Peru: Ship Held in Protest for Pollution Released

LIMA (HPD) — The ship that was held in Peru by an indigenous community from the Amazon is released a day after being intercepted with 23 foreign tourists and 75 Peruvian passengers on board as a protest against oil contamination in the area due to two oil spills. the state Petroperú and the lack of attention from the State.

The head of the Cuninico community, Wadson Trujillo, informed The Associated Press by telephone on Friday that the boat left at 1:45 p.m. local time (1845GMT) with all its passengers heading for the city of Iquitos, the main city in the Amazon. Peruvian. However, he warned that they will continue to protest and block the passage of boats through the Marañón River until they receive the help and attention they demand from the State.

“We have been forced to take this measure to draw the attention of a State that has not served us for eight years, not just for weeks or months,” he justified earlier, giving voice to the claims of a community of around 1,000 members. which is in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon and is inaccessible by road.

Prime Minister Aníbal Torres alluded to the problem on Friday in a public activity, replying that the “evils of 200 years of republican life cannot be resolved in one day, in a few months or in a few years.” He also launched an accusation against the native communities since some of their members “are the ones who cut the pipeline and then claim repairs and compensation.”

The Cuninico community leader denied the Prime Minister’s accusations. In October, the state-owned company Petroperú reported that the prosecutor’s office had confirmed that the September oil spill, which spread through the Cuninico River and reached the Marañón River, “was the result of an intentional cut carried out by third parties.”

The 23 foreigners who saw their route interrupted with the retention of the ship since the day before are of German, British, Spanish and French nationality. The indigenous leader did not give details of their names, the number of people from each country or their ages, but he guaranteed that everyone was in good health and that they could get on and off the ship without impediment. The HPD was unable to contact any tourists or Peruvians traveling on the boat.

Trujillo asked the government of President Pedro Castillo to declare an emergency in the area so that his community can be properly attended to in the face of the effects of oil contamination. The community leader bitterly recalled that the two oil spills, the first in 2014 and the second in mid-September this year, “have caused a lot of damage” to the population that depends on the river’s water and fish, which are part of your staple diet.

They have had to “drink water and eat oil-contaminated fish without any government being concerned,” he complained, alluding to the current president but also to his predecessors.

The two oil spills affected not only Cuninico but also 79 indigenous communities, where there is often no drinking water, electricity, internet or telephone service.

The Peruvian Ministry of Health conducted blood and urine tests on 129 residents of Cuninico and San Pedro in 2016, two years after the first spill, and found that 50% of Cuninico and 16% of San Pedro had elevated levels of mercury and cadmium, above those recommended by the World Health Organization.

“Children have these poisons in their blood, people suffer from stomach problems, that happens every day,” Trujillo said.

Galo Vásquez, a leader of the Federation of United Cocama Peoples of the Marañón, which is in the area, told the HPD that his mother died in 2020 of cancer when she was 73 years old. Two other women died with diagnosed cancer and 29 died with the same symptoms without being seen by a doctor or diagnosed. “Drinking contaminated water and five governments doing nothing to solve it means that they want to exterminate us,” he claimed.

The ship that had been detained continued its route on the Marañón River. She had left Yurimaguas and her destination is Iquitos, the capital of the Loreto region and the main city of the Peruvian Amazon.

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