Peru oil spill protest: Tourists detained by indigenous groups freed, official says


A group of tourists traveling in the Peruvian Amazon who were detained Thursday by an indigenous community demanding government action over an oil spill were released Friday, according to Abel Chiroque, head of the defender’s office from the village in Loreto.

Chiroque told CNN on Friday that 140 travelers in total were released.

Earlier, Wadson Trujillo, leader of the Cuninico community, confirmed to local Peruvian media RRP that their community stopped the boats in an attempt to pressure the government to take action on the oil spill, which has disrupted their water supply. They demanded the government to declare a state of emergency due to the oil spill.

Among the tourists released Friday was Angela Ramirez, a 28-year-old woman from Trujillo, Peru. She told CNN in a phone call that about 20 foreigners and dozens of local travelers were being held in boats along the Marañon River in Cuninico by the indigenous community.

He said that we were all released at approximately 14:00 local time (15:00 ET) and headed for the town of Nauta in Loreto province within the next few hours.

“We hope to get there tomorrow morning; we had to change boats because the boat we were traveling on is being held by the indigenous groups, but they allowed us to leave on another boat,” said Ramírez.

His release came after more than 28 hours of negotiations, he said. “It’s finally over, I’m very happy, very relieved,” she told CNN.

Ramírez was traveling with a group of tourists made up of women, children and foreigners. He added that among the passengers “were children, including a one-month-old baby, pregnant women and the elderly.”

On Friday, Peru’s deputy environment minister, Marilu Chahua, traveled to the area to mediate with indigenous groups that have been protesting an oil spill in the Marañón River for almost two months.

The government announced the extension of an environmental emergency decree to address the oil spill and persuade indigenous groups to release the tourists.

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