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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Peruvians and Amazon Tourists Held on Boat Released by Indigenous Protesters

According to the local media, none of the tourists suffered any physical harm

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PERU: Over 100 tourists and locals who had been detained on a boat for more than a day by indigenous protestors have now been freed to pressure the Peruvian government into taking action in response to oil spills in the Amazon region where they reside.

Since Thursday, the most prominent Amazon region of Peru, Loreto, has been home to the Indigenous Kukama, which has been holding a boatload of visitors from both Peru and outside, including US and European people and at least three British nationals.

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Native Amazonians were indignant about the September dump of about 2,500 barrels into the Cuninico River. Indigenous leaders warned that protests and river blockades would continue despite the tourists and locals’ release and transfer to another boat on Friday.

Watson Trujillo, the group’s leader, gave local media confirmation of the arrangement.

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“The right to life and respect for life must be paramount. In light of this, we are going to provide facilities so that the people who are on the boat can be transferred to their destinations,” according to Trujillo.

He claimed that in addition to his village’s roughly 1,000 residents, nearly 80 additional communities—many of which lack running water, power, or telephone lines—had also been impacted by the spills.

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According to the local media, none of the tourists suffered any physical harm.

Pregnant ladies, a newborn just one-month-old, persons with impairments, and those with diabetes were among those abducted while the boat was in motion.

According to media estimates, there are between 17 and 23 detainees who are foreign nationals, including Swiss, Americans, Spaniards, and French. The number of prisoners being held has been reported to be between 70 and 300.

Indigenous chiefs, whose villages have been severely impacted and depend heavily on fishing, hunting, and farming, disputed his comments.

The accident happened in the state-run NorPeruano pipeline, which has received severe criticism for its subpar maintenance despite being more than 40 years old. The duct that carries crude oil from the jungle to refineries on the Pacific coast frequently experiences oil leaks.

Continuous oil spills have affected health. Blood and urine tests conducted by Peru’s health ministry in 2016 revealed that children and adults in Loreto’s four main river basins (Pastaza, Maraón, Tigre, and Corrientes) had dangerous heavy metal levels that were much beyond permissible limits. These substances included mercury and lead.

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