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Peru: The Blogosphere Remembers Bagua

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

A year from the tragic incidents in Bagua, where officially 34 people died (23 of them were policemen) and unofficial reports speak of a much larger number of casualties, Peruvians used blogs to express their different feelings: pain remembering what happened, frustration because the issue has not been resolved yet, and disenchantment with policies from the government that seem to favor businesses instead of individuals.

March remembering Bagua. Picture taken by writer Juan Arellano, used with his permission.

A lot of articles [es] in the Peruvian [es] media [es] reflect on the incidents and the way the government and the population in general should assume and rethink their attitudes toward the Amazonian communities. Moreover, events took place in the locality of Bagua [es] and in Lima [es] remembering last year's incidents. But let's go over the response from blogs. Silvio Rendón from the blog Gran Combo Club describes what happened and reflects on the events in A un año del 5J en Amazonas [es] (A Year from the 5J in the Amazon):

Hace un año señalé que estaríamos ante la revolución amazónica de 2009. Y lo estuvimos, sólo que fue una revolución amazonense más que amazónica. En Amazonas desacataron una autoridad que consideraban arbitraria, tomaron comisarías y el local del partido gobernante, tomaron y mataron rehenes, fueron ametrallados desde el aire y finalmente fueron derrotados militarmente. La población de Bagua Grande se levantó al enterarse del desalojo policial en Siempre Viva (lo que Lima prefieren llamar la Curva del Diablo) … La de Amazonas fue una revolución triunfante pues logró que el gobierno derogara los decretos de la selva, o más precisamente, logró que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos gestionara que el gobierno peruano derogara los decretos de la selva.

A year ago I said that we would be facing the Amazonian revolution of 2009 [es]. We did, just that it was a revolution in the Amazon more than an Amazonian revolution. In the Amazon they kicked out a leader they considered arbitrary, they took over commissaries and the place where the governing party met, they captured and killed hostages, were gunned down from the air and finally defeated by the military. The people of Bagua Grande woke up to find Siempre Vivo (what in Lima they like to call la Curva del Diablo) cleared up of policemen…The Amazon was a revolution which triumphed because it managed to make the government abolish decrees of the jungle, or more precisely, it managed to make the United States government interfere so that the Peruvian government would abolish the decrees of the jungle.

The rest of the post is very enlightening, with facts and reports from Bagua itself. Another illuminating post is Antonio Peña Jumpa’s from the blog Derecho y Desastre (Law and Disaster) where he gives us his legal opinion [es] on the conflict:

El Derecho es el medio y el fin para resolver conflictos. Sin embargo, a la fecha, las autoridades del Estado no han emitido un informe jurídico uniforme sobre los acontecimientos para alcanzar una solución. Cuando menos hay 3 informes. Pero también existe una gran dificultad para que nuestras propias autoridades (Congreso y Poder Judicial) coincidan en identificar constitucional y legalmente a los responsables o los autores intelectuales de los sucesos. Mientras se carezca de sanciones efectivas a los responsables, el Derecho de los muertos y heridos permanecerá en duda y es probable que las víctimas o sus familiares no cesen de reclamarlo.

Law is the means and the end to resolve conflicts. However, to this day, state authorities have not issued a uniform legal report about the events to reach a solution. There are at least 3 reports. But there is also great difficulty for our own authorities (Congress and the Judicial Power) to coincide in identifying consitutionally and legaly those responsable or the intellectual authors of the incidents. While effective sanctions for those responsable are lacking, the rights of the dead and wounded will remain in doubt and it is probable that the victims or their families won’t cease to claim those rights.

Paco Bardales, a lawyer and blogger from Loreto –Peru’s largest yet sparingly populated region in the Amazon Rainforest– prefers to speak out [es] from his regional viewpoint:

nosotros, los amazónicos, los olvidados por el Perú oficial. Un drama que viene de siglos, apenas visibilizado, incomprendido o ignorado por quienes tienen el deber de descubrir procesos de integración. … Creer que la tragedia se debe a arrestos de “ciudadanos de segunda clase” es no querer entender que la Amazonía es un todo de múltiples visiones y formas de entender el mundo, algunas muy lejanas a la mentalidad occidental, que tienen no sólo el derecho sino la obligación de ser integradas al país.

we the amazonians, those forgotten by the official Peru. A century old tragedy that is barely visible, misunderstood and ignored by those who have the duty to come up with integration processes… Believing that the tragedy is a result of the arrest of “second-class citizens” is not wanting to understand that the Amazon makes up a whole with multiple views and ways of understanding the world, some very far from Western mentality, who not only have the right but also the obligation of being integrated into the country.

Additionally, the blogger from Trobador Sin Suerte (Unlucky Troubadour) does not have a very optimistic view on the current situation and says[es]:

Bagua no ha servido para un acercamiento entre el Perú oficial y el real, simplemente ha servido para corroborar qué, a pesar de las optimistas cifras macro-económicas, de las inversiones rebosantes, de ese aroma a primer mundo que emiten las vitrinas de los Centros Comerciales, seguimos siendo una República Bananera, donde los recursos naturales se rematan debajo de la mesa, las leyes se modifican para beneficiar al poderoso, nos gobierna un presidente asesino reincidente en matar ilusiones.

Bagua has not worked as a way to bring together the official Peru and the real one, it has simply corroborated that, despite optimistic macro-economic figures, despite the overflowing investments, despite that First-world smell coming from the windows of the Shopping Centers, we are still a Banana Repulic, where natural resources are gambled uner the table, laws are modified to benefit the powerful, and we are governed by a president who is a recidivist killer of hopes.

The blogger from Agenda Multicolor (Multi-color Agenda) is disenchanted with Peruvian society and expresses her view in a post called Bagua [es]:

El 05 es un año de las muertes en Bagua. Todos seremos amazónicos nuevamente, gritaremos que la selva no se vende y grafitearemos “resistencia amazónica” en las paredes… Al menos un año después tengan la amabilidad de enterarse bien, al menos por respeto a los muertos o por el miedo a la muerte. Esta no es tu oportunidad para la lucha de clases, su “guerrilla” estuvo compuesta por madres e hijos mal alimentados que dejaron sus casas para ver la muerte. Tampoco es esto un ataque zurdo a tu querida empresa meditado por Hugo Chávez manipulando a pobre infelices analfabetos. Esto es más grande […] Nos odiamos y nos matamos. Sistemáticamente, institucionalmente, históricamente.

The 5th marks a year since the deaths in Bagua. We will all be Amazonians again, we will shout that the jungle can’t be sold and we will graffiti “Amazonian Resistance” on the walls…At least a year later have the courtesy of getting well informed, at least for respect of the dead or for fear of death. This is not an opportunity for class struggle, its “guerilla” was made up of malnourished mothers and children that left their houses to see death. It is also not a leftist attack on your dear business as meditated by Hugo Chávez manipulating poor unhappy illiterate people. This is bigger […] We hate and kill each other. Systematically, institutionally, historically.

Finally, with a more positive view, from Santiago, Chile the group Colectivo Plaza de Armas writes [es] in the blog Peruanos en Chile (Peruvians in Chile) describing how they remembered the anniversary, concluding with an idea to solve issues related to the incidents in Bagua:

El Taller de Marinera “Plaza de Armas” que se reúne los sábados en la entrada del metro Dorsal rindió homenaje a los policías y comuneros muertos en el baguazo. Antes de iniciar su sesión se pusieron velas en el suelo que a pesar de ser de día brillaron en el alma de cada uno. Entre baile y baile cada uno de los asistentes dijo algo sobre sus deseos para la amazonía en particular y para nuestra patria en general. La idea general es que los pueblos originarios deben dejar de ser dominados por un régimen que mantiene el espíritu de la colonia y comenzar a ser ellos quienes gobiernen.

The workshop “Plaza de Armas” which gets together on Saturday at the entrance of metro station Dorsal, paid homage to the policemen and commoners who died in “el baguazo.” Before the session began they placed candles on the floor which shined in the soul of every one despite the fact they were under daylight. Between dances each of those who assisted said something about their desires for the Amazon in particular and for our country in general. The general idea is that indigenous people have to stop being dominated by a regime that maintains a colonial spirit and they need to be the ones that govern themselves.

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

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