Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Peru Support Group is organising a public meeting on: ‘The Outcomes of Bagua: The Peruvian Amazon One Year on from the Violence’

This Blog is not only about my travels in this beautiful country, I also try to focus my interest and support on its culture and politics. I recently attended a meeting organised by the Peru Support GroupSpeakers included Amnesty International and CARE Peru.
On 5 June 2009, Peru witnessed probably the worse loss of life since the end of the country’s internal armed conflict in 2000, following protests by indigenous groups against a series of legislative decrees, collectively known as the 'Law of the Jungle' (Ley de la Selva). These were approved by President Alan García in 2008 to make Peruvian law conform to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.

 The protest by Indigenous Peoples against the exploitation of natural resources on lands traditionally occupied by them, which had been going on for 50 days on the stretch of road known as the Curva del Diablo leading to Bagua and Bagua Grande in Amazonas department, was broken up by police and resulted in the deaths of 33 people.

Twenty-three of those killed were police officers, five were local townspeople, and five were indigenous people. The fate of one police officer remains unknown to this day.

On 26 May 2010, Alberto Pizango, the leader of one of the Peru’s main indigenous organisations, AIDESEP (Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana), was immediately detained by Peruvian police when he returned from exile in Nicaragua. He had been granted asylum by the Nicaraguan government after the Peruvian authorities accused him of being responsible for the violence which led to the deaths in Bagua. He was released on bail the day following his detention, pending trial for the charges of sedition and conspiracy.

On 19 May 2010, Peru’s Congress passed the Law on the Right of Indigenous People to Consultation (Ley de Consulta) - a law providing for consultation with Indigenous People on matters that affect them. The law still has to be enacted by President García. If he observes it, the law will return to Congress and be subject to a parliamentary debate.

You can see the 2 presentations on the Peru Support Group website. Essentially they sum up the lack of progress to date and the need to establish some robust and trusted processes of investigation and some for of reconciliation for the loss of lives on both sides. The issue of rights to consultation of the indigenous peoples is still not resolved and there is therefore a need to continue to hold all sides to account and to ensure better process to resolve such hotly disputed land usage problems.