17 Jun 2009

More news from Peru

more great coverage from the Morning Star on Peru, thanks amigos, excellent stuff.

The indigenous are very well organised and politically astute, good for them...not that I am advocating violence

RESISTANCE PAYS: Amazonian Indians make their message heard in Lima

Peru’s government has promised indigenous communities that it will ask Congress to revoke decrees that would make it easier for multinationals to exploit their lands.

The Amazonian peoples' anger over the decrees sparked two months of road and river blockades that turned violent on June 5 when police opened fire on activists.

According to the government, at least 24 police officers and nine civilians were killed.

But indigenous leaders said that at least 30 members of their community had been killed and accused police of hiding bodies.

Cabinet chief Yehude Simon signed a conciliatory pact after a four-hour meeting with leaders of 390 indigenous communities on Monday in the central jungle town of San Ramon.

The 12-point agreement specified that the government would present Congress with a proposal to revoke the decrees by tomorrow.

Environment Minister Antonio Brack, a member of the government delegation, said that it had also offered to end a state of emergency and curfew in Amazonas state, where the June 5 violence took place.

He said that indigenous leaders had promised to end a blockade that has cut a key road into the central Amazon in return.

At a news conference, Mr Simon argued that President Alan Garcia's attempt to encourage what he called environmentally friendly development had been misinterpreted by the indigenous people.

He said that dialogue is now important to build the "confidence that has been lost," vowing that the government "will defend the Amazon from indiscriminate logging and will defend it against environmental contamination."

Although Peru's main Amazon indigenous federation AIDESEP did not participate in Monday's talks, it will join talks with the government that are to begin immediately in Lima.

The government had previously snubbed indigenous attempts to be consulted about development in the region.

Ruben Binari, a leader of the Machiguenga people in the Urubamba region, said: "We don't reject dialogue. On the contrary, dialogue and peace in the Amazon are what we want."

Congress indefinitely suspended the controversial decrees last Wednesday, a day before a nationwide wave of mostly peaceful anti-government protests.

The decrees, including a forestry law widely interpreted as promoting biofuel crops and logging, were among several promulgated by Mr Garcia to comply with a free-trade agreement with the United States that took effect in January.

Protest leader and AIDESEP President Alberto Pizango remained in the Nicaragua embassy on Monday.

He sought refuge there after sedition and rebellion charges were filed against him.

Nicaragua granted him political asylum but he has yet to receive safe passage out of Peru.

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