Open Letter from Peruvian Indigenous Leaders to Vanguard Leadership

UPDATE, Thursday September 15, 2022: The delegation of impacted communities traveling to Vanguard’s HQ have had to postpone the trip due to factors beyond their control. The fight to stop PetroPerú is ongoing; we’ll update when we have more details. 

Vanguard says that mitigating climate risk is a priority, but its corporate practices don’t align: it is failing to prioritize engagement with companies that are causing irreparable damage to our climate, with over $300 billion invested in fossil fuels, and it continues to invest in projects that are harming frontline and Indigenous communities.

One of these projects is by PetroPerú, a state-owned Peruvian company that recently purchased and “modernized” an oil refinery on the coast of Peru for $5.3 billion dollars. Now, in an effort to recoup their losses modernizing the refinery, PetroPerú is back seeking financing from banks and asset managers, including Vanguard, to fund the extraction of oil in the Peruvian Amazon. This is happening in the Achuar and the Wampis territory labeled by the state of Peru as Block 64.

That’s why on September 8, leaders of Indigenous nations in the Peruvian Amazon sent an open letter to Vanguard leadership in which they express deep concerns about Vanguard’s investments in Petroperú, the latest in a long line of oil companies that the Achuar and Wampis peoples have, thus far, successfully prevented from opening up drilling operations in their ancestral territories.

Click here to sign the petition telling Vanguard to stop funding human rights abuses via Petroperú

Below is a copy of the letter (translated to English) from Nelton Yankur Antich, President of the Peruvian Federation of Achuar Nationalities, and Teófilo Kukush, Pamuk of the Wampis Nation of Peru.

A delegation made up of Achuar and Wampis leaders and a Peruvian fisherman association representative (being impacted by the oil refinery on the coast contaminating the water and fish they live off of) are traveling from Peru to Malvern soon with a very specific ask: Stop Purchasing Toxic Bonds from PetroPerú!

Nelton and Atilio Nayap of the Wampis Nation have requested a meeting with Vanguard leadership to discuss why PetroPerú (or any oil company attempting to drill in Achuar and Wampis territory) represents such a threat to their peoples’ survival. You can read the letter below.

As of now, Vanguard has not responded. We will continue to update on if and how Vanguard responds to this urgent request.


Tim Buckley, CEO
Gregory Davis, Chief Investment Officer
John Galloway, Global Head of Investment Stewardship
Joseph Davis, Global Chief Economist & Head of Investment Strategy Group

To Mr. Buckley, Mr. Davis, Mr. Galloway, and Mr. Davis:

We write to you as representatives of the Achuar Nationality of Peru and the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation, Indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon. We hereby seek to make you aware of your complicity in serious threats to the well-being of our peoples and hope to initiate a dialogue to find a different way forward.

For decades, oil companies have tried to drill in Block 64: an oil block created in our territory without due consultation or consent of our communities. For decades, we have rejected these companies, one after another. Over the years, we have pushed oil companies like Occidental, Talisman and GeoPark out of our territories. Now, another company, the state oil company Petroperú, is trying to enter Block 64.

There is a common thread among these companies that have attempted to violate our land rights, the well-being of our communities, and the health of our lands: they are all funded by financial institutions like Vanguard. In fact, Vanguard is actively helping finance Petroperú’s operations by buying its bonds and then selling them to clients in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Despite the oil spills caused by companies like Petroperú and the human rights impacts suffered by so many communities, financial institutions like Vanguard continue to invest in them as if nothing had happened. As one of the world’s largest asset management companies, Vanguard’s investments can influence the companies in which it invests: companies that have a direct impact on our lives. Vanguard has already recognized the importance of engaging with local and indigenous communities. Therefore, the company has a responsibility to act and ensure that our rights are respected.

We hereby notify you that we will be traveling to Vanguard’s headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania on September 23rd. This is why we are writing to request a meeting with Vanguard’s leadership team to explain the harmful consequences of Vanguard’s funding and work to find a new way forward that strengthens Vanguard’s respect for the rights of Indigenous
peoples.

We look forward to hearing from you by Friday, September 16th.

Sincerely,
Nelton Yankur Antich, President of the Peruvian Federation of Achuar Nationalities
Teófilo Kukush, Pamuk of the Wampis Nation