Thursday, 9 July 2009

Protests, blockades and strikes against the policies of Alan García

AFP, DPA, Reuters

Lima, July 8 – Thousands of workers marched today in Peru to demand changes in the economic policy of the government after stopping work and joining a day of protest that includes regional strikes and blockades of highways – one day after president Alan Garcia announced he would name a new ministerial cabinet under pressure from social conflicts.

Garcia faced the biggest protests in June with the mobilization of indigenous peoples from the Amazon in rejection of his policies of exploiting the land of the traditional owners, that resulted in the death of 24 police and 10 Indians [independent reports put the deaths of indigenous protestors at closer to 40 and scores disappeared] and forced the government to retreat on this policy and repeal the laws that favored the transnationals.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the government of Nicaragua has granted political asylum to Servando and Saúl Puerta Peña, indigenous leaders who sought refuge in the Nicaraguan embassy in Lima on Monday.

Currently throughout the country 226 active social conflicts exist, according to the Ombudsman. Transport workers and teachers stopped work this Wednesday and joined the march of the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGPT) – the biggest union federation in the country – during which it was reported some parts of Lima were blockaded and then cleared by the police.

In total 156 people were arrested for blocking arterial roads in Lima and other cities, where they also burned tyres, police general Miguel Hidalgo said.

Interior minister Mercedes Cabanillas said that some 32 thousand police and 6 thousand soldiers had been deployed to oversee order in the country. Police and soldiers guarded plazas, public companies, strategic routes, bridges, bus stations and some airports throughout the country.

However, the authorities said the strike was weaker in Lima and recognized that in the interior of the country there would be some problems.

A sector of transport workers began a 48-hour strike on a national scale that partially affected activities in the capital, but was felt much more strongly in the provinces according to police reports.

What is necessary is a change in the economic policy of the country to reduce poverty and generate employment, not just a change in personnel declared Mario Huamán, president of the CGTP, which convoked the marches.

School activities also remained paralyzed by a national 24-hour strike decreed by the United Union of Education Workers (SUTEP), and respected by some 300 thousand state teachers according to the union.

In addition a second day of a 72-hour strike in various regions of the country was carried out.

In the south Andean city of Cusco, where there were some violent clashes, the Peru Rail company, suspended trains to Machu Picchu, the principle tourist attraction to the country, as a measure of protection for foreign tourists.

Protesters also blocked roads in Cusco, as in Puno, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Apurímac, as well as in the northern cities of Tumbes and Chiclayo, in the north Andean city of Hauraz and in Pucallpam (northeast), where there were attempts at looting stores.

Translated by Kiraz Janicke, Republished from La Jornada

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