Social conflict continues in Cusco, Peru over the sale of the gas from the Camisea Gas Project, where local residents demand an increase in the amount of royalties for the region, and they also want to assure that a part of the production remains in the region available at a reasonable price. To date, gas has been sold at a higher price locally, than the price of the exported gas. After the June 17 strike [es] that took place in various departments in Southern Peru against the sale of gas, and after President Alan García announced [es] in his Independence Day message to the nation that the sale of gas would not stop, but that there would be renegotiation of the royalties of the sale, came news of an indefinite strike [es] that was announced in the province of La Convención in late July.
The protests have been concentrated in Quillabamba, the capital of La Convención, and in the area of Echararte, where various gas stations are located. On July 30, 17 people who tried to overtake these facilities were detained [es]. Due to these attempts and because fiber optic cable was cut [es] by the protesters, the government declared a state of emergency [es] in the region, a measure that was rejected [es] by the regional president of Cusco. The 17 people were later released [es].
Meanwhile, members of Congress and government ministers declared that these actions were part of the political platform [es] of certain people (referring to the protest leaders) or that they were using the excuse of gas [es] to generate conflict. The regional leaders refused to travel to the capital city of Lima [es] to negotiate an agreement, and on the contrary, called for government representatives to appear in the region.
These events have various sides. For example, the opinions expressed about the negotiation of the royalties have led to some suspicions and disbelief. Gladys Pereyra of the blog Pizarra Blanca [es] comments:
Lo que se pretende con esta renegociación es evitar que los peruanos paguemos más que los extranjeros por un gas que nos pertenece. ¿Es esto posible? La propuesta es aumentar las regalías … y con ello equilibrar el precio nacional e internacional. Eso sí, reiterando siempre que los contratos originales “hayan sido hecho antes” del actual gobierno, el precio del gas para la exportación “no fue adecuadamente planteado”
And Jorge Manco of Bitácora del Perú y del Mundo [es] provides analysis from the economic point of view, but not obvious with the political point of view, above all that from the left and concludes:
En la presente coyuntura política de tránsito político, la izquierda tiene el desafío de asumir un discurso moderno que promueva la inversión privada, facilite la capitalización del país en condiciones equitativas para el Estado, empresas y regiones. De allí, que la negación dogmática a la exportación del gas natural nos haría retroceder a la vigencia de políticas insensatas e irresponsables del pasado, donde “el remedio resultaba peor que la enfermedad”. Por tanto, el gobierno debe con firmeza liberar las reservas del lote 88 de los compromisos de exportación y renegociar los precios y regalías del lote 56.
In the blog Gran Combo Club [es], Silvio Rendón focuses on the topic and the inability of the government facing the protests. Rather than analyzing the relevance of what was claimed, they prefer to accuse the protesters of politicking and even though it was a pre-announced protest, nothing was done to prevent it.
Recién ayer domingo el gobierno saca un comunicado condenando a los que protestan tildándolos de “dirigentes electoreros”, pues se presentan como candidatos a las elecciones regionales y municipales, con el objetivo, según el gobierno de apoderarse de los recursos “de todos los peruanos”. Hay un campesino desaparecido, aquí. También: La Convención en paro contra la venta del gas de Camisea. Ora se presenta a los dirigentes sociales como distantes de las autoridades políticas, ver aquí, ora se los presenta como “electoreros”. Difícil articular una propuesta política a partir de protestas y movimientos sociales cuando se criminaliza a esta articulación como “electorera”.
The following video (used with permission) from Enlace Nacional shows the protest act of washing of the flag by members of the Workers Federation of Cusco:
After these escalating protests and the governments refusal to negotiate with the protesters, Monsignor Carbrejos, president of the Episcopal Conference mediated [es]. He traveled to the town of Quillabamba to try and calm things down and bring both parties together to sit down and talk. Talks finally took place on Monday, August 9, when the Premier Velásquez Quesquén appeared in the town of Kiteni [es] in Echarate to dialogue with representatives of the communities after they decided to suspend the strike. For the moment, there is calm, however, we must be vigilant because the suspension of the strike is temporary. If the government does not fulfill its promises, the strike will restart.
More news can be found on the blogs Sicuani Noticias [es] and Quillabamba Noticias [es]. In addition, this blog republished an article from Mexico that provides another perspective on the topic: Natural gas from Peru: For Mexico or for Repsol? [es]