Peru oil spill protest: tourists held by indigenous group are freed, says official




CNN
 — 

A group of tourists traveling in the Peruvian Amazon, who were detained on Thursday by an indigenous community demanding government action over an oil spill, were freed on Friday, according to Abel Chiroque, head of the ombudsman office in Loreto.

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

Earlier, Wadson Trujillo, leader of the Cuninico community, confirmed to Peruvian local media RRP that his community stopped the boats in a bid to pressure the government to take action over the oil spill, which has disrupted their water supply. They were demanding the government declare a state of emergency over the oil spill.

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

She said we were all freed at approximately 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) and were headed towards the town of Nauta, in the Loreto province, in the upcoming hours.

“We hope to arrive there tomorrow morning; we had to change boat because the boat we were traveling with remains detained by the indigenous groups, but we were allowed to leave on another vessel,” Ramirez said.

Their release came after more than 28 hours of negotiations, she said. “Finally it’s over, I am very happy, very relieved,” she told CNN.

Ramirez was traveling with a group of tourists consisting of women, children, and foreigners. She added among the passengers “were children, including a month-old baby, pregnant women and the elderly.”

On Friday, Peru’s vice minister for the environment, Marilu Chahua, traveled to the area to mediate with the indigenous groups who have been protesting against an oil spill along the Marañon river for almost two months.

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

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