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29 Apr 2024

Democracy Now

Peru: Olivia Bisa Tirko, president of the autonomous territorial government of the Chapra Nation, says she has been receiving death threats

"Indigenous Peruvian Leader Olivia Bisa Tirko on Calls for Citigroup to End Coal, Oil & Gas Financing", 29 April 2024

...Climate activists blocked the entrances of the global headquarters of Citigroup in Manhattan last Wednesday to demand the bank stop financing coal, oil and gas companies. The protests came on the heels of a first-of-its-kind Earth Day hearing where environmental activists from around the world gathered in New York this week to condemn what they call Citigroup’s environmental racism. Citibank is the world’s second-largest funder of coal, oil and gas. For an update, we speak with Olivia Bisa Tirko, president of the autonomous territorial government of the Chapra Nation in Peru, who joins us in studio while she is in New York City to participate in the week of action...



OLIVIA BISA TIRKO: [translated] I want to communicate the world that as a mother, daughters, that we are, we should be conscious, because Citibank is financing the oil company Petroperú in Peru. They have a policy that is saying that they are respecting Indigenous peoples’ rights, to the right to self-determination, to the autonomous, but the client of Citi, Petroperú, is violating the same policies that Citi is putting into place. For that reason, we came from so far to tell Citi not to finance Petroperú, because they are impacting us, not only polluting our territories, but also they are causing fights and that we can have conflicts among us, among Indigenous nations, because Petroperú is using divisive tactics in the communities.


So we want to tell Citibank that Petroperú is very desperate to exploit a block that is called Block 64, that is located in the district where I live. But for that, us, we are the door, the open door, to enter to this block. And we want to tell them that this door is closed. We have a very close link with nature. That is our mother. For us, the Chapra Nation, the mother cannot work well without their blood. Oil is the blood of the Earth. And with a mother, a mother cannot be with enemy. A mother cannot give — protect her children.

OLIVIA BISA TIRKO: [translated] Since 2022, I have been denounced. I received a lot of lawsuits in 2023. They start calling me, insulting me to be the first female president, insulting me because I am an Indigenous, I am a chola — pejorative word. And it hurts me that this last month in this year, they started calling me that they are going to even kill my kids, my children.


AMY GOODMAN: And who exactly is coming there to kill you?

OLIVIA BISA TIRKO: [translated] I have announced the police to know who are the responsible behind. But, unfortunately, the laws in the Peruvian state, they are very complicit. And it’s taking a long time to do the investigations. And that’s what is making that we are risking more our lives. They are just reacting when the defenders are killed. And that’s not the idea. The idea is to save the life of the defenders.