THE SKIFFS ARRIVED a few hours after sundown on September 18, a dark and moonless night in the Peruvian Amazon. They landed at several points along the broad Corrientes River, which flows south over the country’s densely forested border with Ecuador. Hundreds of indigenous Achuar men, women, and children, many carrying ceremonial spears, organized into units by clan and village. They then followed their apus, or chiefs, toward seven targets: the area’s lone paved road, a power plant, and five facilities for the pumping and processing of petroleum.

The sites were occupied, their night staff escorted peacefully outside. By morning, the Achuar of the Corrientes controlled the local infrastructure of Lot 192, the country’s largest and most notorious oil block.

Over the next two days, the occupations spread. On the neighboring Tigre and the Pastaza rivers, Kichwa and Quechua chiefs led takeovers of key roads, the only airstrip, and several oil batteries.

“This is not a symbolic action — we have completely paralyzed the country’s most important oil field,” declared a spokesperson for several of the indigenous federations backing the protest.

The takeover of Lot 192 lasted for 43 days. It was hardly the first protest to shut down the oil facilities studding the rainforests of Loreto, Peru’s biggest region and for decades the hub of its petroleum industry. Since 2006, the native people who live on the river basins where this oil is produced — a watershed of five major Amazon tributaries: the Pastaza, Tigre, Corrientes, Marañón, and Chambira — have executed at least a dozen similar uprisings. Some are just a few days; others stretch across seasons. Last autumn, indigenous communities launched a flotilla from the town of Saramurillo that blocked traffic on the Marañón River, the main artery of Lot 192’s sister block, Lot 8, for four months.

These uprisings have all demanded the same redress. For nearly a half-century, the state oil company, Petroperú, and its foreign partners have wreaked systemic contamination on the region, transforming daily life and poisoning the five rivers, whose waters fuse with the Ucayali River to become the Amazon just east of Iquitos, Loreto’s capital.

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