On March 21st, 2023, the elders representing more than 60 Indigenous communities from Peru’s Loreto Region will fight for their territorial rights at a hearing before Loreto’s Appeal Court. Read on to learn more about the case and how you can show support for the defenders of Peru’s northern rainforest. 

History of the Case 

The PlusPetrol oil company first acquired extraction rights in Loreto from the Peruvian State in 2000. Indigenous communities were not consulted prior to the onset of mining operations, nor were they compensated for the use of their lands. 

Oil drilling by PlusPetrol has since devastated ecosystems and community health outcomes in Loreto. More than fifteen years of dumping polluted water into local rivers and leaky oil pipelines have released heavy metals into the environment, including lead, cadmium, barium, and arsenic. These toxins have likewise shown up in the bloodstreams of affected community members. A government report from 2019 attributed multiple cancers, congenital diseases, cognitive impairments, and high mortality rates to pollution caused by PlusPetrol. 

In 2015, the Quechua, Achuar, Kichwa and Kukama communities sued the State and Pluspetrol for the violation of their territorial rights. They demanded that the State formally grant regional Indigenous communities formal title to their lands. They also sought financial reparations for the environmental and health damages caused by drilling operations. 

In September of 2021, the Mixed Court of Nauta declared the lawsuit filed by the communities partially founded. The State and Pluspetrol were ordered to pay the communities compensations for the use of their land, in addition to financial reparations for the violation of free prior, and informed consent. Finally, the State was directed to provide communities with formal title to their lands. 

The victory of Indigenous communities against the State and Plus Petrol was a landmark moment for the recognition of community land and resource rights. However, the Peruvian State and PlusPetrol have appealed the legal decision, which now proceeds to the Appeal Court of Loreto. 

Our Call to Action 

The security of justice for the Quechua, Achuar, Kichwa and Kukama Indigenous peoples of Loreto is entirely contingent upon the outcome of the appeal this March. If the communities do not win, they will not receive financial reparations or compensations. Further, the outcome of the case will set an important social and legal precedent for future land justice.

On March 21st, Land Rights Now will stand beside the Indigenous communities of Loreto as they fight to reclaim their ancestral lands in court. You can support our campaign by sending messages to the elders of Loreto, sharing our content on social media, and participating in a Twitter storm on March 20th-21st. 

How to Participate 

  1. Print our campaign poster OR write a supportive message to Loreto’s community leaders.
  2. Take a photo of the campaign poster OR the message of support somewhere in your hometown.
  3. Share your photos with us at landrightsnow@gmail.com. We ask that all photos/messages are shared with us no later than Sunday, March 19th .
  4. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @landrightsnow we also encourage you to share our content on social media with #StandWithLoreto.

An example of our call to action: “The Land Belongs to Its Defenders” in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Why Show Your Support

The 21st of March will define the future of Indigenous land rights in Loreto. A win for the Indigenous communities of Loreto would secure critical financial reparations and land title. A loss would overturn these entitlements, and result in a serious injustice for the Indigenous peoples whose health and livelihoods have suffered because of regional oil drilling. 

The case of Loreto also represents an important precedent for communities around the world seeking justice against extractive industry. If Loreto wins, we take an important step towards securing #landjustice for Indigenous and local peoples tenure security everywhere.