Monday, 5 October 2009

Masked gunmen kill ten peasants in the south-east of Peru


October 5, 2009. – An armed attack by a group of masked gunmen against a peasant assembly discussing legal proceedings over lands where mineral deposits are located in Puno, in the southeastern Andes of Peru and near the Bolivian border, left at least 10 dead and several wounded, police said Sunday.

The incident occurred last Saturday when about 300 farmers discussed possession and territorial demarcation of the Winchumayo mines located in the Puna district of Ituata and the Valencia mine in the district of Ayapata, both in the province of Carabaya, the epicentre of informal mining in the southeast of the Latin American nation.

Minister of Interior, Octavio Salazar, told the local media “there are five wounded,” but said he could not confirm any deaths.
Contrary to the official version residents of the site area have confirmed the deaths to the local press and have provided the names of those killed in the hamlet of Chacayaje, Ituata district.

According to Leoncio Huamaní Condon, a resident of the area, some of those killed include Jorge Beltran, Christopher Ramos, Camac and Gabriel Ricardo Barraza.
Puno police chief, General Antonio Wivina Oracio, who was quoted by El Comercio, was cautious, saying: “In relation to the deaths, we can not confirm or deny this account.”

“We are waiting for criminal prosecutors to make the necessary investigations,” he added.

It should be noted that the attack occurred in an area of Peru where its people have been struggling for years to reclaim their land, and this has presented difficulties because the deposits are in districts under territorial dispute.

Last June, the farmers of the southeast of the nation went on strike, rejecting a series of government decrees, such as the repeal of the Water Law, which states that resource is a national heritage and sets priorities for its use, and also calling for the cancellation of mining concessions in the region.

Translated by Kiraz Janicke, republished from Telesur

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