Talisman Failing to Respect Indigenous Rights in Peru

The Green Party of Canada is expressing great concern over the actions of Canadian oil company Talisman in the Achuar territory in Peru.  “The Achuar are crying out for help from Canada to protect their watershed from contamination. Talisman is not welcome in Achuar territory and should withdraw,” said Elizabeth May, Green Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

May has met with the members of the Achuar, an indigenous group of people who are from a remote region of Peru where Talisman has been drilling exploratory oil wells since 2004.  A handful of communities in the region have allowed the drilling; however, a majority of the Achuar are opposed.

The Achuar have good reason for concern.  Other parts of the region have been contaminated by US oil companies discharging toxic substances into the watershed, as well as numerous oil spills.  Disease, tumours, skin problems and miscarriages are on the rise. 

“Many Achuar, adults and children, are dealing with severe health problems from exposure to highly toxic substances such as barium, lead and arsenic left behind by the oil companies.  They are simply asking to be left alone. They depend on clean water, clean soil, and uncontaminated fish and game. It is not too much to ask,” said May.

The situation is being monitored carefully by Amazon Watch, who calls the Achuar territory one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

“The Achuar have endured threats and intimidation in their peaceful opposition to the oil drilling.  The drilling needs to stop before things become violent,” said May.  The Achuar have brought charges against Talisman for orchestrating a confrontation between a group of armed pro-oil community members and protesters at a Talisman drilling platform.

“This is an issue of indigenous rights and corporate accountability.  Canadians need to pay attention to how our companies are doing business in other parts of the world, particularly as they are receiving support from the federal government,” said May.

Talisman has received loans from Export Development Canada (EDC) for the past six years of between $100 and $250 million per year.  Repeated calls for development of binding environmental, social and human rights standards for extractive companies that receive support from EDC for their overseas operations have failed.

The Achuar delegation is in Canada to attend the Talisman shareholders meeting in Calgary on May 1st.