Peru: indigenous uprising claims victory — for now
Submitted by WW4 Report

Indigenous groups in Peru ended more than a week of militant protests Aug. 20 at key
energy sites after lawmakers agreed to overturn a new land law issued by President
Alan García, which sought to ease corporate access to communal territories. García
had issued the law by decree earlier under special powers Congress granted him to
bring Peruvian law into compliance with a new free-trade deal with the US. A
congressional commission voted to revoke the law Aug. 19, and floor vote is expected
later this week. “We have lifted the strike,” said Alberto Pizango, head of Amazon
indigenous alliance AIDESEP. “We have faith and expect Congress to follow through.”
(Reuters, Aug. 20)

Accords signed between Pizango and Congressional president Javier
Velásquez Quesquén commit AIDESEP to ending the occupations of energy installations
and Congress to open debate on the repeal of Legislative Decree 1015. It also
commits Congress to establish a multi-party commission to study the situation of indigenous

peoples in Peru and to demand the executive branch overturn the state of emergency declared in

much of the PeruvianAmazon. (RPP Noticias, Peru, Aug. 20) Under old laws, a two-thirds

majority of eachindigenous community was required before land could be sold.

García’s new law changed this to a simple majority. (The Independent, UK, Aug.21)

The Congressional Commission on Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples,
Environment and Ecology agreed in principle to bring any new land law into
compliance with Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. The
Commission also issued an official document to the Executive calling for the
overturn of Supreme Decree 058-2008-PCM, imposing the states of emergency. (Radio
Nacional, Peru, Aug. 21)

On Aug. 20, the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI)
launched a permanent vigil outside the Constitutional Tribunal, Peru’s high court,
demanding the body strike down decrees 1015 and 1073. (CNR, Peru, Aug. 20) DL 1073,
a modification to the original decree, was promulgated in July is an attempt to
soften indigenous opposition. AIDESEP rejected the new decree, charging that it did
not alter the fundamentals of the earlier one. (AIDESEP, July 4)

Indigenous leaders warned that the minimum demand of overturning the decrees would
not secure communal territories, as land invaders and employees of resource
companies who have been on the lands in question for over a year can be considered
comuneros under the law—with a binding vote on the fate of the territories. (Pulsar
Agency, Aug. 20)

The emergency decree of Aug. 18 affects the provinces of Bagua and Utcubamba
(Amazonas region), Datem del Marañón (Loreto), and Echarate district of La
Convención province (Cusco). The decree is protested by the Pro-Human Rights
Association of Peru (APRODEH), which states the protests “are due to the grave
threats to the ancestral territories of the indigenous peoples,” and charges that
“the Peruvian state has granted concessions in saidterritories to oil and gas companies,

without holding any consultation with theindigenous peoples who inhabit these areas.”

(Europa Press, Aug. 19)

The head of García’s Council of Ministers, Jorge Del Castillo, defended the state of
emergency, saying the army had re-established control of the occupied El Muyo
hydro-electric plant and stations 5, 6 and 7 of the North Peru Oil Pipeline
(Oleoducto Norperuano. He asserted that if theinstallations had not been secured,

“tonight we would have had to cut electricalenergy to the department of Amazonas.”

He said that allowing the occupations tocontinue would mean the “energy collapse of

the country.” (AP, Aug. 19) Del Castillocalled the protests a “conspiracy against national

security.” (Pulsar Agency, Aug.20) Re-taking the installations resulted in clashes

between thousands of indigenousprotesters and the army in Bagua. Hospital

officials in the jungle city said ninecivilians were being treated for injuries.
(AP, Aug. 21)

Environment Minister Antonio Brack also backed up the emergency
declaration, noting that protesters threatened to close down the Camisea gas export
pipeline. “The government of Peru cannot permit it,” he said. (The Independent, UK,
Aug. 21)

President Alan García warned Aug. 20 that lawmakers would be making an historic
mistake by repealing his new land. In a televised speech, the president said a
repeal would condemn Peru’s indigenous and rural
communities to “another century of poverty and marginalization.” (AP, BBC World
Service, Aug. 21)

Earlier this month, the United Nations held a celebration of theInternational Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, where Secretary General BanKi-moon expressed the UN’s dedication to ending the”expropriation of [indigenouspeoples’] traditional lands.” (Jurist, Aug. 19)


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