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

“Lower the Guns, Raise Wages”: A Day of Strikes and Demonstrations across Italy against the War in Ukraine

Italian rank-and-file unions waged a one-day strike last Friday against the war in Ukraine and for higher wages to counter inflation. It represents a first step in the fight to build a peace movement based on class struggle.

Giacomo Turci

May 24, 2022

NATO’s Push to Expand: Will Finland and Sweden Finally Join?

Putin’s reactionary invasion of Ukraine is changing the balance of forces in Europe. Now Sweden and Finland, which had been historically neutral, are considering joining NATO.

Óscar Fernández

May 19, 2022
Argentinians hold green bandanas as part of the "Green Wave" for abortion rights

Why We Wear Green Bandanas for Abortion Rights

The green bandana has become a symbol of the movement for safe, legal, and free abortion. Here, an Argentinian feminist explains its origins.

Celeste Murillo

May 18, 2022

On the Anniversary of the Nakba, Berlin Police Ban All Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations

This is an unprecedented attack on the freedom of assembly, and it is being carried out by a "left-wing" government. Several hundred people defied the ban — and 59 were detained by police.

Nathaniel Flakin

May 16, 2022

MOST RECENT

All That’s Left Podcast: Socialist Feminism and the Fight for Abortion Rights

In this episode, Tatiana Cozzarelli talks with New York abortion provider Angelique Saavedra to talk about the attacks on abortion rights and the way forward from a socialist feminist perspective.

Left Voice

May 26, 2022

Two Years After the George Floyd Uprising: A Changed Generation, An Unchanged System

George Floyd was murdered two years ago today. It set off a massive uprising that changed a generation.

Inflation: Wages versus Profits

Here, we publish Marxist economist Michael Roberts' analysis of the relationship between wages and profit in the inflationary environment of today.

Michael Roberts

May 25, 2022

The Uvalde Massacre Is the Product of a Heinous System

Another deadly school shooting has claimed the lives of innocent school children and education workers. The small town of Uvalde, Texas, was the scene of the latest example of tragic barbarity as at least 18 elementary schoolers and two adults were murdered by an 18 year-old gunman who also died at the scene.

Ezra Brain

May 24, 2022