Peru Indians, Govt Reach Deal, Ending Oil Well Seizures

LIMA Oct 16, 2006 (AP)

Indians who seized three oil wells in Peru's northern jungle this week, trapping 40 workers, ended their protest after reaching an agreement with the government, officials said Saturday.

Protesters from the Native Federation of the Corrientes River surrounded the facilities run by Argentina's Pluspetrol for days to demand a cleanup of water pollution from three decades of oil exploitation. They say the pollution is harming their health and ruining the environment.

Interior Minister Pilar Mazzetti told reporters that Peru's health and energy and mines ministers flew to the jungle region to negotiate with the protesters.

Jose Chiritos, a spokesman for Peruvian President Alan Garcia, told The Associated Press by telephone that the Indians left the facilities after reaching a deal with the government.

Officials did not give details of the agreement, but Mazzetti said "the situation is calm at this moment, fortunately."

Argentina-based Pluspetrol suspended operations there late Tuesday citing safety concerns over the protests.

Government health studies have found high blood concentrations of cadmium and lead among Achuar Indians in the region.

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