Peru

Tens of thousands of workers and peasants rallied across Peru on July 9 as part of a general strike called by the General Confederation of Workers (CGTP) against the neoliberal policies of the government of President Alan Garcia.
The following article is abridged from a June 26 post on http://peruanista.blogspot.com. The full article, along with a series of videos on the struggle, can be found at http://links.org.au.
Human rights group Rights Action, in a March 22 statement, said it was “extremely concerned about the current violations of fundamental human rights in Peru, particularly the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right of peaceful assembly and association”.
Below is a March 4 statement released by Hugo Blanco, a veteran revolutionary and campesino (peasant) leader. He is currently the director of the magazine Lucha Indigena. This statement was translated by Philip Stuart Cournoyer, and is reprinted from international socialist e-journal Links, http://links.org.au.
On December 4, US President George Bush was delighted to announce that the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (dubbed “PeruFTA”) had finally cleared the Congress. Since late 2005, when PeruFTA was approved by Peru, the Bush administration has campaigned relentlessly to secure the free trade deal’s endorsement by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
As we passed by the Tintaya open-pit copper mine, I was unprepared for the scene of utter desolation. The fully laden hired lorry was heading back to Arequipa from the highland town of Yauri, where my companions had purchased 20 head of ganado (cattle) earlier that morning. The cattle market had seemed impressive enough to my untutored eyes, but it was nothing like the old days, they informed me.
On August 15, the cities of Ica and Pisco located in the southern region of Peru were hit by a massive earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale. This was the first quake recorded in living history in this area. It resulted in the loss of 540 lives, and immense physical destruction; 80% of buildings within the heart of Pisco collapsed, and more than 16000 people were left without housing and basic services.
On August 15, the cities of Ica and Pisco located in the southern region of Peru were hit by a massive earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale. This was the first quake recorded in living history in this area. It resulted in the loss of 540 lives, and immense physical destruction; 80% of buildings within the heart of Pisco collapsed, and more than 16000 people were left without housing and basic services.
Popular resistance to neoliberal “reform” was the underlying cause of Peru’s July general strike. On July 5, public schoolteachers walked off the job over government plans to privatise education. Within days, discontented workers from other industries joined the embattled teachers. Before long, schools, mines, factories and construction sites were shut down as tens of thousands of striking protesters took to the streets of every major city demanding higher pay, improved conditions and revisions to the US-Peru free-trade agreement. Peasant farmers joined the mass mobilisation, closing roads and paralysing transport networks.
Survival International reported on August 2 that a large group of uncontacted Indians had fled to Bananeira, a remote village across the border in Brazil. It is believed that the Indians were escaping illegal loggers, who have been destroying their lands in their search for “red gold” (rare mahogany) in Peru’s rainforests. Jose Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Junior, head of the Indian Protection post near the Peru border, said in an urgent alert to the Brazilian government that, “We are on the verge of disaster. Illegal logging in protected areas in Peru is pushing the uncontacted tribes into Brazil, which could cause conflicts and lead to their appearance in places where they have never been seen before.” Because of their isolation, the Indians, among some of the world’s last uncontacted tribes, do not have immunity to diseases that could be contracted by contact with outsiders. Survival International director Stephen Corry said: “If it’s not ‘black gold’, it’s ‘red gold’. The Peruvian government must act now to stop the logging on the uncontacted tribes’ land. If it doesn’t, they could be the first people to be made extinct in the 21st century.” Visit <http://survival-international.org>.

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