September 9, 2022 | Roshan Krishnan | Eye on the Amazon
For decades, the Indigenous Achuar and Wampis peoples of the Peruvian Amazon have beat back a steady stream of oil companies attempting to drill on Block 64, an oil block created on Achuar and Wampis territory without respecting the international standards of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from their communities.
The Achuar and Wampis have good reason to oppose further oil extraction: The Northern Peruvian Oil Pipeline, which runs through their territories, has repeatedly ruptured, causing countless spills and constant threats to the environment and safety of their communities.
Nelton Yankur Antich, President of the Peruvian Federation of Achuar Nationalities (FENAP), puts it simply: “We want to leave a healthy territory to our future generations.”
Over the years, many international oil companies have attempted to enter the territory, among them Occidental Petroleum, Talisman Energy (now Repsol), and Chilean oil company GeoPark. Due to the steadfast resistance of Achuar and Wampis communities, all of these companies have exited the area with minimal oil drilling. Now, yet another company, state-owned oil company Petroperú, is attempting to enter Block 64.
Petroperú recently completed an expensive modernization of its oil refinery in the coastal community of Talara, and the company is seeking to drill yet more oil to feed the refinery and recoup its costs.
There is a common thread among these companies that have sought to violate the Achuar and Wampis’ land rights, community well-being, and environmental health. Each is enabled by financial institutions, and the latest institution to dirty its hands with Amazon oil is Vanguard. Vanguard is actively helping to finance Petroperú’s operations by buying its bonds and then selling them to customers in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
No matter how many oil spills companies like Petroperú cause, and no matter how many human rights violations and corruption scandals it generates, financial institutions like Vanguard have continued to invest in it as if nothing has happened. This must end. As one of the largest asset management firms in the world, Vanguard’s investments can influence the companies it invests in — companies directly impacting Indigenous communities.
Vanguard has stated to investors that it recognizes the importance of engaging with local and Indigenous communities, but it has not acted to stop any violations committed by companies in which it invests. It’s time to tell Vanguard to fulfill its responsibility to Indigenous peoples and the planet, stop investing in Petroperú, and adopt a comprehensive Indigenous rights policy to prevent future violations!