Tourists held by Peruvian indigenous group protesting oil spill are freed, says official
A line of demonstrators march during a two-week campaign in the city of Puerto Maldonado where the town was devastated by a massive oil spill, in the Peruvian Amazon jungle, February 25, 2013. Photo by Carlos Villarreal/Reuters
CASA DE LA PAZ, Peru, February 25 (UPI) — At least 10 tourists were freed Monday from a Peruvian indigenous group trying to block the construction of a mining company pipeline near Peru’s second-largest city of Puerto Maldonado.
The Peruvian branch of the World Bank released the names of the stranded tourists. They range in age from young couples to an 80-year-old man. All have made arrangements to be picked up by the local Red Cross.
A company official said the pipeline would be completed within two weeks.
The pipeline was suspended when police and soldiers blocked a route for the pipeline last week amid a violent protest by the indigenous group known as Guale, which is led by a man with the indigenous surname of Ticuna. The protests were prompted by fears that the pipeline could lead to contamination of the area’s rivers and possibly a rise in river water levels, which would cause damage to the native Amazon rain forest.
The pipeline is being built to transport gold from the mine El Dorado, located in the country’s southeastern Amazonian region, to the port of Puerto Maldonado, located about 35 miles away.
The company in charge of the pipeline, Siderant, is owned by Brazilian mining behemoth Minera Santa Cruz. It is expected to begin operating the pipeline in the summer.
The Guale protests are part of a larger movement against mining and gold rush projects along the country’s Amazonian borders.
About 2,300 miles from Puerto Maldonado, the group known as Guale has blocked roads to prevent the construction of a pipeline to remove gold from an area known as the Amazon de los Andes.
The pipeline is considered