Thursday, 1 April 2010

Jailed Leaders of Clandestine Police Union in Peru Call for National Strike

Kiraz Janicke/Esvieta Topovich - Peru en Movimiento/La Primera

April 1, 2010 - Jailed leaders of the clandestine United Police Union of Peru (SUPP) have called for a nation-wide strike by the Peruvian National Police (PNP) on April 5 to demand salary increases, which have remained unchanged for 20 years.

From their prison cells the leaders of the underground union called on police officers around the country to stay at home that day in order to make the Alan Garcia government understand the profoud levels of discontent that exists in the police force.

"One day off work is not a crime nor a serious infraction," SUPP general secretary Richard Ortega Quispe said in a statement from the Pre-Police School of Anti-Narcotic Affairs in Ayacucho, where he is being held.

Similarly SUPP organisation secretary, Edward Casas Diburcio, who has been on hunger strike for 18 days, sent a letter from his bed at the Police Hospital, where he was transferred on Tuesday from the PNP Technical School in Puente Piedra, Lima.

Taking a day off work is only a minor offense under Law No. 29,356, of the police disciplinary regulations, which is punishable by a warning or a maximum of six days in jail, Diburcio explained.

Both leaders said that they and their colleague Abel Hallasi Zarate, held in Cusco, had been imprisoned unjustly. In addition to their immediate release, the police of the country are demanding an end to the politics of deceit from the government, a salary increase and the re-boost of the "broken" police pension fund.

Ortega Quispe said President Alan Garcia, Premier Javier Velásquez, the ministers of Interior, Finance and Defence and senior police commanders would be responsible for any "undesirable" events may arise from the lack of police on the streets.

He also said businessmen, bankers, transport companies, traders and the general public would have to take their own precautions to prevent their property and assets being affected by the lack of security.

The general coordinator of the SUPP, Wilson Vilcaromero, who began a hunger strike today, also held Garcia responsible for what may happen in the streets.
The SUPP has 30 thousand members, out of a total of 90 thousand active police officers in the PNP Vilcarmero said.

Raul Herrera Soto, president of the Retired Police Officers Federation (Federpol) which represents 15 thousand members, announced that from early Monday morning, retired police officers will take over bridges, highways and roads to support the strike by active police officers.

The SUPP clashed previously with the Garcia government over the Bagua Massacre of indigneous protesters on June 5 last year, where 23 police officers were killed and unknown number of indigenous protesters were dissappeared.

In a statement shortly after the massacre the SUPP sent condolences “to the spouses, children and families of our comrades in arms, who were members of the clandestine police union, as well as to the families of our native brothers, to all of those fallen in Bagua; those in uniform, who were following orders of repression by the APRA [Garcia’s party] government,… and the natives defending the land and resources of the jungle, which belong to all Peruvians, in the face of their imminent privatisation."

“The only aim of the APRA government is to defend their sell-out politics and to sell off the country, which the most conscious uniformed workers [the police] reject, repudiate and condemn.”

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