CHINESE OIL COMPANY THREATENS 'ISOLATED' INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN BOLIVIA

The Guardian recently published an article of mine about teams from a Chinese oil and gas company operating in the remote Bolivian Amazon and having near encounters with indigenous people - known as the ‘Toromonas' - living in what the United Nations calls ‘isolation.' The company, BGP, ultimately a subsidiary of the Chinese giant CNPC, is exploring for oil and/or gas in the Madre de Dios basin, very close to Bolivia’s border with Peru and the internationally-renowned Madidi National Park. The near encounters have been recorded and reported in a variety of hand-written testimonies, photos and reports by both BGP and Bolivia’s state oil and gas company YPFB, which sub-contracted BGP to operate there. How will BGP, YPFB and the Bolivian government now respond? Will it heed Bolivia’s domestic and international legal commitments and suspend operations in the ‘Toromonas’’ territories? Contact between the 'Toromonas' and outsiders could be catastrophic because of the former's lack of immunological defences. (31-10-16)

David Hill