2 Oct 2008
Free Hugo Blanco
To all defenders of Human Rights
This morning, Hugo Blanco, ex peasant-leader and ever-present social activist, was arrested on orders of the court of Paruro, and taken to a cell in the court of Cusco. According to Peruvian law, senior citizens over the age of 70 should not be incarcerated. Mr Blanco is 73 years old and has previously suffered brain haemorrhage.
The background is an illegal occupation of land belonging to the indigenous community of Huanoquite – Paruro – Cusco – Peru, by the son of an ex-landowner. 50 years ago the landowner Paz was famous for branding his farmers with the same burning stick that he used to brand his animals. Hugo Blanco lead the land struggle that resulted in the farmers themselves gaining ownership of the land. It is this same land that his son is now illegally occupying.
The police have taken the side of the landowner against the community, and have accused the farmers and Hugo Blanco of ‘Resistance to authority’. They could not accuse the farmers of land occupation, since they actually hold the deeds for the land. In this accusation, they included Mr Blanco for having supported the community on previous occasions, despite the fact that he was not even there on the day the farmers decided to take back the land that is legally theirs.
Since he was not notified that he was accused of ‘Resistance to authority’, he did not present himself to give a statement. Therefore the judge ordered his arrest. Tomorrow he will be taken to Paruro to give his statement.
I call on all political organisations, the media and defenders of Human Rights, to show solidarity and spread this news.
Let us hope that this case will be solved quickly, and that it will serve to expose the systematic abuses against the indigenous, in this community as well as in many others, who are the legitimate owners of the land, but have been oppressed for centuries. Let us also show the authorities that the national and international solidarity are aware of the increasing tendencies to criminalize social struggle and social activists in Peru.
Please send protest letters to the Peruvian embassy as well as releasing statements. Please also send a copy of all letters to Lucha Indigena, the newspaper edited by Hugo Blanco, and to myself, in order to keep a record of the British solidarity.
Peruvian Embassy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucha Indigena: email@example.com
Oscar Blanco Berglund: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oscar Blanco Berglund