National Dignity Day / Oil Worker Day in Peru Date in the current year: October 9, 2024

National Dignity Day / Oil Worker Day in Peru National Dignity Day (Día de la Dignidad Nacional) was a public holiday in Peru commemorating the nationalization of the petroleum industry. Today, it is celebrated only in the province of Talara as Oil Worker Day (Día del Trabajador Petrolero).

The petroleum industry is one of the main economic sectors in Peru, although it suffered a significant blow in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is the seventh largest holder of crude oil reserves in Central and South America.

Peru’s state oil company, Petroperú, is one of the largest taxpayers; it employs over 2,500 people and invests in healthcare, education, and sustainable development projects. Petroperú was founded over half a century ago as a result of the nationalization of the petroleum industry.

In August 1968, Peruvian president Fernando Belaúnde settled a long-standing dispute with the International Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey, over licenses to the rich La Brea y Pariñas oil fields in Talara Province. However, Peruvians were angry that the settlement included a compensation payment to Standard Oil.

When a key page of the contract between the Peruvian government and the American oil company went missing, the Peruvian Armed Forces staged a coup deposing Belaúnde and his administration. The bloodless coup was led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado, who seized power on October 3, 1968.

Five days after the coup, the Armed Forces took over the La Brea y Pariñas oil fields. The next day, Alvarado ordered the nationalization of the assets of the International Petroleum Company in Talara Province. This move greatly helped sway public opinion in favor of the new regime, allowing Alvarado to consolidate his grip on power and establish a military dictatorship.

The following year, Alvarado ordered the creation of a state-owned oil and gas company, which was named Petróleos del Perú (Petroperú). Today, Petroperú is a strategically important enterprise that owns several refineries throughout the country and plays an important role in providing Peru with energy (the share of fossil energy in the country’s electricity sector is over 50%). The company produces fuels, solvents, asphalts, and naphthenic acids.

Following the nationalization of the oil industry, the new government of Peru declared its anniversary, October 9, a public holiday named National Dignity Day. It was celebrated annually throughout the era of Velasco’s military rule. The celebration ceased after the overthrow of Velasco in 1975 and was formally removed from the official holiday calendar in 1980, following the restoration of a democratic government.

However, National Dignity Day is still celebrated in Talara Province, where it is also known as Oil Worker Day. It is officially recognized by the provincial authorities. In Talara, the nationalization of the oil industry is commemorated with a Te Deum Mass, a flag raising ceremony, and other events celebrating the country’s oil industry and all people who work in it.

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National Dignity Day in Peru, Oil Worker Day in Peru, professional holidays, nationalization of the petroleum industry in Peru