In Colombia, Pacific Stratus Energy allegedly hires killers against social leaders who oppose the exploitation, claimed President of Federation of Native Communities from the River Tigre Fernando Chuje.
He added that the government had 48 hours to send a commission and seek solutions to the Indigenous demands, including the creation of a fund to compensate for 40 years of exploitation of this lot and an increase on the 0.75 percent of profits currently offered by the government to their members.
Protesters in Loreto say they are not only fighting to nationalize Lot 192 oil field, but they are also struggling against the centralized power of the government in an effort to defend the regional economy.
If not, he warned that over 10,000 people will block the boat traffic on the river, and will seize the wells and other constructions of the lot.
Minister of Mines and Energy Rosa Maria Ortiz has indicated that the state company PetroPeru will start a process of restructuration and modernization in the next 270 days to prepare it to compete against the Canadian company in two years, when the concession ends.
Lot 192 is comprised of areas inhabited by the communities of the river basins of Pastaza, Tigre, and Corrientes.
The leaders of the Apus Indigenous people in the area have been protesting for years, demanding respect for their people and reparations for environmental destruction caused by oil companies.