Peru to repeal Amazon development plans after clashes


Lima : Peru’s Prime Minister Yehude Simon has said the government will ask parliament to revoke the controversial decrees on foreign investment in the Amazon region that had spurred more than two months of protests by indigenous groups.

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Simon travelled Monday to the central city of Junin for talks with leaders of the protests against measures that give Lima the power to grant mining, logging and drilling concessions on Indian lands without consulting residents.

The government will urge lawmakers to rescind Decree 1090, which would create an office within the agriculture ministry to oversee use of forest resources in the Amazon, and another law opening Amazonia to more private investment, Simon said.

The government said the office was needed to satisfy the conditions of Peru’s trade accord with the US which insisted on the need for an entity that could certify Peruvian wood exports are not the products of illegal logging.

But the Indians say the government’s failure to consult with indigenous people before imposing the new law constitutes a violation of International Labour Organization conventions signed and ratified by Peru.

Simon said that the state of emergency imposed on Bagua province, epicentre of the protests, would be lifted Tuesday.

Indigenous groups opposed to the new laws disrupted transport links and seized control of oil-industry installations, effectively shutting down a pipeline that carries crude oil from the Amazon interior to Peru’s northern coast.

The dispute became violent on June 5, when police used force to evict the protesters from a key highway near Bagua.

According to government figures, at least 24 police and nine Indians died in the violence. Aidesep, the indigenous peoples’ association that organised the protests, puts the death toll among the protesters at between 30 and 40, and a leading Peruvian human rights organization says that 61 people remain missing in the wake of the violence.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Peruvian cities last Thursday to show solidarity with the Indians.

Police in Lima used tear gas to keep marchers away from Congress, which voted last Wednesday to suspend – but not revoke – the two controversial decrees affecting the Amazon region.