Help Indigenous Communities Confront a Toxic Water Crisis in Peru
Please note: This blog has been updated for summer tabling activism [see the Take Action section below].
The 600 members of the Indigenous community of Cuninico in Peru’s Amazon region have a spiritual relationship with the Marañón river. They depend on it for drinking, washing and preparing food. Fish caught in the river is their main source of protein.
Following an oil spill from a pipeline near a tributary of the river, women like Juana Otejón report that they and their children have suffered debilitating health problems including stomach pains, fever, pain urinating, skin problems and numerous miscarriages.
In the Andean region of Espina, Indigenous communities are also facing a terrifying health crisis.
Studies reveal alarming levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury in their bodies. Studies have also shown that their only sources of water have been contaminated with toxic metals.
There is scientific consensus that exposure to these toxic metals is harmful to health and that the impacts become more serious with prolonged exposure.
Yet Peruvian authorities have failed to publicly identify the sources of the contamination and stop the flow of toxins. Neither have they provided adequate health care or access to safe drinking water.
Please stand with Indigenous women and families in Cuninico and Espinar to call for action without delay.
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SUMMER FESTIVALS AND OTHER TABLING OPPORTUNTIES TO GATHER SIGNATURES ON OUR PRINT PETITION to the President of Peru
Join a community event and gather signatures calling for the right to a healthy environment, clean water and health care for Indigenous communities in Peru impacted by water polluted with toxic metals.
2. USE OUR FAKE "MINERAL WATER" AT YOUR AMNESTY TABLE/EVENT TO RAISE AWARENESS AND INSPIRE PEOPLE TO SIGN OUR PETITION ACTION
Set up a presentation stand with a large water dispenser labelled with the Retox label and glasses for sampling (we suggest eco-friendly reusable). Invite people to learn more about our mineral water and to try a refreshing glass. Before you pour a glass, point to the label which identifies the water as being enriched with arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium. Your tone should remain promotional at this point. Casually add that ingesting these ingredients can produce health effects that range from headaches and high blood pressure to stomach cramps, vomiting, anaemia, kidney failure, memory loss, infertility and miscarriages.
Table visitors will choose not to drink water they think is contaminated with toxins damaging to human health. This creates the perfect opportunity to: 1. Explain that Indigenous communities in Cuninica and Espinar, Peru do not have this choice, as their only source of drinking water has been contaminated with heavy metals, and; 2. Invite table visitors to sign our petition calling on Peru’s President to address this environmental and health crisis.
>>>Download a Retox display banner for your table
>>>Download a Retox label for your water dispenser
>>>Download the script for this "mineral water" stunt
>>>Download an infographic on the impact of toxic metals on human health and an infographic about the impact on children
>>>Download the petition for your table
3. TWEET your concern and a call for action
Active on Twitter? Join us to call on Peru’s President for action now.
Be sure to use the campaign hashtag #ToxicState.
From Canada, I call on new President @MartinVizcarraC to prioritize #toxic water health crisis devastating #indigenous people of Cuninico & Espinar. #ActNow to ensure #Peru is no longer a #ToxicState that fails to protect rights of indigenous communities https://t.co/PNhZwZHhqq pic.twitter.com/PUOkpal3iL
— Kathy Price (@KPriceAmnesty) April 5, 2018
- #Indigenous Peoples in #Peru face cruel choice: drink toxic metals in #water or go thirsty #ToxicState @MartinVizcarraC @Minsa_Peru @fzavalal http://www.toxicstate.pe
- #Indigenous peoples of Cuninico & Espinar want to live free from toxic metals but their state is failing them http://www.toxicstate.pe #ToxicState @MartinVizcarraC @Minsa_Peru @fzavalal
4. SIGN AND SHARE THE ONLINE PETITION prepared by AI Peru
5. LEARN MORE
Meet the courageous Indigenous women of Cuninico and Espinar, who are standing up for their rights and their children.
See their photos and read their stories in our report
>>>A Toxic State: Violations of the Right to Health of Indigenous Peoples of Cuninico and Espinar, Peru