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Protest against pollution in Peru: 10 Americans released on a tourist boat held hostage

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At least 10 Americans held hostage with a group of more than 240 tourists on a riverboat in Peru have been freed, according to reports Friday.

Some 248 people, including children, pregnant women and the elderly, were held by activists from an indigenous group protesting recent oil spills that have contaminated their land.

Foreign and Peruvian tourists wait on the boat where they were detained in Loreto, northern Peru, on November 4, 2022.
(Angela Ramirez/AFP via Getty Images)

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The State Department did not provide specific information on the hostage situation, but a spokesman said the US embassy in Lima was “in communication with the Peruvian government and relevant law enforcement authorities.”

“We are aware of reports that all passengers have been rescued. We have no further comment at this time,” they added.

It’s unclear how long the tourists were held or what the conditions were, but according to an ABC News report, the hostages were released on Friday.

In addition to the Americans, it was reported that 228 Peruvian citizens and British, Swiss, Spanish and French citizens were traveling on board.

An official with the group told the publication that they had no intention of harming the hostages.

A little girl takes part in a protest by activists in front of the Peruvian oil company PetroPerú in Lima on September 21, 2017, to support the Amazonian Achuar, Kichwa and Quechua tribes affected by the activities of the oil industry on their ancestral lands.

A little girl takes part in a protest by activists in front of the Peruvian oil company PetroPerú in Lima on September 21, 2017, to support the Amazonian Achuar, Kichwa and Quechua tribes affected by the activities of the oil industry on their ancestral lands.
(Cris Bouroncle/AFP via Getty Images)

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The indigenous activists reportedly intended to draw the attention of government authorities in Lima to draw attention to a leaking oil pipeline that has caused problems for the community and their land for decades.

A leak on September 5 from the nearly 500-mile-long Norperuano Pipeline allegedly affected five communities in the Nación Chapra territory, and a second leak, on September 16, specifically affected the community of Cuninico.

According to Earth Rights International, a nonprofit organization, oil spills have directly polluted rivers and streams that indigenous communities depend on for drinking and fishing.

Crop yields have also reportedly been affected by toxin contamination in the soil.

Noa Walker Crawford, a British external consultant on climate change, walks by pipes as she exits the Palcacocha lagoon, located 4,650 meters above sea level in the Huascarán National Park, in Huaraz, northeastern Peru, on May 23, 2022. .

Noa Walker Crawford, a British external consultant on climate change, walks by pipes as she exits the Palcacocha lagoon, located 4,650 meters above sea level in the Huascarán National Park, in Huaraz, northeastern Peru, on May 23, 2022. .
(Luka Gonzales/AFP via Getty Images)

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The group reported that between 1996 and 2006, the Peruvian government-owned and operated pipeline saw at least 37 oil spills.

Indigenous communities have called on the government to fix the pipeline to prevent further devastation to the land and well-being of the community.

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