British tourist, 54, who was among more than 100 people taken hostage by machete-wielding indigenous group in Peru reveals ‘grim’ conditions they endured – before they were released
- Charlotte Wiltshire, 54, saw several men with sharpened stakes and machetes
- The retired woman from Cardigan, Wales, said they took batteries from the boat
- She was among around 120 tourists detained by an indigenous group in Peru
- Group were demanding government action over oil spill but later freed tourists
- Hostages said a one-month-old baby and two pregnant women were on board
A British tourist who was among more than 100 people taken hostage by a machete-wielding indigenous group in Peru has revealed the ‘grim’ conditions they endured prior to being released.
Around 120 tourists including Britons and Americans had been detained by the local group for 24 hours in a remote part of the Amazon rainforest in Peru.
The group, reportedly including two pregnant woman, a one-month-old baby and a diabetic, were travelling on river boats along with travellers from France, Spain and Switzerland when they were taken hostage on the Cuninico river.
A leader of the indigenous group said they wanted to ‘catch the government’s attention’ after not getting enough state help over an oil spill in September.
But after they were released on Friday at 2.30pm local time, retired Charlotte Wiltshire, 54, has since spoken out about the ‘grim’ conditions they faced.
Speaking to The Mirror, Ms Wiltshire, from Cardigan, Wales, said: ‘We were coming into this village and we were suddenly surrounded by several boats with men with sharpened stakes and machetes. There was a lot of yelling.
‘They somehow boarded the boat, they took the batteries from the boat. More and more people were arriving on the banks with machetes.’
Charlotte Wiltshire (pictured with partner Ken Wiltshire), 54, was among more than 100 tourists who taken hostage by a machete-wielding indigenous group in Peru
Video footage from the boat showed the tourists on board the boat. They were having to share water between themselves
Around 120 tourists including Britons and Americans had been detained by the local group in a remote part of the Amazon rainforest in Peru
She recalled hearing them shout in Spanish but she could not understand. However, a local on the boat translated that they were making a speech about pollution, lack of infrastructure and the government.
Ms Wiltshire said that the detained tourists – from the UK, Spain, France, the US and Switzerland – ranged in age from a young baby to a 70-year-old.
She had been travelling across South America for around four months with her partner Ken Wiltshire, 52, and her son Luke Bunker, 28. She wanted to experience travelling like a local and told how they took sleeper boats with hammocks through the country.
The family had travelled from Manorca inland to Yurimaguas with the hope of then staking a series of boats to Belem in Brazil.
They had met up with their tour guide at a hostel in Taracota who led them to the start of the Amazon boat journey – which they boarded on Wednesday lunchtime.
Despite the boat setting off that evening, less than 24 hours later, the family – along with the other tourists – were held hostage at 10am on Thursday.
Recalling the conditions, Ms Wiltshire added: ‘When you have got 120 people squashed into a very small amount of space you’re getting tense because everybody’s just getting fed up with the situation.’
She said that they were handed 40 litres of water on Friday morning but it did not last long because it was shared out between 120 hostages.
But after a day spent trapped without water or electricity, the chief Watson Trujillo announced the end of the hostage.
The group were handed 40 litres of water on Friday morning but it did not last long because it was shared out between 120 hostages
A leader of the indigenous group said they wanted to ‘catch the government’s attention’ after not getting enough state help over an oil spill in September
Angela Ramirez, who was one of those detained, said a one-month-old child, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly are among those on board
He told RPP Noticias: ‘The right and respect for life must prevail, in this context, we are going to provide the facilities so that the people who are on the boat can move to their destinations.’
Another of those detained was Angela Ramirez who previously said: ‘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.
‘Now we do not have electricity to charge our phones, nor water to wash ourselves. Help me share please.’
Angela had been on a cycling trip through the Peruvian jungle for eight days when they tried to travel through the Cuninico River by boat today and were detained.
In a previous post, she said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Trujillo, who leads the Cuninico community, said the ‘drastic measures’ were intended to put pressure on the government to send a delegation to assess the damage from the spill of 2,500 tons of crude oil into the Cuninico river.
Angela (pictured) had been on a cycling trip through the Peruvian jungle for eight days when they tried to travel through the Cuninico River by boat today and were detained
After a day spent trapped without water or electricity, the chief Watson Trujillo announced the end of the hostage
The government and police did not comment on the incident, which took place on a tributary of the Maranon river.
Indigenous communities had been blocking the transit of all vessels on the river in protest over the spill, which was caused by a rupture in the Norperuano oil pipeline.
On September 27, the government declared a 90-day state of emergency in the affected region, which is home to the Cuninico and Urarinas communities and where about 2,500 indigenous people live.
The 800km-long Norperuano pipeline, owned by state-owned Petroperu, was built four decades ago to transport crude oil from the Amazon to ports.
According to Petroperu, the spill was the result of an intentional eight-inch cut in the pipeline.
Indigenous anger over oil spills
On September 16, a state-run Petroperu pipeline ruptured, leaking oil into the Cuninico ravine which contaminated the river downstream.
Chief Galo Vásquez said: ‘El Cuninico is at the mouth of the ravine that flows into the waters of the Marañón River.
‘All the communities that are downstream, called San Francisco, San Antonio, Esperanza, San Pedro and so on up to Nauta were affected.’
The crisis led to a lack of water in the community and fishing became impossible in the remote region.
Petroperu mobilised an emergency response team on the day of the spill and later reported the pipeline was intentionally cut.
But since then, locals say state officials have failed to provide adequate help for their ravaged communities.
The indigenous people use the river for drinking water, fishing and cleaning.
A week after the spill, the community received food and water supplies, which they said only lasted two days.
A previous spill in 2014 already damaged relations between the locals and the state.
They say the 50-year-old pipes are no longer fit for purpose and fear future spills are inevitable.
The community also believes they have been suffering from oil contamination from previous spills, and the government is not adequately checking water safety.
Source: Read Full Article