Peru: Repsol Oil Spill Sends People into the Streets

Image credit: Cris Bouroncle / AFP

On January 15, a major oil spill covered the northern beaches of Lima, Peru. The oil spill came from an oil refinery belonging to the Spanish multinational Repsol and was linked to the eruption of the Tonga volcano.

The company has not taken responsibility, nor has it taken any significant measures to clean up the mess. In fact, most of the work of cleaning the oil spill and rescuing injured animals is being done by local residents, fishermen, and activist groups. Lacking proper equipment, they have been putting their lives at risk by coming in contact with toxic chemicals as they perform this rescue work. All Repsol and the government have done is give meager compensation to the locals for work which they should have mobilized to do themselves.

As it became clear that neither Repsol nor the local authorities were going to take any meaningful initiative, fishermen and other members of the local population decided to take to the streets, protesting in front of a Repsol refinery and closing a highway. Their demands include decent compensation for the local fisherman whose livelihoods were destroyed, and the immediate revocation of the government’s contract with Repsol.