The Media Co-op

Local Independent News

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

Achuar Voices Part Two

An Achuar Woman Speaks and Q&A

(right to left) Gregor MacLennan, Vi An Diep, Jiyukam (Lucas) Irar Miik, Puwaanch Kintui Antich, Ampush (Lucas) Ayui Chayat, Matt Hanson
(right to left) Gregor MacLennan, Vi An Diep, Jiyukam (Lucas) Irar Miik, Puwaanch Kintui Antich, Ampush (Lucas) Ayui Chayat, Matt Hanson


Achuar Voices Part 2 Transcript 


Translated by Amazon Watch Peru Program Coordinator, Gregor MacLennan


Puwaanch Kintui Antich


Thank you. Good evening everybody, and thank you very much for this space and this encounter.


Thank you and thank you for the welcome you've given me here. I've been elected as an Achuar woman to carry a message to you from my people. 


We're here applying our knowledge and looking at science and technology and recognizing that it's fallible, that it doesn't always work. 


Thank you everyone for receiving us here for this evening and a very good evening. 





You met with Talisman today?


Gregor MacLennan


That's right.




So, how did that go and what came out of that?


Jiyukam (Lucas) Irar Miik


Yes, we had a meeting with them. 


We've had a conversation and we've explained the problem that exists in Achuar territory. 


The Talisman representatives have recognized the errors they are making. 


For example, they're going and having meetings with ex-leaders of the Achuar people.  


We've said to them that they've falsified documents because ex-leaders don't have the authority of their people to go and make decisions.


We've invited them to a meeting in our territory on the 28th of May to speak directly without the intervention of other groups that don't live within the oil block. 


We hope that coming to this meeting once and for all we can come to a conclusion to this 17 years of problems that we've been facing and that we can once and for all make a decision and stop this from continuing. 





What methods are they using to keep these companies out other than dialogue. He mentioned the fact that the ex-chiefs were making the negotiations. Same thing was happening in British Colombia where elders were being brought in and they were not trusted. What methods are they using specifically?


Jiyukam (Lucas) Irar Miik


We have to use different mechanisms in agreement with the vision of our elders because our elders are the visionaries that see the future of what's going to happen to the children. 


We bring together everyone in the community with the elders and we analyze. Will Talisman bring us problems? Will they bring corruption? Will they bring contamination? We analyze this, the elders analyze it and they make the decision. 


WIth this strategy first Arco tried to enter into our territory and they were forced to leave. 


Next Oxy tried to come in and once again the people threw them out and they left. 


Now Talisman too is trying to enter into Achuar territory, trying to get into our lands. 


We've explained every organization has their territory well controlled. 


We've said to Talisman, without the consent of an organization you mustn't be entering into their territory.


I think that Talisman will respect us because we're working to ensure that our children and grandchildren can live in peace.  


We think that the Achuar people won't be dominated, they won't be conquered. Instead the Achuar people will overcome their enemy, Talisman energy. 





What's the population of the Achuar people. 


Jiyukam (Lucas) Irar Miik







Just curious if Occidental or any of the other petroleum companies have done any clean up or reclamation of the damage or if there's been any restitution considering what's happened. 


Gregor MacLennan


In their area Oxy has tried to come in and Arco has tried to come in but they weren't actually able to develop any activities. But in the area in Corrientes where Oxy has been there for 40 years, well Oxy has been there for 30 years and now there's an Argentine company operating there, there has been some attempt at clean up, but totally inadequate and there's still a lot of contaminants that leach out into the environment and continue to leach out into the environment. There's an ongoing legal case that the people there have against Oxy to clean up and pay reparations for the damages they've caused. 





My question is, this has happened around the world from many different companies. What are the governments doing to prevent companies from coming in and doing this.  


Oscar Gutierrez


It's not a problem of a government, it's a problem of governments in general. 


Throughout the world, governments don't respect the same rights of indigenous people as other citizens. If someone wants to come into my house they have to knock on the door before they can enter. In many cases, people just go into indigenous territories without knocking on the door, without  even asking anybody. 


In the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations, there's a paragraph there that says, "recognizing that the indigenous peoples have had their lands taken away, that they've suffered, that they've been exploited. Recognizing this and recognizing that, but it just recognizes. If someone recognizes that these crimes have been committed, who's responsible,? who's saying sorry for them? who's being put into jail for committing these crimes? 


If I recognize that I've taken someone's land away, I haven't just got to recognize it, I have to give the land back. 


It's come to the time where we have to say that everybody is equal, if there are going to be people who are not equal or more equal than others this is unacceptable in the 21st century. 


It's not a problem of the government or Peruvians, for example in the Peruvian government, there are congress people who have opposed some of these developments on Indigenous lands. Rather than being celebrated as good Peruvians they were suspended from congress for 120 days.





What can we do to support the Achuar people here tonight. 


Ampush (Lucas) Ayui Chayat


We ask for your solidarity. We ask for you to be messengers for us, to spread our word here. We're working in three areas. 


First of all, we've presented a technical report to the government requesting recognition of our ancestral lands.  


That proposal is that the land, the trees, the air and the subsoil is recognized as our territory. 


The second thing we are doing is we're fighting a legal case against Talisman energy for attempted genocide. It's a situation in 2009 when Talisman attempted to provoke a violent situation out of a peaceful protest. 


We're also speaking to members of parliament here to stand in solidarity with us and we're going to the CEO of the oil company Talisman to request they come to our land for this meeting on the 28th of May. 


The problem is, our elders are tired and they want to act and so we need to take their message and look for other solutions. 


We're saying be calm, we need to look for other solutions, we're here to look for another solution to this problem.  


Brothers and sisters, I ask for your solidarity to stand with us in defence of our ancestral territory and in defence of our lives. 




Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: Indigenous
1146 words
bar baz
Join the media co-op today
Things the Media Co-op does: Support
Things the Media Co-op does: Report
Things the Media Co-op does: Network
Things the Media Co-op does: Educate
Things the Media Co-op does: Discover
Things the Media Co-op does: Cooperate
Things the Media Co-op does: Build
Things the Media Co-op does: Amplify

User login

Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!