Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Confidence of Peru's social movements is growing

Karl Cosser

Although the struggle for the Amazon has been very hard for the indigenous community it is a great example of what can be achieved with great effort and solidarity. The June 11 demonstration in solidarity with the Amazon prompted the mobilzation of many various unions, students and even a left wing Christian political organisation who believe that Jesus was the first revolutionary. There was also of course a significant contingent of people from Amazon regions. Contingents converged from different streets to form one big demonstration of approximately 15.000 people at the dos de mayo plaza where the May day rally was held a few weeks before.

There was a lot of energy and passion in the rally as we marched the streets of Lima with banners and chanting "la selva no se vende", (the jungle is not for sale). Banners and graffiti also stated "APRA asesino" and "Garcia genocida", rightly placing the responsibility for the Bagua massacre on the Garcia government. The demonstration reached a fever pitch as it approached the police blockade several blocks away from congress and the plaza de mayo where the presidential palace is, with an increased intensity of percussion from the Amazon indigenous contingent.

Aggressively the police repressed the right to protest against the government when they opened fire with rubber bullets, tear gas bombs, batons and shields. The police response was indiscriminate; protesters aged as old as 65-70 were affected by the tear gas and had great difficulty breathing. In defense some demonstrators responded with sticks and stones, which the police threw back at the protesters. One Molotov cocktail was thrown. Most people were forced to run away from the police possibly in fear of similar aggression to that in Bagua.

However, once the tear gas blew away many came back to the police barricades to continue the protest in solidarity with many other demonstrations and blockades occurring all over Peru against the decrees 1090 and 1064, "the laws of the jungle" allowing international corporations to exploit the Amazon for resources.

Two days after the national strike there was a "pro democracy rally" in support of the Garcia government, which was allowed to begin three blocks ahead of where the police attacked protesters on June 11. The pro-rightwing rally was escorted by police and passed congress with no repression at all. The hypocrisy of promoting democracy in support of a brutally repressive government is ridiculously obvious with those supporting Garcia given greater freedom to mobilise while those against the government are attacked.

The private media in Peru are supporting the government and police reports of nine civilians killed in Bagua and 11 police killed, however, it has also been independently reported that there are many people still missing and over 150 civilians injured, of which most were from bullet wounds. One survivor of the Bagua massacre was treated for eight bullet wounds as he and many others were shot at while running away from the police.

The current Peruvian government is not a great example of democracy when those responsible for the death and injuries of many civilians are writing the reports and the private media are swallowing it up as it represents their own economic interests.

However, in he face of a repressive neo-liberal government, through relentless strikes, protests and blockades the 1090 and 1064 decrees were repealed demonstrating to the rest of the world what can be achieved through people power, especially for indigenous struggles such as in Australia. Prime Minister Yehude Simon has stated that he will be resigning over the Amazon conflict The confidence of recent gains is becoming apparent as protests and blockades continue throughout the country and there is ongoing solidarity between unions, campesinos and students to get rid of the rest of the ministers.

No comments:

Post a Comment