Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Peru: Thousands protest to demand earthquake reconstruction funds

The aftermath of the earthquake (Foro Ica)

By Kiraz Janicke

Thousands of residents of Ica, Pisco and Chincha marched through their respective cities on Monday as part of a regional strike called by the Ica section of the General Confederation of Workers of Peru, the Civil Construction union and Sutep [teachers union], among others, to demand the delivery of reconstruction funds and an audit of domestic and international donations more than two years after a 7.9 rictor earthquake devastated the region.

Many of the regions residents are still living in tents and say their cities look like they have been bombed. Protesters say corrupt government officials have embezzled donations and government relief money destined for reconstruction efforts.

Protest organisers denounced that more than 25 scaffolding workers were arrested during the protests in a clash with the National Police and that APRA [President Alan Garcia's political party] leaders intervened to pressure the local judiciary and law enforcement bodies to repress the protests and keep the workers in jail. In particular, they dennounced local APRA leader and COFOPRI official, Erick Garcia.

Street vendors, housewives, students and truck drivers also participated in the protests in the region, which is often promoted by the García government as an example of economic growth and the sucess of neoliberal policies. The earthquake brought to light the lies of these statements and the failure of a mining boom that has privileged only a tiny minority the protesters said.

The organizers said their would be further protests such as an indefinite strike in the coming days until their demands are met.

The CGTP called on the government to immediately release the 25 workers and attend to the demands of the eathquake victims who are still suffering the ravages of disaster and the APRA regime's inability to resolve the problems.

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