American tourists are among a group of 70 people being held hostage by an indigenous tribe in the Amazon rainforest.
The Americans are being detained along with other tourists from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain. A leader of the community holding them reportedly said their desire is to “catch the government’s attention” because they didn’t receive government assistance after an oil spill dumped 2,500 tons of crude oil into the Cuninico River, according to the Daily Mail.
“[We want] to call the government’s attention with this action, there are foreigners and Peruvians, there are about 70 people,” Cuninico community leader Watson Trujillo told a Peruvian radio station, according to the Mirror.
The people in the indigenous community have informed local reporters that they will keep the tourists — including women and children — hostage for six to eight days until a deal is secured regarding the oil spill.
Angela Ramirez is one of the hostages and reportedly wrote about the situation on Facebook.
“We spent the night here. We already have hardly no water to drink, the sun is shining very strong, there are babies crying, the youngest is only one month old, pregnant women, disabled people, and the elderly are on board,” she wrote.
“Now we do not have electricity to charge our phones, nor water to wash ourselves. Help me share please,” she added.
“Help me publish, we are in Cuninico an indigenous community of the jungle, we are hostages of the community, as there were 46 oil spills, from which two children and one woman died,” another post from Ramirez said.
“They are KIND AND RESPECTFUL to us, but it is the only way they have found to look for solutions for their community. The quicker they are heard the quicker they will let us go… Help me share, we’re physically fine. Help me help them to be heard,” she added.
Trujillo also said the hostages would stay on board the boat as they wait for a resolution and that he was considering the possibility of letting the tourists go, according to the Daily Mail.
The oil spill happened due to a fracture in the Norperuano oil pipeline, which is owned by government-owned Petroperu, after which the Peruvian government declared a 90-day state of emergency in the region impacted by the spill. Petroperu blamed the spill on an 8-inch cut in the pipeline, which the company claimed was deliberate.