Peru: Indigenous uprising deepens

May 9, 2009

An uprising by the Amazonian indigenous people of Peru continues to grow and get more radical in the face of government inaction.

Beginning on April 9, indigenous people blocked roads and river ways and took over airports and company installations across Peru's Amazonian region to protest against laws implemented by the government of President Alan Garcia.

The Interethnic Association of Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP) is leading the uprising. It said the laws opened up Peru's natural resources to greater looting by foreign transnationals, as well as attacking indigenous land rights and community organising.

The Free Trade Agreement signed between Peru and the US is also opposed by the indigenous people.

AIDESEP unites more than 1350 communities from 60 different indigenous groups across the Peruvian Amazon.

An April 20 meeting between indigenous representatives and the government ended with an agreement to set up a dialogue roundtable. However, Prime Minister Yehude Simon has failed to comply with the promise, causing further protests.

A May 4 DERF article reported that more than 3000 indigenous people were on the verge of taking over station six of Petroperu in Imaza, which protesters had surrounded for days.

Production was already seriously affected and protestors threatened to enter the gasfields and shut off the valves if Congress did not cede to their demands.

AIDESEP said members of the Awajun and Wampis communities had already taken over station five and were planning to take over station four, both located in Imaza.

"Meanwhile, the province of Atalaya, region Ucayali, has been converted into a city besieged by 2,500 native ashaninkas and yines, who for a week have had the local airport under their control in support of the indigenous strike", DERF said.

Teresita Antazu Lopez, a representative of the Union of Ashaninkas and Yaneshas Nationalities (UNAY), said from May 4, communities in the central jungle region would also join the struggle.

The agreement "was adopted in a meeting with the organisation Apatyawaka Nampitsi Asháninka Pichis (ANAP), the mothers of The Glass of Milk, and the farmers in the Pachitea – Palcazo zone, in the regions of Pasco, Huanuco and Junin".

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