More than 240 tourists, including US and UK nationals, have been released after being detained by an indigenous group in Peru.
The tourists were taken hostage around 10 a.m. on November 3 as part of a protest against the Peruvian government after more than 40 oil spills in the area, community leaders from Cuninico told local media. Pregnant women, a one-month-old baby and elderly people are believed to be among those held hostage.
The US Department of Justice said in a statement to ABC that the situation has since been resolved. A total of 248 people, including 228 Peruvian citizens, were detained while on a riverboat for more than 24 hours, the DoJ said.
“Our very timely request is that the government declare a state of emergency due to the constant oil spills in our territory, and a committee chaired by the president is then put in place,” community leader Wadson Trujillo told the national media. TVPeru Noticias.
Angela Ramirez, a resident who claimed to have been detained by the indigenous group, had written on social media that there were infants among the hostages.
“We spent the night here. We are running out of water to drink, the sun is very strong, there are babies crying, the youngest is only a month old, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly,” said Ms Ramirez. on Facebook. “Now we don’t have electricity to charge our phones or water to clean ourselves.”
Ms Ramirez said the leaders who detained them were kind and respectful and that the sooner “the government responds to their request, the sooner the group will be released”.
Former Peruvian Prime Minister Anibal Torres hit out at local media for reporting that the government was not actively assisting the hostages and went so far as to claim that some members of the Cuninico community were responsible for the spill of around 2,500 barrels of oil, which killed at least three inhabitants.
According El País, more than 6,000 people use the water affected by the oil spills in Cuninico and nearby communities. Leaders have previously blocked access to rivers and traveled to the capital to protest against the government.
The spills were caused by Peru’s longest pipeline, Norperuano. The government declared a 90-day state of emergency at the end of September after spills in Cuninico and Urarinas, but no agreement was reached with residents.
The BBC reported that very few British nationals were part of the detained group.
“We started running out of food and water. We’re fine, but we’re worried about the pregnant women we have on board, diabetics, children, the elderly and other sick people, so we’re starting to get pretty desperate,” Charlotte Wiltshire, one of the Des British nationals on the boat, told the network.
“We are a bit concerned that our boat has been brought closer to the village, but I understand that this gives us a little easier access to possible supplies later on.