Social, cultural, and human rights challenges
The presence of mining and oil operations can have negative cultural consequences for isolated indigenous communities. The influx of mine or oil-rig employees demanding entertainment and other services changes the social structure in local areas.
Some inhabitants find that these changes, which can include the introduction of prostitution, bars, and discos, threaten their local culture and way of life. The local political and cultural leadership can often be overwhelmed by the new role it must play when a town becomes dependent on international oil or mining company social programs. And when the resources are exhausted and the companies and workers exit, communities can be left culturally and politically unstable.
Indigenous communities have special rights regarding mining and oil extraction activities on their lands. The ILO Convention 169—International Labor Organization's Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries—is designed to protect ownership of traditional lands by indigenous communities, allowing them to manage development according to their own priorities. ILO Convention 169 expressly says, "The people concerned shall wherever possible participate in the benefits of such activities and shall receive fair compensation for any damages which they may sustain as a result of such activities."
Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru have all signed and ratified ILO Convention 169; however, the key protections are not always reflected in their national laws.