Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Peruvian Fishermen Block Highway after Devastating Oil Spill

Hundreds of residents and fishermen living in the areas affected by the oil spill in Peru mobilized over the weekend demanding that the government immediately sanction Repsol, and require the company to compensate those affected by this ecocide.

Cecilia Quiroz

January 24, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: AP

On Saturday, hundreds of fishermen and residents of the areas affected by the oil spill on January 15 mobilized in Ancón, north of the capital of Lima, Peru. The protesters partially blocked the Panamericana Norte highway in protest of the actions of the transnational company Repsol, which has not yet fully assumed responsibility for the oil spill that occurred on the beaches of Ventanilla, north of Lima. This ecological disaster has damaged more than 50 km of beaches on the Peruvian coast and is depriving thousands of fishermen of their livelihoods.

The struggle carried out by the fishermen was accompanied by mobilizations and sit-ins carried out on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Various youth groups, environmental NGOs, and other social organizations protested at the door of the Repsol company located in the district of San Isidro and at its headquarters in Ventanilla. The protesters gathered outside the company to demand that it take charge of cleaning the damaged beaches, and the hashtag #HazteCargoRepsol (“take charge Repsol”) has gone viral on social media.

A few days ago, prime minister Mirtha Vásquez announced on behalf of the Castillo government that the company would provide the victims with food baskets and work to clean up the contaminated beaches. This was considered insufficient by the fishermen and the local inhabitants. In this regard, Antoni Chumpitaz, fisherman and representative of the Pachacutano Youth Movement, said, “As prime minister, I had hoped that [Mirtha Vásquez) would be more drastic in demanding that [Repsol-owned] La Pampilla refinery immediately solve the problem, because what they have committed is a crime”.

It is due to the government’s benevolence towards Repsol that to date the clean-up of the contaminated beaches and the rescue of birds and other animals affected by the oil spill has been carried out mainly by environmental groups, young volunteers, university students, fishermen, and local residents. These efforts are insufficient to stop let alone rectify the profound damage caused by the oil spill, which is considered one of Peru’s biggest environmental disasters.

Although many fishermen and inhabitants of the affected areas are receiving money from Repsol for cleaning the affected beaches, this is insufficient, and the fishermen who are taking on the clean-up strongly disagree with the company’s approach. Chumpitaz stated, “Repsol has taken away our jobs and now we have to work for them because of the damage caused. Working for Repsol is something that makes us very uncomfortable, but we had to reach out to clean the beaches.”

According to estimates, more than 1,200 fishermen are currently working in the Ancón area. These fishermen, who depend exclusively on coastal fishing for their livelihood, have not been able to generate income for their families for several days. Repsol’s payment for residents cleaning the contaminated beaches will only last until the end of February, after which the company has scheduled the cleaning of the affected beaches. At that point, the fishermen will again be left without a source of income since, according to experts, the affected beaches will take years to recover. For this reason, the fishermen are demanding full compensation from the company.

But fishermen are not the only ones affected — maritime and local commerce workers are also struggling, since many restaurants, small markets, and other businesses are now paralyzed. For this reason, Pedro John Barrera, mayor of Ancón, calculates that the Repsol’s oil spill is causing losses of up to 10 million soles (US$2.6 million) in the fishing sector and 3 million soles (US$280,000) in tourism and other economic activities that generate income for the local population. This hardship is compounded by the challenges posed by the spread of yet another wave of Covid-19.

Originally published in Spanish on January 24 in La Izquierda Diario

Translation by Otto Fors

Facebook Twitter Share

INTERNATIONAL

The United States Is Trapped in the Middle East

As a result of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, the United States is again becoming deeply entrenched in the Middle East. This is a humiliating blow to President Biden, who promised to reassert U.S. imperialism by moving away from direct involvement in the region.

Samuel Karlin

February 22, 2024

With Rafah in the Crosshairs, the Working Class Can Stop the Genocide in Gaza

As Israel prepares an invasion of Rafah, workers’ organizations around the world must take action before it's too late.

James Dennis Hoff

February 21, 2024

“Antideutsche”: The Aberration of Germany’s Pro-Zionist Left

As Germany persists in its unwavering support of Israel and the total denial of its genocide, the German Left is conflicted over the issue. While leftists all over the world are showing solidarity with Palestine, a segment of the German Left is historically pro-Zionist. How did this movement, the so-called Antideutsche (Anti-Germans) come to be?

Seb Zürcher

February 21, 2024

Why German Media are Lying About the Palestine Solidarity Movement at the Free University of Berlin

A rally in front of the Free University of Berlin had as many journalists as demonstrators. This is yet another example of the international campaign to defame all protests against Israel's genocidal military campaign.

Nathaniel Flakin

February 16, 2024

MOST RECENT

Protesters at an evening protest in NY carry a sign that reads "from ferguson to palestine occupation is a crime"

This Black History Month, Let’s Fight for Palestinian Liberation

Black liberation struggles have always expressed solidarity with the struggle against the Zionist occupation of Palestine. This Black History Month, as Israel continues its genocide in Gaza, this tradition takes on a special importance.

Carmin Maffea

February 26, 2024
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Two Years of War in Ukraine

On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the war in Ukraine after two years, and the continued need for an independent, working-class solution.

Left Voice

February 24, 2024

The Organic Crisis in 2024: This Year’s Election Is a Battle for the Hearts and Minds of U.S. Workers

The battle between Trump and Biden is being shaped by a crisis of the political regime, requiring the intervention of both the judiciary and the union bureaucracy. The battle for the presidency is a battle for the working class and a battle over which approach to imperialism is best for competing with China and reestablishing US hegemony. As usual, the Democrats are taking up the cudgel of democratic rights in order to rally disaffected voters.

Sybil Davis

February 23, 2024

The Tide Is Turning: New Yorkers Are Speaking Out for Palestinian Liberation

New York's anti-zionist movement is is rising up and speaking out for Palestinian liberation.

Ana Orozco

February 23, 2024