Deadly Clashes Erupt in Peru’s Amazon Region
Posted by terres on June 6, 2009
50 killed in clashes at Peru Roadblock
The indigenous people, police and paramilitary members were among the dead
Up to 50 people have been killed in clashes between the security forces and indigenous people in the Amazon region in Peru.
The violence erupted as security forces tried to end fuel and transport blockades in Peru’s Amazon region, which the indigenous groups began in April.
Indigenous protesters fighting logging and drilling blocked a road in northern Peru on Friday as police tear gas hung in the air. (June 5, 2009). Photo: AP. Image may be subject to copyright.
The fighting reportedly occurred at a jungle highway near the town of Bagua, about 1,000km (600 miles) north of the capital, Lima.
The indigenous people in the Amazon region oppose plans by the government to open up communal jungle lands for oil exploration, logging, mining and large-scale farming.
Indigenous leaders said their campaign was a peaceful demonstration, however, the police using helicopters opened fire on demonstrators.
The government of president Alan Garcia, who authorized Peru’s military forces to support the police in the ongoing dispute, accused the Indians of “falling to a criminal level.”
Under Peru’s constitution the country’s mineral and hydrocarbon deposits are owned by the state, and president Garcia has declared that the benefit should go to all Peruvians [sic.]
Based on previous experience in the region, the indigenous people correctly maintain that the new laws will only make it easier for foreign corporations to exploit their land and the natural resources.
“In the case of oil, for instance, at least 58 of the 64 areas secured by multinational companies for oil exploration overlay lands titled to indigenous peoples, according to a study last year by scientists from Duke University.” The NYT reported.
“Now we have a government resorting to using military force to spearhead development of the Amazon,” said Paul McAuley, an environmental activist in the Amazonian city of Iquitos. “This cannot be a strategy that is sustainable.”
Who is Alan Garcia?
Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez (born May 23, 1949 in Lima, Peru) is the incumbent President of Peru; he won the 2006 elections on June 4, 2006, having previously served his first term as President from 1985 to 1990.
Alan Gabriel Ludwig García Pérez. Photo: Peru govt. Image may be subject to copyright.
According to studies of the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics and the United Nations Development Programme, around the start of his presidency, 41.6% of Peruvians lived in poverty. During his presidency, this percentage increased by 13% ( to 55%) in 1991. García also made an attempt to nationalize the banking and insurance industries. He incurred the wrath of the International Monetary Fund and the financial community by unilaterally declaring a limit on debt repayment equal to 10% of the Gross National Product, thereby isolating Peru from the international financial markets.
The economic turbulence exacerbated social tensions in Peru and contributed in part to the rise of the violent rebel movement Shining Path, which launched the internal conflict in Peru and began attacking electric towers, causing a number of blackouts in Lima. The García administration unsuccessfully sought a military solution to the growing terrorism, allegedly committing human rights violations which are still under investigation. These include the Accomarca massacre, where 47 campesinos were gunned to death by the Peruvian armed forces in August 1985, the Cayara massacre (May 1988) in which some thirty were killed and dozens disappeared, and the summary execution of more than 200 inmates during prison riots in Lurigancho, San Juan Bautista (El Frontón) and Santa Bárbara in 1986. According to an official inquiry, an estimated 1,600 forced disappearances took place during García’s presidency. His own personal involvement in these events is not clear. García was allegedly tied to the paramilitary Rodrigo Franco Command, which is accused of carrying out political murders in Peru during García’s presidency. [Wikipedia]
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