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Cultural Hypocrisy? Maya Exhibition Sponsored By Oil Giant Accused Of No Good In Guatemala

Anglo-French oil and gas giant Perenco accused of using cultural sponsorship to try to whitewash its polluting of the water of a Guatemalan nature reserve.

Lake Petén Itzá is one of Guatemala's many protected nature reserves (Adalberto H. Vega)
Lake Petén Itzá is one of Guatemala's many protected nature reserves (Adalberto H. Vega)

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

PARIS - French and Guatemalan environmental activists have been protesting in France this week against Perenco, an Anglo-French oil and gas company, accused of some high-culture hypocrisy.

Perenco, which has exploration and production sites in 16 countries, is trying to shine its image by sponsoring a newly-opened Maya exhibition at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. Yet protesters say that, beyond all the cultural niceties, the company is actively disrespecting Guatemala's natural heritage when prospecting for oil.

Backed up by Anibal Garcia, an independent Guatemalan candidate for Vice President, the protesters point to Perenco prospecting in the Guatemalan nature reserve Laguna del Tigre. Sulfur dioxide emissions produced by oil exploitation are polluting the local water of Laguna del Tigre, threatening its inhabitants, says Cynthia Benoist, the coordinator of Collectif Guatemala, a French organization that helps Guatemalan refugees.

Environmental organizations also claim that the armed guards hired by Perenco in the nature reserve are far from welcome. There also seems to be an underlying legal issue. Antonio Manganella, a member of CCFD – a French Catholic development organization committed to fighting hunger – says it is high time to put an end to the principle of limited liability adopted by multinational companies to protect them from incurring massive penalties. Otherwise, they will continue to do whatever they want without worrying about the consequences.

Read the full article in French by Céline Lussato.

Photo - Adalberto H. Vega

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