Sixty Indigenous communities from the Quechua, Achuar, and Kichwa People live in concert with their ancestral lands in Cuatro Cuencas; a remote corner of Peru’s Loreto region at the intersection of four watersheds. Many have lived in Loreto for centuries, drawing their cultural lives and livelihoods from local waters and forests.
Oil extraction has impacted Indigenous peoples in Cuatro Cuencas since the 1970s. The situation worsened in 2000 when the Peruvian government granted regional extraction rights to Dutch oil company Plus Petrol. Indigenous communities were not consulted prior to the onset of mining operations, and have not received compensation for the use of their lands.
Drilling operations in Loreto devastated ecosystems and community health outcomes in Loreto. For nearly two decades, the company dumped more than one million barrels of production water into local river systems each day. The water contained heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, barium, and cadmium. Additionally, cracks and breaks in poorly constructed oil wells continue to leak hydrocarbons into the environment. These abuses and others have poisoned Loreto’s rivers, wildlife, and plant life.
The Indigenous communities who rely upon these natural resources for survival have in turn ingested and suffered from the contaminants. A report published by the Peruvian government in 2019 attributed the high incidence of multiple cancers, congenital diseases, cognitive impairments, and high mortality rates to regional oil drilling. Although PlusPetrol ceased mining operations in Loreto in 2015, no less than 2000 polluted sites remain unaddressed.
On March 21st, the people of Loreto will seek reparations in recognition of the harms caused by the Peruvian State and PlusPetrol. The right to a clean and healthy environment is a human right. Join us as we #StandWithLoreto in their fight for environmental justice.