On June 5th, violence erupted near Bagua, Perú when members of the country’s security forces confronted indigenous people who were protesting recent governmental decrees that, if fully enacted, would allow logging, drilling, and mining on indigenous lands without the prior consultation of the communities. According to various sources, the protestors had been blocking roads and waterways peacefully when ground forces and helicopters were sent in to break up the demonstration. Many people, both indigenous protestors and members of the security forces, were killed and wounded in the ensuing clash.
According to the Garcia Administration, these controversial decrees were created to aid in the implementation of the U.S.-Perú Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which went into effect in early February of this year. These decrees, which had been declared unconstitutional by a parliamentary commission, have now been temporarily suspended by Perú’s Congress. The Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP), a network of 1,350 indigenous Amazonian communities that organized the demonstrations, has promised to continue their efforts until the decrees are fully repealed.
You can read a full statement by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a LAWG participating organization, calling for all parties to “end the violence, respect human rights, and negotiate a fair and peaceful solution to the conflict.”
In response to Peruvian President Garcia’s repeated assertion that the decrees were essential to the FTA’s survival, a coalition of 15 U.S. environmental and human rights organizations on June 12th sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking the U.S. government to clarify its position on whether the FTA would be jeopardized if Perú repealed the decrees. You can read Amazon Watch’s press release here.
For more information, take a look at:
- “Massacre in the Amazon: The U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement Sparks a Battle Over Land and Resources,” by the Americas Program
- “Fatal Clashes Erupt in Peru at Roadblock,” by the New York Times
- “Blood in the jungle,” by the Economist