Tuesday, August 04, 2009



by Hambone Littletail

Barely six weeks after dozens of Amazon natives were gunned down in cold blood by the Peruvian Army in the oil town of Bagua for protesting the cozy relationship between Big Oil and the government of President Alan Garcia, I find myself on the banks of the Mother of God River in Salvacion, Peru, wondering if all those folks died in vain.

Any day now, the bulldozers will be moving in as Texas-based Hunt Oil Company – with the full go-ahead of the Peruvian government -- fires its first salvo in its assault against the million-acre pristine rainforest wilderness of the little-known and largely unexplored Amarakaeri Communal Reserve. By the time you read this, the choppers will probably already be here, womp-womping their way along the very edge of Manu National Park to supply the seismic survey crews whacking their way through the jungle and blowing off explosives to see what riches lie below the surface. The local natives that the “reserve” was created to protect, like so many before them, are getting ready to have their lives irrevocably altered, and are wondering how to react to this invasion.

In other words, it’s business as usual for the Planet Eaters in the Amazon jungle, as if Bagua never existed at all. I could write a book – indeed, I am writing a book – about the carnage going on down here in the heart of the Mother of God. Here is just a taste of what I’ve found so far in my first two months in Peru:

If you carefully read all the reports from the massacre at Bagua, you will notice that those protesters (and other natives from all over the Peruvian Amazon, including those here in Amarakaeri) are saying that, by and large, modern-day Amazon natives are not categorically opposed to all oil and gas drilling (or logging, or mining, or ranching) on their ancestral lands – no matter how much the tree-hugging environmentalists in the U.S. with their “noble savage” fantasies don’t want to hear it.

As a rule, what modern-day Amazon natives are opposed to – and rightfully so – is a bunch of foreign Planet Eaters, in cahoots with their cronies in Lima, storming into the natives’ ancestral forest homes yet again to do what they please without consulting – or, more importantly, without financially rewarding – the folks who have lived there for 50,000 years. It’s just not the right thing to do. To be blunt but honest about it, what the natives are demanding – and rightfully so, after getting pushed out of the way and screwed over by the Planet Eaters for 500 years – is their rightful piece of the economic pie. What a concept! These guys actually want to get paid – and they’re not talking about some lousy beads and fish hooks, they’re talking about some good old American greenbacks. What gall, the greedy bastards!

I can already hear the howls of derision from the deluded tree-huggers reading these callous conclusions because – until I came down here to Peru and looked around with my own two eyes, and talked to a bunch of Amazon natives, and took the time to read the research and listen to the educated opinions of a lot of folks who know a helluvalot more about the subject than you and I will ever know – I was one of those deluded tree-huggers myself. After only two months in Peru – where I sit writing these words beside a waterfall on the banks of the Mother of God River in a ravaged rainforest cut down by the local natives themselves – I am still, more than ever, a tree-hugger… it’s just that I’m not quite so deluded as I was a couple of months ago.

Since the question on everyone’s lips is, obviously: “What do the natives who live inside the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve think about Hunt Oil’s plans to turn their ancestral home into an oilfield?,” that is the question I have spent the last six weeks asking people who know a lot more about the issue than I do, and have gotten a dozen different answers. I’m going to take the risk of oversimplifying this complicated issue by summarizing all these diverse opinions into one overview:

Continue this great on-the-ground report

I like this Hambone Littletail guy and can really relate to his personal journey. I've never met him but you sorta know when you've found a brother on the path. He is a former real estate agent who, following a directive from Spirit, quit his job and headed to the Peruvian Amazon, where he is presently writing a book of his adventures. If you would like to receive a free copy of his on-line book, “Peruvian Plunge: The Unfolding Story of What Happened When a Middle-Aged Realtor from Texas Headed to the Peruvian Amazon to Kick Big Oil’s Ass Out of the Jungle,” you may contact Littletail at hambone78704@ yahoo.com.

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