Weekend Update #21: Gracias Para Peru
Russell Means offers thanks and encouragement on the continuing struggle in Peru. Much has been accomplished thanks to you, and much more needs be done.
In June, the 400,000 indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon won a significant victory: after ten weeks of protests, strikes and bloodshed, they persuaded Peru‘s President and Congress to repeal laws that ignored their rights and threatened the Amazon rainforest.
The struggle cost scores of lives (the exact number is yet to be established). The non-violent indigenous protesters gained broad support both nationally and internationally as military attacks on the protesters became more brutal and deadly.
“We felt that the laws annulled our existence. That’s why we rose up,” said Awajún leader Santiago Manuin, who was seriously wounded in the most deadly protest at Bagua.
Manuin continued: “Look at history, what’s happened to indigenous peoples, the deforestation, contaminated rivers…This is development? We don’t want this kind of development. Peru shouldn’t want this kind of development…But we are never consulted. They never tell us how they will assure that our children can continue to live in the forest, how they will protect the forest. We need a kind of development that starts from the forest and is for the forest; it will also be the best for Peru.”
What the protests gained:
– Two laws that would have opened the Amazon to unrestrained exploitation by logging, mining and oil companies were repealed by Congress.
- A process of negotiations was established.
- President Garcia will meet with Amazon indigenous leaders on July 20.
- The national Ombudsman introduced a bill that would require consultation with indigenous peoples, in compliance with ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- A Truth Commission will investigate the military attack on indigenous protesters at Bagua that cost at least 34 lives.
Why more international pressure is needed:
Labor, environmental and indigenous organizations continued strikes this week, pressing Congress to repeal the entire packet of 99 laws that were approved to facilitate a Free Trade Agreement with the US. President Garcia authorized a military response. The government issued arrest warrants on charges of sedition for indigenous leaders, forcing three leaders to seek political asylum in the Nicaraguan embassy.
Indigenous defenders of the Amazon rainforest are asking us to keep up the pressure on the President and Congress. Our letters should support indigenous peoples’ demands to:
– Cease the criminalization of protest
- Stop police and military actions against indigenous leaders and communities
- Align Peruvian laws with ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Guarantee indigenous peoples the right to free, prior and informed consent.
Please send letters to:
Presidente Alan García
Jirón de la Unión S/N 1 cda
If possible, send copies of your letter to:
Rafael Vásquez Rodríguez, President of Congress
(email@example.com, Fax +51 1- 311- 77- 03 )
Public Ombudsman Office of Peru
Peruvian Ambassador in your country (for contact details – see http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-of/Peru
UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Photo courtesy of Servindi.org
Originally from Global Response: