Reportes internacionales

From Rabble.ca

The rhetoric was sharp enough to cut down Amazonian hardwoods. Yesterday, Sunday June 7th, after a number of ministers had been paraded out Saturday and the day before, Peru’s el Señor Presidente, Alan Garcia decided to make it personal. After a joint police-military operation aimed at stopping an Indigenous protest had gone awry, leaving many dead on both sides, Garcia declared the Indigenous elements to be standing in the way of progress, in the path of national development, wrenches in the gears of modernity, and part of an international conspiracy to keep Peru down. In a troubling statement on the resemblance of the Indigenous protestors to the infamous Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) armed insurrection, Garcia seemed to imply the Natives were a band of terrorists as he stood in front of hundreds of military officers in a nationally televised speech. He continued to decry the Indian barbarity and savagery, and called for all police and military to stand against savagery.

The Declaration lays out provisions that clearly establish the rights to free, prior and informed consent over development projects in Indigenous territories, and the right to be involved in any decision making processes that would impact on Indigenous Peoples’ lands, resources or rights. Repeated demands have called for there to be dialogue with Indigenous groups. Garcia’s response? Yes, there has been dialogue – within the government, by elected officials. Obviously, this hasn’t done enough to safeguard the rights, the lives, and the livelihoods of Amazon peoples, and a number of the new laws have been shown to be unconstitutional. Indigenous leaders quickly condemned the tragic loss of lives as the fault of the government, who was not committed to dialogue, but arms. Even the ex-president has placed the blame on Garcia for not seeking dialogue with Indigenous representatives.

Local sources instead claim they were sleeping, unarmed, when bullets were fired in their direction. When the police finally arrived to physically remove protestors, it was then that many police were disarmed, killed, or taken prisoner by the masses of protestors, probably numbering over 2,000 in days prior, now down to a few hundred. By now, the war had been declared, and wouldn’t stop well into the night as police and military continued in a violent sweep, ending up going into the towns and reportedly searching house by house in vengeance. Police entered with weapons of war against civilians. Now the military has been reported to be wearing civilian clothing to carry out what seems more and more to resemble a civil war. Families decry that they haven’t been allowed to enter the areas to search for missing family, or enter jails to visit and feed prisoners. All this done in a declared state of emergency, with many liberties and human rights withdrawn for local citizens.

On the other side, Indigenous groups reported at least 30 civilians and Natives were killed, but also that government officials had gone through lengths to disappear some of the bodies, a claim documented by Amazon Watch (see link below). Some AIDESEP members in the communities dispute that the number is much higher, closer to 100, including peasants and civilians. Video evidence clearly shows Natives armed only with spears against a tactical unit in one confrontation, and photos show police firing live weapons from the roofs, reportedly into crowds gathered below. A national newspaper even reported that one could clearly find pictures of more than a dozen Natives and civilians dead, online. No matter, the numbers had suddenly taken on a new importance.

Take the issue of development. Indigenous communities have repeatedly said they aren’t against development, but it has to be a different kind of development, one more responsible. A reasonable claim, especially considering that the loss of the Amazon rainforest is one of the top drivers of climate change. On the issue of leadership and responsibility, the government has maintained that this was a top-down movement led by Alberto Pizango, president of AIDESEP, the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest, an Indigenous organization with representation from Amazon communities. This flies in the face of the history of the protest, which has literally involved thousands of communities, and shown itself to be led by local communities in their own decision making structures. The government has instead tried to pin the blame on Pizango as the main instigator, as a political agent of other parties or perhaps other countries, and a criminal mastermind who has tricked his followers into rallying against perfectly good legislation.

The other easily disputed claim is that this is an Indigenous movement uniquely, the implication being that this does not apply to anyone non-Indigenous, and others should repudiate the movement. It is well known in and around the Amazonian towns, however, that there have consistently been Mestizos, those of mixed race who make a slim majority of Peruvians, as part of the movement. In recent days reportedly a number of disenfranchised army reservists also decided to join the Indigenous cause. Looking at the protests in and around Bagua, it can clearly be seen that as many as half the protestors were not Indigenous, but were there in support. Also in the past, it has been a number of labour unions and farmer groups that have participated in national strikes, concerned over the same free trade agreements as Amazon communities. The implications here are critical, though, and seem to seek a precedent in declaring the Indigenous movement to be a criminal, or even terrorist, movement and outlaw their activities, organizations, and politics.

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NO A YANACOCHA!

UN DIA COMO HOY

EL COMERCIO MIENTE

El Comercio2

No a la Impunidad!!

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