I’m caught up in a moment of intense political struggle here in Peru. The situation is very tense. The town I am stuck in is called Ollantaytambo. All the roads are blockaded. Airports are closed, no way in or out of this little valley. Protest
I’m trying to get back to Cusco and from there hopefully to Lima where I can fly home (I was supposed to leave on Wednesday morning). Cusco airport has been closed and all flights are canceled indefinitely. When my fixer tried to get me they threw stones and oil at his car and he had to turn back.
It seems the situation is worsening.
In spite of the inconvenience, I am on the side of the protestors. They are suffering greatly in this oligarchical system that abuses the Campesinos and poor people. It is the people against big industry - big oil and big mining - and political leaders that cater to the industry over them.
I am in Peru to film with the Achuar people, who are fighting PetroPeru, to protect their lands from oil drilling. The conflict I am tracking lately is the conflict between the Indigenous world and values and Western colonialism and Western values. There are so many Indigenous people here - in the Amazon and Andes - with different languages, cultures, customs, that are uniting in protest. Back in 2014, I was in Cuninico, documenting PetroPeru's oil spills there. In the past 20 years there have been over 500 oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon.
It's very clear that the government and PetroPeru don't care whether or not they pollute the Amazon, poison people, pollute the water, destroy the environment, give people cancer. It doesn't matter. And people are rightfully outraged.
So what are these protests about? This new government is decidely pro-big business and against the people. A leader of PetroPeru was just appointed the Minister of Mining and Energy by the new government - spelling further extraction and displacement. There is an ongoing and mounting assault on the rights of Indigenous people and the rights of the earth.
Climate change is caused by the displacement of Indigenous people. Climate change is caused by the shift away from values of living in harmony and balance with the environment to treating the earth as a resource for extraction and capitalism.
If this experience has taught me anything, it's that being displaced, not knowing if you're ever able to go home, being at the mercy of a political process that is beyond your ability to influence, which is what I've experienced for 72 hours, and people are experiencing that as a result of climate change or instability or anything for YEARS AND YEARS - that process is one of the most disturbing and upsetting things one can experience.
Even just a moment of not having freedom of movement, not being able to return home, is really eye-opening and is why I am making this film about displacement.
If you can, please, please donate today to help me finish this film and continue making media that amplifies the fight and the rights of the people. Or become a paid subscriber to this platform which helps sustain all of our work. Here's how you can take action:
- Donate whatever you can, every dollar helps
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- Sign petitions with Amazon Watch to end mining, drilling, and financing of these projects in the Amazon
- Follow on IG + repost - the struggle in Peru is a struggle for all of us and it is not getting nearly the coverage it deserves
El Pueblo, unido, jamas sera vencido!!
love + (truly) revolution,