Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Peru: Opposition to demand Alan Garcia's resignation for "permanent moral incapacity."

Lima April 7 - Opposition leader Ollanta Humala announced on Tuesday that the Peruvian Nationalist Party will present a demand for Peruvian President Alan Garcia be removed from his post for "permanent moral incapacity."
Humala said the demand is being made in the face of "the policy of criminalization of protest" that exists in the country, which he said has resulted in more than 70 dead and 600 injured in the four years of Garcia's term.

Humala explained that "a very serious fact can be shown, which is a policy of criminalization of protest, which so far during his four-year-rule is leading to a growing number of deaths."
"There are more than 70 dead, more than 600 injured, people disappeared, one political refugee and more thant 1300 Peruvian citizens, the majority of them social leaders, that have been charged with the crime 'protesting against the Government'", he said.
Some 6,000 artesanal miners are currently blocking the road in the town of Chala, about 620 kilometers south of Lima, where six people died last Sunday (five by gunshot wounds), in clashes with police.
In the clashes twenty civilians were also wounded (15 shot) and 8 policemen, said the Ombudsman.

The protest is against a decree that aims to formalize mining in the jungle region of Madre de Dios, with a great biodiversity and the main focus of artisanal gold mining.

Garcia reiterated Tuesday that his government would not negotiate with the miners until they stop the protests and road blockades.
The president warned that his Government's obligation is to "respect and enforce the law" and stressed that "no one can block roads without the risk of a charge and a criminal penalty."

However, Humala together with a spokesperson for his party said today he would evaluate the terms of the demand for the president's resignation and that his party is also seeking the interpellation to the prime minister, Javier Velásquez.
In this regard, he indicated that "there must be a political, not just operational, responsibility, that corresponds to police orders."

"Why did the prime minister? Precisely because he is the great coordinator of this whole operation and which has finally come out with a more radical position than those who are on the road, a hardline position that he is not going to dialogue" he said.

According to Humala, in the current administration there is a policy of "not giving importance to life in the face of the implementation of certain policies that respresent the interests of economic groups."

"The government is in favor of defending this model, the crony capitalism, defending various economic 'lobbies' that are behind the takeover of public infrastructure, natural resources, it has no qualms about putting at risk the lives of citizens, who ultimately are those who elected it," he concluded.

Translated by Kiraz Janicke, republished from

Monday, 5 April 2010

Police in Peru Killed Between 4 to 9 Miners During a National Strike against Government Decrees

Carlos A. Quiroz - Peruanista

April 4, 2010 - Between 4 to 9 people were killed today in Peru and about 17 were injured, after a clash between Peruvian police forces and informal miners blocking a main road, as part of a national strike against the Alan Garcia government's decrees intended to prevent informal gold mining.

The violence occurred early today Sunday April 4, 2010 as protesters blocked the Pan-American road in the small fishing town of Chala, located in the Arequipa region.

The government of Alan Garcia is trying to promote the formalization of between 60,000 to 100,000 informal miners who extract mostly gold in rivers and lakes of several provinces of Peru, producing between $600 to $840 million dollars in annual revenues.

According to the miners, they are also in support for a legal formalization but with rules that can promote their small businesses, something that is not accepted by the Garcia administration. There are not intentions for an open dialogue from the Peruvian government, that has chosen police repression instead.

The Prime minister of Peru, Javier Velasquez confirmed only one casualty but Peruvian radio station CPN and others covering the protests, said that at least four people were killed including 3 miners, a local civilian. About 7 police agents were injured in the attacks.

The national strike is organized by the organizations National Federation of Small Miners of Peru [Federación Nacional de Mineros Artesanales de Perú – FENAMARPE], and the Mining Federation of Madre de Dios [Federación Minera de Madre de Dios].

The FENAMARPE says in its website that more than 300,000 miners have started today “an indefinite strike” in the regions of Ayacucho, Arequipa, Apurímac, Lima, Piura, Ica, Puno, Cusco, Ancash, Huancavelica, Cerro de Pasco, Tacna, Huánuco, La Libertad, Cajamarca, Moquegua, Huancayo and Madre de Dios.

Rafael Seminario, one of the leaders of FENAMARPE said that at least nine people died this morning, after police shot the miners who were blocking the Pan-American road. The miners are demanding the approval of laws that will strength the small mining ventures, and that the government revokes decrees that “affect thousands of Peruvians that working in mining as their only way of living, in the poorest and most hidden regions of the country”.

The leftist blog Prensa Alternativa wrote that witnesses assured that “the police opened fire directly to the protesters”, killing Alejandro Llamoca Barriga (34), Edgar Mitma Wuilcarima (37), Arturo Zamaca Chiri (26) and Juan de Dios Larrea Huamaní (38). There could be more dead people, apparently hidden by the police at the local health care center, something yet to be confirmed.

According to BBC about 6,000 miners arrived from other regions to Chala , but other protests were also held in the coastal town of Nasca, and in the Amazonian regions of Madre de Dios, Cusco and Puno.

The Lima government has mobilized 6,400 police officers to avoid road blockades and other possible actions to be taken by the protesters, says Living in Peru adding:

Teódulo Medina Gutiérrez, from the Federation of Informal Miners, had explained that they want the repeal of the decree 012-2010, that establishes a reorganization of the informal mining activities in Madre de Dios region, because they consider it as unconstitutional.

Fernando Gala, Deputy Minister of Mining, told the press that the decree does not intend to take informal miners out of their business, as they claim. The government says that Russian and Brazilian mining corporations are manipulating the protesters.

Living in Peru also reports that the government of Peru has declared the state of emergency in seven provinces, giving the internal control to the Police, with the support of the Armed Forces:

Facing the possibility of an indefinite strike that may mobilize thousands of informal miners nationwide, the government declared the state of emergency in seven southern Provinces: Nazca, Palpa and San Juan de Marcona in Ica region, Tambopata and Manu in Madre de Dios region, and Caravelí and Camaná in Arequipa region.

Pollution and human exploitation

The president of Peru, Alan Garcia has said to CPN radio that his administration will avoid the existence of any informal mining activity, because it pollutes rivers, destroys the environment, slaves children and young workers and it creates natural disasters due to lack of proper technology.

In this sense, Garcia is right.

Many Indigenous people have migrated from the Andes to the Amazon forests of Madre de Dios, Puno and Cusco searching for promising jobs in gold mining. They work for “middle-men” ventures who work for bigger mining concessions leasing from the government. This has led to the creation of unruly small mining towns, causing pollution by chemicals used by miners. See this video:

Unfortunately, and due to the records of the Garcia administration which allows bigger cmining corporations the same kind of abuses, it's hard to trust the intentions of Garcia and its cabinet.

The other side

While the Peruvian government has become very strict with small miners, doing its job to protect the environment but the Garcia administration overlooks worse abuses committed by big mining corporations in other parts of the country, like in Yanacocha (the second biggest gold mining venture in the world) and Tambogrande where people have died of mercury pollution. Both projects are located in northern Peru and one of the activists against these abuses, father Marco Arana, is now a potential presidential candidate.

Also the Garcia administration accuses the leftist Partido Nacionalista party to promote the strikes, and the minister of Environment, Antonio Brack has said that “bad elements” could infiltrate the protests as the miner may carry guns and act violently.

The small miners say they are not promoting violence, and they have invited the National Ombudsman and the National Prosecutor's Offices, to supervise the mobilizations. The general director of FENAMARPE also said that informal mining creates $850 million dollars annually and the strike could cause over S/. 2.7 million soles in daily lose to the national economy.

In this situation both parties are looking for a formalization of the small miners, but the government seems to want to eliminate the small competition, perhaps to benefit bigger corporations.

This is especially convenient now that the Inter-Oceanic highway is coming to completion, connecting both coasts of Brazil and Peru, allowing the transportation of gold production for exportation. More details about this conflict will come to light, as the strike continues this week.

Republished from Peruanista

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.”