The Achuar of the River Pastaza

The Achuar are a Jivaro speaking people living in Northern Peru and Ecuador. There are forty Achuar communities in the Pastaza river basin (rivers Huitoyacu, Huasaga, Manchari and Pastaza), represented by the federations ATI and ORACH. The Achuar are proud of their identity as a people, and proud of their territory, which is rich in fauna and flora and provides them with the majority of the resources they need to live well.

The Achuar of the Pastaza have been campaigning for over ten years to defend their territory from the entry of petrol companies into Lot 64. Their campaign has been partially successful with the companies Arco and then Burlington selling on their rights to the concession. Currently all the rights to Lot 64 are held by Occidental Petroleum, a company with a very poor social and environmental record in Corrientes and in Ecuador. Occidental has signed agreements with Achuar communities living on the River Morona (to the West of the Pastaza basin) and plans to begin drilling in 2006. The communities on the Pastaza are still firmly opposing all Occidental’s plans to work on their land, however the company’s divisive and manipulative tactics put a lot of pressure on individuals and leaders to cede.

Rights over Lot 115, covering the far northern part of the territory on the border of Ecuador, was bought in 2005 by Pluspetrol.

Photo: An apu (elder) in the community house of Sanchik, dressed to recieve visitors, drinking masato (manioc beer), Shinai