Reports of ‘encounter’ between oil workers and isolated Indians

February 12, 2008

Canadian company Petrolifera is working in an area inhabited by the uncontacted Cacataibo. © Survival

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Unconfirmed reports indicate that a team prospecting for oil deep in the Peruvian Amazon has encountered a village belonging to previously-uncontacted Indians.

The men, who were working for the Canadian company Petrolifera, allegedly came across houses, paths and utensils. If the reports are true, the Indians are members of the Cacataibo tribe.

Two groups of Cacataibo Indians remain uncontacted, although their territory is cut in two by a major highway, and it has also been opened up for oil exploration by the government.

Both the Indians and the oil workers would be at grave risk from such an encounter; the Indians from catching potentially fatal diseases such as influenza, and the workers from the very real danger of retaliation by the Indians, who would see their presence as a threat.

Local Indian organizations, Survival International and many others have warned oil companies operating in the Peruvian Amazon to keep out of the territories of uncontacted Indians. There are at least 15 groups of isolated Indians in Peru alone.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘If these reports are true, it’s very worrying indeed. Whether true or not, this land belongs to the Indians; the UN says so, international law says so, Peruvian law agrees. The fact that the Indians are uncontacted does not lessen their rights. The company is invading Cacataibo land, and it will be responsible for the consequences.’

For more information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru