Peru: Government Attempts to Halt Protests in the North

The news media has started to provide more coverage of the protests taking place in Northern Peru. The newspaper La República writes that the commission headed up by Environmental Minister Antonio Brack did not accomplish much. More and more indigenous groups are joining the cause and guarding important state petroleum and hydroelectric companies. In addition, the federal government declared a state of emergency in the area, which calls for an imposition of order. However, the protests continue.

Very few bloggers from the capital city of Lima have been commenting on the matter, and as the blogger Desde el Tercer Piso [es] writes, “For those of us who live in Lima, it is difficult to understand why such a serious social conflict is taking place in our country's jungle.” He points to the Treaty signed by Peru years ago that calls for the state to consult with indigenous groups regarding their lands. The recent legislative decrees modified these agreements, and thinks that the Constitutional Tribunal should decide the matter. He adds that in addition to the possibility of unconstitutionality, there might be environmental concerns.

The blogger Milanta [es] also posts an analysis of the Legislative decrees that are affecting the indigenous communities. Susana Villarán [es] publishes a note about the dynamics of the dialogue between the indigenous groups and the government:

Los indígenas que se oponen a los DL recientemente dictados al amparo de las facultades delegadas por el Congreso quieren que el jefe de Gobierno les de la cara. Son jefes de sus Pueblos. Quieren al Jefe del gobierno. Allá o acá en Lima. Tienen razón. Me pregunto, sin embargo, por qué no va a Santa María de Nieva, a San Lorenzo el presidente García y les explica su punto de vista acerca de los supuestos beneficios que obtendrán los Pueblos Indígenas de los Decretos Ley que promulgó con tanto júbilo? ¿Tiene tiempo para los empresarios e inversionistas pero no para los indígenas en cuyas tierras se orienta la inversión? ¿Acaso los convocó a su Palacio antes de promulgar los DL para conocer su opinión y escucharlos y convencerlos o convencerse?. La concertación no es su fuerte y menos, el escuchar a quienes siempre han sido postergados y discriminados.

The indigenous that are opposed to the Legislative Decrees want for the head of the government to show up. They are heads of their communities. They want the head of the government. There or here in Lima. They are right. I ask myself, why doesn't President García go to Santa María de Nieva and San Lorenzo to explain his point of view regarding the supposed benefits that the Indigenous Communities would receive from the Decrees that he signed with such joy? He has time for businessmen and investors, but not for the indigenous whose lands are targets of the investment? Did he call them to the Palace before signing the Legislative Decrees in order to hear their opinions and try to convince them? Compromise is not his strength, and less hearing from those who have always been marginalized and discriminated against.

The blog El Útero de Marita [es] writes that there are other characters that may be involved in this conflict:

Cuidado, por ejemplo, con la presencia del humalista Víctor Isla, uno de los mayores sospechosos de la depredación de la selva, que está merodeando a las organizaciones indígenas alzadas. De hecho va a querer jalar agua para su molino. Por suerte, en la protesta también está el hermano Paul Mc Auley, fundador de la Red Ambiental de Loreto, y antagonista jurado de Isla. Lo increíble es que la PCM, según Correo, está tramitando ¡la expulsión del país Mc Auley! Eso sería no saber cómo se manejan internamente las cosas en la Amazonía. Sería ver, una vez más, las cosas en blanco y negro.

Be careful with the presence of Humalista (follower of Ollanta Humala, ex-presidential candidate), Víctor Isla, one of the chief suspects of pillaging the jungle, and who is prowling around with some indigenous organizations [es]. Surely he wants to take advantage of the situation. Luckily, also involved in the protest is Brother Paul McAuley, founder of the Environmental Network of Loreta and sworn enemy of Isla. Incredibly, the Council of Ministers, according to Correo, is working towards the expulsion of McAuley from the country! [es] This shows that they do not know how things work internally in the Amazon. It would be seeing things, once again, only in black and white.

Finally the blog Agencia de Noticias Spacio Libre [es] posts a video of the Army training in Iquitos in hopes of “reestablishing the public order.”

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